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Reviewed by Lynn Fenske

The Art of the Handwritten Note
A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication

Margaret Shepherd
Broadway Books
2002, 153 pp., $24.00 Cdn., ISBN 0-7679-0745-0

How do you say “thank you” to a friend, a colleague, or a client? Ever considered thanking a journalist who has written about you in a favourable fashion?

Leading sales coach Tom Stoyan ( recommends “looking for opportunities to send thank yous”, preferably in a hand written letter.

For those of us married to a computer keyboard and out of practice with pen and paper, Margaret Shepherd comes to our rescue with a comprehensive guide to hand writing that special note of appreciation, sympathy and acknowledgement.

As an acclaimed calligrapher, Shepherd has more than a passing interest in a resurgence of hand written communications. “The Art of the Handwritten Note” is her contribution to an art form that “brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it”. She has put together a beautifully appointed, well written book that with prose, poetry, quotes and illustrations, provides everything necessary to inspire and motivate even the “most stymied letter writer”.

Her message is simple, “you can still use the telephone or the Web for the daily chores of staying in touch, but for the words that matter, it’s courteous, classy, caring and civilized to pick up a pen”. As Shepherd so perceptively proclaims, “Ink on paper is still the classiest way to express the thoughts that really matter, on the occasions that really count”.

Consequently, she provides valuable advice on making the best choices. From thanking a colleague for a job well done to heartfelt sympathy for a grieving friend or relative, Shepherd recommends the best format, language, materials and penmanship for communicating your message.

This book is a must for anyone interested in mastering the art of interpersonal communications. Read it and use it to seize all those opportunities that exist to say thank you.

Lynn Fenske is a copywriter and communications strategist specializing in public and media relations.

Lynn Fenske
“putting your ideas in writing”