Project Pointers: Stationery
When was the last time you sent a letter? Handwriting your letters and greeting cards may seem like something out of Pride and Prejudice, but there’s still nothing that compares to that feeling of excitement we all get when we see something new and unexpected (read: something that isn’t a bill) in the mail.
Why Write A Letter?
Sure, email is cheaper and faster, but it lacks the human element that so many people miss out on in a world where communication is dominated by screens and an electronic inbox.
It takes effort to draft an eloquent, legible handwritten letter, but your effort will not go unnoticed. Handwritten missives are a more heartfelt way to convey your feelings of congratulations, thanks, or sympathy, and the extra effort will lend more poignancy and impact to your words. Just think about how awesome you feel when you find a letter in your mailbox – why wouldn’t you want to bring that little piece of joy to someone you love?
An oft-forgotten aspect of letter writing is stationery. Of course you can write a letter on plain white or lined paper, but using high-quality stationery elevates your correspondence to the next level. Think of stationery like dressing for a date – you could wear jeans and a t-shirt and look pretty good, or you could wear a great shirt or dress and stun your date speechless.
Good stationery is generally made using a heavy cardstock, but ultimately your stationery choice will depend on what type of letter or card you’re writing. Typically, stationery is white or ivory, but blue and gray are great options if you want something a little different. If your sense of style balks at the idea of using neutrals, try using a brightly colored envelope, or embellishing your stationery with a colorful address or monogram stamp.
There are two things to consider when choosing your stationery:
- Who are you sending the note/letter to?
- What’s the occasion?
Sending a letter of sympathy to a close friend who lost a parent calls for an entirely different set of stationery than sending a letter of congratulations to your cousin after their wedding. That’s why neutral colors like white, ivory, blue, or gray are so ideal – they’re versatile enough to be used in any situation.
Types of Stationery
A full set of stationery will generally contain three items: correspondence cards, sheets, and informal notes.
Messages in correspondence cards are short and sweet. They’re the perfect way to send a stylish thank you to for pretty much anything, from hosting a great party to watching your house while you’re on vacation to picking your kids up from school when you’re in a pinch.
Correspondence cards are made of flat, unfolded heavy cardstock, and they’re usually about 4 x 6 inches. Here are some of our suggestions:
Shop our full selection of correspondence cards here.
Stationery sheets are basically fancy versions of your average sheet of white printer paper. They’re larger, flat sheets of heavy paper typically used for writing letters or longer correspondence.
Stationery sheets are the perfect canvas for letterheads or other headers and footers. They’re ideal for business correspondence, your annual family newsletter, or for a simple letter to a family member or friend.
There are two common sizes of stationery sheet:
1. Social Sheets
Social sheets usually measure about 6 x 8 inches, and are better suited for shorter messages. Pro tip: if your message takes up more than one social sheet, don’t continue writing it on the back – continue it on a second sheet. Only the first social sheet needs a monogram or address.
Here are our recommendations for social sheets:
Check out our full selection of social sheets.
2. Monarch Sheets
Monarch sheets are typically 7 x 10 inches. They’re perfect for longer missives.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Check out our full selection of stationery paper here.
Informal notes are traditionally written inside a folded card with your name or monogram printed or engraved on the front. Informal notes function similarly to correspondence cards – their contents are fairly casual, but their presentation is a little bit more formal. They’re the perfect choice for congratulating a newly married couple, thanking your awesome party hosts, or showing your recent job interviewer how much you appreciate their time.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Shop our entire selection of flat folded note cards here, or check out our folded panel cards if you want something with a raised border.
We also have a large selection of personal notecards! Check them out here.
The real opportunity to customize your stationery lies in how you choose to embellish your cards and sheets. Traditionally, stationery is embellished with a monogram, address, or simple image, either engraved or otherwise imprinted onto the front of your informal notes or at the top of your correspondence cards and sheets.
There are three common options for embellishing your stationery:
Engraving is the most expensive (but most distinctive) look you can achieve on your stationery. It’s done using a customized copper plate pressed into a very high quality paper. Most of the cost comes from creating the customized copper plate, so the cost of embellishing your stationery later on will be lower than your first purchase.
Thermography is a great, lower-cost option that’s nicer than simply printing your address at the top (which is also okay!). Thermography is similar to craft embossing – the thermographer places a powder on a printed ink design, then bakes it to raise the ink and create texture. Because its created using heated ink, thermography can melt in a laser printer.
Check out this video – it does a great job of explaining the differences between engraving and thermography.
Letterpress is one of the oldest methods of embellishing stationery. It uses movable type in a process of relief printing to create your embellished design. Because of the amount of work that goes into letterpress, it is usually similar in cost to engraving.
Letterpress is essentially the opposite of engraving – in engraving, the lettering is indented into the paper, whereas with letterpress, the lettering is raised.
If engraving, thermography, and letterpress don’t appeal to you, consider investing in a customized address or monogram stamp. It’ll save you money in the long run!
Envelopes are an essential component of your stationery supply – after all, how can you mail a letter or card without an envelope?
Envelopes are the perfect way to add some color or personality to your correspondence. Try using envelopes in your favorite color. Or, if you’re sending business correspondence, use the colors of your brand.
We’ve written extensively on different flap styles, paper finishes, and addressing tips in a previous post – check it out here!
Here are some of our favorite envelopes for personal use:
Here are our suggestions for business envelopes, or if you need a slightly larger envelope for your longer missives:
For an extra-luxurious touch, consider using a lined envelope. The Paper Mill Store sells a wide variety of foil- and pearl-lined envelopes in any size you might need.
If addressing your envelopes by hand seems like a daunting task, check out the Lettermate. It’s a handy tool created by Stationery Designer Kimberly Wilson, and it’s the perfect way to make sure your envelopes are as stunning as your stationery.
Tips and Tricks
Letter writing is certainly a lost art. Here are some tips to help you get started if you’re suffering from writers’ bock:
- Consider who you’re writing to – is it personal or business correspondence?
- Remember why you chose to write a handwritten note instead of sending an email or calling on the phone. It’ll help you tap into the emotion behind your correspondence.
- Speak from the heart! The beauty of handwritten correspondence is that it’s so personal. It’s the perfect venue for expressing your feelings. (Anyone else thinking of Darcy’s eloquent confession address to Lizzie Bennet?)
- Always sign the note in your own hand. If you’re sending a letter from your whole family, have everyone sign their own name.
- Proofread! Then proofread again. Seriously. We even recommend that you write out a rough draft before you commit to laying your message down on your expensive stationery.
Business vs. Personal Correspondence
Your message should be customized to the person you’re sending it to. If you’re writing to a business colleague, acquaintance, or potential customer, your writing style and stationery should be different from if you’re writing a thank you to your new sister-in-law.
- Business correspondence should be typed out, not handwritten. Use a basic, professional font such as Arial or Times New Roman.
- Be concise. Make your request, thank someone for their time, and get to the point quickly and politely.
- Write for your audience. A letter to a prospective customer will be different than one to an existing customer.
- Tailor your message to its purpose. For example, you don’t want to write a chipper letter of condolence.
- Make it personal! Don’t be afraid to express your emotions – isn’t that why you’re writing the note in the first place?
- Handwrite your missive – typed personal letters are impersonal and lack the human touch of handwritten letters. However, if you’re sending out a newsletter or the same thank you note to 50 different people, printing your message will save you valuable time and effort.
- Don’t write a novel – be concise and stick to the point without getting distracted by other jokes or anecdotes.
The Write Stuff
Personalized stationery is the simplest way to truly rock sending a letter. It’ll get your message noticed, and it carries a bit of extra gravitas. And with our mailboxes stuffed full of bills, flyers, and junk mail, who doesn’t love receiving a handwritten note from a friend?
Make sure you check out our entire collection of Crane fine stationery!
Anne. “How to choose good stationery“. Modern Mrs. Darcy. March 30, 2011.
McKay, Brett and Kate. “The Art of Letter Writing: Stationery“. The Art of Manliness. July 10, 2009.