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

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  400 ratings  ·  79 reviews
From overcoming illegible penmanship to mastering the challenge of keeping straight margins, avoiding smeared ink, and choosing stationery that is appropriate but suits your style, this is a powerful little guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring--and noteworthy--way.

For those who enjoy writing notes, or those who value doing so but find themselves intimidated by the ta
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published January 22nd 2002 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
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Linda Wright
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book on a recent trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. While there, I fully immersed myself in the social etiquette of the early 20th century. I found myself dreaming of a simpler place and time. Browsing through the bookstore, I was drawn to The Art of The Handwritten Note.

Writing notes as a child to my grandparents is what built the foundation for my writing life. I still love to write notes, but as a society we've opted to replace personal interactions wit
Ed Kay
Dec 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As one of the generation which fell between the stools of antiquated communication and modern technology, I was always a fan of the handwritten letter and miss that personal touch lost in email and social media. This is certainly a grand reminder of the beauty and elegance that handwritten notes can bring to our lives, and it has inspired me to endeavour to awaken this old habit in the new year.

Shepherd offers some useful tips on phraseology for more difficult letters - condolences in particular
Julie Mallozzi
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-self-help
A fun little book that inspired me to reignite an epistolary correspondence with several far-flung friends!
Emily Briano
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
A timely, short treatise on how important it is to write notes to friends, family, and others on a variety of occasions. Shepherd's tone is certainly superior at times, but if this book motivates you to take up pen and paper and reach out to someone, she has accomplished her goal. ...more
Sharon L.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been wanting to get back into letter writing and I picked up this book for pointers. A slim but inspiring volume, author Margaret Shepherd lovingly describes the power of a handwritten note.

I thought this book might simply be templates and guidance on how to write difficult letters (condolence, apology, etc.), but the book was far more than that. Shepherd describes how the handwritten note can be a form of creative meditation for the writer and a way to strengthen social bonds.

I remember h
Cat Juggler
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Aug. 24, 2017
The author is in agreement with my own philosophy.
Not enough time is spent nurturing relationships. Stand back away from the glass screen and keyboard; send a note that won't infect the other mail around it with a virus.

Aug. 27, 2017
"Ever since the advent of e-mail, one hardly ever got anything interesting in the post, apart from bills and junk mail. Agatha put the junk mail on one side to be thrown away and the bills on the other side. There was an interesting-looking square envelo
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A useful manual for a dying—yet still relevant—art.
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
You're preaching to the choir, here, sister. Long a fan and regular practitioner of hand-written notes, I still found plenty to like here. Shepherd offers advice, examples, and "Do and Don't" lists that alternate between quite helpful and hopelessly classless (case in point, one of the "Do" lists which offers this gem for a break-up note: "Your socks are on your windshield to remind you that the rest of your stuff is packed in the car" p. 124). There are quotes, reproductions of notes written by ...more
penny shima glanz
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
While written notes and I never formally parted for long, I am rediscovering the joy they bring to myself and the recipient. I do, however, fear that years of email correspondence has corrupted my ability to write notes. In this slim volume, Shepherd has packed useful information from choosing what to write on, what to write with, and how to close the letter. She includes helpful hints for improving your handwriting (which I needed, I have the fountain pens, but needed the simple exercises) and ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How wonderfully true this little book. I still have three friends young and old who write me hand written letters. One even has a Stamp of fake wax circle to close the envelope. The message in this tome is clear, we must not let this art die. Nor should we neglect telling those we love just how much they mean to us in words they can actually touch knowing your hand caressed the pen that wrote them. Beautiful thruthful book to start the year off right. Loved it.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth☮ by: Jennie
A nice handbook on the art of writing letters. There are practical lists of what you should say and what you should not say when sending condolences, congratulations or thanks.

Some of the chapters on pens and stationery choice were interesting, but not always practical.

I liked the short chapters and the examples inserted of various letters.
Feb 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Informative, some nice quotes, and a reminder of the importance of writing a handwritten note.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I love to write so no one has ever had to prod me to write a thank you note or drop a note to someone I have been thinking about. A friend gave me this book last week, and it has been kind of fun to see my writing needs affirmed: a special pen, artistic note cards, a cup of tea, a quiet mind.

Building the case for letter writing vs. emails, texts or phone calls as a means of pleasure for the writer and the recipient rang true for me. How I savor the note received in the mail. For those who have n
Nick Wilson
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must confess: this was an impulse read. And one I don’t regret.

It reminds of the earlier days of my life when I sent and received notes regularly. Admittedly, this was written over 15 years ago - in a time that was even less reliant on electronic communication than today.

This book focuses on the simple note - not to be confused with the letter, of which she writes a whole separate book. She addresses the most important “reasons” to send notes: thanks, condolence, apologies, etc. She discusse
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it
A good introduction to writing notes. I found the materials section a touch snooty. But the reasons to write and the etiquette behind simple notes were very good. (The short section on handwriting improvement was also very nice) Each section for the different types of notes had a list if dos and don'ts and sample real world notes and etiquette faqs. I would have liked a little more explicit examples but overall this is a good intro for those interested in getting started in short form epistolary ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lovely little book on the proper use of the written word and why it shouldn't go out of style. As someone who is currently getting into handwritten letters and notes, I enjoyed it, but like the author's similar book on conversation, there's nothing really groundbreaking here. Just simple, good advice. ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A gift from a friend (which was accompanied by a handwritten note) I was excited about this little book. It is delightful but a bit outdated at this point. Lots of her prompts are still relevant, but her conventions, and certainly her references, are not. But a great starter if you are stuck on how to begin a composition.
Jenny Preston
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great little book. There isn't anything earth shattering in here, but I appreciate the reminder of the many times and places a handwritten note is just the right touch. I especially value the many sample notes included in the pages, to help me as I write my own. ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Makes a strong case for handwriting a note to communicate gratefulness, compassion, empathy, and other emotions, rather than using electronic impulses which are without exception artificial, fleeting, and not near as personal, civilized, or meaningful.
Audrey Campbell
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I bought this on Kindle hoping for ideas on what to say for certain situations. I never know what to say in a sympathy card. Thankfully, I found what I was hoping for plus more excellent etiquette tips.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I very much liked the meditations on handwriting and what it means. I liked rather less the moralizing about 19th-century social rituals. Shepherd has, however, persuaded me to send more handwritten notes, so mission (partly) accomplished.
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting book, which is sort of a "how to guide" to write a handwritten note, a lost art in these days of email and tweeting. I found it refreshing but I also enjoy writing handwritten notes. ...more
Margaret Traudt
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great challenge to write more handwritten notes.
Ariel Jensen
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was alright. Mostly it was a good reminder to write more letters. It achieved its purpose but wasn’t altogether very interesting.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent read
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Made me want to rush out and buy new pens and stationary.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a nice book on the value of handwritten notes but does little for the reader who already understands the importance and is looking for ways to improve their handwritten correspondence.
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it
There are some beautiful and thoughtful ideas and suggestions throughout this book.

It does read with a pretentious tone that may bring unnecessary shame or guilt.
Mary Tufts
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great addition to any shelf!
From the Publisher:
For those who enjoy writing notes, or those who value doing so but find themselves intimidated by the task, acclaimed calligrapher Margaret Shepherd has created both an epistolary tribute and rescue manual. Just as you cherish receiving personal mail, you can take pleasure in crafting correspondence. Love, gratitude, condolences, congratulations—for every emotion and occasion, a snippet of heartfelt prose is included, sure to loosen the most stymied letter writer.
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