Saturday, January 23, 2016

Etiquette and Penmanship

A person who has self-respect as well as respect for others, should never carelessly write a letter or note. — It's National Handwriting Day, established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977. January 23rd was chosen because this is the birthday of John Hancock. John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.

A French writer says, that the writing a note or letter, the wording of a regret, the prompt or the delayed answering of an invitation, the manner of a salutation, the neglect of a required attention, all betray to the well-bred, the degree or the absence of good-breeding. A person who has self-respect, as well as respect for others, should never carelessly write a letter or note.


The letter or note should be free from all flourishes. The rules of punctuation should be followed as nearly as possible, and no capital letters used where they are not required. Ink-blots, erasures, and stains on the paper are inadmissible. Any abbreviations of name, rank or title are considered rude, beyond those sanctioned by custom. 

No abbreviations of words should be indulged in, nor underlining of words intended to be made emphatic. All amounts of money or other numbers should be written, reserving the use of numerical figures for dates only. It is a good form to have the address of the writer printed at the top of the sheet, especially for all business letters. 

For letters of friendship and notes, pure white paper and envelopes are in better taste than tinted or colored, and the paper should be of a superior quality. When a page is once written from left to right side, it should not be written over again from top to bottom.


No attention should ever be paid to anonymous letters. The writers of such stamp themselves as cowardly, and cowards do not hesitate to say or write what is not true when it suits their purpose. All statements made in such letters should be regarded as false, and the writers as actuated by some bad motives. Anonymous letters should be burned at once, for they are not to be noticed.


The writing of notes in the third person is generally confined to notes of invitation, and such notes are never signed.

When a letter is upon business, commencing "Sir" or "Dear Sir," the name of the person addressed may be written either at the beginning or at the close of the letter, in the left hand corner. In letters commencing with the name of the person to whom you are writing, as, "My Dear Mrs. Brown," the name should not be repeated in the left hand corner.

No notes should be commenced very high or very low on the page, but nearer the top than the middle of the sheet.
— Florence Hartley, 1860

Etiquette Enthusiast Maura J Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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