Choosing the Right Condolence Stationery

Q. What type of stationery is appropriate for condolence notes? Is a printed condolence card the best idea?

A. A correspondence card, whether imprinted with your name or not, is the perfect stationery for a condolence note. A correspondence card offers at least three advantages. The stock has weight, which somehow adds weight to your message. Due to its size (usually 6-1/4”x4-1/2”), a correspondence card also limits how much you can say. A few lines can fill the space. In addition, you can keep correspondence cards on hand to use for a variety of other situations. These cards are ideal for thank-you notes, or birthday or other greetings in a pinch, as long as you choose an appropriate ink and paper color and a design (if there is one) that’s sedate. For example, don’t use a card with a red border or a polka dot motif to express words of sympathy. But dark blue or green ink works, as does a simple, quiet floral design.

Keep a box of correspondence cards in your drawer, and you’re always equipped without having to make a special trip to the store. If you wish, you can also use a half sheet, folded once for business-related condolences. Women can use small informal fold-over notes. Write in blue or black ink, regardless of the stationery you choose.

Many people send printed store-bought condolence cards. If this is your preference, don’t simply sign your name. Instead, add a handwritten line or two to personalize the card. You don’t have to be poetic. Just write, “Dear---, I’m thinking of you at this sad time,” or “Dear ---, I remember all the times you talked about ---. I send my deepest sympathy.” A few brief but sincere words mean a whole lot. It’s neither necessary nor appropriate to write a very long message unless you knew the deceased (or know the mourner) very well. What could you possibly have to say?

When selecting a printed sympathy card, do keep the recipient clearly in mind, and remember that you want to make a connection. Some cards can be very “flowery.” Is the mourner likely to respond to such language? And avoid choosing a card with a religious message unless you are very certain the bereaved is religious. If not, the person may not welcome the words. In general, you’re always safest with a card containing a few simple lines.

If you have a question for Florence, please email her at


Florence Isaacs is the author of several books on etiquette, including My Deepest Sympathies: Meaningful Sentiments for Condolence Notes a.... She writes two advice blogs for Sincere Condolences and Widow in the World, a new blog for bereaved spouses and partners.


Image via stock.xchng / danzo08 

Views: 5237


You need to be a member of LegacyConnect to add comments!

Join LegacyConnect

Latest Conversations

Paul Lostritto posted a photo
34 minutes ago
Profile IconKay Brown, Terry Hutson, Paul Lostritto and 1 more joined LegacyConnect
10 hours ago
Terri Farmer liked Terri Farmer's profile
Terri Farmer liked Terri Farmer's profile

Community Guidelines

Please be respectful of others. For more information, read our Community Guidelines.

Follow Legacy

© 2019   Created by   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service