Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Half Sheets, Folded Notes and Monarch Sheets Etiquette

Half Sheets
Size: 53/4 by 73/4 inches high to 61/4 by 81/2 inches high. A half sheet is a single sheet in any color. Use it for writing letters. If you are engraving it, the monogram or crest, or name and address, is centered at the top. You will need plain second sheets if you write long letters. The second sheets can be used interchangeably with the letter sheets for most correspondence, although the letter sheet is more formal and traditional. Pale colors are fine, although you should not use anything other than white or off-white to send a condolence letter or to extend or reply to a formal invitation.

Folded Notes
Size: 51/4 by 31/2 inches high.
Folded notes look just like informals but may be in pastel colors. The front page is blank or engraved with a centered monogram or with the monogram in the upperleft corner. Folded notes are great for general correspondence, especially thank-you notes.

Monarch Sheets
Size: 71/4 by 101/2 inches high.
Both men and women use monarch sheets for general correspondence and informal business letters.

Message Cards and Correspondence Cards Etiquette

Message Cards
Size: 5 by 31/2 inches high.
A message card is a single white card with a very smooth (satin) finish. It can have a woman’s full name or a couple’s name engraved at the top center of the card. The street address can be in the upper-right corner. You can use these for thank-you notes or other kinds of notes and for extending or replying to an informal invitation.

Correspondence Cards
Size: 61/2 by 41/4 inches high.
The correspondence card is a most useful investment for both men and women, especially in the corporate arena. The single card can be colored and sometimes has a colored border. The card can also be plain or engraved with a monogram, the name alone, or the name with address. The correspondence card is used for any kind of short note, sending or replying to invitations, thank-yous, and so on. Men find these particularly useful and often have only this one stationery item for personal use. The correspondence card is probably the single most used item of stationery in a businessperson’s arsenal.

Letter Sheet and Informals Etiquette

Letter Sheet
Size: 51/4 by 71/4 inches high.
The letter sheet is a formal stationery style. It can be used for extending and replying to informal invitations or for replying to formal invitations. (You may not want to use a letter sheet that is engraved informally with the address only to extend an invitation.) This stationery should be of white or off-white stock. The sheet comes folded vertically with the crease on the left. You can engrave it with a crest, monogram, name only, or address only—although it doesn’t have to be engraved at all.

Size: 5 by 31/2 inches wide.
In spite of its name, the informal is a pretty formal piece of stationery. Men use informals only when they are engraved with a couple’s name on the front. Informals can also be engraved with a woman’s full name. They are appropriate for writing notes, gift enclosures, extending and replying to informal invitations, and replying to formal invitations.

Monograms Etiquette

Monograms continue to be popular. They should appear either centered at the top of the page, centered on the front of the folded note, or in the upper-left corner. A single-initialed piece of stationery leaves too many questions in the readers’ minds. Stationery stores sell preprinted notes with single initials, but these seem to me to be useless and silly.
If you choose to monogram your stationery, it is best to use three initials, unless they happen to spell something graceless. Alice Stanton Smith, for example, would be better off using just two initials.
The most common styles for monograms are either three initials set in consecutive order or the initial of the last name in a larger size in the middle of the other two. A single woman or a married woman who retains her maiden name uses the initials of her first, middle, and last names. A married woman who uses her husband’s name uses the initials of her first name, her maiden name, and her husband’s last name.
Always write out the names of your city and state in full with no abbreviations. Numerals for street numbers are fine. Spelling out numbers greater than 10 is generally unwieldy and pretentious.
Printed or engraved envelopes generally carry the address in the upper-left corner, and it is perfectly fine to use your printing or engraving plate with your name from your stationery for this, rather than have a new one made. If you print or engrave the envelopes, omit the name from the return address. You rarely have to pay more to leave off a line of type from a plate, as opposed to making a new plate, which is expensive.

Women and Stationery Etiquette

There was a time when every well-bred woman used only fold-over notes, rather than flat stationery. Today, women are free to select stationery that complements their handwriting, style, and taste. For example, I know several women who choose large letter-size paper for casual notes because it accommodates their large-script flair. However, unless you have a wardrobe of personal stationery, it’s a good idea to avoid wild ink colors in favor of more conservative colors such as black or gray, which are appropriate in all situations.

With personalized stationery a woman has the option of using her social title. Thus a married woman might use Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann or the more contemporary Ms. Mary Fleischmann. It is unnecessary and perhaps a bit pretentious for single women to give themselves the title of Miss, although it is not incorrect. The name itself does just fine.
Printing notepaper with your address only is probably more practical if you use different names or titles, for example, your maiden name in business and your married name socially.

Personal Stationery Etiquette

Your personal stationery is as important and as noticed as any clothing accessory—for example, a wristwatch. Most people should own three kinds of personal stationery: formal writing paper (which can be engraved or plain), personal business stationery, and personal notepaper. Household informal stationery is an additional option. You use formal writing paper for writing condolence letters and responding to formal invitations. Do not substitute informal writing paper when formal writing paper is called for.

Personal business stationery is used for matters relating to your career or home life, such as applying for a job or letting the store know that your drapes have not arrived. Use personal notepaper for writing informal invitations and replies, friendly correspondence, thank-you letters—basically for all informal social correspondence. Stationery stores call this kind of item informals. They are generally folded and about 5 by 7 inches in size. The most widely used colors for notepaper are white and offwhite. Folded notes, which are available in pale pink and other pastel colors, are slightly less formal than informals.

If you print household informal stationery, you might choose to include your telephone number for convenience. This fairly impersonal type of stationery is used for notes to vendors, the post office, electric company, and so on. You don’t need to use custom-printed or engraved stationery. Any good stationery store, department store, or jeweler who provides engraving services will also carry plain stationery. Personalizing it is a nice and useful luxury, however. Make sure your stationery meets U.S. postal regulations—that is, envelopes must be at least 31/2 by 5 inches. The Postal Service still allows envelopes with the return address printed on the back, which is a formal social custom. As a general rule, however, printing the return address on the front of the envelope is much more practical if the letter has to be returned to the sender. It is good manners to heed the Postal Service request to put the return address on the front of the envelope for everything but the most formal invitations.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Printing and Etiquette

The kind of printing you use is another important factor in the overall quality of your stationery. Engraving is the highest quality printing. The words and symbols to be printed are cut (preferably by hand) onto a metal plate and then transferred to the paper. You can tell real engraving by its slightly raised, embossed quality and by turning the paper over to see whether the reverse of the printing is slightly indented. The indentation is the result of the force of the engraving plate as it is applied to the paper. Engraving is the most costly means of printing.
Although other options are, mercifully, available, none makes the quality statement that engraving does. (A client once told me that he retained my company’s services because, all other factors being equal, our engraved stationery projected depth and quality.) Raised lettering, or thermography, imitates the look of engraving, but cannot approach the quality. You can identify thermography by how easily the printing flakes off when you scratch it with your fingernail. It is the pretender to engraving, and personally, I think you should decide either to engrave or not. Stationery, like people, ought not to pretend to be something that it isn’t.
Most printing involves a process known as offset lithography. It is the least expensive method but, with good design, can achieve a high-quality image.

Paper Etiquette

People judge paper by its texture and weight, both reflections of the material from which it is made. The best stationery is made from new unlaundered and undyed cotton rags. Cheaper papers are made from vegetable fibers, sometimes combined with wood pulp. The higher the rag content, the better the paper. Rag content is usually noted on the package.
Watermarks reveal the quality of stationery. A watermark is the manufacturer’s identification, which can be seen when the paper is held up to the light. A genuine watermark looks slightly blurred. There are imitation watermarks, but they look artificial in their sharpness.

Stationery Etiquette

Just as we judge others more by what we see than by the words they speak, we also make judgments based on the appearance of the correspondence we receive. A single sentence letter can speak volumes about the person sending it, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
People are far less restricted and rigid about their correspondence these days than in the past, especially when it comes to correspondence mediums. Computer programs for word processing and graphics provide more resources for expressing personal style and creativity than anyone ever dreamed of in the past. Hence the strict formulas for correspondence have been stretched to reflect the times. It is still valuable to know and to understand the process for taking pen to paper and what’s what when it comes to stationery. Your personal choice of fuchsia paper with hot-pink type might be great for a missive to your former roommate. It would be the kiss of death, however, if used to apply for a job with a conservative law firm. As with any issue involving personal presence, grooming is more important than a fashion statement. If the engraved letterhead isn’t even close to your sense of self or concept of reality, then clean paper, crisply folded with its written components done perfectly, will speak better in your favor than costly stationery, carelessly used.