How do I access my account on the new web site?
Welcome to our new online shopping experience. To ensure the protection of your privacy and the integrity of your account information we will reopen your account on our new web site with your permission. Simply email us at email@example.com or call us at 212-570-4800 and request your account access be reinstated. To help expedite the process be sure to have the name you used to place your last order on hand. We'll take care of the rest for you immediately. If you inquire after hours we will contact you the morning of the next business day. We look forward to continuing to be of service.
For faster service, we invite you to simply register as a new user on our new site. If you would like access to your prior purchases, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with that information.
What printing methods are available at Dempsey & Carroll?
Engraving is one of the oldest printing techniques in the world. It is an example of intaglio printing in which letters or designs are carved into a piece of copper or steel so that each form is a concave shape that recesses into the metal. When an engraving press is set up, rollers distribute the ink smoothly onto the plate, going into the carved areas, and then the excess is wiped away. When paper is fed through, the press applies approximately 3,000 pounds of pressure, pushing the paper into the carved areas so that the ink adheres. The end result is a raised design on the paper's surface.
Because of the type of ink and the intricate carving involved, engraving is known for its level of detail and sharpness that can be achieved at a very small scale. Engraving ink is also completely opaque, making it possible to print light-colored inks on darker papers.
Careful inspection of the reverse of the paper will reveal the impression area, called a “bruise.” The bruise and the tactile feel of raised matte ink on the front of the paper are the signatures of genuine engraving and help to distinguish it from the many imitation processes.
The quality and clarity of engraving makes it the ideal choice for writing papers and invitations. The process gives the type an unmistakable tactile presence on both the front and back of every impressed piece. Engraving requires a great depth of technical knowledge and skilled artistry, and very few craftsmen still practice the tradition.
Dempsey & Carroll is one of only a handful of stationers still using these distinctive hand-engraving techniques to create beautiful luxury paper products with their own unique stamp of history and tradition.
Blind embossing is engraving done without applying ink to the press. The result is a raised mark showing the texture and depth of the impression without any color. It is a subtle form of personalization and is a sophisticated alternative to traditional contrast engraving. It looks equally elegant with a monogram or a name.
Recently the United States Post Office made a change regarding blind embossing and has decided it will not return letters with a blind embossed return address. Some people still prefer to have their return address blind embossed, but it serves only an aesthetic purpose, not a functional one.
Flat-printing is the most basic form of offset printing. A plate transfers the ink to a rubber blanket, which is then pressed onto the paper. The ink rests on top of the paper's surface and is entirely smooth. Unlike digital printers, which create colors and forms using tiny dots laid down row by row, flat-printing produces a completely solid form in colors which are mixed prior to their adhesion to the paper.
Letterpress is a form of relief printing, which is the opposite of engraving or intaglio. In letterpress, the areas around the letters or design are carved away, and the forms protrude from the plate. When paper is fed through an inked press, only the protruding parts of the plate touch the surface. The paper’s fibers are compacted in the places hit by the plate, resulting in an inked indentation. The end product has a tactile feel similar to engraving, except that the printing is an impression on the paper rather than a raised design on its surface.
The raised effect in Thermography printing is created using a powder that sticks to a special ink. The ink is then heated, melting the powder so that texture forms along the type's surface.
What custom engraving services do you offer?
Dempsey & Carroll offers a full suite of bespoke correspondence, social and entertaining paer engraving. You may purchase a limited number of bespoke papers through our web site or you may call us at 877.750.1878 to design a paper suite to your exact specifications for your special event, home or office. Bespoke papers can include correspondence both formal and informal, notepads and tablets, papers for your yatch or plane, calling and business cards, holiday cards and celebration papers.
What is a Correspondence Card?
Perhaps the most versatile piece for a bespoke paper wardrobe is our correspondence card and our note card. While we can make your cards to your exact specifications the most commonly requested size is our #3. These cards are usually cut from 96# 100% cotton fiber paper, which means they are three times as thick as our single sheets, but for those who require the ultimate in fine papers, we also have 128# and 192# stock available.
Depending on how you plan to use your Correspondence Cards, you may choose to engrave your name, your monogram, or a family crest. You may also choose to have a border on your cards. Your choices of typestyles and colors for the paper, border and engraving ink help make your Correspondence Cards better reflect your own personal style.
What is a Sheet?
No stationery wardrobe is complete without sheets for longer letters. Our Sheets come in four sizes:the Petite Sheet (Size #1), the Note Sheet (Size #3), the Monarch (sometimes called Executive) Sheet (Size #7), and the Standard Letter Sheet (Size #8). The size you select is largely a matter of preference, but these sheets become more formal, generally speaking, as they move up in size. The Note and Monarch sizes are the most common for non-business letters.
Because there is more room on a sheet than on a card, you may want to engrave your address at the top, underneath your name. Our Sheets are cut from our 1-ply stock (32 lb.), which features the Dempsey & Carroll watermark. Though our sheets are substantial, they can still be fed through a printer if you wish. (And engraved text does not melt in a laser printer, as thermographed text does.) For personal correspondence, however, we always recommend hand-writing your letters and notes.
Because one generally does not write on the reverse of an engraved sheet, you may consider ordering a number of blank sheets to use as additional pages.
What is a Calling Card?
A Calling Card is similar to a business card, except that it contains only non-business information. Most Calling Cards are engraved with only a name, but for those who choose to include more, they might have the information you would normally give to a new social acquaintance, including your e-mail address, telephone number and home address. But however minimal your Calling Card, you can always hand-write additional information when you give it to someone—this, in fact, would make it even more personal.
The Calling Card is a fun way to be remembered and an opportunity to do something clever. Our Calling Cards come in five different sizes and can be made from 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply or even 6-ply stock. Many people also choose an unusual ink or typeface since the informal use allows for more creativity. In the end, whether you choose bright colors and witty touches or a classic style with just a name, an engraved Calling Card ensures that you make a memorable impression.
What is a Gift Enclosure?
A Gift Enclosure can take many forms. The simplest version is a Calling Card where the name appears top center to allow for a very brief note and would come with a small envelope. We have two sizes of Gift Enclosures with envelopes: our size #124 (3-1/2" x 2") and our size #140 card (3-1/4" x 2-3/8").
What is a Gift Tag?
Dempsey & Carroll offers a unique way to adorn the gifts you present to loved ones: Gift Tags which can be engraved with your name, business name, or family crest. The tags are looped with a ribbon in the color of your choosing. Simply tie to a wrapped gift or decorate the neck of a wine bottle for a modern personalized touch.
Our Gift Tags also look beautiful with wedding favors!
What is an Informal Foldover Note?
The term “Informal” refers to a fold-over note in either a 1-ply or a 2-ply weight. Your name or monogram is engraved on the front of the note, and your message is written on the inside. (The top half of the inside is left blank.) Our Size #1 is the standard fold-over size, but these notes also come in our Size #3. When folded, Informals measure the same as a Correspondence Card.
Informals are traditionally used as thank-you notes for wedding gifts and are often a staple in many women’s stationery wardrobes. Because its writing space is a bit smaller, the elegant Informal is best for short notes.
What are your standard sizes?
Below are the measurements of our most popular products. To view a diagram, click on a product to download the pdf.
#1: 5-1/8" x 3-3/4"
#3: 6-3/8" x 4-1/4"
#5: 7-1/8" x 4-7/8"
#7: 7-1/4" x 3-3/4"
#122: 3-1/4" x 1-9/16"
#124: 3-1/2" x 2"
#128: 2-7/8" x 2"
#130: 3-1/2" x 2-1/2"
#140: 3-1/4" x 2-3/8"
#1: 5-1/8" x 7-3/8"
#3: 6-3/8" x 8-1/2"
#7: 7-1/4" x 10-1/2"
#8: 8-1/2" x 11"
Classic: 4-1/2" x 6-1/4"
Embassy: 5-1/2" x 7-1/2"
Empire: 6-1/2" x 8-3/4"
How do I choose which size is right for me?
Correspondence cards are made from flat card stock that does not fold. Our standard weight is 3-ply, but some paper colors are available in 4-ply and 6-ply weights. Our standard sizes are #1, #3, #5 and #7.
- Measuring 5-1/8" x 3-11/16", the #1 card is perfect for those who like to keep their notes short and sweet. This is the most popular and versatile product we sell as it is appropriate for a range of notes.
- The #3 card, 6-3/8" x 4-1/4", is our most popular size. This card is the appropriate fit for those who prefer the classic, standard choice.
- Our #5 card, 7-1/8" x 4-7/8", is a great alternative for those who have larger handwriting or who are more prolific writers.
- The #7 card, which measures 7-1/4" x 3-3/4", is a nice option for those who prefer something a little out of the ordinary. This size is also the traditional size for men, but nowadays many women use it, too.
Our Sheets come in four sizes: the Petite Sheet (Size #1), the Note Sheet (Size #3), the Monarch (sometimes called Executive) Sheet (Size #7), and the Standard Letter Sheet (Size #8). The size you select is largely a matter of preference, but these sheets become more formal, generally speaking, as they move up in size, the Note and Monarch sizes being most common for non-business letters.
Because there is more room on a sheet than on a card, you may want to engrave your address at the top, underneath your name. Our Sheets are cut from our 1-ply stock, which features the Dempsey & Carroll watermark. Though our sheets are substantial, they may be fed through a printer if you wish. (And engraved text does not melt in a laser printer, as thermographed text does.) For personal correspondence, however, we always recommend hand-writing your letters and notes.
Because one generally does not write on the reverse of an engraved sheet, you may consider ordering a number of blank sheets to use as additional pages.
The term “Informal” refers to a foldover note in either a 1-ply or a 2-ply weight. Your name or monogram is engraved on the front of the note, and your message is written on the inside. Our Size #1 is the standard fold-over size, but these notes also come in our Size #3. When folded, Informals measure the same as a Correspondence Card.
Informals are traditionally used as thank-you notes for wedding gifts and are otherwise a staple in many women’s stationery wardrobes. Because its writing space is a bit smaller, the elegant Informal is best for short not
What is a Stationery Wardrobe?
Just like a clothing wardrobe, your stationery wardrobe should include foundation pieces appropriate for any occasion as well as a few fun and seasonal pieces. Beyond the content of your correspondence, the choices you make about your papers – size, weight, color, typestyle – convey a lot of information about you, and they should reflect who you are.
Dempsey & Carroll has years of experience in furnishing personalized engraved stationery to men and women all over the world. We have found the following stationery pieces help our customers establish a coherent suite of papers that speaks to who they are while letting them speak for themselves.
Social Stationery Wardrobe
The Social Stationery Wardrobe traditionally consists of Correspondence Cards or Foldover Notes, Sheets, and a Calling Card. The most straightforward way to marry the elements in your wardrobe is to use the same typestyle and ink color on every piece, but it's perfectly acceptable to be creative and mix things up-- whatever best reflects you.
To create a consistent foundation for you wardrobe, Dempsey & Carroll recommends building a Stationery Wardrobe in a single size family. For instance, the #3 Sheet folds once to fit the same envelope as the #3 Correspondence Card.
Dempsey & Carroll offers three bundled Wardrobes: the Petite (Size #1), the Social (Size #3) and the Executive (Size #7), each with Correspondence Cards, Sheets and Calling Cards.
Business Stationery Wardrobe
Your stationery wardrobe may include papers for business purposes. Whether coordinated in some ways with your social stationery or not, business stationery is usually more conservative. Papers should be White or Ecru, and ink should be black or another dark color. The exception, of course, if for individuals with less conservative professions – an event-planner or photographer would probably choose something very different from what a doctor or lawyer would choose.
Letterhead Sheets for business is almost always the Standard Letter Sheet, our Size #8. . This would normally features the firm’s name or logo prominently at the top of the page could be used by the entire firm. Sometimes, however, an executive keeps separate stationery at the office for business letters that do not require the firm’s letterhead. Here, the executive may use a smaller sheet in the Monarch size (Size #7), engraved with his or her name and the firm’s address. Many customers also choose to purchase blank second sheets in case a letter goes on longer than a page. Additionally, the envelopes for business stationery are not typically lined.
Correspondence Cards are also utilized in Business Stationery Wardrobes. After a big meeting or event, a hand-written note is just the right touch to close the deal or say thanks.
The final component of a tradition Business Stationery Wardrobe is the Business Card, and an engraved card makes an impressive statement. The engraving process gives much more clarity and distinction to lettering, and the result is a card that not only feels luxurious but also is crystal-clear to read. Business cards are available in a 64# and a 96# weight in our100% cotton fiber paper.
Another element that many businesspeople find useful is the Jotter Note. Measuring 3” x 5”,Jotter Notes are perfect for keeping paper at hand whenever the need to make a note comes up. They’re easily coordinated with your Business Stationery Wardrobe and are a nice final touch to the package.
Where can I view your selection of typestyles, ink colors, and envelope liners?
To view our entire range of typestyles, please click here. If you have identified a typestyle you would like to use but do not find it in our offerings, we can most likely acquire it. We've presented a selection of our finest ink colors here. We are more than happy to accommodate specific pantone color matching requests. Please call us at 877-750-1878 to inquire about your bespoke specifications.
What is your paper made of?
Our papers are made of 100% cotton fibers,which is part of a sustainable footprint. Since cotton fibers are significantly longer than those in other materials (such as wood) it gives our paper an especially soft, rich texture. It also means that it is naturally acid free.
Our papers are milled exclusively for us in the United States. Our watermark can be clearly seen in our 1-ply sheets. When more than one sheet is plied together, the watermark disappears, but it is still the same paper stock of the highest quality.
What if I don't see the stationery item I would like to have made?
Custom engraving is just that – a custom job every time with myriad options from which to choose. If you have an idea in mind and need advice, or want to take your customization to the next level, please do not hesitate to call us at 877.750.1878 in order to speak with a sales representative. We have several artists and graphic designers on staff who would be glad to help you build a custom stationery wardrobe or unique invitation.
Can you create a plate or die from my own artwork or design?
If you are interested in having a plate or die made from an existing design, please contact us with your inquiry.
Can you create custom artwork to be made into a die for my order?
Our skilled design team is available to help you develop custom artwork for your stationery order, from logos to house vignettes. Please contact us to discuss your project with one of our design staff.
How long will it take to engrave my stationery?
Your bespoke papers will ship six weeks from the date of your proof approval. We do offer rush services for an additional fee. Please call us at 212.570.4800 for details.
How long will my boxed product order take to ship to me?
If you order any of our boxed Correspondence or Gifts, they will ship to you in five business days.
Do you have my engraving plates?
If you have ordered with Dempsey & Carroll in the past and did not receive your plates with your order, we most likely have them. Please email us as much information as possible about your plates and we will let you know whether we have them in our files.
When will my credit card be charged for my custom stationery?
Your credit card will be charged at the time you place your order. Personalized stationery, though it takes time, is custom-made for you and must be paid for at the time the order is placed.
Is it possible to make a change to existing engraving plates?
Engraving plates are carefully cut from copper or steel dies, which are then used to stamp the paper. Our engravers hold themselves to the highest quality and precision when it comes to engraving your stationery. Therefore, once a plate is engraved, it cannot be changed to reflect a change of address or new phone number. A new plate must be created to reflect any changes you may have.
I have just placed an order. What is the best method for sending my existing engraving plate to you?
The U.S. Postal service has sorting machines that can damage plates in transit if the plate is not packaged properly, and even a small defect can render a plate unusable for engraving. Please make sure your plate is carefully packaged to ensure it will not be damaged in shipping. Dempsey & Carroll recommends that you ship your plate via UPS, Fed-Ex, or another shipping method that has the ability to track packages. Dempsey & Carroll is not responsible for plates that are lost or damaged in transit.
If you have not placed your order yet, please call us at 877.750.1878 to discuss your existing plates.
You may ship your plates to:
Dempsey & Carroll
1049 Lexington Avenue
New York, New York 10021
Do your cards ever go on sale?
You can find select motif cards offered at reduced prices at our web site's Sale page.
Throughout the year, we offer occasional sales on selections of motif designs or on a specific type of personalized stationery. The most notable of these sales is our Annual Correspondence Card Sale in January. To be the first to know about all our promotions, or product introductions, join our email newsletter list by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom of the page.
Do you offer Gift Certificates?
We do indeed offer Gift Certificates for any amount above $25. Please call us at 212-570-4800 to create your gift certificate package.
What are your shipping rates?
Please refer to the following information to estimate your shipping charges to destinations within the United States. For orders placed through our website, we offer free domestic ground shipping.
Packages ship via UPS or USPS and cannot be delivered to a post office box.
|Amount of Order||Standard Ground||Next Day||Two Day||Three Day|
|$10 - $15||$8.15||$45.00||$22.00||$20.00|
|$16 - $50||$11.00||$50.00||$25.00||$22.00|
|$51 - $99||complimentary||$55.00||$30.00||$26.00|
|$100 - $149||complimentary||$60.00||$30.00||$26.00|
|$150 - $249||complimentary||$70.00||$40.00||$30.00|
|$250 - $499||complimentary||$85.00||$55.00||$38.00|
|$500 - $749||complimentary||$100.00||$65.00||$45.00|
|$750 - $999||complimentary||$115.00||$75.00||$55.00|
|$1000 and over||complimentary||$125.00||$80.00||$57.00|
For destinations outside the United States, shipping charges cover actual shipping and handling only; any local taxes or tariffs (e.g., VAT charges) must be paid by the recipient.
Rush Shipping Services
Rush shipping services for boxed and personalized stationery orders are available upon request and apply to the time frame within which your order is prepared.
Boxed stationery will leave our warehouse in three to five business days from when the order is placed. The time it takes to reach you will vary by your location and the type of shipping method chosen. If you would like your boxed stationery sooner, please contact us to see if it is possible to shorten the ready-to-ship time.
Personalized stationery will be ready to ship four to six weeks from the date of proof approval. If you would like your personalized stationery sooner, a one-, two-, or three-week rush may be available. A rush charge would be applied to your order total.
Please contact us at email@example.com to inquire about applying a rush to either your boxed or personalized stationery order. Please note that rush services apply only to the preparation of your order; once packed, your order will ship via UPS Ground unless expedited shipping services have been selected.
Why can't I view my onscreen preview of a personalized product?
The onscreen preview pops up in a new window. Certain spyware programs and web browser tools prevent pop-ups. To view your onscreen preview, please disable your pop-up blocker. (Tip: try holding down the Control key while you click "preview" and until the window appears.)
What occasions call for a Thank You Note?
If sent with the utmost sincerity a thank you note is always appropriate - after dinner parties, a walk in the park or acknowledging friendship.
Formal etiquette requires you to send a thank-you note in the following situations:
- Wedding gifts
- Bridal shower and baby shower gifts
- Holiday, birthday, Bar/Bat mitzvah, graduation, and housewarming gifts
- Sympathy letters, flowers, mass cards, or donations made in the deceased’s name
Thank-you notes are not necessarily required but are a nice gesture in the following situations:
- When a host has treated you to a cocktail party, dinner, or concert
- After a job interview
- Any time you feel particularly indebted to someone
How quickly must I send a Thank You Note?
It is best to send your Thank You Note as soon as you can, within a week if possible. Princess Diana is said to have written her Thank You Notes each evening before bed. While you probably don't need a daily routine, some discipline is helpful, particularly with those notes which are difficult to write, as when you don't know the addressee well. Having stationery you enjoy using, a comfortable pen, and a store of stamps can help, along with a designated writing desk and good light. Soon you will find yourself writing notes for no reason at all.
While you should try to send Thank You Notes within a week or two, "better late than never" certainly applies. If you're a month or more late, still send your note, but make it particularly thoughtful. There's no need to waste space with excuses because there are none -- just apologize and carry on. Your recipient will be just as delighted to get your note.
What are some helpful tips when writing a Thank You Note?
A sincere and eloquent note of thanks will be remembered forever. Thank-you notes allow us to acknowledge deeds large and small, in a thoughtful and considered way. Here are a few of Dempsey & Carroll’s tips to perfecting this skill.
- Set aside adequate time to think about what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. If your note is rushed, it may come off as perfunctory or insincere.
- Make sure your handwriting is as good as it can be. Warm up by drawing loops on scratch paper or by writing a draft of your note. If your cursive handwriting is difficult to read, it’s fine to print in block letters.
- Make a list of the things you want to mention or include. If you received a gift, what do you like about it? If you were treated to dinner, what was especially delicious? Was there an anecdote or funny story you want to reference?
- Express your gratitude in heartfelt words. Good thank-you notes make the recipient feel special when you clearly mean all those nice things you write.
- If possible, avoid leading with “Thank you for...” - your note will sound fresher and less formulaic if you start off with something else. Try “Dinner was delicious!” or “Did you know red is my favorite color?”
- Finish with a strong line, such as “I really appreciate your thoughtfulness” or “We hope to see you and Ted again very soon.”
- Create an environment that helps you: a good chair, a desk the right height, good light, the best paper and a comfortable pen. It helps to have stationery that you love to use and commemorative stamps that match.
- Send your note promptly, within a day or two. But if you feel you’ve waited too long, send it anyway – your recipient will still appreciate your effort!
A thank-you note is exclusively about expressing your gratitude, so don’t worry if your note seems short and simple. The only hard and fast rule is that it be sincere. Ultimately any gift or favor received is more about the gesture of the giver than the actual gift, and sharing your appreciation is the most important part.
What are the components of a traditional wedding invitation?
The most traditional invitation is a simple Ecru foldover with a script typestyle reminiscent of hand-written invitations. Black or Grey ink is most commonly used. This form of invitation was typically enclosed in an inner envelope with a loose sheet of tissue to prevent the ink from smudging during its delivery. The inner envelope was addressed with the invitees’ name only, as in ‘Mr. Brown’ and was designed to be hand-delivered to the recipient. The outer envelope, often damaged in transit, was typically discarded by the butler.
What does R.s.v.p stand for?
Repondez s’il vous plait, or "please respond" in French. To use the word "please" with R.s.v.p is therefore redundant. Contact information may be provided with the R.s.v.p if you do not think everyone knows where to call or write his or her response.
Should I use an outer envelope?
All of Dempsey & Carroll’s wedding suites include inner and outer envelopes, which is traditional for formal invitations. This is because the outer envelope used to get dirty in the mail, so the butler would remove it before delivering it to the recipient. Nowadays, the inner envelope is sometimes skipped, although many people still like the tradition. The outer-inner option also serves a different but still useful purpose: the inner envelope is a great place to write whether or not the recipient can bring a guest, since most people would prefer not to put “and guest” on the outer envelope along with the address.
Further, the return address is only needed on the outer envelope, and most couples choose to line only the inner envelope, although it’s perfectly acceptable to line both. The only other difference between inner and outer envelopes (besides one being slightly smaller) is that the inner envelope would not have any gum to seal it shut, so it remains unsealed.
Is it "honour" or "honor," "favour" or "favor?"
The British spellings of "honour" and "favour" are usually preferred. But again, this is a matter of personal choice and should reflect the formality of your invitation and event.
Should the words "black tie" appear on a formal invitation?
Traditionally, the time of day and the location would determine the appropriate attire for a formal wedding. After six o’clock in the evening, black tie is assumed, although the casualness of contemporary times seems to require guidance on what to wear. Therefore, "black tie" may be included on the invitation simply as a courtesy to guests.
Where should I note our bridal registry?
No, this information is generally obtained through discreet inquiry. Many couples are now including information directing guests to a wedding web site, and it's perfectly acceptable to list the registries on the site. People usually list the sites on either a Save the Date or an extra enclosure with the invitation.
What is the best way to enclose directions to the event?
The directions should be clearly stated and /or drawn on a separate enclosure. It is thoughtful to include the phone numbers of local places to stay. It is best to keep this information on a smaller-sized card compared to the size of the invitation itself. Sometimes this material is sent as a different mailing, as with a Save the Date, but it is also fine to include it with the invitation.
Is calligraphy a must for addressing engraved envelopes?
For the pure traditionalist, calligraphy is a must. As times and styles change, however, other alternatives, such as computer calligraphy, are increasingly acceptable. The most important rule of thumb is that the handwriting be bold and self-confident. Never use a ballpoint pen for addressing, but rather a good, felt-nibbed pen that will render a strong appearance and a boldness of declaration. Never use printed labels for such a significant occasion.
Is it assumed single invitees will bring a guest?
Unless you have extended a verbal encouragement for them to do so, or addressed your inner envelope as ‘Miss Brown & Guest.’ A single invitee should not assume they are allowed to bring a guest.
When should Thank You Notes go out for shower and wedding presents?
As soon as possible. It is considered in poor taste to allow them to lag over six weeks from the receipt of gifts. However it's never too late. Do not let the passage of time deter you from writing your note.
What should a Sympathy Note consist of?
A sympathy note is an expression of compassion that you send to the family of someone who has recently died. If you would like to reach out to the deceased's loved ones, a written note is the only proper way, though a phone call or visit in addition to a note is certainly acceptable.
Sympathy notes may be written on any personal stationery as long as it is conservative in appearance. If your stationery has bright-colored borders, liners or inks, you should purchase a boxed set of blank cards and envelopes for this purpose. We recommend using Black ink on Ecru stock, which is more formal. You may use note cards, sheets, or foldover informal notes when writing your sympathy message.
Striking the proper balance between formality and familiarity is tricky, and composing a sympathy note is notoriously difficult. We recommend that you be brief and direct, but also personal - a reference to a particularly fine quality you admired in the deceased is always appreciated. Remember that your note should lift the spirit and should remind the recipient that he or she is in your thoughts, and avoid overly emotional or flowery language.
What is a Sympathy Acknowledgment Note?
Sympathy Acknowledgments are notes that the family of the deceased sends to all those from whom they have received some kind of gesture after the death. They may be sent in response to flowers, donations, food, a kind visit, or a letter.
Most Sympathy Acknowledgments are engraved on Ecru stock using a conservative typestyle and Black ink. The foldover informal note is the most common format, though a thicker card is also acceptable. The text of a sympathy acknowledgment note varies little. Here are a few examples:
The Family of John L. Best wishes to acknowledge your kind expression of sympathy.
Carolyn, Elizabeth and Jim
Your kind expression of sympathy is gratefully acknowledged and deeply appreciated.
The Family of John L. Best
It is not necessary to write a personal note to every recipient (though it is recommended), but each sympathy acknowledgment should be signed. Acknowledgments should be mailed as soon as is practicable. Because of the time sensitivity of such a stationery order, Dempsey & Carroll makes every effort to produce and ship sympathy acknowledgments notes as soon as possible.