Proper Stationery: The Essentials Everyone Should Know

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Proper Stationery: The Essentials Everyone Should Know

By Cindy Edwards

Just imagine how you feel when you pull a stack of bills and advertisement flyers out of your mailbox and your eyes spy a lovely envelope that is hand-addressed to you. You know that it is something special.

A personal note on a nice piece of stationery can be priceless. But, a complete stationery wardrobe is not just reserved for Southern girls: Everyone should have a beautiful set. It is as much a part of expressing your personality and style as the shoes that you select for an outfit. Do not take it too seriously, though, because just like shoes, there are many choices in many price ranges. You must select a style of paper, a color for paper and ink. Then there are the thousands of choices for type style and many options for personalization. Did I mention the weight and quality of paper? It can go on and on, but it is so fun!!

I visited with Jennifer Hodges, owner of Merry Times, a Savannah stationery boutique, to get a few tips on how to assemble the perfect stationery wardrobe. “Your stationery should reflect both your personality and the type of correspondence that you are sending,” advises Hodges. “Wedding thank-you notes are formal, therefore, if you are thanking someone for a gift, you would write on a half-sheet or ‘informals.’”

Let’s quickly review several styles of paper that are available:

Half-sheet: This is a formal and traditional type of paper that has a fold along the left-hand side. It must be folded again to fit into a smaller envelope. It can be engraved with a monogram or name, and it is perfect for replying to invitations and notes of sympathy and gratitude.


Informals: These horizontal folded cards are good for short notes, thank-you notes, expressing sympathy and replying to invitations. They may also be personalized. Although called informals, they are actually used for more formal correspondence.


Correspondence card: This is a flat card that is available in various sizes and styles. A correspondence card is perfect for informal kinds of communication. Hodges says, “It is more proper for a man to use a flat card than a folded note for his stationery needs.”


“Standard” paper: Measuring approximately 7 inches by 10 inches, “standard” paper folds twice to fit into an envelope. Only the first sheet is personalized, with matching blank sheets for additional text. The executive or business size is usually 7 1/4 inches by 10 1/2 inches.


Personalization adds a very nice touch.  There are many choices of type styles and monograms, so my best advice is to see a professional that will match your needs and tastes to the styles that are available.

Below are a few options for personalization:

Engraving: Engraving is certainly more formal, but it can be very expensive. It is the finest type of printing and will give your stationery a very elegant feel. The printer creates a copper plate, or a die, that can be used over and over. The die lifts the type up and gives a three-dimensional look. I use the same die on several different styles of paper: my enclosure cards, my informals and my half-sheets.

Thermography: Thermography is a less expensive option for personalization. Hodges says that the quality of thermography has come a long way and it is a very good option. Thermography gives a raised appearance to the monogram but without the “bruising” or “pulling” of the paper that you see with engraving.

Letterpress: Letterpress is an old form that has recently become more popular.  The lettering is literally pressed into the paper, but, the paper has to be soft enough to be pressed. Hodges describes letterpress as a “very lovely and formal look.”  Letterpress is generally priced between engraving and thermography.


Laser: Laser printing is a good choice for casual stationery. It is the least expensive option. If you are creative and if you use a good paper, you can create a nice look for a reasonable price.

Paper Selection

I love the feel of beautiful paper. There are a plethora of types and weights of papers that you can choose. Hodges believes that the finest papers are made of natural fibers. The selection of the perfect paper will depend on its use. 

Things to Remember:

  • • Sign your own name on your own stationery. Do not sign your name on your husband’s correspondence cards.
  • • Visit a professional and explain your needs and your budget.
  • • The most important thing is that your correspondence be sincere and heart-felt.

As always, thanks for reading.

Properly yours,

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


What a lovely piece on stationery. Lets not let it become a lost art! Look forward to reading more of your articles.

By Cindy Stallings on April 07, 2012


Thanks for these wonderful ideas on stationary.

By Shirley Minick on February 02, 2012


I enjoyed reading this article. In the 60's I always bought stationery - for letter writing and had the candle wax to stamp my initial on the back of the envelope. I used a lot of paper - received a lot for Christmas presents - I still love it - I hope things like this will never go away - because it is nice to receive something elegant, something unusual, impressive, pretty...I still enjoy sending cards also and I can't imagine anyone not enjoying receiving them. Happy New Year!

By Alice Rader on December 31, 2011


i come from some southern cooks who talked about a " butter bean and pastry pie" however i have never eated it our seen the receipe. i came up short when i googled it. i thought who better than Paula Dean. my relatives who made this, my grandmother Pinki Momma who i never met was from Norfok Va. does anyone have this receipe? thanks

By michelle on December 17, 2011


Love the stationary! Great ideas! Looking forward to your next blog!

By Donna Eichholz on December 15, 2011


I always love writing thank you notes on my monogram stationary! Great blog!

By Caroline Eichholz on December 15, 2011


Great information and perfect timing! I am fixing to order new stationary for both my children! Thank you!

By Marci on December 15, 2011


I just ordered new personalized stationary for every member of my family. My 2 year old daughter was so excited when it arrived. Writing notes, especially thank you notes, is a wonderful tradition that I am so happy to pass on to my children. Thank you for the helpful tips so I can be sure to pass along the proper information to them.

By Amy on December 14, 2011


Cindy I can't believe that I missed the article on stationary and note writing, as I write more than a dozen notes every week...must have been busy with my new grandson, Jake. Your article was GREAT!!! I thought that I knew about hand writing notes but, as always, there is always more to learn. Thank you for being such a good always do your homework! Carolyn

By Carolyn Nowell on December 12, 2011


I love beautiful stationery and love the blog!

By Lenora on December 11, 2011


In today's postmodern industrial fast food society, I often lament the death of romantic slips and monograms. I think stationery actually fits into both of those categories. Indeed, no matter how informal, a personally addressed note, invitation, or letter always makes my day. I would love to hear your thoughts on scented stationery. Tacky or tempting? The letterpress is my personal favorite, just in case anyone who knows me is reading this and wondering what to get me for Christmas. smile It's subtle and elegant, just like my handsome fiance.

By Amanda Parks on December 09, 2011


I love stationary and think that using it is perhaps a dying art. Thank you for your informative blog. I will continue to follow your blog about all things southern. Thank you.

By Joan Montford on December 09, 2011


In today's electronic world, it's always exciting to receive a beautiful letter in the mail!

By Lois on December 09, 2011


I do love beautiful stationery AND receiving a hand-written note! Thanks you once again for emphasizing an essential Southern politeness staple.

By Viki Curtis on December 07, 2011


Loved reading the stationery article. Thanks for all of the helpful suggestions. Keep them coming!!I am trying to teach my two young daughters all of the right things to do and sometimes they think I am crazy!! We had just had a conversation over proper stationery for females. Thanks again!!!

By Valarea Bowers on December 01, 2011


Thank you for the helpful hints! I think that I will buy some stationary for my friends for Christmas.

By Lindsey Stone on December 01, 2011


Great info and timing since I need to replenish my supply. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas.

By Sandra Creech on December 01, 2011


Thanks for the great information. Personal notes are always appreciated!

By Linda Parton on December 01, 2011


Cindy,your articles are always most interesting!!! Looking forward to the next one.

By Anne on November 28, 2011


Thanks for the great tips on the true art of paper……my secret obssession! I agree that what you write on is a reflection of the person writing it. Looking forward to the next blog.

By Michelle on November 28, 2011

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