How to Design Thank-You Cards

Posted on February 1, 2018 | Updated on November 28, 2022

Thank-you cards are an opportunity to put a personal touch on gratitude, so designing the perfect thank-you card is a skill in and of itself. In a recent survey, about 22 percent of respondents said they send thank-you notes frequently, and 38 percent said they send them sometimes.

A written thank-you note is an excellent way to show your appreciation, which also demonstrates you put some thought and effort into the gratitude. Nearly everyone appreciates receiving a note of thanks from someone they’ve sent a gift to or done something special for.

When it comes to designing these tokens of appreciation, however, there are many different elements you must consider. Not only does the design need to be visually pleasing, but it should reflect the sender’s personality and allow room for some customization.

Many different types of cardstock, colors and overall design elements come into play. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, but also make sure you understand the box itself is full of gratitude. Here are some things to consider when designing a thank-you card.

1. Basic Format

Your first task when creating a thank-you card design is to figure out if you want to make an e-card or a paper card. E-cards are a popular choice, but paper cards will likely never go completely out of style. There is a bit more flexibility with layout for an e-card, but with a print card, you’ll want to stick with standard sizes so the card will fit in an envelope.

For print, the standard greeting card size is 5” by 7” with an A7 envelope, or 4.25” by 5.5” with an A2 envelope. While your client may have other ideas on the size or shape of card they’d like to create, try to steer them toward standard sizes. Not only will it be easier to find the material you need to make the cards, but you also won’t run into additional costs because of odd sizing or wasted material due to unusual shapes.

One example of a basic-sized thank-you card is this wedding thank-you card on Minted. The card opens horizontally rather than vertically, still using the 4.25” by 5.5” size, but flipping it.

2. Choose a Personality

Before you start your design, you need to figure out the personality you’d like the design to reflect. Is it for a solemn occasion, such as a funeral? Then, you want something more classic and somber. If the thank-you card is for something fun and playful, that personality can shine through in the design. Also, you’ll want to consider the personality of the person you’re designing the card for. For example, a thank-you note for a young woman can have a more playful design with bright colors.

There isn’t a wrong personality for your cards, but rather the right one for a specific client or occasion. You can see an excellent example in this fill-in-the-blank Etsy design that allows the user to write in whatever fun word or phrase they’d like to use to complete the message, “Thanks for being the ____________.”

3. Allow for Personalization

Speaking of personalization, it’s essential to allow room on the inside of the design for the sender to add whatever message they want to write. No one wants to receive a thank-you card that doesn’t indicate why they’re being thanked. No matter the layout of text and graphics, be sure to allow plenty of white space inside for personalized notes.

Take a look at this beautiful Hallmark card. The front of the card is filled with a lovely design that takes up every square inch of space. The inside has plenty of white space to add a note or customization.

4. Gold Accents

A bit of gold can add a lot of elegance to a thank-you card. You can either use an outline of a graphic and line it in gold, or add gold lettering. This technique can make even the simplest of designs look upscale and classy. You also aren’t limited to yellow gold, but can choose trendy looks such as rose gold.

You can see an example of how gold makes a basic design look classic above, in the golden pineapple design with an embossed gold pineapple and gold lettering that says “thank you.” Note that the design itself is straightforward and not particularly fancy, but the gold and embossing take it up a notch.

5. Envelope Design

Do you want a truly custom look for your thank-you card design? Adding a matching envelope with a personalized return address or other elements creates a custom card, but also saves your client time and effort, which can be particularly crucial for busy business owners. They can quickly jot a note on the inside of the thank-you card and then pop it into an envelope without having to take time to affix a label or write a return address. Plus, it looks more professional overall.

Note that places such as Shutterfly’s Tiny Print allow you to customize both the thank-you card and the envelope. You can even choose the lining colors and envelope colors. And don’t forget to add your return address on the back flap to save you time and effort.

When it comes to designing thank-you cards, try to put yourself into the shoes of the recipient. Does the design speak to you? Does it express the sender’s gratitude? Make sure the overall tone matches the occasion, and try to give it a personality that matches the sender.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at


  1. James Putin on August 8, 2019 at 3:20 am

    I am a regular Reader of You. Actually Designing is a professional skill but Designing cards is an Art. I love to design custom printed header cards. that has a great look and play a good role in business marketing. I put Business fillings and emotions in my designing because it is my hobby.

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