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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 6, 2006

Note to self: handwritten's best

Arizona Republic

Proponents of handwritten notes say they cut through e-mail clutter, show you care and took time, and can help seal the deal on a job.

RYAN B. STEVENSON | Gannett News Service

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In a sea of e-mails and text and instant messages, a handwritten note can cut through the clutter.

Maybe it's the fact that someone took the time to sit down and put his or her thoughts on paper. Maybe it's the fact that it harkens to a simpler, less harried time.

Whatever the reason, for business or personal use, if you want to make a good impression, sometimes it helps to shut off the computer and do things the old-fashioned way.

Forrester Research, a technology and market research company, estimates there are more than 135 million e-mail users in the United States. The Wall Street Journal recently stated that in 2004, 55 million cell phone users in the country sent an average of 203 text messages each.

Proponents of handwritten notes say handwritten communication can seal the deal on a job, express your unique personality and help children focus in school.

Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Cindy Zimmermann is a consultant who stresses to businesses the value of good communication skills. She recently organized a workshop to emphasize the importance of handwriting.

She says handwritten correspondence gets the writer past spam filters and the sometimes cold, impersonal image of big corporations.

"If you're going on even an entry-level job interview, take the time to follow up with a handwritten note, even if your handwriting isn't the best and even if you can't use four-syllable words," Zimmermann said. "Just showing that initiative makes a difference. If someone takes the time to write a note ... I've had many employers tell me it's a way they make a decision about hiring."

It's also a statement of style.

A handwritten note makes the sender stand out from the crowd. It's also a show of status to whip out a fancy fountain pen to write those notes.

"When people put a fountain pen in their hand, they have a feeling," said David Brous, director sales and marketing at Sheaffer USA, which makes fine writing instruments. "When they write, they kind of correlate how they feel to what goes on the paper. Fine writing allows you to present in a much better, more appealing fashion."

Putting pen to paper is also a tangible way to demonstrate the thought you put into your words.

"I think it looks pretty. It's really elegant," said Elyse Heob, 17, who was taking calligraphy lessons at a recent event at Ancala Country Club in Scottsdale. "It looks like you put more effort into what you're writing and you really care, instead of just typing something up."