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Rhodia Ice Has Arrived!

9 Oct

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We’ve heard our avid Rhodia fans have been waiting for this, and here they are! Celebratory Rhodia Ice Notepads are ready to ship. We’re so thrilled about the crisp white covers and silver screen print logos we can’t get enough! Our entire staff feels they’re the most special notepads we’ve ever seen, (note : we’re all among the avid Rhodia fans aforementioned) they’re so special to us indeed, it’s hard to write our first character in them! Shop all 5 sizes of Rhodia Ice Notepads right here »

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Plus! Enjoy $5 off orders $85+ with code ICE5. Hurry, this offer ends 10/15.

 

Choosing the Right Paper Format to Match Your Style

18 Mar

Notebooks, journals, and loose sheets of paper can be bought blank, lined, dotted or gridded (also known as plain, ruled, dot grid, and squared). Some alternates such as diagonal grids are also available, plus variations within the options previously mentioned (wide-ruled or college-ruled lines, for example), but the main four paper styles/formats are the focus for today.

Choosing the Right Paper Format to Match Your Style: Written by Cole Imperi, posted on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

With multiple formats to choose from, how do you know what you’ll like? Paper format can be strongly reflective of your personality, but the first place to start is to look at the things you most often write. From there, I can better guide you to a potential ‘perfect’ notebook match. 

I Make Lists

If you make lists, technically any type of paper styling will work for you but it depends on how you naturally make those lists to figure out what is best. If you tend to take a simple approach to lists—items listed all in a column that you cross off as you go—then lined is perfect for you. It will help keep your lists orderly.

If you like to (or tend to) doodle in the margins, or add in notes on the side, try blank paper. The big concern folks have with blank paper is that things can look sloppier without lines to guide you. I also think there’s something intimidating about a big blank page if you aren’t used to working with them. If you would describe yourself as creative, blank paper might be your go-to notebook type so you can really have fun with your list-making.

If you need the guidance that lines provide then lined or gridded paper will be your comfort zone. Be aware that it is possible to find some notebooks with lines on one side of the page and nothing on the other; and that might be the perfect compromise.

I Write Notes, Descriptions or Journal Entries

Lined will be your friend here. When you write blocks of text, lines are what help you keep things orderly and more importantly, aid in readability for when you go back to read what you wrote. The difficult part comes in finding the right lines. Meaning, how much spacing they have and how dark the actual line is.

You can find notebooks that have white lines, grey lines and sturdy dark black lines. You can find dotted lines and dashed lines too. If dark lines distract your eye away from what you’re writing, definitely aim for light grey lines or even reversed out white lines on grey paper. And on the flip-side, if you love structure, darker lines are ideal. The type of line you prefer is really just personal preference.

I Do a Lot of Scratch Work

If you keep multiple random pads of paper lying around, trying out just one graph notebook might be best for you going forward. If you find that you make little lists, write a few reminders, do a bit of arithmetic and doodle, you have a creative mind. The grid will help you organize your thoughts better because you will have more of a visual guideline to work with. You might start to notice yourself grouping things on a squared page rather than a blank (doodles in one corner, list in the other, notes and reminders in another, etc.).

I Doodle Constantly

As you can imagine, a blank notebook is the best option for sketching, casual doodling, and other art endeavors. The blank gives you the most space to draw with the least amount of restriction. You might find that lines or grids ‘restrict’ your doodles and drawings so just get rid of them.

I Don’t Know What I Want but I Know I Don’t Like What I Have

Try graph or dot paper. I am suggesting this because so many people never give these types of paper a try. Graph paper is typically associated with math and you can see why; the vertical and horizontal lines offer the maximum amount of ‘restriction’ on the page. But if you are coming from a lined or blank notebook camp, let this be an excuse to try something different.

Dots are great for writing out notes and descriptions because you have enough guidance to keep your text readable and without a slant. It also lets you create lists quickly and you can connect the dots to make actual check boxes. Dots also give you drawing or doodling space too but not as much ‘freedom’ as just a blank page which can scare some folks away.

I Have a Ton of Notebooks and I Use Them All

If you have a stack of notebooks, but none that are ever filled up, you might want to give one solitary dotted notebook a try. That is, if having so many unfinished notebooks bothers you. The reason you may have so many notebooks is because you are a ‘multitasker’ and none of your notebooks is a good ‘fits all’ solution. Dotted notebooks are a really good candidate for being an all-in-one solution.

Finally, no matter what camp you are in, pay attention to what and how you write. And if you’ve been writing with the same sort of notebook or paper type over the years, there might be something better out there for you.

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Discover Your True Passions by Journaling

25 Feb

It’s a new year and with Spring coming, many of us find ourselves looking to new things and new experiences to fill our days. With so many ‘new’ things to try, it can get a little overwhelming!  Painting, yoga, music, film, reading, journaling … the list goes on and on! So how do you find your passion?  Where do you start?

Hobbies vs. Passions

So what is a passion?  I define a passion as something that drives you; that makes you feel alive and truly happy.  A good friend of mine defined it as the “reason she wakes up in the morning.”  Your passion is dictated by how you personally define it.

What is the difference between a passion, a hobby, and your life’s work?  Some may say not much; I believe that they are distinct yet intertwined.  A hobby is something you like doing, your life’s work is something that you want to be remembered for, a passion is what YOU ARE.  Similar, yet different.

What are you passionate about?  What do you like to do, love to do, WANT to do?  Writing these down can help you find your path.

Grab a Notebook & Start Writing

First, grab a notebook (I personally like the Moleskine Cahier notebooks for this exercise), a pen (my new obsession is the Lamy AL-Star fountain pen), and find a quiet place to sit and reflect.  Write down what makes you Happy, the kind of happy with a capital H!

Do you find that you race home to start writing the second chapter of your novel?  Or that you purposely go out of your way at markets for exotic fruits and spices?   Do you live to read or write?  Does listening to music or creating music make you complete?  Write it all down. Create a list of things that inspire you and don’t edit it.

Visual Aids for Inspiration & Motivation

Take it to the next level with visual aids. Take old magazines and cut out inspiring quotes and images.  Paste them into your passions journal.  As you sift through the images, see what themes emerge – do you have pictures of the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and the beaches in Bali?  Or do you have pictures of books and letters and art?  Or is your notebook filled with recipes and images of colorful fruits and vegetables?  As you fill up your idea notebook with images, you will see distinct themes percolate to the top.

What if More Than One Passion Presents Itself?

If you find yourself with a multitude of passions emerging, my opinion is to explore them all!  Find a local class at the art center, or a non-credit course at the local university.  Carry your notebook with you to take notes about your experience: Was it what you expected? How would you change it for the better? Whether you are ecstatic, lukewarm, or turned off by a certain experience, write down what you felt and why.

As you explore different paths, remember to take your journal with you and write down everything that strikes you.  This process weeds out what you think you like with what you really love. I used to think I wanted to be a chef, but I realized after much journaling and reflection that while I love to cook, it was a hobby and not a career.  Looking back on my experiences with cooking, it became clear to me.  Writing down your honest experiences helps with that.

Community Conversations

Discovering someone else’s passion is a good way to experience something new and have a guide along the way! Talk to your friends and see what they are interested in. Politely ask if they would take you along to a yoga class with them, show you how to cook a special dish, or attend a local music concert with you.

Recently, I have found the wonders and joy of keeping a visual journal.  It has helped me find my passions and pursue them wholeheartedly.  As I flip through the pages of my journal, I can see the evolution of my thoughts and I see how I found myself in the process.

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Meet the Writer: Akhila Jagdish is a writer and editor in the process of starting her own editorial services company, The Crafted Word. She loves making lists, collecting journals, reading, drinking wine and cooking. 

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Practicing Contemplative Journaling (or How to Write Something Truly Thoughtful)

11 Feb

The Art of Contemplative Journaling (or How to Write Something Truly Thoughtful)

Have you ever wanted to sit down to write something? Not as big as a book or a novel, yet not something smaller like a recap of the day’s events. Instead, something that really interests you as you write it?

Then the concept of Contemplative Journaling will interest you. It’s the practice of writing something more than a standard journal entry, but less than a full story. It’s that lovely “in-between” area; something you can accomplish in just an hour or two and that makes for better reading and better writing.

While many ways to journal this way exist, I’m going to take you through just a few of them.

Contemplative Journaling Method #1 | Expand on Your Lists

If you read my recent post about the best formats for blog posts or journal entries, you should be pretty familiar with list-making. Lists are such fantastic little structures: great for itemizing simple things (like a grocery list) and for keeping track of what’s important (goals for 2013).

Take one of the lists you’ve already written and expand upon each item. Let’s say you decide to revisit your List of Goals for 2010 … even though it’s now three years old. Here are a few angles to create a contemplative journal entry from this.

+  Have you achieved those goals? If you have, talk about how you did it. If there are some you have not achieved, write about why not. Maybe it’s just no longer a priority.

+  Why were those your goals then? This is a great way to write about who you were then and who you are now by exploring what was important to you at the time.

+  Is there an item in that list you haven’t accomplished? Maybe it has been a goal for several years now, but you’ve just not been successful with it. Perhaps it’s time to examine why you keep thinking it’s a priority and how you’ll make it a success the next time you add it to a list.

Contemplative Journaling Method #2 | Process an Experience

While you’re reading this, think about something embarrassing that has happened to you in your life. If nothing comes to mind, think about someone who wronged you, or made you upset. Everyone has had at least one embarrassing or upsetting experience. Contemplative Journaling is a great way to process that experience. If you need to work through the experience and let go of something, this is a great exercise.

First, think of the ‘thing’ you need to let go of. Maybe it was a coworker who made a rude comment, or an inappropriate way you behaved. Objectively describe the event as it happened. Do not include ‘feelings’ in this part: no discussing how you felt or how you think they felt. Just actions.

Second, after detailing the event, move on to write about the ‘feeling’ part of the experience. Where did your feelings come into play and what were they?

Third, write the experience from the viewpoint of any other person involved. If it’s the coworker with the inappropriate comment, write the experience from his/her perspective.

(As this can be an intense exercise for some, if you need a quick break to come back to the project with fresh eyes, this is a perfect spot to pause.)

Fourth, read what you wrote and write about why you’ve held on to this. Why does this experience come up in your mind so readily? Why are you carrying it around? Does it relate to something seemingly unrelated in your past? Explore everything that comes up in your mind and write it down.

Fifth, write a statement of release. Literally write a release for the experience. “ I’ve processed this experience and I was holding on to it because of X. I no longer need to carry it with me.”

You can use this technique for all kinds of things: the loss of a pet, losing a contract on a house you’d been trying to buy, spending too much money over the holidays, canceling a night out with friends because you thought you wanted to stay in. If you have an experience that keeps ‘sticking’ then you should examine it.

Contemplative Journaling Method #3 | Be the Version of Yourself You Want to Be

This tends to be a good exercise at the beginning of a new year. It’s helpful in getting your brain to really connect the dots between where you are today and who you want to be tomorrow. Self improvement! But more fun.

Let’s say you go back to work next week after a few days off. Write about your normal workday if you went in as you are now. Below that, write about your workday, but as the person you’d like to be. Maybe you are trying to have more efficient mornings at work so you aren’t scrambling to leave on time. It might look like this:

“I show up for work 10 minutes late on Monday, set my stuff down and go to the break room for coffee. I see a coworker and we talk for about 10 minutes about the past weekend. I go upstairs, turn on my computer. I talk to my cubemate for a few minutes about the weekend. I check my email, and respond to one or two of them. Then I check Facebook. At about 10 a.m. I start my first task. I break to use the restroom. I come back and finish the task and take a lunch. After lunch, I go to my coworker’s desk to talk for a few minutes. When I get back to my desk, I see someone has left a stack of reports I need to scan, copy and file by the end of the day. I sit down to finish the work I should have completed that morning. It’s 3 p.m. and I go for a break to grab a snack. By the time I get back it’s 3:30 p.m. and I still have to copy all those documents and prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. I don’t leave until just before 7 p.m. when I should have been out the door by 5 p.m.”

The rewrite might be:

“I wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal and sit in bed to read a chapter in a book. This prevents me from hitting the snooze button and gives me a bit of ‘me’ time. I make it to work 5 minutes late. I go and grab coffee and briefly talk to a coworker. I go upstairs, turn on my computer, and make a to-do list for the day, except I divide it into Morning and Afternoon tasks. I complete a small, simple task first; then I check my email and respond to a few. I work on my next task, complete it, and grab another coffee and bathroom break. I come back, finish the last task of the morning, and head to lunch. At lunch, I invite a new coworker out with me. This gets me the socialization I think I need during the day. After lunch, I work on my afternoon tasks. I leave on time.”

It might seem like a mundane thing, but most people really enjoy this. It allows you to look at yourself as you are, and then as you’d like to be. Productivity is a great thing to try first because everyone (generally) could be a bit more productive. Whether it’s at the office, or at home (hello, laundry that never gets put away) there are a ton of scenarios to write about here.

This actually teaches your brain to better recognize those bad habits so you can correct them moving forward.

More advanced prompts for this involve interactions for others: communicating with your spouse, communicating with a child, etc.

Contemplative Journaling is an excellent use of those nice journals, nice pen and your brain. If you want to sit down to really write something then this is the perfect exercise for you.

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

How to Write: A Letter of Recommendation

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read

4 Feb

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

The average person takes in the equivalent of more than 174 newspapers worth of data each day, and your challenge is getting someone to not only read what you wrote on your blog, but maybe, also, to remember something about it.

Once you understand how much information the average person is bombarded with in a day, you can approach your own blog’s content with wiser eyes.

Do you know what one of the best formats for a blog post is?

A list.

People like lists. They understand them. They’re easy to read and remember.

Why do you think so many lists appear in top-selling magazines? Think about Real Simple for example. The cover generally advertises at least a few articles inside giving you 14 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen, or 48 Ways to Easily De-clutter Your Bedroom, right? The research has already been done on this, so make use of this knowledge and apply it to your blog.

Here’s how:

  1. Write a few words that describe your blog. If you already have a tagline, expand on that. If you haven’t branded yourself quite yet, briefly summarize what you normally blog about. Let’s say you write about your personal life, horses and baking.
  2. Pick one of those subjects and break it out. Take your personal life. What are things you have learned in the last year? What are some mistakes you’ll never make again and why? What have you purchased this year?
  3. Take the items you are most excited about and write the titles. Using the examples in #2 you could have:
    1. “8 Things I learned in 2012”
    2. “4 Mistakes I made as a Young Adult I’ll Never Make Again”
    3. “7 Things I Bought That Made My Life Easier”

Lists are great because once you have the title, they basically write themselves. They are also accessible to more potential readers; you can snag someone with a minuscule amount of time when you present a list. And most of all, lists are easy to share. People would rather share a list of something useful with friends rather than a very long diatribe about the happenings in your life the past week.

Lists help you package a lot of pieces together in a new way, and often, they make blogging more fun, too.

If you happen to be a journaler, packing your entries into list format is not only a good writing exercise—it also helps you gain a new perspective on whatever you may be writing about. Instead of just recording the happenings of last week, what if you called your entry “10 New Things I Discovered Last Week.” Your entry immediately becomes more than just a recall of events, and becomes something richer and deeper. If you are the type that hopes to pass your journals along to your descendants, reading list entries like the example above makes for some interesting reading.

Lists can be so much more than what you need to pick up at the grocery store or things you need to get done this week. Make use of this technique in your blogging (and writing).

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

How to Write: A Letter of Recommendation

7 Ways to Celebrate National Handwriting Day

23 Jan

celebrate national handwriting day with EuropeanPaper.com!

Celebrate handwriting with EuropeanPaper.com on Instagram – follow us @EuroPaper

1) Practice your penmanship. No, seriously. The small things in today’s world have such an increased focus on them, that you’ll appreciate having nice handwriting when the time comes to write a thank you letter, sympathy note, or love letter.

2) Start a new journal if you don’t already have one in rotation. Need inspiration? Check out our blog post: 10 Ideas for a Journaling Jump Start (or just start writing about National Handwriting Day)!

3) If you have more than one notebook you journal in currently, go through each one and write a paragraph about this day/week.

4) Volunteer at your local elementary or middle school and help teach children how to improve their handwriting–and why it’s important! Check out Campaign for Cursive for more information. (h/t Canon-McmillanPatch)

5) Take your time, sit down with your favorite stationery or note card, and write that thank you letter you’ve been avoiding since the holidays. Here’s how: How to Write a Thank You Letter.

6) Did you know National Handwriting Day was created on the birthday of Declaration of Independence signer John Hancock? See his beautiful signature on Wikipedia and see if you can recreate it freehand

7) Never used a fountain pen before? Today’s the day! Learn how to write with a fountain pen!

Need more inspiration? Check out our blogroll for amazing snail mailers, pen & pencil aficionados, and writers galore HERE

And that’s just scratching the surface. What are some of your suggestions for celebrating National Handwriting Day? Leave them in the comments below!

 

How to Write: Letter of Recommendation

12 Nov

How to Write: Letter of Resignation by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog The most important thing to keep in mind when writing a letter of recommendation is that you are writing to present new information; not to confirm information that is already available. Let’s go through some scenarios:

Recommendation Letters for Students

Many graduate-level education programs don’t highly consider recommendation letters that simply confirm information available in a student’s transcript. This means information like grades and test scores.

If your student has an A in your class, it’s best not to write something like:

“Student is very conscientious, arrives to class on time, has never missed a lesson and is 3 out of 67 students academically. He would be an excellent addition to your program.”

The above example is simply confirming what’s in the student’s transcript. One can easily tell this student is really good at being a student. But is that all they can do? Are they able to be anything else? The emphasis should be on their ability to apply their knowledge in the real world, and it should reference their enthusiasm and interest in whatever their course of study is.

Recommendation Letters for Employees & Interns

Your first step is to ask what the letter is for. Is this for another internship? If so, where? Or is this for admission into some sort of educational program? Your letter of recommendation will be more valuable if you are able to write it with an understanding of what its purpose is for.

Your letter should be concise and thorough. It’s actually OK to mention a weakness as long as you are emphasizing the positive. When mentioning a weakness like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help,” be sure to end with a positive solution like “She/he doesn’t always know when to ask for help, but after we paired her/him with a senior-level manager to mentor them, we saw immense development of skills and ability. Their leadership skills grew as a result and their contribution to the team multiplied tenfold.”

A letter of recommendation for an employee is not a request to state that the employee showed up on time or did their job. It’s a request to understand more about the character and ability of the person. They want to know if this person is likely to persevere through difficulty, or give up. If they’re able to adjust to changes and adapt to new situations. If they can work with a wide range of personality types and still keep projects moving forward. They don’t want to hear that they took no sick days in 2012. They want to hear that the applicant is not only capable of working independently, but also able to ask if they’re unsure of something.

Recommendation Letters for Volunteers

A volunteer is special. They are giving up their most precious resource—time—to your cause or organization. Keeping that volunteer volunteering is vastly important. If they’re ready to move on from your organization, it’s your job to make sure they continue giving their time somewhere else. Volunteers are precious resources!

Writing letters of recommendation for volunteers should involve two things: statements about the volunteer’s character and information about your organization. Each organization or group that utilizes volunteer time is built differently. How your group is structured may not align with how another’s is. It’s important for the person reading the letters of recommendation to not only get a feel for the volunteer’s character, but also to understand the inner workings of your organization.

Recommendation Letters Are Not About You

It’s generally useful to provide a paragraph’s worth of information about yourself. How you know the person you are recommending and a little about how you interacted/worked with them. But that’s it. No need to get into specifics. The letter is about them, not about you.

How to Structure a Letter of Recommendation

Be formally concise. Your first paragraph is the statement of recommendation. Your second paragraph covers who you are and how you worked with the person being recommended. The next 1-3 paragraphs should each detail a specific example (all positive) of situations or events that clearly demonstrate certain aspects of the character of the person being recommended. Your final paragraph should serve to summarize: restate your strong recommendation on the basis of the person’s demonstrated strong character and positive attitude.

When NOT to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Simply, don’t write a recommendation letter for someone if you don’t mean it. You will waste their time and yours. If you need a way to decline writing a letter of recommendation, you can simply say that you do not have enough time to write an adequate letter.

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

10 Sep

How to Write: Letter of Resignation by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/BlogResigning from something – whether it’s a job or a volunteer position with a local non-profit – is an occasion that should be given some care and attention. In most cases, your letter of resignation will be kept on file permanently and is something that could potentially resurface in the future. Here are a few essential components to any good resignation letter and a few best practices as well.

1. Formatting

Format the resignation letter formally. If you use a word processor like Microsoft Word, you can use one of the pre-installed templates. There are several that will work; one in particular is called ‘Formal Letter.’ Use a heavier, decent paper when you print it off as well to add a more professional look.

2. Keep it Simple

There is no need to detail any specifics in a resignation letter. You might want to describe a situation or take time to write something a bit lengthier – don’t. Save that for your exit interview if you wish. If there is no exit interview, perhaps offering up those additional details would be better delivered in person verbally or through a thoughtful email. Ask yourself if anything more really needs to be said.

3. Include Basic Information

Make sure your full first and last name, current mailing address, date, the name of the company or organization you are resigning from, their address and your signature (in ink) are all listed in the letter.

4. List Your Resignation Date

It’s very important that you list the date your resignation will be effective. Whether you already told your employer in person is no matter, you need to have it in writing. If your employer has requirements for giving notice (the standard is two weeks), this letter will serve as proof that you gave enough notice.

5. Be Positive

Even if you are leaving on bad terms, it’s important to not be negative in your resignation letter. Imagine if a future employer saw this letter. Would they be left with a bad taste? If you are finding it hard to be positive, at the very least thank the company or the organization for the opportunity and leave it at that.

6. Offer to Help

Offer to assist in finding a replacement or to train your replacement. It’s important to show that you are a team player and are trying to avoid leaving the company in a lurch.

7. Clarify Final Duties

It is good practice to not only list your date of resignation, but to note that you need clarification on your final duties and any other final matters before you go. This helps the company or organization know that they need to figure out what is left as well. If you’ve already discussed your final duties and responsibilities, it would be appropriate to list those out in writing in your resignation letter.

Here’s the thing about resignation letters. You never know when – or how – you’ll cross paths with your former boss or coworkers in the future. The fact is, you may never, but the world is a very small place sometimes. If you leave anything in writing, make sure it’s positive and professional.

Below is a basic example of a resignation letter (click to enlarge). What experiences (positive or negative) have you had with resignation letters?

How to Write a Resignation Letter via EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

7 Sep

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

Cursive is a word that basically just means the letters are joined. So, whether your cursive is bubbly and wide or teeny and scratchy; as long as those letters are connected, you, my friend, are writing in cursive.

Having a solid cursive writing style at your fingertips is useful. Cursive is nice to bring out for special occasions, like birthday cards and letters, and once you really get it down, it can become a beautiful style of day-to-day writing.

What tends to be most frustrating about this style of writing is that things can look a bit uneven. If you look at your own natural cursive and you aren’t happy with something, can it be attributed to uneveness? In my experience as a long-time letter writer, penmanship and calligraphy instructor, and type designer, this is exactly the case. Here are my best tips for improving your cursive.

 Slow Down

Whether you are printing or writing in cursive, this tip will always ring true. Take something you’ve written in cursive and set it down next to you. On another sheet of paper, write the same exact thing but slow down when writing it. Compare the two. Is there a difference? When we slow down to write, it gives our hands time to create smoother strokes and more consistent connections. Get used to writing slower and you’ll soon be able to speed up without losing any quality in your penmanship.

 Same Angle, Same Position

When you are writing in cursive, take note of the angle of the pen and the angle of your hand. Whatever angle you start with—keep it throughout the entire piece of writing. You see, when we change the angle of writing mid-stream that’s when we have problems.

 Be Cognizant of Connections

Cursive is all about connections. If you have uneven connection points, those can be fixed by either slowing down or keeping a consistent angle. If you find yourself having to draw longer connections sometimes, you probably have changed your angle. If you find yourself with short and rough connection points, you need to slow down. These connection strokes in cursive are what make cursive cursive. They are what make this style of penmanship beautiful. They make it this way because they provide rhythm and repetition. Do you know what happens in a song where the drummer can’t keep a consistent beat? It doesn’t sound right. Same with cursive, keep that consistent stroke and connection going on.

 It Takes A Little Time

Slowing down at first will give you some ‘breathing room’ in properly developing your style of cursive. If you don’t slow down at first, it’s like building the walls of the house before the foundation. Slowing down does not mean you are not a good writer or you are not capable of writing faster, it just means you are taking time to really master something well so that in the future, when you do speed up, you’ll be prepared and will be producing something that is the same quality as what you produced at a slower speed.

Your Cursive Will Be Different Than My Cursive

If you’re like me, you were taught cursive in second grade. We all were taught based on the same model and were graded on how close we were to that model. Don’t approach your penmanship the same way.

How I write cursive will not be how you write cursive. It can be helpful to look at other writing samples for ideas or as ways to diagnose connection problems (i.e. how others connect an ‘r’ to an ‘s’), but you should really work on developing your cursive independently. Go into it with the mindset that you are honing your own cursive; not that you are honing someone else’s cursive.

Find a Rhythm

One thing that may help you improve your cursive quickly is to find a rhythm in the way you write. Have you ever sat down to write and you noticed that words you were writing were flowing onto the page with ease? Did you notice that your hand might have fallen into a ‘rhythm’ of upstrokes and downstrokes? If you can write in a way where your upstrokes and downstrokes take the same amount of time, your writing will reflect this style. Because this tip is a bit abstract, I’m going to explain a simple exercise so that you can actually ‘hear’ your cursive. All you need is a felt tipped pen of some kind (or any pen that will give some squeak or scratch), any kind of paper and some quiet. Write in your natural cursive and ‘listen’ to your letters. Listen for your upstrokes and your downstrokes as you write. Does it sound smooth and consistent? Try writing in a way so that you ‘hear’ a rhythm in the way you write.

I’ve included an image of the ‘traditional’ model of cursive for you to take a look at. Chances are, you naturally do not write your capital Z like shown. That’s OK. Write how you write.

Traditional-Cursive-Image - How to Improve Your Cursive on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

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Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

Get Organized: Take Charge of Your To-Do Lists

15 Mar

Are you a chronic compiler of sticky notes? Is your wallet stuffed with small scraps of paper? Do scrawl-covered napkins flutter around in your car? If that sounds like you, you might just be a to-do list hoarder.

To-do lists are good. Usually. They help us remember the innumerable tasks we have to tackle for work, home, committees, kids, and more. But if managing – or finding – your to-do lists takes over actually completing the tasks, your lists aren’t helping. Unless you organize or consolidate your responsibilities into a more streamlined system, you’re not being as efficient as you could be.

Here, based on personality types, are a handful of the best ways to organize to-do lists from various aspects of your life – and the products to facilitate your newfound sense of organization.

Separatist

If you strive to keep your professional life separate from your personal life, institute a system that encourages that separation. To help you compartmentalize your various roles and responsibilities, pick up a set of Moleskine Volant notebooks. Dedicate one to work and one to life, and clearly label the two notebooks so that you’re not tempted to grab whichever is closer.

Rhodia Spiralbound Square Reverse Book (8.25 x 8.25)

Rhodia Spiralbound Square Reverse Book (8.25 x 8.25)

Minimalist

Not everyone can achieve it, but if your goal is simplicity, consolidate all your to-do lists into one single notebook. The trick is to create a habit of always carrying that one notebook with you since everything will be housed together. A side spiral Rhodia will help you keep all your lists in one place. With a sturdy cover and side binding, a Rhodia can be taken in and out of your bag, tossed in your car, and lugged on an airplane and still keep your to-dos together.

Moleskine Classic Large Ruled Notebook (5 x 8.25)

Moleskine Classic Large Ruled Notebook (5 x 8.25)

Traditionalist

Those who love the Moleskine tradition may balk at the idea of replacing their do-it-all notebook for a different system. With a simple hack, convert your Moleskine into a to-do list organizer. Use your favorite size notebook, and divide it into sections for each task area, like work, life, home, goals, and so on. Tabs can be made from almost anything. For example, fold a small sticky tab in half, write the title on the edge, and tape it into place, or cut up expired gift cards for durable tabulating.

Clairefontaine Classic Extra Large Side Spiralbound Notebook (8.5 x 11)

Clairefontaine X Large Side Spiral Notebook (8.5 x 11)

Goal-Getter

For those with many goals, many tasks, and many to-dos, a large notebook is a must. The Clairefontaine Classic Extra Large Spiralbound Notepad is 8.5- by 11-inches, which gives you enough space to outline all your tasks and related notes. Plus, since the pages are perforated, you can tear them out to file as needed.

Multi-Tasking Mom

For the busy mom on the go, the Exacompta Exafolio Executive will keep all your lists organized in one place. Six file compartments accompany a notebook, which allows you to keep like items – errands, grocery lists, kid-related to-dos, and so on – together.

Whichever product you choose to manage your to-do lists, the ACME Sing Sing 4-Function Pen is the perfect complement to keep your organization streamlined. Instead of cramming multiple implements in your bag or notebook, this one piece has a stylus for your PDA, a pencil, a pen, and a highlighter for convenient note-jotting.

Whatever your personality, there’s a product that can help you organize that never-ending flow of to-dos. Now, if only there was a product to complete those to-dos for you!

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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How to Take the Most Efficient (& Effective) Meeting Notes

19 Jan

Meetings take up a huge amount of our work schedules. While it sometimes seems like meetings are held only for the sake of meetings, the reality is that meetings are meant to keep projects on track. However, if the meeting participants aren’t capturing the salient points and important tasks during the meeting, all that time is wasted. Meetings are only as valuable as the action that comes out of them. To make sure you’re maximizing meeting time, focus on developing an effective note-taking system. Bonus: Taking notes keeps you from zoning out during long sessions.

To begin, choose a notebook that encourages clean note taking. A large, ruled, spiral-bound book like the Rhodia Meeting Book allows for the most efficient note taking. Plus, the pages are easy to tear out in case an unprepared colleague needs a sheet for his own notes.

How to Take Effective & Efficient Notes by Maggie Marton for EuropeanPaper.com

Click the image to shop notebooks on EPC.

It’s important to develop a consistent note-taking system that works for you. You don’t have to use an “official” method like, for instance, Cornell Notes, but it’s worth experimenting with different styles. Regardless, there are several steps you should take to make your meeting notes effective and efficient.

First, always notate the meeting specifics. Jot the date, start and end times, and attendees at the top of your page. This is especially important for a big project where questions can arise about who is responsible for – or who dropped the ball on – specific tasks.

Next, remember that it isn’t necessary to write down everything said during the meeting. Capture the significant points of each discussion and any supporting details. If tasks are delegated – especially to you! – capture the assignment, the due date, and the names of anyone else involved. Be sure that these tasks stand out on your page by marking them with a box or star or highlighting that line.

To speed up your note taking, abbreviate! Abbreviations are only useful if you remember what they actually mean, so until you’re accustomed to abbreviating your meeting notes, create a list of abbreviations you plan to use frequently. Here are a few common abbreviations to get your list started:

  • re = regarding
  • w/o = without
  • incl = including

Finally, the real test of effectiveness is what you do with your notes after the meeting. Meetings aren’t productive by themselves; the productivity comes from the action taken after the meeting. Meeting notes should be processed as soon as possible after the meeting so that crucial information isn’t lost. Type your notes and file them with the handwritten copy. Transfer all project timelines and tasks to your day planner. Enter any follow-up meetings into your planner or send out meeting requests for check-ins immediately after in order to keep everyone on schedule.

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 Meet the Writer:Maggie Marton is a freelance writer who lives in Bloomington, Indiana, with her husband and their three darling dogs. View more of Maggie’s work at MaggieMarton.com

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Choosing a Notebook: Top vs. Side Spiralbound

17 Jan

A Little Binding History

The spiralbound notebook is an object that everyone is familiar with, if only because it’s on school supply lists nearly everywhere. But it’s also quite popular in an office setting for the convenience of lying the spiralbound book flat, wrapping the pages 360-degrees around the book, and creating a professional look.

Spiral binding is also known as coil spring binding, which has existed since 1924. Back then, it was used primarily in office settings. Today, it is commonly used in schools and offices for reports, presentations, and other professional documents.

Spiral Binding Today

Coil binding machines use spring coils, also called spirals, which bind paper sheets together through a series of holes along the side of the paper. There are many options for coil binding machines, ranging from light-duty for home projects to heavy-duty for offices and manufacturers. The main options include the punch capacity (the number of sheets it can punch at one time), the binding capacity (the number of sheets it can bind at one time), and whether it is manual or electric.

Spiral binding is a three-step process: the pages are punched, the coil is inserted, then the ends of the metal or plastic coil are cut. While the light-duty punching systems are great for binding a school or work project at home, the heavier machines can punch and bind more sheets of paper at a time, allowing for faster production.

The amount of paper used is the main factor when selecting the type of material to bind your project. Some spiral binding coils are made from metal, whereas other types of coil binding are made from plastic. Metal coils are useful when you need extra durability or if you need to punch a large number of pages. Plastic coils may break easier than metal coils and this is something to keep in mind if you would like to start binding your own projects at home.  One benefit to the plastic springs is that you can get just about any color you need (i.e. they’re more than ideal for those who organize their projects or lifestyle via color).

Spiralbound Benefits

Many spiralbound notebooks today have a double wire binding to prevent snags plus perforated sheets for clean and easy tearing, so you won’t have little bits of paper falling out.  If you’re in the market for a new spiralbound, try these options:

The versatile notebook (top AND side spiralbound): The Rhodia Spiralbound Reverse Notepad can be used horizontally and vertically, making it an accessible choice for everyone. This one is a favorite with artists. It can also be used and flipped around when the table space you have to write on isn’t big enough to accommodate the horizontal version.

For the organized planner (side spiralbound): The Rhodia Spiralbound Meeting Book is the planner’s dream. This side spiralbound allows an all-in-one record of meeting discussions, decision and action items. You can review the meeting or event with one glance, having all of your plans and notes together on one page.

Color Coordinated (top spiralbound): Clairefontaine’s Classic Top Spiralbound Notepad blends the best of both colors per cover. Plus, it includes either lined or graph paper, so it’s perfect for in the classroom or in the office. It’s even great for playing paper and line games where you need the graphing boxes.

Editor’s Note: Like stapled notepads better? Check out Kelly’s article detailing Top vs. Side Staplebound Notepads.

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 Meet the Writer: Kelly McLendon is a freelance writer and journalist with a passion for paper products—particularly eco-friendly ones. Follow her articles on our blog to learn all about paper products.

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