All Messages

Formatting letters of recommendation

  1. Home
  2. 1st Anniversary Wishes
  3. Formatting letters of recommendation
Formatting letters of recommendation
August 11, 2019 1st Anniversary Wishes 3 comments

Finish your letter of recommendation fast with free downloadable of recommendation template in Word format, and get your letter written fast.

Table of Contents

  1. Template Library 1: Student, College, and Teacher Samples
  2. Template Library 2: Employment Related Samples
  3. What is a Letter of Recommendation?
  4. Format – Content Sections, Font, and Margins
  5. Important Steps Before Writing
  6. How to Write a Letter of Recommendation in 9 Steps
  7. Characteristics of a Strong Letter
  8. How to Ask For One
  9. When to Reject a Request

1. Letter of Recommendation Template Library 1: Student, College, and Teacher Samples

Click Here to View All Student and Teacher Templates

2. Letter of Recommendation Sample Library 2: Employment Templates

Click Here to View All Employment Related Templates

3. What is a Letter of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation (or reference letter) is a document designed to add extra weight and merit to a job or college application. They are usually written by a supervisor, colleague, teacher, or friend.

There are various different types of recommendation letters, but the three main ones are those for employment, for university applications, and character references.

Who Needs Letters of Recommendation? Why Do They Need Them?

Below we’ve outlined all the various types of people and reasons a person might require one, as well as who to ask for one.

#1. Students Applying for University, Grad School, or Scholarships

Almost all universities and scholarship programs require at least two recommendation letters as part of the application process. These reference letters should ideally be written by previous teachers or professors who are familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.

Students need references because admissions officers and scholarship organizations want to get a better understanding of who they are as a person. Recommendation letters help to shed light on the “full package” that is difficult to fully convey in a resume and personal essay.

For more details on who you should ask to write your recommendation, check out our detailed guide on how to ask for one.

It is also acceptable to have your letter written by a coach, guidance counselor, or academic adviser who can speak to your strengths.

#2. People Applying for Jobs That Require Strong References

For most job applications, a well-written resume and cover letter or letter of interest are more than sufficient. However, certain industries or companies may require a letter of recommendation in addition to these basic essentials. Teachers and physician assistants are two such examples of jobs that often need a written reference as part of the application.

Generally speaking, the most convincing reference letters will be those written by a supervisor. In cases where this is impossible (or undesirable), a recommendation from a coworker who is intimately familiar with your work is also acceptable.

#3. People Who Want to Beef Up Their Job Application

If you feel as though your resume and cover letter aren’t particularly strong, a letter of recommendation can help you land a job when it otherwise might be impossible.

A character reference from a friend, teacher, or family member can make all the difference when it comes to job hunting.

This usually occurs when you have little or no work experience. In situations like these, a character reference from a friend, teacher, or family member can make all the difference when it comes to job hunting.

On the other hand, if you’re applying for a particularly competitive job, a strong reference from a previous employer can turn the tide and help you stand out from the crowd.

4. Format — Content & Page Layout (Font, Margins)

Now that we know what a recommendation letter is and who needs one, let’s go through exactly how to structure the content of your letter, as well as the best page formatting and fonts to create a professional look.

Content Format Guide: 7 Basic Sections

No matter who it’s for, including these seven basic parts in your letter will ensure it hits every point needed to write a strong and compelling letter of recommendation.

Part 1. Contact Information and Letterhead

Ideally speaking, your own name, address, and contact information should go in a letterhead at the top of the page. If you don’t have a letterhead, place this information above the date on the top-left side of the page.

Otherwise, the first thing on the top-right side of the page should be the current date, followed by the addressee’s name, title, company or school name, and then address.

Part 2. Salutation

As with any letter, the first line should address the person or body of people you are writing to by name and title. Avoid vague salutations such as “To Whom It May Concern:” unless there are no other options available to you.

Check out the first step of our letter of recommendation writing guide for a more detailed explanation of how to craft the perfection salutation.

Part 3. Introduction: How you know the applicant

Start by expressing your sincere recommendation of the applicant, explain who you are and your relationship with the person you are recommending, including how long you have known them.

Part 4. The Academic, Personal, or Professional Achievements of the Applicant

The second paragraph outlines the relevant academic or professional strengths of the applicant. Include one to two specific and detailed examples that demonstrate the applicant truly does possess these strengths.

Part 5. Personal Traits and Characteristics

The third paragraph is all about personality. Include details of the applicants positive personality traits and examples that clearly showcase them.

Part 6. Explanation of Applicant’s Departure [Optional]

This optional section is only used when writing letters of recommendation for employment. It should also only be included in cases when the applicant’s reason for leaving their previous or current company is either neutral or positive. Such as relocating for family reasons, or outgrowing the opportunities at the company.

Part 7. Conclusion: Call-to-action

Reiterate your wholehearted recommendation of the applicant and encourage the reader to contact you with any questions they may have.

Page Format Guide: 5 Basic Rules

While the content of your letter is the most important element, the appearance of the page still requires some consideration. The alignment, font size and style, and margins can all impact the impression you give the reader.

The following simple guidelines will ensure your recommendation letter looks professional:

  1. Don’t exceed one page in length unless the extra paragraphs and details you are including legitimately strengthen your recommendation. That being said, anything over two pages is definitely too much.
  2. Use a 12-point font to maximize readability and economical use of space. Using an 11-point font in order to maintain a one-page length is acceptable but should be avoided when possible. Anything lower than 11 points is too small.
  3. Stick to basic font stylessuch as Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, and Garamond. Avoid any overly stylistic fonts that could affect readability.
  4. 1”–1½” is the sweet spot for margins. You could arguably go slightly over or under these limits to fit everything onto one page, but it’s best to avoid anything too excessive.
  5. Maintain a left alignmentthroughout the entire page to ensure an organized appearance. 

For more specific details on how to format a letter of recommendation, check out our comprehensive business letter format guide.

5. Three Important Steps Before You Begin Writing

Before you stretch your typing fingers, there are a couple of things you must do to ensure your reference letter is as compelling as possible.

Step 1:Ask the Applicant for Information

Ask the applicant for a copy of their resume, cover letter, personal essay, or any other such documents they are submitting as part of their application. Read through them thoroughly and avoid repeating any of the information mentioned unless it is particularly important.

Ask the applicant if there are any particular points or examples they’d like you to mention.

It’s also a good idea to ask the applicant if there are any particular points or examples they’d like you to mention.

Step 2:Conduct Your Own Research

Do some research on the company, university, or scholarship the applicant is targeting, and customize your letter based on their requirements. If you’re writing a letter for a job application, reading through the job description is a great way to get an idea of the specifics you should emphasize.

Step 3:Think About the Type of Letter You are Writing

Depending on the type of recommendation letter you are writing, the tone and contents will differ. If you’re a manager writing for an employee, the tone will be much more formal and contain a lot of detail regarding an applicant’s professional achievements.

On the other end of the spectrum, a character reference from a friend will be written in a more casual tone and focus more on an individual’s personal strengths and characteristics.

If you’re pressed for time, ask the applicant to do all the research for you and then provide a summary of all the important information.

6. How to Write a Compelling Recommendation Letter — 9 Step Guide

Now that we’ve gotten all the little nitty-gritty details out of the way, it’s time to put pen to paper. Following these steps will help you create a convincing letter of recommendation that is sure to be an invaluable part of any application.

Step 1: A Polite and Personable Salutation

The way you greet someone when meeting them for the first time has a huge impact on their first impression of you. The way you address someone in a letter is no different. As such, it’s important to use a polite and personable salutation to start your letter off strong.

A proper salutation should be structured as follows:

Dear+ Title+ Name of Recipient

The title will vary depending on the individual you are writing to. For example, if you are addressing a hiring manager, you would use a general title such as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.

Example #1:

Dear + Mr. /Mrs. /Ms. + Hiring Manager’s Last Name

On the other hand, if you were writing to a Professor or someone with a Phd, you should use their professional title such as Dr. or Professor.

Example #2:

Dear+ Professor+ Professor’s Last Name

Ideally the applicant requesting the letter should provide you with the name of the person who the letter should be addressed to. If not, a bit of quick research on linkedin, or the company/university website should yield some results.

What Should I Do if I Don’t Know the Name of the Recipient?

When you don’t know the name of the recipient, you should still make your salutation as personable as possible. This means avoiding weak openings that make no attempt to directly address the reader.

Even if you don’t know their nameyou should never use “To Whom it May Concern” when addressing the recipient.

Here’s What You Should Do Instead:

Dear+ Titleof Recipient

For example, if you are addressing a university’s dean of admissions whose name you don’t know, write Dear Dean of Admissions. Whereas if you are writing to the hiring manager of a company, write Dear Hiring Manager.

How Should I Address a Letter to a Body of People or an Organization?

When addressing a body of people such as an admissions committee or board of directors you should follow the same principles as those outlined above. The only difference is that the title of the recipient should be replaced by the name of the group or organization.

Here is the exact formula:

Dear+ Name of Group or Organization

The following examples give you a better idea:

  • DearAdmissions Committee
  • DearBoard of Directors
  • DearRhodes Trust

Step 2: Start Your Introduction With a Punch

The first sentence of your recommendation is arguably the most important because it sets the tone for the entire letter. The best openers are those that immediately express the heartfelt and enthusiastic recommendation of the applicant.

Here are some useful phrases you can use to write a strong first sentence:

  • It’s my pleasure to recommend…
  • It’s my pleasure and honor to…
  • I couldn’t be more pleased to…
  • I have absolutely no reservations about recommending…
  • I wholeheartedly recommend…

In comparison, a generic sentence that lacks enthusiasm such as “I am writing with regards to the recommendation for…” is both boring and weak.

Step 3: Establish Your Relationship

The remainder of your introductory paragraph should be devoted to describing who you are and your relationship with the applicant. This is an essential step because it establishes the relevance of your letter.

If you have known the applicant for a good length of time — and are in a good position to evaluate their strengths — then the potency of your letter multiplies. When establishing your relationship, you should include the following points:

  • Your position and company/school
  • The capacity in which you know the applicant
  • How long you have known the applicant

By including these details in the very beginning of your letter, the reader understands the foundation of the relationship that your words are coming from. This context makes everything you say afterwards much more powerful.

Including some anecdotes about your relationship will help strengthen this important foundation.

Step 4: Give Words of Praise

Finish your introduction with a sentence or two highlighting some of the applicant’s key strengths or personality traits.

The following examples will give you an idea of how you should write yours:

  • During that time, I watched Zach grow into an exceptional individual who excels in both his academic and personal pursuits.
  • Gregory was always an outstanding member of our team, and I have always been impressed by his professionalism and admirable personal qualities.

Don’t worry about going into detail. The purpose of these sentences is to round out the first paragraph, while simultaneously serving as a sneak peak of what’s to come in the body of your letter.

Step 5: Showcase the Applicant’s Professional/Academic Strengths

Your first body paragraph should start by mentioning 2–3 of the applicant’s specific skills, talents, or experiences that are relevant to their target job position or college program.

It is essential that these points are then followed up with detailed and descriptive examples of the applicant’s accomplishments that prove the aforementioned abilities.

Take a look at the difference between the following two examples from a reference letter written for a project manager:

No details:

  • Zach is great at managing projects.

Specific and detailed:

  • Zach’s in-depth knowledge of Scrum Methodologies helped increase the amount of projects completed on-time and within budget by 23%

Not only is the second example far more compelling, but it also showcases the professional accomplishment the applicant has that would benefit her target job. When the reader sees these kinds of examples, they think to themselves, “This is the kind of performance I need at my company.

Whenever possible, include interesting anecdotes about the applicant that demonstrate the strengths and abilities you described. This will create a more personable tone that makes the reader feel as though they are getting to know the applicant — one of the key aspects of a strong recommendation letter.

Make sure the achievements you mention are ones that you personally witnessed. Otherwise, they will carry far less weight for the reader.

Step 6: Highlight the Applicant’s Best Personal Qualities

The next body paragraph should focus on 2–3 of the applicant’s positive personality traits and characteristics — particularly those that would be beneficial or desired by their target company or school.

One of the chief reasons universities and certain companies request letters of recommendation is because they want to get a more holistic understanding of the applicant as a person. Thus, only including their academic or professional achievements is not enough to create a persuasive letter.

Much like with the previous step, include relevant and specific examples or anecdotes to backup your claims. Let’s take a look at some examples:

No Details:

  • Joyce is a selfless and compassionate person.

Specific and Detailed:

  • As a member of habitat for humanity, Joyce demonstrated her compassion and selfless nature by providing invaluable tutelage and mentorship to countless underprivileged children.

In case you’re having trouble thinking of compelling ways to describe an applicant’s personality, we’ve created a table containing some of the best personal qualities to include in a letter of recommendation:

AdaptabilityEnergyHonestyResourceful
CompassionEnthusiasmIntegrityResponsible
CharismaFriendlinessIntelligenceTrustworthy
DeterminationGenerosityLeadershipVibrant

Just be sure that you prove that the applicant possesses the personal qualities you mention with specific and detailed examples.

Step 7: Explain Why the Applicant is Leaving [Optional Paragraph for Job References]

This paragraph is only relevant if you’re writing a letter of recommendation for employment purposes. That being said, you should only include this section if the reason the applicant is leaving your current company is either neutral or positive.

The following are a few examples of the types of reasons that would be acceptable:

  • Relocating for family reasons
  • Outgrowing opportunities available at current company
  • Medical reasons
  • Skillset would be put to better use at another company

After reading through a letter describing how amazing an applicant is, it is quite normal for a hiring manager to think to themselves, “If this candidate is so great, why are they no longer at the company?” By including the reason for an applicant’s departure, it helps to assuage some of these doubts.

If you’re unsure whether or not the reason might be seen in a negative light, then it’s safer to exclude this section altogether.

However, if you’re unsure whether or not the reason might be seen in a negative light, then it’s safer to exclude this section altogether.

Step 8: Encourage the Reader to Accept the Applicant

Begin the concluding paragraph by reiterating your complete, unreserved, and enthusiastic recommendation of the applicant. Follow this up by emphasizing the value of the applicant as an asset.

Use strong, authoritative, and confident language when writing this sentence. Take a look at the following examples:

  • I am confident that Jon will make an outstanding member of your university’s community.
  • There is no doubt in my mind that Allison would quickly become an invaluable asset for your team.
  • It is my strong opinion that Matthew would be a tremendous addition to the University of Virginia’s graduate program in Theoretical Physics.

Finally, conclude by encouraging the reader to contact you if they have any questions about the applicant.

Step 9: Politely Sign-off

Your letter closing should be formal and polite. Sincerely, Regards, and Best regards are all great examples. Sincerely is widely considered to be the best sign-off because not only is it undeniably polite, it also carries a warm, friendly tone. In cases where the closing is more than one word, only the first letter of the first word should be capitalized.

Ready to get started? Save yourself some time and effort by downloading and customizing one of our free templates or samples:

Templates and Samples for Students & Teachers

Templates and Samples for Employment & Jobs

7. The Six Characteristics of a Strong Recommendation

Regardless of what kind of content you end up including, keeping these six characteristics in mind throughout the writing process will help take your recommendation to the next level.

#1. It Is Personable:

Your letter should sound like it was written by a real person. The chief reason why colleges and employers request reference letters is because they want to get an idea how an applicant’s qualifications and personal qualities are perceived by another person.

#2. It Comes from a Credible Source:

If your mom writes you a college recommendation letter outlying how you are such a good, nice boy” it is unlikely to be very convincing to the admissions board. It needs to come from an authoritative source and be written in a strong, confident tone.

#3. It Uses Supportive, Positive, and Enthusiastic Language:

A powerful recommendation needs to be enthusiastic and sincere. If the reader feels like you don’t wholeheartedly recommend the applicant, your letter will be weak and unconvincing.

When describing the applicant’s strengths, enhance them with adjectives such as “exceptional,” “outstanding,” and “superb.”

Using adverbs such as “sincerely” and “wholeheartedly” will inject some passion into your words. When describing the applicant’s strengths, enhance them with adjectives such as “exceptional,” “outstanding,” and “superb.”

#4. It is Specific and Detailed:

You should avoid empty cliches such as, “Mollie is the best student/employee I’ve ever had.” Everything you say needs to be specific and backed up by evidence. If Jim really was the best student you ever had, then you need to describe exactly how and why that was the case.

#5. It Contains a Narrative:

By the end of the letter the reader should feel like they have gotten to know both you and the applicant better. Your relationship with the applicant, and your description of their strengths, should feel like a story. Also be sure to include anecdotes demonstrating the applicant’s abilities and traits whenever possible.

#6. It Is Relevant to the Applicant’s Goals:

A strong recommendation should focus on the strength’s an applicant possess that are relevant to their pursuits. For example, in the case of a student applying to a mechanical engineering department, avoid writing about their exceptional literary masterworks and focus on their achievements in science.

8. How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Asking for a recommendation letter can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re not sure whether or not the person will accept. This guide will show you exactly how to properly ask for a reference letter, as well as who and when to ask.

If you’ve been asked to write a recommendation and you’re not sure whether or not you should accept, go to the next section for details on exactly when and how to reject a request.

When Should I Ask for One?

You should only ask for letters of recommendation when an application specifically calls for one, or when you believe your application would be weak without one.

The following are examples of when a reference letter would be required or useful:

  • Applying for University
  • Applying for Graduate School
  • Applying for a Scholarship
  • Applying for a job that request ones
  • Applying for an entry-level job with little or no work experience
  • Applying for a job as a teacher
  • Applying to work at a volunteer organization

Who should I ask?

Generally speaking, you should ask someone you have a solid relationship with who can also accurately speak to your strengths from a position of authority. That being said, the best person to ask for a recommendation will depend on the type of application you are making.

Tips on who to ask if I’m a…

a. Student Applying to College or Scholarship:

Pick a teacher who has taught you for a long period of time and whose classes you performed particularly well in. If you are applying for a specific major, consider asking a teacher who taught you a subject related to your target field.

b. Student Applying to Grad School:

Ask a professor with whom you have had extensive interaction, such as one from a course which involved a lot of discussion. Even if you performed exceptionally well in a certain professor’s course, if there were 300 people in the class they would be unable to write an effective letter for you.

If you wrote a thesis paper as an undergrad, your adviser is likely the professor most well-equipped to write your recommendation.

c. Teacher Applying for a Job at a New School:

Ideally, you should ask the principal of your previous school because they can write you a letter from a position of authority. However, if you’d rather not ask the principal or feel they don’t know you well enough, asking the head of your department is a great alternative.

d. Recent Grad Applying for a Teaching Job:

If you specifically studied to become a teacher in college, then you will have already taught some courses under the guidance of a professor or two. One of these professors is by far the best candidate to ask to write your recommendation.

e. Applying to a Job with Little or No Work Experience:

Ask a friend or extended family member to write a character reference for you. A reference from a direct family member will be seen as “too close to home” and will not be taken seriously by any potential employer.

f. Applying to a Job with Experience:

The ideal writer would be someone who has directly supervised your work such as a manager. In cases where asking your manager is not ideal, a colleague who you have worked with closely is also acceptable.

If you’re still not sure who to ask, use the following formula: pick the person in the highest possible position with whom you have the strongest relationship.

How Should I Ask? (6 Expert Tips for Proper Etiquette)

In many cases, how you ask for a letter of recommendation can be the difference between a person saying yes or no. These six tips for proper etiquette will help you ask in a way that makes it hard to decline.

#1. Ask in Person:

Whenever possible, always ask for a recommendation in person. The person you ask will appreciate that you took the time to make a personal, face-to-face appeal.

#2. Explain Your Situation:

Don’t jump straight into asking for a reference. Start by explaining exactly what you are applying for so that they understand why you are asking in the first place.

#3. Use Polite Language:

Use indirect turns of phrase to ensure your tone is as polite as possible when asking someone for a recommendation, even if you know the person very well.

Don’t say: “Hey can you write me a recommendation letter?

Do Say: “I was wondering if it might at all be possible for you to write me a letter of recommendation.

In almost all cases, politeness is the most important factor in convincing someone to accept your request.

This is by far the most important tip, so pay extra attention to it. In almost all cases, politeness is the most important factor in convincing someone to accept your request.

#4. Give Them an Excuse to Say No:

In case they are unwilling or unable to write your letter, always follow up your request with a statement that allows them to easily decline. Don’t put them in an awkward position where they have to directly refuse.

Example: “If you’re too busy with other tasks to write it, I perfectly understand and please don’t hesitate to decline.

#5. Emphasize Why You’re Asking Them:

Explain why you chose to ask for a recommendation from them. Many times this will help convince them to accept your request even if they are busy.

Example:I understand that you might not have time, but since you have taught me for 2 years and are familiar with my work, I believe that no one is more qualified to write my recommendation than you.”

#6. Express Your Gratitude:

Tell them how appreciative you would be if they would take the time to write your letter. However, don’t give them the impression that you expect them to accept (as outlined in tip 4).

Example: I would really appreciate it if you were able to write a letter of recommendation for me, if you are unable to do so, however, I completely understand and please don’t worry about it.”

In the end, as long as you ask with a polite and sincere attitude, most people will be more than happy to write a recommendation for you.

How to Ask via Email (with Template)

If you are in a situation where you can’t ask for a recommendation in person, write a request via email. Simply follow the same guidelines outlined in the section above and your request will be golden.

If you’re still unsure of yourself however, we’ve created a professional template for writing a letter of recommendation email request below. Simply copy and paste the template and then fill in your own details.

Subject Line: Request for Letter of Recommendation

Dear [Title + Name of Person You are Asking]

First of all thank you for taking the time to read this email and I hope that this request does not cause you any inconvenience.

I am applying for [university program/job position] at [target school/company] and was wondering if it would at all be possible for you to write a letter of recommendation for me.

As my [relation with requestee], I sincerely feel that no one else is more suited to writing me a recommendation and I would truly appreciate any kind words you might be willing to say on my behalf.

That being said, I know that you are extremely busy and if you are unable to find the time to write a letter I would completely understand.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

What Information Should I Provide to the Person Writing My Letter?

Once your writer has accepted your request, you need to provide them with as much useful information as possible. This will not only make things more convenient for your writer, but also ensure that they write you the best recommendation possible.

Here’s a list of some of the info you should provide:

  • Your resume & cover letter
  • Your personal statement (if you’re a student)
  • The name of your target university or company
  • A link to the description of your target job or program
  • Personal strengths or characteristics you’d like them to focus on
  • Specific achievements you’d like them to mention

9. When and How to Reject a Request for a Recommendation Letter

When:

Of course, there are always times when you may be exceptionally busy and finding the time to write a letter can be difficult. In these situations accepting or rejecting a letter is completely up to you.

There are two situations in which you definitely should reject a request for a reference letter.

Other than that, there are two situations in which you definitely should reject a request for a reference letter.

#1. You don’t know enough about the applicant to write them a strong recommendation.

Even if you are aware that an applicant has exceptional abilities and personal qualities, you may not be familiar enough with the specifics of their accomplishments to write a proper letter.

#2. You know a lot about the applicant but can’t think of enough positive things to say.

It sounds harsh but there are times when an applicant’s performance at your company or school has simply not been ideal. If you’re struggling to come up with a way to portray them in a positive light, it’s better to decline the request and let someone who is more familiar with their strengths write their recommendation.

How:

Of course, if you want to just flat out reject a request, that is completely acceptable. However, if you’d like to soften the blow a bit, coming up with an excuse is remarkably easy.

Simply apologize to the student and tell them that you are too busy, and feel as though you lack the time required to write them the letter they deserve.

Simply apologize to the student and tell them that you are too busy, and feel as though you lack the time required to write them the letter they deserve.

Now that you know everything there is to know about recommendation letters, feel free to check out our professional templates and samples. Our experts have created a comprehensive library of examples for both studentsand employment.

If you need more inspiration for writing your letter, we also have extensive guides for writing cover letters, business letters, and even letters of resignation.

Written by Matthew Kerr

Matthew Kerr is a career adviser at Resume Genius, where he reinvigorates client's careers and saves resumes from the trash heap. His career expertise has been quoted on countless publications across the web, including... more

The Letter of Recommendation (LOR) Format from Faculty often varies in the content and requires the professor to highlight the applicant's accomplishments as.

Writing a Reference Letter (With Examples)

formatting letters of recommendation

A business reference letter is a document which contains a recommendation and it’s given on behalf of a vendor, a client or any other type of business associate. As some point, you may have to provide such a letter which is also known as a business recommendation letter or a company recommendation letter. Read on to learn more about this letter and how to compose one.

Contents

Business Reference Letters










When to use a business reference letter

A business reference letter is a written recommendation given by one entity on behalf of another entity which can either be an individual or an organization. It verifies the quality of goods and services or the dealings offered by the organization or individual to a potential client who plans to hire them.

Nowadays there are so many businesses available that it can be extremely challenging to compete without reference or business recommendation letters. If you’re a business owner, you know that there are a lot of generic partners or employers who want to learn more about your business and your reputation.

The best way they can learn about your business is through written references and recommendations. Therefore, it’s important to have a company recommendation letter before attempting to knock on the doors of clients or businesses you want to offer your services to.

You can also use such a letter when looking for a new job, a business partner or a service contract. The letter:

  • Acts as your endorsement in written form.
  • Explains in detail the qualification of the person who wrote the letter.
  • Provides insight into the reputation of the entity referred to.

Writing a business reference letter can be quite a challenge, especially when you don’t have an idea of where to start. The good thing is that you can either download a template or read letter samples to learn more about such letters. After doing this, you’ll realize that such a letter is very simple.

To write an effective reference letter, you must include the following elements:

  • Your name and contact details as well as the ones who will receive the reference letter.
  • The name of your business or organization and the name of the business which will receive the reference letter.
  • The date you wrote the letter.
  • A formal salutation.
  • Your qualifications as the author of the letter.
  • Your general impressions about the organization or person referred to in the letter along with their responsibilities and character.
  • The nature of your relationship with the one referred to in it.
  • Details which show why the person or organization qualifies for the job.
  • Your willingness to work with the one referred to in the letter again.
  • How the reader can reach you in case of questions or follow-up.

As long as you include all of these basic elements in your letter, you can send it and expect positive feedback from the recipient. When you have to compose a reference letter for a former service provider or employee, just keep these elements in mind. You can also download a template and customize it as needed.

Business Recommendation Letter












Rules to follow when writing a business reference letter

Whether you manage a small business or a big one, you must learn how to write an effective business reference letter. You would have to compose this letter for any employees who have decided to search for other employment opportunities. Providing a great business recommendation letter gives them an edge over the competition.

Although there are no standard guidelines for writing reference letters, there are some rules you must follow:

Structure

There is a basic structure to follow when writing business reference letters. It starts with the mailing address of the recipient followed by a formal salutation. After this comes the body of your letter. Of course, this is where you provide details about your recommendation or referral to the recipient.

After the body, the next part is a closing statement after which, you type your full name. Proofread your letter, print it out, then affix your signature right above your name.

Details

In the body of your letter, include a statement which confirms or verifies the employment details and the qualifications of the person you’re referring to in the letter. Some important details include employment dates, the job title and capacity, and even the salary of the employee if needed.

You may also share details about the employee’s attitude and performance too. If the employee’s performance was more than you expected, you might want to include this in the letter along with some details.

When you write the letter as a reference for one of your previous employees, you would have to provide recommendations for them to get a good position in another organization. In such cases, you may also want to include the previous responsibilities held by your previous employee in the company.

Other details to include are the employee’s professional strengths and skills. Also, indicate your willingness to hire the employee again if he re-applies to your organization. If you still have space in the letter, you may share specific projects or situations which show the skills and strengths of the employee you’re referring to in your letter.

Formatting

When it comes to formatting, reference letters vary. But just like with the structure, most people follow a basic style. Align the recipient’s mailing address, the salutation, the body, your name, and signature on the left side of the document. For the date, align this on the right.

Company Recommendation Letters












Tips for writing a business reference letter

You may have to compose a business reference letter for companies or organizations which you’ve tried working with in the past too. In such cases, they would require the letter for the purpose of confirming the operational soundness of the company and their ability to perform as expected. Here are some tips for you:

  • You can use a basic business recommendation letter template for the structure of your document. Then input the contents as needed after some consideration. As aforementioned, you must include honest comments about the capabilities and quality of service of the company you’re writing about.
  • Provide specific details regarding your relationship with the company. Such details include the goods you have purchased, the services you availed of, how long you worked with them, and when you worked with them. Also, give a clear statement about Your reason for writing the letter.
  • Then provide detailed information about the performance of the company and any other details which the reader may find useful. Be as specific as you can when writing these details. Remember that the reader will use the information in the letter as a deciding factor on whether or not he will work with the company.
  • If you had a good experience with the company, then you may want to write about all those good things in the letter. Of course, if you had a bad experience and the company asks you to write a business reference letter for them, you should politely decline instead of composing a letter which contains inaccurate information.
  • When describing the strengths of the company, make use of concrete examples. The more you use illustrative comments, the more the reader will understand the business. This is a lot better than giving too many praises and sentiments which, in some cases, may come off as insincere.
  • Close your letter with a summary of the strengths of the company along with a clear, concise recommendation. This wraps up your letter in the best way possible as it fulfills the purpose of the document.
  • As you’re composing the letter, don’t make it too short or too lengthy. Stay away from language which is too general, effusive or superlative. Instead of describing the traits of the company using adjectives, provide concrete examples of how you saw those traits firsthand.
  • Make sure to proofread your letter before printing it out or sending it through email. A letter which contains too many grammatical and spelling errors won’t be as credible as one which has been perfectly checked and polished.
  • Don’t forget to include your contact details in the letter. In some cases, the recipient would like to reach out to you and ask you more questions about the business or person you wrote about. In case the recipient gives you a call, answer all of their questions as honestly as you wrote the letter.

Sometimes, a person or business may convince you to write a reference letter even though you have nothing good to say. Although the first thing you must do is diplomatically decline, there are some cases when you just can’t. Therefore, you would still have to compose a letter and be as professional as possible.

In such a case, you may want to do a bit of research about the person or the organization. Learn more about their strengths so you have something good to say about them. Focus on these strengths no matter how small they are. In doing this, you’re still giving a positive letter without providing inaccurate information.











Posted on May 7, 2019In Documents

Tags:Business, Documents, Letter, Reference

how to politely decline a sponsorship request
Employee lateness warning letter
thank you for your contact
Thank you letter to employee for years of service
how to accept an offer letter via email
Congratulations you win the prize
getting new job
Letter to address a complaint

Guidelines For Writing Letters of Recommendation

formatting letters of recommendation

College admissions season is upon us. With the ever-increasing competition among college applicants, writing an effective and sincere college recommendation letter is one way high school teachers can help students stand out among the competition. Every year, I write recommendations for a dozen or so students, often to the most prestigious universities in the nation. Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

Make sure you know the student well enough to recommend them.

It’s okay to ask a student to provide you with a list of accomplishments and extracurricular activities. You can use these details to complement more personal narratives. However, if you find that you don’t really have personal details to add, you may want to consider whether you are the right person to write that student’s recommendation.

If I feel that I don’t know a student well enough or don’t feel comfortable recommending them for some other reason, I just politely decline the request. I usually tell these students to ask a teacher who knows them better.

Open with a formal salutation.

To Whom It May Concern and Dear Admissions Representative are both acceptable salutations. Use a colon instead of comma. Your letter is a business letter and requires a business letter format. When mailing a letter, make sure to print it on your school letterhead.

Paragraph 1: Introduce the student.

Try beginning your letter with something the person tasked with screening hundreds (possibly thousands) of recommendation letters will remember. I like to start with an amusing or poignant story that illustrates who the student is and how others perceive them. Make sure to use the student’s full name for the first reference and then just the first name after that. My favorite strategy is to end the paragraph with a single sentence that highlights the student’s strongest characteristics, in my opinion.

Paragraphs 2 and 3: Write more about character, less about achievements.

In the body of the letter, focus on who the student is rather than what the student has done. Between test scores, transcripts, and the dozens of questions on the application, admissions representatives have plenty of information about the applicant’s academic and extracurricular experiences.

What college reps want to know is how the student will fit into their environment. Give specific examples of how the student achieved—did they overcome obstacles or tackle any challenges to reach their goals? I usually write two short paragraphs for the body. Sometimes the first relates character to academics, and the next relates character to extracurricular activities. Other times, I use the student’s characteristics as the main focal points.

Paragraph 4: Conclude with a direct recommendation.

Conclude with a sincere statement of recommendation for the student to the college of their choice. When sending the recommendation to a single college, use the college’s name or mascot in your recommendation.

For a recommendation that will be used for multiple applications, such as the Common App, leave out specific references. Lastly, I return to using the student’s full name in my final reference to them in the letter.

Wrap it up with an appropriate closing.

My last statement encourages the college to contact me with any further questions. I close with Best regards, currently my favorite valediction; it is professional and simple. I also include my title and school after my typed name.

Keep your college recommendation letter under a page—and proofread!

The sweet spot for admissions letter length is between two-thirds and one full, single-spaced page, using Times New Roman 12-point font for printed letters or Arial 11-point font for electronically submitted letters. If your letter is too short, you risk appearing less than impressed with the applicant; if it is too long, you risk seeming insincere or boring.

Finally, remember that you are writing a recommendation to an academic institution. Your reputation and credibility as an educator rest with your letter. While proofreading, check for active voice, proper grammar, and a formal yet warm tone. If you are unsure of the content or conventions you’ve used in your letter, ask another teacher who knows the student to read your letter and provide additional insight.

Good luck to you and your students this college admissions season! May the pride you have for your students resonate in your recommendation letters for them, and may they get into their reach college.

Do you have any college recommendation letter tips to add? Come and share your ideas in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.

Plus, check our free college admissions timeline poster.

A business recommendation letter is a formal in nature, usually business to business letter that is used to Letter of Personal Business recommendation Format.

Letter of Reference Template

formatting letters of recommendation

Steps

Part 1

Writing the Letter

  1. 1

    Use standard formal letter writing conventions to begin. A letter of recommendation is like any other professional communication, and follows the same general rules and guidelines.[1]
    • Place your address on the top right, followed by the date—spelled out.
    • Below that, on the left, place the recipient's name (if known) and address.
    • Open the letter with a formal business greeting. Ex:
    • Dear Ms. Smith,
    • Dear Sir or Madam, (if you don't know the recipient's name)
  2. 2

    Open with a short, but enthusiastic, bit of praise. Let the company know right off the bat that you believe in this person. You don't have to be over the top or insincere, but a positive note to start will make a big difference.[2]
    • "It makes me extremely happy to recommend Michael for the position of Director of Development at XYZ Corporation."
    • "Any company should count themselves lucky to have an employee as bright, friendly, and dedicated as Gina."
    • "No matter what she does, Helena Bonham does it well."
  3. 3

    Describe how you know the person. Give some context for your recommendation. Let the reader know how you met them, how you worked together, and your basic qualifications.[3]
    • "As VP of Application Development, I was Michael's direct supervisor from 2009 through 2012. We worked closely together on several key projects, and I got to know him very well during this time.
    • "I was both Gina's adviser and teacher throughout her time at Hamilton College. I watched her shine both in the classroom and in office hours, and had the joy of watching her meet and then exceed expectations with her thesis."
    • "As the Dean of Students, I deal with many young people throughout the day. However, I was lucky to spend several hours a week with Ms. Bonham in her role as Committee President. In my 32 years as Dean, I have rarely been so impressed."
  4. 4

    Be specific about the candidate's qualifications and successes. Describe what the person has done using specific instances and examples, rather than generalities. Whenever possible, give evidence or stories to back yourself up.[4]
    • "Michael's sophisticated grasp of database architecture, combined with an innate feel for UX design and a warm, personal approach to his in-company client base dramatically improved the productivity of our company's merchandising, creative, and editorial departments. His approach to managing application support, maintenance, and training was highly professional and greatly respected, both by end users and by the executive team."
    • "Gina was always inquisitive but never pushy. Despite being able to answer almost any question, Gina would rather sit back and help others find the answer for themselves. Countless students, who I thought were doomed to struggle, happily told me how tutoring sessions with Gina helped them turn the corner. And I had many conversations, both as her professor and a peer, that I will remember happily for years."
    • "When Ms. Bonham hears the word "no," you can almost see the gears start to turn. She is mover and a shaker -- interfacing with students, faculty, staff, and even outside agencies to find solutions to any problem."
  5. 5

    Make comparisons to illustrate their success. To put the candidate's accomplishments into perspective, include comparisons so that the recipient will have some basis to understand why you are recommending this person.[5]
    • "Michael's output of completed projects has exceeded the combined results of all other development efforts I've witnessed during my 8 years at UVW Company."
    • "The best students are ones that genuinely love to learn. A student that pushes themselves ever day to learn more and be better, and enjoys every minute. Gina is that kind of student.
    • "I can say with confidence that my job working with the Student Committee was never easier, nor more enjoyable, than when I got to work with Ms. Bonham."
  6. 6

    Don't exaggerate -- show where and how they can improve. Don't put the candidate on a pedestal. Not only does it not look plausible, it will also set expectations for them that will be next to impossible to meet. If they have an Achilles’ heel, don't exaggerate it, but don't hide it, either.[6]
    • "Despite coming in as a novice, Michael has worked hard to improve his documentation and commenting of scripts and processes, making it easier for those filling his shoes in the future to work effectively."
    • "Gina is always on the move -- tutoring, taking classes, joining clubs, etc. -- and though her schedule is perhaps too tightly packed, she somehow manages it all with a smile on her face."
    • "Of course, Ms. Bonham's determination and drive occasionally led to butting heads and conflicting opinions. However, though she is never one to shy away from conflict, Ms. Bonham passion was never mean-spririted or rude."
  7. 7

    Keep your writing action-oriented. Begin each paragraph with a punchy, active affirmation of the candidate's qualities or character. Strong verbs are your friend.[7]
    • Don't say "Over the course of the last couple years, I have been pleased to watch the ongoing development of Michael's talents." Say instead, "Michael's skills have grown rapidly in the last couple years."
    • "Gina exhibits the drive and dedication of the best students. Her writing is clear and concise, a rarity among many young people but effortless for her."
    • "Ms. Bonham fights for what she believes is right, even if it doesn't mesh with her own preferences. This clear-eyed and selfless attitude will catapult her far in life."
  8. 8

    Close the letter affirmatively. Reiterate your recommendation of the candidate and, if appropriate, invite the recipient to contact you.[8]
    • For example, say, "For all of these reasons, I think Michael will make a fine addition to your team. Should you have any questions, I invite you to contact me at the number or address, above."
    • "Gina is the kind of person I would love to hire to work for me, and I know she will be an incredible asset for you."
    • "I have no qualms about giving Ms. Bonham the highest recommendation for the position. If you have any questions, please contact me."
  9. 9

    Use a business closing and sign your name. Above all, be professional. If the you're sending a physical letter, print it out and sign it by hand. Otherwise, just typing your name will do.[9]
    • "Sincerely,"
    • "Best regards,"
    • "Thank you,"

Part 2

Starting to Write

  1. 1

    Break down the letter into short, but specific, paragraphs. Don't ramble, but do flesh out your key points. Try to keep it at one page, covering the various aspects of their recommendation in brief, specific detail.[10]
    • Introduction
      • Your qualifications, how you know the candidate, general recommendation.
    • Professional Success
      • Why they will be effective, productive workers. Examples of successes.
    • Personal Testimony
      • Why they will be a great addition to work and office culture.
    • Closing.
      • Reaffirm your willingness to recommend them, offer contact information.
  2. 2

    Target the recommendation. Is it for an academic post, a job, a volunteer position, a background check, or a personal reference? Write your letter so that it is focused on this purpose.
    • For example, if the letter is part of a job application package, it should focus on the professional qualifications and conduct of the candidate.
  3. 3

    Familiarize yourself with the position. Get a copy of the job description, if you can, and talk to the person you will recommend. If you know the intended recipient of the letter, ask them about the position as well.[11]
    • The more you know about the position, the better you will be able to tailor your letter to suit the needs of both parties.
  4. 4

    Inform yourself about the person you are recommending. Spend some time talking to them about their goals and the position they are applying for. Gather together their current resume, any memos or notes you may have on them, and any other information that will help you as you write the letter. The best recommendations are thorough and specific, and having all the information at hand will make the process much easier.[12]
    • You put your own reputation on the line when you write a letter of recommendation. If you feel you do not know the person well enough, or they are somebody you cannot in good conscience recommend, decline their request.
  5. 5

    Get feedback. If you're not sure of your letter-writing skills, or if your letter will carry a great deal of weight for the candidate's application, ask for feedback from a trusted colleague who may also know the candidate. If you are putting your reputation on the line for this person, you want to put your best foot forward with this letter.[13]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question

    How do I address a general letter of recommendation for an office intern?

    "To whom it may concern," or "Dear Sir or Madam,".

  • Question

    Can anyone write a letter of recommendation?

    Yes, as long as you state how you know the person in the letter. You should also include the reasons why you feel qualified to recommend the person (such as, you may have known them for years, you have professional experience in the position they are seeking etc).

  • Question

    Can I write a letter of recommendation for a fellow employee who is leaving the company if the boss does not yet know the employee is leaving?

    I don't see why not, as long as you believe your coworker is worthy of a recommendation. Your employer shouldn't have a problem with this, and it's really none of their business anyway.

  • Question

    How do I write a letter of recommendation to a university?

    When writing a recommendation for a student, it is best to talk about the student's qualities and back them up with specific examples. Referrio is a great site to help you get professional recommendations.

  • Question

    Can a letter of recommendation be handwritten?

    Yes, while typed recommendations have a professional appearance, letters that are handwritten show sincerity and dedication. Both are acceptable.

  • Question

    How do I write and send a letter via email?

    If you have a scanner, put the letter in there and scan it. Make sure that it is connected to the computer and it is going to the right place. Once you do that, type up that email and attach the scanned letter to the email. You can also compose the letter using a word processor and then send it as an attachment.

  • Question

    Do I sign my name above or below my typed name?

    Leave some space in between your closing ("Sincerely," "Best," etc.) and the printing of your name, and sign it in that space.

  • Question

    Do I need to design a letterhead for a recommendation letter, or I could just use my address?

    You don't need to design a letterhead for a recommendation letter, just use your name, address and postal code.

  • Question

    When writing the salutation "To Whom It May Concern" on a letter of recommendation for a student, do I use a colon or a comma?

    When addressing a letter “To Whom It May Concern,” the entire phrase is capitalized, followed by a colon. Leave a space in between the salutation and the beginning of the body of your letter.

Ask a Question

Tips

  • If you ask a candidate to write their own letter of recommendation, recognize that many people find it difficult to write about themselves in this way. Read the letter and make sure that you agree with what they have written before you sign it.
  • Be complimentary and positive, but be honest.
  • Type the letter. It is more formal and businesslike—and your recipient won't have to decode your handwriting.
  • Keep the tone and the content factual, businesslike, and specific throughout.
  • The first time you name the candidate who is the subject of the letter, use his or her full name. After that, use either the first name or a title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and the last name, depending on how formal you want to be. Whichever you choose, be consistent.
  • If you are put in the position of writing your own letter of recommendation, perhaps for somebody else to sign, be honest and specific. Try to write as you would write about a candidate with your qualifications. Get help from a friend or colleague seeing yourself as others see you. Ask your friend to tell you how your letter comes across.

Warnings

  • A letter of recommendation should focus on the key knowledge, skills, and abilities of an individual. Don't spend your time inflating your letter of recommendation with excessive positive tones, as this is generally overlooked by recruiters.
  • Decide carefully whether to give a copy of the letter to the candidate, particularly if you express reservations. A recommendation may hold more sway if the recipient knows that the views in it are candid, and not written for the gratification or flattery of the candidate.
WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Writing Letters: formal & informal English

Send a positive reference for a former employee or co-worker with this sample recommendation letter template. This is an accessible template.

formatting letters of recommendation
Written by Kazirisar
Write a comment