Reference Letter format


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How do you write a good reference letter for a coworker?

Consider the following format and writing suggestions when you draft a reference letter for a co-worker, friend or staff member.

Reference for First Name and Last Name:

Salutation
  • If you are writing a personal letter of reference, include a salutation (Dear {{Name}}). 
  • If you are writing a general reference letter, say “To Whom It May Concern" or simply don't include a salutation.

Paragraph 1
  • The first paragraph of the reference letter explains your connection to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, how long you have known them, and why you are qualified to write a reference letter to recommend them for employment or graduate school.

Paragraph 2
  • The second paragraph of the reference letter contains specific information about the person you are recommending, including why they are qualified, what they can contribute, and why you are providing a reference letter. 
  • Be sure to use specific examples to speak to their qualifications. If necessary, use more than one paragraph to provide details.

Summary
  • This section of the reference letter (typically right before the conclusion) contains a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. 
  • State that you "recommend without reservation" or "highly recommend" the person or something similar.

Conclusion
  • The concluding paragraph of the reference letter contains an offer to provide more information. Include a phone number within the paragraph. 
  • Also include your phone number and email address in the return address section of a hard copy letter or, if you're sending an email, underneath your name in the signature.

  • See a sample signature for a hard copy letter in the download file.
  • Sincerely,
  • Signature
  • Writer Name
  • Title

  • It has been a pleasure to have {{him/her}} at our school. {{He/she}} is most deserving of this award.
  • Thanking you. 
  • Yours sincerely,

What makes a good recommendation letter?

  • Enthusiastic! Show off the character and personality of the person;
  • Provide descriptions of your contributions to the work/academic environment related to completed tasks on time or your strengths;
  • Always use action verbs to describe your accomplishments, skills, and strengths;
  • Make sure to use the active voice which indicates that you completed tasks and demonstrated desirable behaviors. Since the passive voice can indicate that events happened with or without your active involvement;
  • Explain how you performed the responsibilities required, and therefore it’s good to study some appealing  anecdotes;
  • If possible, a statement indicating people would re-hire you or collaborate with you on another project;
  • Structured and written to highlight the person's strengths;
  • Immediately clear about the purpose and position the person is seeking;
  • Brief, preferably one or pages in length;
  • Clean, error-free, and easy to read;
  • Using common business letter format;
  • No copying of exact words/phrases from sample letters without checking the context;
  • Uses the correct name of the University or organization;
  • Contact information including his or her full name, appropriate title, address, phone number, and/or e-mail address;
  • Expands upon their resume; do not repeat it verbatim in your reference letter as well.

Using our reference letter template guarantees you will save time, cost, and effort!

Keep in mind that this example reference letter is only a basic and simple letter template. You should spend some effort in tweaking the letter and add some of your own creativity and personality to it. In fact, we encourage you to do so!

Download this useful Reference letter format now. 


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