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How to Write a Quality Letter of Recommendation

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At some time during your working career, you may be asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone. The request could come from a close friend, a coworker or even a young person headed off to college or a high school student who is applying for a job. In any case, do not accept the challenge unless you feel you know enough about the person's current or prior work habits and ability to perform in the manner and capacity for the position he is applying for.

Type using a business letter format on one 8.5-by-11-inch page with the left margin set at 1.5 inches and the right margin set at 1 inch. Set the top margin at 1.5 inches and the bottom at 1 inch.

Use a block style format -- in which every line starts at the far left-hand side -- starting at the top with the current date, the name and address of the person to whom the letter is addressed and below it a subject line with the words "Re: Letter of Recommendation for John Smith."

Start the letter with the name of the person to whom you are writing, such as "Dear Ms. Wiley"; if you are writing a general letter of recommendation, type the words: "To whom it may concern." Follow either salutation with a colon.

Skip two lines and begin the first paragraph, which should be single-spaced. Explain your relationship to the person you are writing about, including how long you have known him. State clearly that you are recommending him for the position for which he is applying.

Write about why you feel the person is the right choice for the job or position in the second paragraph. Use words and phrases such as self-motivated, honest, hard working, has high moral character, gets along well with others, works well independently, trustworthy, courteous, respectful and reliable.

Describe the person's characteristics without embellishment or emotion. Do not be overly personal in your recommendation. Rather, be straightforward and not too informal.

Create a third and final paragraph that emphasizes your sincere recommendation. Use phrases such as "without reservation" or "I highly recommend John for the position." Include a statement inviting the reader to contact you for clarification or any further information.

Leave room after the main content of the letter for your printed and handwritten signature and contact information.

Type the word "Sincerely," skip four spaces and then type your name with your phone number and other pertinent contact information underneath.

Sign the letter using a black pen. Blue ink does not show up as well if copied or sent by facsimile.


If your letter of recommendation is for a college student, mention her grade-point average, honor club memberships, sports activities, or extracurricular activities in the community.


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