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How to Write a Positive Recommendation Letter

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You might write a positive recommendation letter for a friend, a colleague, a student or a past employee. When you do, you are recommending that person for something, whether it is admittance to a school, a job, or a particular position. When you write a positive recommendation letter, you want to show through your words why you feel the subject of the letter is right for whatever that person is trying to do.

Begin with a salutation for the person who will be receiving the letter. Attempt to find out the actual name of that person. Your letter will find a better reception if you find an actual name, instead of writing something along the lines of "To whom it may concern," which feels more impersonal.

Introduce yourself in the beginning of your letter by giving your name, your position, and your relationship to the person you are writing the letter for. This establishes your ability to speak positively of the person.

State the length of time you've known the person. Then write a couple of positive statements about that person in general.

Use the following paragraphs to write more details as to why the person is a good one to recommend. List specifics, such as, "She never missed a day of work in four years," or "He always had a positive outlook toward his studies." As much as you can, give details to show why you are recommending the person and try to stay away from generalities, such as, "He's a hard worker," or "She is a nice person."

Provide your contact information as you close the letter, so that the person receiving it can get in touch with you to ask questions or to get additional information.


Terrance Karter has served as a reporter, reviewer and columnist for "The Exponent," as well as a contributor to the "Shelterbelt," both based in northeast South Dakota. Karter holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Northern State University in South Dakota.