How to Write a Reference Letter? A Step-by-Step Guide

You’ll undoubtedly be requested to express the deepest appreciation for a coworker, friend, or employee at some point in your professional life. 

When the time comes, having solid reference letter writing skills will be crucial.

Your help might be significantly different. A poor recommendation letter is more serious than no recommendation because it can prevent your contacts from achieving their goals.

What Is A Reference Letter?

A reference letter is a friendly suggestion of a person’s abilities and qualities written by someone knowledgeable of the applicant’s abilities, character, and reputation. 

When applying for employment, fellowships, volunteer work, universities, and graduate programs, reference letters are required.

The recommendation letter describes the candidate’s qualifications for the position being sought as well as why the viewer should choose them. 

The job applicant or candidate can send letters or be needed by the organization evaluating the person for a job or enrollment at a certain institution.

Importance Of A Reference Letter

Avoid contacting the individual’s previous company and asking for references by using a well-written reference letter instead. 

It directly confirms the applicant’s abilities from their manager, who also discuss their interactions with the candidate and helps you determine whether the candidate is a good fit for the position.

Promote your services

The finest reference letters come from someone the applicant has had direct contact with. They can accurately describe your talents and experience and are ideally suited to writing about your qualifications. 

It also discusses the person’s approach to managing relationships at work. Please include the author’s title and the kinds of work they do to give your reference letter more significance.

Explains your qualifications and accomplishments

Tell the advertiser about your prior experience, your current position’s responsibilities and accomplishments, and the specifics of the new role. 

This supports them in emphasizing your qualifications for the new position.

Talks about the things that set you apart from each other 

Are you a good teammate? Do you have positive working relationships with your coworkers? Do you excel at accepting and fulfilling obligations? Do you have quick problem-solving skills? How do you organize your time? These personality characteristics can be discussed in the reference letter you provide.

If you believe that you don’t know the work as well as their mentor or don’t know them, let them know.

Remember incidents and circumstances where employees displayed their finest abilities and how they benefited your organization and the business. 

Ask the person to share this information with you if you don’t understand it so you can create a positive reference letter for them.

Types Of Reference Letters

There are principally two kinds of references:


A personal reference is someone familiar with you directly and can speak favorably of you in a non-professional setting. 

Personal references may include alums from your high school or university, a coworker you worked with, and steadfast friends. 

As employers typically view them as dubious sources, avoiding providing close relatives or a partner as references are suggested. 


You’ve interacted with a professional reference who can verify your expertise and academic success. Close coworkers, leaders, bosses, and even members of the human resources department might provide professional references. 

A professional reference letter is appropriate for any position.

How To Write A Reference Letter That Gets Results

Here are the procedures you should follow if anybody requests you to write one:

Get to know the person more than you can.

Please make plans to see or speak with the person when they ask you to prepare a reference letter for them so that you may learn more about them. 

If you need to, ask them for an overview of their professional situation, what they see as their strongest suit, and why they seek the position. You can write a complete letter with the help of this.

Add a greeting.

Attempt to have the recipient’s name so you can use it in the greeting. The letter will appear more intimate as a result. 

If you don’t know the recipient’s identity, you might use “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Mr. or Mrs. Professional.” When several people review a letter, these choices, including “on behalf of the company,” are also appropriate.

Describe your connection to the applicant.

Describe your connection with the applicant in your introduction. Share your information with them, including how long you’ve known them and if it’s personal or professional.

 Providing this information establishes your trustworthiness, boosting the probability that the hiring manager will accept your offer.

Explain any qualities they have.

Select suitable or two qualities or abilities to highlight in your letter. If you can, find out more about the position they’re seeking to see if you can mention any of the necessary qualifications since this can make the letter sound more realistic. 

You can always pick out a few of their best qualities from the examples they have given.

To further explain the qualities or abilities, provide examples.

Consider particular instances to show the applicant’s qualifications. Remember that the examples are clear and have a good result to make the letter favorable.

Please describe why you believe they are qualified as you finish the letter.

List the abilities you mentioned, then describe why you believe they fit the application well. Make it clear to the employer that you are ready if they have any further inquiries. 

Include your preferred mode of contact and any preferred times to approach you.

Provide your contact details.

Include your signature, name, position, business, mobile number, and email account at the end of the letter so that the employer knows how to contact You.

What To Include In A Reference Letter?

If the applicant still needs to provide a template on which you may base your reference letter, you should still use a formal business letter structure. 

At the beginning of the letter, you should provide the date, your contact details, and the details of the individual reading it.

The date and contact details should be excluded from the beginning of the letter if you are emailing it. As an alternative, include your contact details after your email. 

The candidate’s name, the position they are looking for, and the letter’s goal should all be listed in the title tag of a reference email.

Things To Include In A Reference Letter: How to Nail It Every Time?

Here are a few things to mention in your reference letter to get a good review:


Let’s start with the greeting. Introduce the person by their identification if you need to know their name. You might also write “To whom it may interest” instead.


Identify yourself and describe your history with the individual you endorse, including how much you know them.


This should cover at least three passages to present a compelling argument favoring the individual you are suggesting.

First Paragraph

The introduction of the reference letter should briefly describe your relationship with the person you approve of, including your interactions with them, your duration of friendship, and your qualifications to prepare a reference letter in their favor. 

 Include the name of the organization, position, institution, or chance the applicant seeks.

Second and third paragraphs

The body of the reference letter should focus on the individual you are writing about, emphasizing their qualifications and potential contributions. Use multiple paragraphs if necessary to provide details. 

Be precise and provide examples to prove this person’s suitability. Provide examples where the person used the necessary abilities for the job.


Give them your contact details and mention that you are available for an oral reference or to respond to any queries they may have.


Finish your letter by signing it. Also, include the business symbol to verify the reference letter if you are writing on behalf of a school or other institution.

Letter Length, Format, and Font

Your reference letter’s formatting is almost as necessary as its information. Here are some guidelines on how long and how to design your letter. 


One or two paragraphs is too brief for a reference letter; doing so implies that you either need to learn the individual better or completely support them. 

However, it would help if you stopped writing more than one page because you want to make the letter brief and concentrate on a few important themes. 

Using three to four paragraphs to describe how you understand the individual and why you suggest them is appropriate.


There should be one space between each sentence and normal spacing throughout a reference letter. 

Align your content to the left and add borders to the page’s upper side, bottom left, and right of almost 1″.


Choose a traditional typeface like Calibri, Times New Roman, or bold text.

The text size should be between ten and twelve points for reading convenience. You can change the font size to maintain your text on one page.

Demanding details for the letter

Sometimes, if you have known the person for many years, you should request a copy of their CV. Give them as much up-to-date information as possible because they might have recently received recognition for their efforts or achievements. 

This will also assist in providing you with suggestions to follow when writing the letter.

Request a copy of the job advertisement if the reference letter is for a particular job opening. 

Request information about the institution if the reference letter is for a particular program or school. The more details you have, the simpler it will be to prepare the letter. 

Find out who should receive the letter, when it must be received, and what format it must be in.

Reference Letters: When Are They Required?

Whether you wish to submit one with your resume or not is entirely up to your decision when the company does not specifically request one. 

If a reference letter identifies specific accomplishments or abilities relevant to the position, you might send it.

If the employer doesn’t require one, a powerful reference letter can help you differentiate yourself from other applicants.

While you might have few professional contacts, it is permissible to share a personal reference if you are a recent graduate. But it is preferable to submit to a professional if you are experienced.

Format Your Reference Letter According to Guidelines

Here are some guidelines to remember while writing a recommendation letter.

Employ a formal format.

Prepare the letter properly for a formal letter. Many templates are available to support you with such a format if you need to be aware of it. It must include your signature if it will be personally handed to the company.

 Your signature is unnecessary if the letter is being delivered through mail or file. Still, you must know that you can talk with the company again if necessary.

Employ appropriate language and tone.

 The reference should be written in an approachable and positive manner. It should be complementary and showcase the individual’s accomplishments. 

Your letter will convey to the company your confidence in the individual’s talents if it is direct and encouraging.

Keep it businesslike.

The letter shouldn’t contain private or identifying information about the individual’s life. The decision on this should be left up to the applicant for the position. 

Instead, emphasize their qualifications for the job.

Key Takeaways

  • Start by understanding the letter’s purpose and what the recipient is looking for.
  • Introduce yourself and your relationship with the person you write the letter for.
  • Highlight the person’s skills, abilities, and achievements, providing specific examples where possible.
  • Use a positive and professional tone throughout the letter.
  • Close the letter with a strong endorsement of the person’s character and qualifications.
  • Proofread and edit the letter carefully before sending it.


Who typically writes a reference letter?

A reference letter can be written by a former employer, coworker, supervisor, professor, or mentor who has worked closely with you and can provide a detailed assessment of your performance and qualifications.

How should a reference letter be formatted?

A reference letter should be formatted as a professional business letter, with a clear and concise opening and closing and the writer’s contact information and signature included at the end.

Can a reference letter be generic, or should it be tailored to each recipient?

Ideally, a reference letter should be tailored to each recipient to address specific job requirements or qualifications.

However, a general reference letter highlighting your strengths and accomplishments can also be useful.

How important is a reference letter in the job application process?

A reference letter can be a valuable asset in the job application process, as it provides an independent assessment of your abilities and character that can help to differentiate you from other candidates.

What are some tips for writing a strong reference letter?

Some tips for writing a strong reference letter include being specific and detailed in assessing the candidate, providing specific examples of their skills and accomplishments, and using a professional and positive tone throughout.

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