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What is a Reference Letter?

A reference letter, or also known as the letter of recommendation, is a formal letter where someone is trying to endorse another person's personal qualities, skills, capabilities or academic performances. A reference letter is usually written by the referee or the sponsor. A reference letter may be divided into two such as professional reference letter when it is written by a supervisor, colleague, client, teacher or professor who witnesses and corroborate the person's accomplishments and personal qualities and personal reference letter when it is written by a family friend, mentor or neighbor who know the person too well. In simplest terms, a letter of recommendation is a letter that makes a statement of support for a candidate, according to The article also added that a letter of recommendation should also present a well-documented evaluation and provide sufficient evidence and information to help a selection committee in making its decision.

People write reference letters to apply for a job, to apply for scholarship support, volunteer positions, product services, loans, apartments, and school admissions. A reference letter must have a body of positive endorsements of the skills and attributes of the candidate. The letter shall explain why the organization must accept the candidate. In this case, the reference letter shall be written effectively.

How to Write a Reference Letter

how to write a reference letter

As mentioned from, you should write a letter of recommendation only if you can honestly write a supportive letter for someone for a given position. In writing a reference letter, you should be persuasive in a formal way. Here are the basic instructions for you to write an effective reference letter.

1. Provide Contact Information

Like every formal letter, contact information must be provided as one of the most important contents of a formal letter. You can either put the contact information first or you can also put it on the last part. The article suggests indicating how you can be contacted for additional information and list time frames that the contact information is accurate. You should include address, phone number, and email address if applicable.

2. Add Salutations

Formal letters must be courteous. Do not forget to put salutations as you start writing the reference letter. If you do not know the specific recipient of the reference letter you can begin with “To Whom It May Concern” or "Dear Sir/Ma'am" at the top of the page. If you know the recipient's name personally, it is preferable to use the business letter format such as including the recipient’s name and address then address them as “Dear [Name]”.

3. Start with a Short Introduction

Your introduction must reveal the purpose of writing the reference letter. You must explain your connection with the candidate you are referring to the organization. Elaborate how well you know the candidate and why is it necessary for you to write a reference letter for him or her. Persuade the recipient with your candidate to gain your trust. The reference letter will hold a salient value that it comes from a trusted source. One to two sentences will be enough for this part.

4. Elaborate the Contents of the Body

For the main content of the body, it shall elaborate more on the details of the candidate you are referring to the organization. It shall provide specific information about the candidate. As mentioned from, the candidate may have some exceptional strengths such as a very high energy level or excellent communication skills. A candidate may also have a specific area of knowledge or experience such as a strong background in science, an undergraduate degree in another area or related work experience in education, a research project, coaching, extracurricular activities, etc. Include these facts in your letter. You can also add personal characteristics or attitudes of the candidate.

5. Provide a Complete Conclusion

According to, any good letter of recommendation ends with a short summary of the candidate’s overall qualification and the reassurance that the recipient of the letter should get in touch in case there are any questions. Make sure that your contact number is being provided correctly.

6. Affix the Signature

End your letter by affixing your signature over your printed name to prove that your letter is legitimate and genuine.