How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (4 Free Templates)

Man Writing Letter of Recommendation at Desk

A letter of recommendation is a valuable document that can make a significant difference in someone’s academic or professional journey. Whether you are a teacher, employer, colleague, or mentor, being asked to write a letter of recommendation is an honor and a responsibility.

This article will guide you through the process of writing an effective and impactful letter of recommendation, helping you showcase the strengths and qualifications of the individual you are recommending.

Understand the Purpose

Before you begin writing, it’s essential to understand the purpose of the letter. Typically, letters of recommendation are requested for educational applications, job applications, scholarships, or other opportunities.

The letter should provide insights into the candidate’s qualifications, skills, character, and suitability for the specific position or opportunity.

Request Information

When someone asks you to write a letter of recommendation, it’s crucial to request essential information from the candidate. This information can include:

  • A copy of the candidate’s resume or CV.
  • Details about the specific opportunity or program they are applying for.
  • Information about their accomplishments, experiences, and goals.
  • Any specific points they would like you to highlight.

Having this information will help you tailor your letter to the candidate’s needs and ensure that you include relevant details.

Format and Structure

A well-structured letter of recommendation typically follows this format:

  • Introduction: Begin by stating your relationship with the candidate and the context in which you have interacted with them. Mention how long you have known them and the capacity in which you have worked together.

  • Body: The body of the letter should focus on the candidate’s qualifications, skills, and strengths. Provide specific examples and anecdotes that illustrate these qualities. You can discuss their academic performance, work ethic, problem-solving abilities, leadership skills, and any other relevant attributes.

  • Comparison: Compare the candidate to others you have encountered in a similar context. This helps the reader understand the candidate’s unique qualities and why they stand out.

  • Conclusion: In the conclusion, reiterate your support for the candidate and summarize their qualifications. Offer your contact information in case the reader has further questions.

Be Specific and Provide Examples

One of the most critical aspects of a compelling letter of recommendation is providing specific examples and anecdotes. Instead of making vague statements like “the candidate is hardworking,” provide concrete examples of times when the candidate demonstrated their work ethic, such as staying late to complete a project or taking on additional responsibilities willingly.

Highlight Relevant Qualities

Tailor your letter to highlight the qualities and skills that are most relevant to the position or opportunity the candidate is pursuing. If they are applying for a leadership role, emphasize their leadership abilities. If they are seeking admission to an academic program, focus on their academic achievements and intellectual capabilities.

Be Honest and Balanced

While it’s essential to highlight the candidate’s strengths, it’s equally important to be honest and balanced in your assessment. Avoid exaggeration or false praise, as it can undermine the credibility of your recommendation. If the candidate has areas for improvement, you can mention them but do so tactfully and in a constructive manner.

Proofread and Edit

Before submitting the letter, proofread it carefully for grammatical errors, typos, and clarity. A well-written and error-free letter reflects positively on both you and the candidate. Additionally, ensure that the letter meets any formatting or length requirements specified by the requesting party.

Maintain a Professional Tone

Maintain a professional and respectful tone throughout the letter. Use formal language and avoid colloquialisms or slang. Address the letter to the appropriate recipient using their title and full name.

Review and Finalize

After completing your initial draft, review the letter to ensure that it effectively conveys the candidate’s qualifications and makes a strong case for their suitability for the opportunity. Make any necessary revisions and then finalize the letter.

Submit the Letter

Finally, submit the letter according to the instructions provided by the candidate or the requesting organization. It’s essential to meet any deadlines and follow the submission guidelines precisely.

Example #1

The first Letter of Recommendation example provided is a prime illustration of a strong recommendation letter for several reasons. Firstly, it begins with a clear and professional introduction that establishes the writer’s relationship with the candidate and the context in which they have interacted. This clarity immediately sets a professional tone for the letter. Secondly, the writer proceeds to highlight the candidate’s qualifications and strengths with specific, concrete examples and achievements.

By providing evidence of the candidate’s exceptional leadership, strategic thinking, work ethic, and problem-solving abilities, the writer effectively substantiates their claims and presents a comprehensive view of the candidate’s capabilities.

Furthermore, the letter maintains a positive and respectful tone throughout, emphasizing the candidate’s suitability for the position and offering to provide further information if needed. Overall, it is a well-structured, detailed, and genuinely supportive recommendation letter that effectively showcases the candidate’s qualifications. [Download Strong Letter of Recommendation Example .docx]

Example #2

The second Letter of Recommendation example clearly exemplifies an Academic Recommendation Letter. It begins with the standard recommendation letter format, featuring the writer’s contact details, date, and recipient information. Moreover, it highlights the writer’s role as an educator and mentor to the student, reinforcing the academic context of the letter. Throughout the letter, the writer emphasizes the student’s academic achievements, research projects, and contributions, which are all highly relevant in an academic setting.

Additionally, the letter underscores the student’s intellectual curiosity, strong work ethic, and potential for success in a higher educational institution, all of which are critical factors in academic recommendation letters. Overall, this example effectively fulfills the key elements and purpose of an Academic Recommendation Letter, offering a strong endorsement of the student’s qualifications and suitability for admission. [Download Academic Letter of Recommendation Example .docx]

Academic Letter of Recommendation Example

Example #3

The third Letter of Recommendation example serves as an excellent representation of a Job Recommendation Letter. It follows the standard structure and format expected in professional recommendation letters, featuring the writer’s contact details, date, and recipient information. The letter clearly identifies the writer’s role as an employer or supervisor, establishing their credibility to evaluate the candidate’s professional performance. Throughout the letter, the writer highlights the candidate’s accomplishments, contributions, and positive qualities relevant to the job they are recommending them for.

Specific examples of the candidate’s skills, work ethic, and problem-solving abilities are provided, demonstrating their suitability for the position. The recommendation strongly endorses the candidate’s potential and qualifications for the job, making it a persuasive Job Recommendation Letter that can significantly impact the candidate’s prospects in the workforce. [Download Job Letter of Recommendation Example .docx]

Job Letter of Recommendation Example

Example #4

The fourth Letter of Recommendation example serves as a clear illustration of a Character Reference Letter. It adopts a straightforward format, opening with the writer’s personal information and a direct address to the recipient. The letter is devoid of references to specific job positions, academic programs, or professional achievements, which are typically present in other types of recommendation letters. Instead, it focuses exclusively on the character of the individual being recommended. The writer speaks to the individual’s integrity, honesty, reliability, kindness, and willingness to help others, emphasizing their personal qualities rather than professional accomplishments.

Furthermore, specific examples of the individual’s character traits and actions are provided, illustrating the basis for the character reference. In sum, this example effectively encapsulates the essence and purpose of a Character Reference Letter by highlighting the individual’s outstanding personal attributes and potential to influence various aspects of life positively. [Download Character Reference Example .docx]

Letter of Recommendation Writing Tip:

Keep it Positive

Keeping a letter of recommendation positive is essential to ensure that it effectively serves its intended purpose. When writing a recommendation letter, it’s essential to focus on the candidate’s strengths, achievements, and qualities that make them a valuable asset or an ideal candidate for the opportunity they are pursuing.

Highlighting their positive attributes provides a strong endorsement and helps create a favorable impression with the reader. While it’s crucial to be honest and balanced in your assessment, emphasizing the candidate’s positive qualities and contributions ensures that the letter leaves a lasting and favorable impression, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome for the individual.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Asking for a letter of recommendation can be a delicate and important step in one’s academic or professional journey. Here are some strategies to help you navigate this process effectively:

  1. Choose the Right Recommender: First, identify individuals who are well-acquainted with your work, character, and achievements. Professors, supervisors, mentors, or colleagues who can speak to your strengths and accomplishments are ideal candidates. Ensure that they have a positive impression of you and are willing to write a strong and supportive recommendation.

  2. Plan Ahead and Be Respectful of Their Time: Don’t wait until the last minute to request a letter. Approach potential recommenders well in advance, typically at least several weeks before the deadline. This allows them sufficient time to write a thoughtful and well-crafted letter. When making your request, be respectful of their time commitments, and inquire about their availability and willingness to write the recommendation.

  3. Communicate Clearly and Provide Necessary Information: When requesting a letter of recommendation, be clear and concise in your communication. Explain the purpose of the recommendation and provide detailed information about the opportunity you are pursuing, such as the job, program, or scholarship you’re applying for. Share your resume, CV, or a summary of your relevant accomplishments to help the recommender write a more personalized and effective letter.

  4. Follow Up and Express Gratitude: After your recommender agrees to write the letter, be sure to follow up with any additional details they may need and provide reminders as the deadline approaches. Once the recommendation is complete, express your gratitude by sending a heartfelt thank-you note. Let them know how much you appreciate their support and how their letter will contribute to your success.

  5. Provide Guidance but Respect Their Autonomy: While providing some guidance or talking points to your recommender is acceptable, remember that they are experts in their own right. Trust their judgment and writing style. Avoid excessive editing or dictating the content of the letter, as it should genuinely reflect their perspective and assessment of your qualifications.

Requesting a letter of recommendation is a thoughtful process that requires careful consideration and respectful communication. By choosing the right recommenders, planning ahead, providing necessary information, and expressing gratitude, you can ensure a positive and productive experience for both you and your recommenders.


Writing a letter of recommendation is a significant responsibility, but it can also be a rewarding experience. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can create a compelling and effective letter that helps the candidate stand out and achieve their goals. Remember to be specific, honest, and focused on the candidate’s relevant qualities, and your letter will be a valuable asset in their pursuit of success.