Tips How to Write a Character Letter

Before we move to the procedures involves, lets enlighten ourselves on the definition and necessary information surrounding character letter writing.

What Is a Character Letter?

A character letter, as the name implies, is a letter about a character. Character, in this context, refers to the distinctive characteristics or unique qualities of a person. Simply put, a character is a personality. Also, letter in this discourse signifies a written piece that communicates relevant information.

Before one can give accurate information about a person, he/she must have spent some time learning about that person, probably by engaging in activities with the person or spending time with him/her. Elsewise, the information may be vague of credibility as it will be concentrated with speculations and thoughts which may not be the truth about the person written about.

Therefore, a character letter is a written piece about ones personality by someone who has good knowledge about the person.

A character letter can also be described as a personal reference since it emphasizes on the personal qualities of an individual. It is not the same as the professional reference which dwells on the skills and professional qualities of a person. A person who writes a reference is known a reference.

What Is the Essence of a Character Letter?

A character letter is required when knowledge of the personality of an individual is wanted for one reason or the other. A judge may want a personal reference about a person who s/he is about to pass judgement on.

Also, a character reference can be included among the requirements for admission into an academic institution, grant of citizenship or employment at a cooperate body. It may also be required of someone who intends to join an organization or body. In short, a character letter is required for numerous reasons at countless fields of organization.

The demand for character references corresponds with their relevance. Though, generally, it exposes one’s personal qualities and skills to the requirer, the essence of this kind of reference is peculiar to the area where it is required.

Apart from it being demanded for, a personal reference may serve as an addition to a professional reference. One may include it among his or her credential when applying for a job. For instance, a person who has barely been employed can leverage on a character reference instead of a professional one.

Before Writing a Character Letter

It is important one examines shim/herself before agreeing to write a character letter for someone. One should be sure she/he can write positively, yet honestly about the person. One should also understand the reason for or purpose of the letter before signing up for the task of writing the character reference. One must not take these with levity as it may affect the effective role the letter is supposed to play.

How to Write a Character Letter

There are different ways of writing character letters just like there are different reasons why they are being written. The purpose of a character reference will determine the content of the letter. They are all to be written as letters addressing the appropriate officers all the same. A character letter written for the defendant in a court case will be addressed to the presiding magistrate while one written for a job-seeker will be written to the office of the ‘employer’; depending on the job.

How to Write a Character Letter to a Judge

Writing a character letter for a defendant can be instrumental as it will be considered by the judge before s/he passes judgement. Therefore, one has to be very careful when writing this kind of reference. It is best that the writer of the reference is an acquaintance to the defendant in order for the letter to be adequate and correctly contented.

A character letter is a letter and as such, should be written as a letter should be written. This insinuates that the reference should be dated and addressed to the appropriate office. This particular kind of character reference should be addressed to the resident judge.

A character reference is a formal piece. This implies that a respectful tone should be adopted for this kind of writing. It is therefore; appropriate to address the addressee as ‘Your Honour’ in the letter.

The first paragraph of the letter should be the introductory paragraph. This is where the writer is meant to introduce him/herself and state the purpose of the letter. Also, s/he is to describe his/her relationship to the referenced in this paragraph. In describing the relationship that exist between the writer and the referenced, the writer can describe the kind of relationship, how the relationship came to be, how long the relationship has been existing and the present state of the relationship. This will attest for the writer’s qualification to write a character reference for the defendant.

The next thing the writer should bring up after the introduction is his/her knowledge about the crime the defendant allegedly committed. At this point, s/he is to relay all s/he knows about the charges; if at all s/he knows about it, if s/he knows about it; if it was the person that informed her/him about it, how the defendant has reacted and is reacting to the case.

It being a character letter, one should also include information about the character of the defendant, that is; the writer’s knowledge of the person’s character. Knowledge about the defendant’s background should also be relayed here. S/he can now express what he thinks about the defendant and the crime, comparing or attempting to relate the personality of the defendant and the crime s/he allegedly committed.

Also, the writer can state the reasons, if at all any, why he thinks the defendant might have committed the crime s/he has been accused of. All these are important as they will aid the Judge in understanding the case better. For example, the defendant might have been suffering psychologically which might have resulted to the crime.

It may be the case that the defendant was not sane when s/he committed the crime, that is if s/he actually committed the crime. All these pieces of information are expedient and that is why it is best that the writer of a character letter is very knowledgeable about the defendant.

The last paragraph of the letter should conclude the letter and it should end with the usual compliment every formal letter ends with; ‘Yours sincerely’ and the signature and name of the writer.

How to Write a Character Letter to an Employer

Before writing this kind of letter, one should gather as much information as possible. S/he should also ask questions in order to clarify every misunderstanding concerning the letter. The writer should prepare his/her mind to write positively and be honest at the same time. As in any formal letter, this kind of character reference should be addressed to the appropriate office. Then, the introduction should come in.

The writer is to introduce the reason for the letter and also introduce himself. Next, the background of the writer and his relationship with the referenced should come in. The writer can give a brief history of his relationship with the person he is writing for. This can build the trust of the employer in the content of the letter.

While writing the body of the letter, which should consist of the personal characteristics and skills of the referenced, the writer should focus on the positive traits and strength of the person. Mentioning negative traits will alter the purpose of the letter as the letter is meant to qualify the person more for the job s/he has applied for or wishes to be employed for. The writer should try as much as possible to be honest but still, s/he should avoid discussing anything about the negative past or characteristics of the person being written for. Positive word should therefore, be employed.

Irrelevant discussions should also be avoided when writing this kind of letter. It is a formal letter and so only relevant information should be relayed in it. Still on formality, the writer should try as much as possible to maintain formality in this kind of letter. Informal terms should be avoided. Also, short forms of words and phrases should be avoided. The tone of the letter should depict formality and respect.

After giving positive information about the personal qualities of the person written for, the writer should close with a concluding paragraph and a compliment as in any other formal letter. The writer may also add his/her contact information so that the employer can be able to get back to the writer if s/he wishes to.

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Sample of a Character Letter

The Manager,

The Johnsons’ Company,

October 30Th 2018.


I am Gundigan Josh, a former boss to Sophia Spike. Sophia worked under my watch for over ten years before resigning two years ago to start her own firm.  She won the best employee award six consecutive times, beating over hundred fellow employee workers before her resignation. She was the Assistant Manager before she resigned and I can boldly say that her kind of service is very rare. With her as my assistant, I was able to study her very well and I ended up learning a lot from her style of service.

Sophia’s diligence in doing her job better than expected, spurred other members of staff of The Johnson’s, including me to sit up and aim for more. She is smart and swift. She dislikes delay in doing what is supposed to be one and her ideas are always thrilling.

 I am recommending her for the job of the Personnel Manager at your company because I know that she will handle the job very well. I hope she is employed.

Yours faithfully,

(Writer’s Signature)

(Writer’s Name).


A character letter is a formal letter that gives personal details about a person and so should be written using the format of a formal letter. It must be written by one who is knowledgeable about the person to be written about. It is also known as character reference or personal reference.