Tips How to Write A Recommendation Letter

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a document that describes the skills, qualifications, and capabilities of an individual in line with the task or most often the work or task that the individual is looking to perform. A letter of recommendation requires an individual to approach another person, mostly one of higher status than he or she is, for example, a previous manager or supervisor in the case of a job or a professor or teacher in the case of an academic letter of recommendation. The individual hence has to write a request letter to the person he or she wants to write the letter of recommendation.

Important points to note before embarking on writing a letter of recommendation.

  • When you are requested to write a letter of recommendation, the individual’s future is at stake and is in your hands so be sure to secure the person’s future by building his or her reputation.
  • The recommendation letter should reflect or be in line with the subject matter that it was requested for. That is, if it is a request for admission, include only those academic qualifications that have an educational background specific to the course to be studied and not deviate to skills that may be applicable only to a job. Moreover, in the case of a job letter of recommendation, make sure that the skill, knowledge, and capabilities you include are relevant to the position that the individual is applying for.
  • Whatever you write about the individual should be near the truth and should actually portray the individual’s character or personality. Hence, it may even be prudent to decline the request if you are not quite familiar with the person to avoid any unnecessary discrepancies.
  • This is a document just like any other! So, do not refrain or shy away from being creative when coming up with the letter of recommendation.
  • The recommendation letter should be in harmony with the individual’s cover letter and resume so it may be prudent to even ask the individual to present these documents to ensure that these three documents are in sync.
  • A recommendation letter should also be short but detailed, precise, clear and to the point, do not let your creativity take control so much so that you make the letter lengthy and full of very pointless and irrelevant information.

Guide to professional letter of recommendation format

A professional letter of recommendation should include the following sections:

  • Salutation- just like when writing a normal letter, a salutation may be included. For a professional letter the salutation is not a must but one may include it and it is written as; “To whom it may concern,”
  • The introduction- in this section, the opening sentence should be that you recommend the person for the job. Also, be sure to give a little background of the relationship you share with the person and remember to state the length of time you have been acquitted with the same individual. Be sure to reference your job position to that of the person you are writing about at the time you worked together and whether you took part in directly overseeing his performance in the job at the time.
  • The body- this section typically carries the weight of the recommendation letter and is where you get the chance to actually build a very credible and compelling case for the individual you are writing about. Mention the various skills, capabilities, related academic qualifications and knowledge that are directly linked to the job opportunity the individual is applying for. You may also add a few special characteristics that will definitely add some few extra points for the individual. Not to forget, mention a few things about the person’s personality and character. Traits such as honest, hardworking, time conscious, respectful, ambitious and others go a long way in building the person’s credibility for the job and hence increases the chances for acceptance and employment. In addition, mention briefly a few instances where the individual stood with regards to his work or profession, that is, maybe hoe he or she put to use the knowledge and skills acquired to solve a major problem. Also note down the most outstanding accomplishments that you personally saw the individual accomplish. As mentioned earlier, remember to keep it short but detailed, precise and to the point.
  • Ending- this is typically the last section of a letter of recommendation. In this section, it is always very effective to mention that you would be delighted or honored to have the individual back at your company, as your student or something of such manner depending on the type of recommendation letter that you are writing. This is actually a very strong closing remark that may actually bag the position for the individual you are writing about. Be sure to also include your name, contact number, email and maybe address at the very end so that the addressee may be able to get in touch with you in case of any questions or clarifications that he or she may need.
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Letter of recommendation for scholarship – peculiarities

Recommendation letter for a scholarship can be identified as a type of academic recommendation letter and hence should be written in the same technique or manner in which an academic letter is written. The letter should include the academic qualifications, skills, and knowledge that appertains to the field of study most conversant with the scholarship that the student applying for and hence should majorly focus to build on those skills that are important in such a scenario. Most of the sponsors who offer scholarship whether for undergraduate or postgraduate studies usually need a recommendation letter so that they can get to understand you better even without you presenting yourself before them. A recommendation letter will easily tell them the person you are and your capabilities.

Let us now see how an academic letter is written so as to know how to come up with a recommendation letter for a scholarship application.

Academic recommendation letters may be of different educational levels including; college, university, letters written by teachers for the students which may include scholarship and internship recommendation letters and even letters written for the teachers. Academic letters of recommendation are written following the same format as the professional recommendation letters with a few minor differences such as:

  • Focusing the whole write up on the particular school that the student is applying to or in the case of the teachers, focusing on the exact job that the teacher is applying for.
  • Write only the positive things to ensure that credibility and chances of acceptance of the applicants to their various applications are improved.
  • For academic letters of recommendation, it is important to follow the specifications given such as the number of words or length of the letter, the size, font, document format, delivery system among others when writing the letter to improve the chances of acceptance.
  • Personal recommendation letters also referred to as character reference letters may be requested by an individual in such instances as applying for a new job, purchasing large properties or even requesting for admission to a new institution, hence one may request their friends, neighbors, business clients, teachers among others to write the letter of recommendation. Similar to the academic recommendation letters, character reference letters are also written following the professional recommendation letter format but with the following few adjustments;
  • Personal recommendation letters should start with a salutation more like a normal letter. The salutation, in this case, is usually written as; Dear sir[name] or madam[name]
  • Focus and build on one or two important traits that you have personally identified with the person during your time of interaction. You should be careful not to overexpress yourself or be carried away by your attachments to the individual thus making the letter unnecessarily lengthy with too much useless information. Include complements but be sure to preserve integrity and honesty especially when writing a recommendation letter for a really close friend.
  • Follow the rules given for submission such as the document format (pdf or word), as an email or physical letter among other specifications.
  • Let the whole letter portray a lot of positivity and utter confidence in the abilities and credibility of the person you are writing about.
  • Lastly, inform the person you were writing about that you have already submitted the letter of recommendation.

A letter of recommendation example can help you understand what is required of you. The following is a template for a letter of recommendation just to give you an idea of what is expected and how you can get that very credible yet creative recommendation letter.

Dear Dr. Smith, (in the case of personal recommendation letter) or

To whom it may concern, (in the case of a professional or general recommendation letter)


I am greatly honored to recommend Miss Lowe for the summer school scholarship program at the University of Kyoto which is going to run from the 4th of June to the 20th of August, 2018.

I have taught Miss Lowe for the past 4 years at the University of Breaeburn and I must say that she has an utter passion for human health research projects especially those that are related to the immune system. She is a hardworking, disciplined, respectful and dedicated student who gas shown nothing but incredible understanding and mastery of her field of study thus making her a very good candidate and beneficiary of the scholarships being awarded.

The scholarship will go a long way in providing her the necessary resources she requires to actualize the idea that she actually conceived on her own on the impact of polymerase enzyme owing to the fact that there are no laboratory resources to actually enable her to conceptualize the idea.

I had the privilege of working with her on her undergraduate project, needless to say, she was the best student. Her project was on the human papillomavirus eradication using molecular methods, which I must confess, was quite a challenging one but she did it to sheer perfection giving no room for faults and any discrepancies between the test, results or outcomes and overall project presentation. Her mastery of laboratory skills and knowledge in her area of study gives her an edge.

And for that matter, I would be delighted to have Miss Lowe as my student at any time.

I would be honored to answer any questions or concerns that may arise. Contact me at +5876902130 or [email protected].


Kris Luke Martins.

Senior Lecturer Department of Health Sciences.

University of Breaeburn.

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How you present the letter is also important in increasing the chances of acceptability. The text color, font, letters size, line and paragraph spacing among other formatting tools should generally give a well-presented letter that will be eye-catching to the addressee even before he or she begins to read it. Nonetheless, appropriate grammar, spelling and general language used to include the tone of writing are all essential in conveying a clear, precise and easily understandable message.

Also, if there are specific instructions concerning the letter of recommendation such as the format styles, the amount words, the document styles, information to be included, date due for submission, the method of submission among other specific instructions. It is prudent that you follow all these specifications to the latter and not ignore any of them no matter how insignificant they seem to be in order to avoid any small mistakes that may actually discredit the individual you are writing about.

As you can see, writing a recommendation letter is not that much of a task and does not have to stress you out! It is simple and short. It should actually portray a very good picture of the person you are writing about. The impression you create in the is key and can make the addressee actually consider accepting the individual’s application without any second thoughts or uncertainties. So, choose your words really carefully and start writing that perfect letter of recommendation that you would desire someone else to also write for you!

A recommendation letter is a really important document so write it with uttermost precision!

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