Job References

What to Include in a Letter of Recommendation

What to Include in a Letter of Recommendation

If you have been asked to write a letter of recommendation for employment or for academic reasons, you may be struggling to know what information to include — and what to leave out. This recommendation letter template shows the format of a typical letter of recommendation, with details on what to include in each paragraph of your letter.

Also, see below for tips on what information to include in a letter of recommendation, what not to state in the letter, and examples.

Include specific examples attesting to the person’s qualifications whenever possible.

Paragraph 3 – Summary
This section of the recommendation letter contains a brief summary of why are you are recommending the person. State that you "highly recommend" the person or that you "recommend without reservation" or something similar.

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion
The concluding paragraph of the recommendation letter contains an offer to provide more information. You can include a phone number within this paragraph. Another option is to include a phone number and email address in the return address section or signature of the letter.

Letter Closing
Finish up your letter with a formal letter closing and your name and title. If you are mailing a hard copy of the letter, include your signature underneath your typed name:


Writer Name
Signature (for hard copy)
Job Title

What to Include in an Email Recommendation Message

When you’re sending your recommendation letter by email, you can eliminate the “Writer’s Address” section and include your name, address, title, email address, and telephone number in the signature section of your message:

Best Regards,

Writer Name
Job Title
Street Address, City, State Zip

The subject of your message should include the candidate's name: Recommendation – Applicant Name.

What Not to Include in a Letter of Recommendation

If you do not feel comfortable recommending someone — whether it's for a job or graduate school or for something else — it's best to let the person requesting the recommendation know that you cannot write it, rather than writing a negative letter. This will give them an opportunity to seek out someone who can wholeheartedly write a positive recommendation. 

Keep in mind that your own reputation is in play when you write a letter of recommendation; you do not want to endorse someone in a letter who you do not think will perform well, since it could cast a negative light on your own judgment.

You also do not want to lie in the letter: Don't exaggerate accomplishments. Overblown praise can diminish the impact of your recommendation. But be aware that since most recommendation letters skew very positive, any criticism will be very noticeable.

Letter of Recommendation Articles and Advice

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Tips for writing a letter of recommendation, including what to include, and how to format and send your letter.

Letter of Recommendation Examples
Review recommendation letter samples to see examples of reference letters for employment and academics, as well as personal and character recommendation examples.

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