Insider's Guide to Writing a Great Letter of Recommendation

Last updated on June 5, 2023 / By 

Writing a letter of recommendation is an opportunity to support and endorse someone’s skills, achievements, and character. Whether you’re a teacher, employer, colleague, or mentor, crafting a compelling letter can make a significant impact on the recipient’s future opportunities. This article will guide you through the step-by-step process of writing a great letter of recommendation that effectively highlights the individual’s strengths and accomplishments.

Step 1: Understand the Purpose

Before you start writing, it’s essential to grasp the purpose of the letter. Determine the intended audience and the specific purpose of the recommendation. Are you recommending the individual for a job, scholarship, admission to an educational institution, or any other opportunity? Understanding the context will help you tailor your letter accordingly.

Step 2: Gather Relevant Information

To write an impactful recommendation, collect as much relevant information about the individual as possible. This may include their resume, academic transcripts, personal statements, or any other documentation that provides insight into their accomplishments, skills, and experiences. Additionally, consider speaking to the person directly to gain a deeper understanding of their aspirations and goals.

Step 3: Structure Your Letter

A well-structured recommendation letter should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Here’s a suggested outline:

a. Introduction:
Begin by stating your relationship with the person you’re recommending and how long you have known them. Mention your qualifications or expertise that makes you a credible reference.

b. Body Paragraphs:
In the body paragraphs, focus on specific examples and instances that demonstrate the individual’s qualifications, skills, and achievements. Address each point separately, supporting them with anecdotes, observations, or quantitative data. Provide concrete evidence to substantiate your claims and highlight the person’s unique qualities, such as leadership, teamwork, or problem-solving abilities. Use vivid and descriptive language to paint a clear picture of their capabilities.

c. Conclusion:
Summarize your recommendation by emphasizing the person’s overall strengths and accomplishments. Reiterate your confidence in their abilities and potential. End on a positive note, expressing your willingness to provide further information if needed.

Step 4: Personalize the Letter

Avoid using generic templates or pre-written letters. Tailor the content to reflect the individual’s unique qualities and experiences. Customize the language and tone to match the context and requirements of the opportunity they are seeking. Personalization shows genuine support and demonstrates that you have invested time and thought into the recommendation.

Step 5: Proofread and Edit

Once you have written the letter, proofread it carefully for any errors or typos. Pay attention to grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure. Ensure that the content flows smoothly and logically. Editing is crucial to maintain a professional and polished letter that reflects positively on both you and the individual you are recommending.

Step 6: Obtain Consent and Submit the Letter

Before submitting the recommendation, seek the person’s consent to share the letter and verify if they have any specific requirements or preferences. Respect their right to review the letter and make changes if necessary. After finalizing the document, submit it according to the application instructions provided by the recipient.


Writing a great letter of recommendation requires thoughtful consideration, accurate information, and effective communication. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can create a compelling and persuasive recommendation that highlights the individual’s strengths, accomplishments, and potential. Your well-crafted letter can have a significant impact on their future opportunities and contribute to their success.