What is a Reference Letter?

A reference letter is a letter in which skills and capabilities of another person are mentioned in a positive way. Do you know why this type of a letter is used for? It is used for:

  • The university admission
  • The job application
  • The scholarship application

Do you know what the person who writes such a letter is called as? The person writing a reference letter is called as a referee and sometimes is also called as a sponsor. The referee can be anyone like:

  • A boss,
  • A supervisor,
  • A teacher,
  • A professor, etc.

To write such a letter, it is important for you to have some connection with the concerned person. Showing your connection can make it easy for you to draft a reference letter.

Structure of the reference letter

There is no particular structure or a format specified for the reference letter. Generally, the business letter format is used to draft such a letter. Over the period of time, it has been observed that people are following a particular structure for writing the reference letter like:

  • If you are writing the reference letter for the sake of employment, then it is important for you to make use of letterhead or the good quality of a paper.
  • Whichever type of the reference letter you are writing, it is important for you to add the right salutation.
  • Do you know the recipient? If yes, then mention the name of a recipient or you can write “To Whom It May Concern”.
  • It is very important for you to mention the purpose of writing a reference letter.
  • Generally, the referee mentions the details of the person to whom he or she is referring.
  • It is important for the referee to show his or her connection with the student or an employee.
  • Don’t make use of more than two sentences to describe your connection. From how long you are knowing each other? Give answer to this question, in the beginning of the reference letter.
  • Describe in detail about the qualifications and abilities of the person. You should also mention the experience of the person if any.
  • Whatever description you give about the person, it is important to maintain the positive tone. This definitely does not mean that; you get the permission to be dishonest with the recipient.
  • In the end of a letter, you should provide a small conclusion. This conclusion should be the short summary of the candidate.
  • Reassure the reader, that the candidate is efficient enough to hire. Also let the reader know that he or she can get in touch with you, in a case of any queries. For this, it is important for you to add the contact details.

How to Write a Reference Letter?

  • How do you know the applicant? It is important to explain this point in your reference letter. You can also explain the relationship that you share with an applicant.
  • Why is an applicant different from others? It is good to be straightforward in such a letter, but at the same time, it is also important to mention some exceptional points about the applicant that makes him or her different from others.
  • How important is it to list the exceptional qualities of an applicant? It is very important, but ensure that you list the qualities that are related to the job search.
  • How will you make your letter look truthful? It is possible by backing up your letter with some specific examples.
  • What are all things you can mention in the reference letter? You can add different things in such a letter like those related to the experience, achievements, interaction skill, reliability etc. of an applicant.
  • How important is it to not lie in the letter? It is always advisable to say the truth in such a letter and so if you think you cannot write a positive letter, then diplomatically say no to the applicant.
  • What is not allowed to include in the reference letter? You are absolutely not allowed to refer an applicant by means of caste, gender, marital status, religion, disability, age etc. Make every word of your reference letter count. It is advisable to not include any kind of details in an extremely lengthy way.
  • What should be the length of a letter? The length of the letter, maximum should be one page. If you are writing it for the school admission reference, then you can somewhat extend the length.
  • How important it mention your contact information? It is very important because adding contact information can make it easy for the recipient to get in touch with you when needed.
  • How to conclude the letter? You can conclude the letter by writing some strong point about the applicant, but don’t overdo it.

Reference Letter – Writing tips

  • The reference letter is the reflection of you and the candidate and so it is important to make it look good in terms of the appearance.
  • Add information related to different aspects of an individual, but be specific while mentioning the skills and abilities.
  • Make use of the powerful words in your letter, but see to it the words you make use of does not carry any kind of positive and negative connotations.
  • You can make use of some positive adjectives like intelligent, honest, cooperative, dependable, reliable, innovative, sensible, expressive, observant, etc.
  • Don’t make use of ordinary adverbs or adjectives like fair, good, reasonable, adequate, nice etc.

Attributes used to address an applicant in the reference letter

  • Self-confidence
  • Leadership
  • High energy level
  • Ability to comminute
  • Intelligence
  • Inclination to accept responsibility
  • Imagination
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Competitiveness
  • Goal achievement
  • Vocational skills
  • Potential ability to lead

Who requires a reference letter?

  • An applicate, who is looking out for a job
  • The students, who want to apply for an academic course
  • The students, who need fund for further education
  • An interviewee, who got the new job and needs reference letter before signing the contract
  • An applicant, who wants support for the job application

Types of Reference Letters

  • Character reference letter
  • Teacher reference letter
  • Employer reference letter
  • Scholarship reference letter
  • Business reference letter
  • Adoption reference letter


How to write a Reference Letter

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Employer Reference Letter

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Employee Reference Letter

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Character Reference Sample Letter

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Character Reference Letter

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