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A reference letter is provided by an applicant to prove that skills shown on a resume or CV are real. It can support claims about skills and experience, as well as confirm by an employer that the bearer of the reference letter has worked in their organization. reference letter

On the other hand, a reference letter by a professor or instructor can support an applicant’s academic claims. Also, a support letter by an employer can prove that an applicant has a set of skills required in a specific field.

Steps for Writing a Reference Letter

  1. It is impossible to write a reference letter without knowing the vital details of the person to be written about. Gather all the necessary details in a file.
  2. Make a list of characteristics and highlights of the person being written about.
  3. Organize all notes, and ask to see the person’s certificates and diplomas.
  4. Make a point list of all aspects to cover in the reference letter.
  5. Write a brief paragraph about the aspects of character, work, qualifications, and skills held by the person to be written about.
  6. Write an introduction which shows you fully support the applicant’s aims, and how you know the person concerned.
  7. Write the body, which goes into detail about why you recommend the person. Write each paragraph based on one idea.
  8. Edit your letter at least two times, checking with the person being recommended for the accuracy of your information.

Selecting Points to Include in a Reference Letter

It is not easy to decide how to write a reference letter. Talking to the person concerned will uncover details. Some can be:

  • Description of the person’s character
  • The person’s work ethic
  • Qualifications and certification achieved by the person
  • Previous positions held
  • Personal life experience
  • Industry relevance
  • Your connection to the applicant and the length of your acquaintance

Key Points to Consider

  • At least one meeting, telephone call, or interview must take place between the person writing the letter and the person about whom the letter is concerned.
  • Careful notes must be taken during the interview, meeting, or telephone call.
  • Copies of all certificates and relevant documents must be offered to the person writing the letter: the details on this documentation are important. They comprise of dates, organizations, schools and colleges, names, and other details about which it is vital to be accurate.
  • Remember that facts and figures are in this case much more important than ideas and opinions, although character references do provide the writer’s opinion about an applicant’s compatibility with specific lines of work or study. Anyone who reads a reference letter needs to see a brief, accurate account of a person’s educational certification, work experience, character attributes, and skills.
  • The writer must express all items well, and without flaws or ambiguity. Items must be organized properly in the order in which they happened.
  • There are two chronological sequences applicable in a reference letter. One leads from the present day back into the person’s past experience, ending with educational details. Or one can start at the beginning with school information, and end with present day occupations.
  • Combine all the valid points that relate directly to the person involved and make a summation.
  • The chosen writing style must be semi-formal and precise. It is a mistake for the writer to use conversational language, even if the person being written about is a close friend.

Do and Don’t


  • Do pay attention to detail and peruse the right documents with an eagle eye. Certificates, testimonials, locations, and dates must match on all pieces of paper presented.
  • Do ensure the reference mentions and complies with any or all laws and regulations that govern the industry arena of the applicant’s choice.
  • Do write several drafts with a sense of progress and improvement with each one you write.
  • Do check with the applicant that all the details supplied are bona fide, legitimate and can be confirmed by anyone’s inquiry to the correct source.

  • Don’t submit the first attempt at drawing up a reference letter.
  • Don’t try to write a reference letter without viewing one first. An example will indicate the right way to format it and what inclusions are necessary.
  • Don’t ignore any of the steps mentioned here. An incomplete or faulty reference letter is worse than no reference letter at all.
  • Don’t take shortcuts and think you can get away with overstating the applicant’s abilities or by lying about their character or abilities and talents. Most people examining a reference letter can check the minutiae almost instantly, and can verify qualifications, experience, names, and dates easily.

Common Mistakes

  • Presenting too much detail has a negative effect. The role of a reference letter is to present facts, figures, and experience or character tersely to interested parties, who might be members of a university application board, company staffing officials, or recruiters and recruiting firms.
  • The omission of qualities and skills of the person the letter refers to. A list of attributes, how they were achieved and developed, is an important part of this document.
  • Not understanding the submission process.
  • Hurried or spur-of-the-moment writing. All material must be meticulous and written in a truthful and conscientious manner.
  • Exaggerating or inflating the level or quality of the applicant, skirting the truth, or outright lies.
  • Poor language skills, inappropriate or irrelevant vocabulary, the wrong tone, and errors of punctuation, grammar, syntax, and structure. The person supplying a reference must be equal to, or more efficient and qualified than the person for whom they provide a reference.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic reference letter writing tips and rules, you can check out our reference letter samples to link theory with practice.

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Samples for Writing a Reference Letter


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