Tips for Writing a Successful Letter of Recommendation

i'm david lombard ìno editor-in-chief of

dla editors and proofs here to give you

our tips for writing a successful letter

of recommendation now we see this

question come up most often because the

writers of your letters of

recommendation have asked you to

actually write the letter of

recommendation though of course we do

also get the writers themselves who have

asked us to help and so here I want to

cover our tips our basic guidelines for

how to write a successful letter of

recommendation and so overall what you

want to do is you want to make sure that

you are concise and thorough you want to

be detailed and provide specifics this

is not a place for general information

or vague information and generally

speaking you want the letter to be from

the writers point of view in other words

it should communicate ideas that are

only from the point of view of the

writer or only items that the writer has

direct knowledge of now there are some

exceptions to that it could be that if

somebody's in an oversight position or

overseeing position like an attending

physician happen to hear from nurses or

medical staff something about you then

that would be okay I mean if it's direct

information from somebody under that

person or who would be responsible for

receiving information then that would be

alright but otherwise what you want if

even if it's an attending physician or

somebody from an oversight perspective

like a Dean you would wish that the

details in the letter would be ones that

that person has witnessed directly from

the from the candidate and so when you

think about the structure of the letter

there's a few guidelines you want to

follow you want to open with a concise

statement about the purpose of the

letter one to two sentences for the

introduction this date I am recommending

this person for this position that's it

then you can either in the if you've

done that only in one sentence then you

can do this in the second sentence or

you can start your second paragraph with

stating who the writer is that writers

position and how that writer came to

know or got to know or witnessed the

candidate now a lot of times that's

going to require two or three

census and so you want to go ahead and

and start your second paragraph with

that and it could actually just be the

entire second paragraph then either in

the second half of the second paragraph

or a new third paragraph you could go

into the details of of what you want to

present again being concise being

thorough providing specifics that the

writer has direct knowledge of and then

finally you want to conclude with two

sentences two sentence paragraph stating

thank you for your consideration or

something along those lines I'm

available for any further questions you

may have as you something like that and

of course when you think about the

length of a letter of recommendation a

lot of times people will come to us and

they want their letter of recommendation

to fit all onto one page now this is a

little bit of a myth the reason why

programs will want your letter of

recommendation to be on one page is

because generally letters of

recommendation don't provide are not

well-written they're too vague or

general they don't really provide

significant insight into the candidate

and so why would the program wanna

bother to read pages and pages that they

don't want to bother to read pages and

pages of it they want to just get to the

point recognize that it's vague or

general and not very interesting and

move on but what they really want are


letters of recommendation that go beyond

a page now when you say beyond a page

you may be wondering well just how long

I've seen outstanding letters of

recommendation that are six and seven

pages long now that's not to say that

your letters of recommendation have to

be like that most likely your letter of

recommendation is not going to come

anywhere close but something that you

might want to consider is that if you've

got two letters of recommendation if

you're the program and you're looking at

letters of recommendation from two

different candidates and then you've got

one letter of recommendation that

specific concise and thorough and only

one page and another leg of a letter of

recommendation that is just as specific

just as concise and just as thorough but

it's two three four five or six pages

long that longer letter of

recommendation is going to get more of

their attention and going to put you

forward as a candidate I hope these tips

have helped

we offer our full range of services for

letters of recommend a

come check out what we have to offer at

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