Advice on Writing Letters of Recommendation
By Doug Cutchins, Director of Social Commitment at Grinnell College
- Be specific and use examples.
- Know the student, know the opportunity, and know why you've been asked to write the letter.
- Length: more than one page, less than two pages.
- State who you are and the nature and length of your relationship with the student.
- Use comparative numbers or rankings when possible.
- Be honest (but cautious).
- Describe the person, not just the student.
- Know and meet the deadline.
- Use your particular viewpoint or lens into this student; don't repeat information available elsewhere on the application.
- Make the student work for the letter - give you enough time, and provide supplementary materials to help you write the letter.
For a more complete discussion of the art of writing recommendations, view this article.
Sample Letters of Recommendation
A sample letter of recommendation written by Jonathan Brand
A sample letter of recommendation written by David Campbell