This page provides a down-and-dirty guide to writing cover letters. Here you will find brief answers and lists of what you should include in a cover letter, how to order and format such a letter, and what to do before sending it out.
Contributors:Angie Olson, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2010-04-25 08:56:08
Remember that the basic format of a cover letter follows that of a business letter. As you design the page, think about the following:
- Keep to one page.
- Write one paragraph of introduction, one-three paragraphs to highlight your skills, and one paragraph to conclude.
- Single-space your cover letter.
- Leave a space between addresses and dates in the heading.
- Leave a space between your heading (contact info) and greeting ("Dear...:").
- Leave a space between each paragraph.
- Leave at least three spaces between your complimentary close ("Sincerely,") and typed name.
- Sign your name in ink between your complimentary close and typed name.
Margins and Alignment
- Use standard margins (one-inch margins, usually).
- Can use smaller margins (to about 0.7-inch) as long as you are consistent on all sides.
- Align all paragraphs to the left of the page. (You can also indent the first line of each paragraph, but that is not used as often.)
Block format is typically used for business letters.
In block format, the entire text is left aligned and single spaced. The exception to the single spacing is a double space between paragraphs (instead of indents for paragraphs).
An example block style letter is shown below and can be linked to in our eBook, The AMA Handbook of Business Writing, page 455.
Another sample block-style letter is provided below from the eBook Everyday Letters for Busy People. (Click on the link to the left or the image below to go directly to this section in the eBook!) Note: Your block letter will likely not include the "Account Number" line, "Attention: Customer Service Manager", or "Receipt enclosed".
If you have been asked to complete a project in both block style and APA style, ask your instructor for clarification. It is likely that s/he wants you to cite your sources using APA style and format the letter using block style.
*APA does use block quotations for quotes of 40 or more words, but this is something entirely different from block letter format. If you need information about block quotations NOT block letters, visit: http://rasmussen.libanswers.com/faq/32569