Career Planning Finding a Job Cover Letters How to Format a Cover Letter (With Examples) By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years. learn about our editorial policies Updated on July 17, 2021 Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Cover Letter Format Guidelines How to Format a Cover Letter What to Include in Each Section Formatting Tips for Cover Letters Cover Letter Template More Cover Letter Examples and Tips Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images When you are applying for a job, how you format your cover letter is important because the letter is one of the first impressions you'll make on an employer. In fact, how you format your letter is almost as important as what you write in it. A cover letter that is formatted incorrectly, or is difficult to read, can quickly eliminate you from the pool of candidates, so it's important to pay just as much attention to the formatting of your letter as to its content. Here's information on cover letter formatting guidelines including setting page margins, choosing a font style and size, paragraph and section spacing, and more tips on how to format cover letters for employment. Cover Letter Format Guidelines Formatting includes factors such as page margins, font type and size, line, paragraph and section spacing, and document type. For example, a letter without the correct spacing between paragraphs, or with too much text on a page, is going to look cluttered, or a letter saved as a file type that is not meant for a text document (such as a .jpg or a .png) may prevent the reader from opening and viewing it. Adhering to typical standards in formatting is especially important considering that communication skills are important in nearly every field, and failing to compose a readable cover letter will certainly not inspire confidence in your abilities. On the other hand, a cover letter that is saved correctly and uses sufficient white space, a simple, reasonably sized font, and an appropriate salutation and closing will make a positive impression on your potential employers. The Easiest Way to Format a Cover Letter The easiest way to format a letter is to write the letter first, then format it. Once you have all the content (contact information, why you are applying and qualified, signature, etc.) on the page, you can then easily adjust the margins, font, and alignment. Here's an overview of each section. Melissa Ling. © The Balance Contact Section: How you include your contact information will vary based on how you are sending your cover letter. If you are uploading or mailing a letter, put the information at the top of the page. Note With an email cover letter, your contact information should be below your signature. Employer Address: How you address the cover letter will depend on how much information you have about the employer. Salutation: A salutation is the greeting you include at the beginning of a cover letter. Here's how to write a salutation, including what to use if you don't have the name of a contact person to list. Body: The body of a cover letter includes the sections where you explain why you are interested in and qualified for the job for which you are applying. Here's what to include in each section or your letter. Paragraphs and Bulleted Lists: A more traditional cover letter contains written paragraphs describing your qualifications. Closings: When you're writing a cover letter or sending an email message to apply for a job it's important to close your cover letter in a professional manner. Here's how to close your letter with class. What to Include in Each Section Here are details on what to include in each section of your cover letter. Cover Letter Format Example Your Contact InformationNameAddressCity, State Zip CodePhone NumberEmail Address Date Employer Contact Information (if you have it)NameTitleCompanyAddressCity, State Zip Code Cover Letter Contact Section Examples SalutationDear Mr./Ms. Last Name, Cover Letter Greeting Examples: Note: If you do not have a contact name, you can skip the salutation entirely. Or, you can use Dear Hiring Manager, To Whom It May Concern, or one of the other examples listed in the link. Ideally, you will be able to address your cover letter to a specific person. Doing research can help you figure out who is the most appropriate person to receive the letter. Note: If you do not know the gender of your contact, you can write out the person's full name, e.g., "Dear Cory Smith"or "Dear Jordan Parish." Body of Cover LetterThe body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up. Organize the body of your cover letter into the following paragraphs: First ParagraphThe first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for and where you found the job listing. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one. Middle Paragraph(s)The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Mention specifically how your qualifications match the job you are applying for. Think of this section of the cover letter as where you're making a pitch for your fit as an employee and show what makes you a great candidate. Make the connection between your qualifications and the job requirements clear. Use this section to interpret your resume—don't repeat from it verbatim. Final Paragraph Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up. Optionally, you can briefly restate why you would be a good fit for the position. Complimentary CloseRespectfully yours, Closing Examples Signature Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter) Typed Signature Signature Examples Formatting Tips for Cover Letters Here are some formatting tips to keep in mind when you are writing your letter: Font choices: The details count when it comes to cover letters, so choose a professional font in a 10 or 12 point size. This is no time to break out emoticons or emojis. Email versus hard copy letters: The sample letter below is formatted for a printed out hard copy. If you are emailing your cover letter, you'll need to pay particular attention to the subject line of your email. See more tips for formatting your email cover letter. Letter Spacing: Your letter should be single-spaced. Include a space between every paragraph, and in general, a space between each section of the letter. (That is, there should be a space between the address and the date, and then again between the date and the salutation.) Email Spacing: In an email cover letter, where many sections are left off, you will want to include a space between the salutation and between each paragraph, and another space before your complimentary close. Proofreading: Remember that note about details counting in cover letters? Make sure to avoid errors by carefully proofreading your letter. Here are guidelines for proofreading your cover letter. Note Use your word processor's spell check to catch common errors, and then consider reading your letter aloud—or having a friend review it—to catch additional errors. Cover Letter Template Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs or Word Online) or read the example below. @ The Balance 2020 Download the Word Template Cover Letter Sample (Text Version) Molly Smith21 Spring StreetAnycity, NY email@example.com December 11, 2020John BrownSales ManagerAcme Corp.321 Main StreetAnycity, NY 12000Dear Mr. Brown,I wish to apply for the sales position advertised on Monster.com. Terry Johnson suggested that I contact you directly, as we have worked together, and he felt that I would be a good fit with your team.For the past two years I have been working in sales for Goodman & Co.. I have consistently exceeded my targets and I was recognized last quarter for outstanding service. As an avid cyclist and user of many of your products, I'm aware that Acme Corp. is a company with tremendous potential. I am confident that my experience, communication skills, and ability to convey product benefits effectively would enable me to excel in the sales role.I would be delighted to discuss with you how I might be an asset to the Acme Corp. sales team. Thank you for your consideration; I look forward to hearing from you.Respectfully yours,Signature (hard copy letter)Molly Smith More Cover Letter Examples and Writing Tips Also review more cover letter templates and examples of cover letters for a variety of different types of jobs, types of job seekers, and types of job applications. Then get started writing your own cover letter in five easy steps. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. CareerOneStop. "How Do I Write a Cover Letter?" Accessed Dec. 11, 2020.