Letter of Recommendation Samples for Students

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Students may need a letter of recommendation to land a job, secure an internship, or earn a spot in a competitive academic program. But to make a good impression on the recipient, a letter of recommendation must be more than just an enthusiastic endorsement—it must follow a specific format.

Whether you are a student who needs a letter of recommendation for an application or a reference writer, here’s how to format your letter and what to include in the document. Plus, you’ll find a few samples to help guide your writing.

Key Takeaways

  • Students can request recommendation letters from teachers, professors, and employers.
  • Character references provide an endorsement of a student’s positive personal qualities, such as their work ethic, dependability, and enthusiasm.
  • When requesting a recommendation letter, offer to provide a copy of your CV and a job description or program overview.

How To Request a Recommendation Letter

When you request a letter of recommendation (sometimes also called a letter of reference), be sure to remind potential letter writers how they know you and give them information on why you need the letter (for example, tell them the types of job you will be applying for).

You might also provide the person with your most up-to-date resume or CV. These details will make it easier for them to write a personalized and targeted reference letter.

You should also provide all the information the person needs regarding how to submit the letter, what to include (if there are any requirements) and when it is due.

How To Write a Recommendation Letter

When writing a reference letter, be sure to explain how you know the student, and describe some of the qualities that make him or her a good candidate for the job or school. Use specific examples to demonstrate how the person has shown those qualities.

Focus on the specific job or school the person is applying for. Try to include qualities and examples that will help them get that position or get into that school.

Feel free to ask the person for whom you are writing the letter for more information. You might ask to see the job listing, their resume, or a list of their related coursework.

What To Include in a Recommendation Letter for a Student

Contact Information
If you’re writing a formal printed letter, include your contact information, as well as the recipient’s information, at the top of the letter.

If you are writing a personal recommendation letter, include a salutation to start your letter (Dear Dr. Smith, or Dear Ms. Jones, for example).

Paragraph 1: Introduction
Explain why you're writing and how you are connected to the person you are recommending, including how you know them, and for how long.

Paragraph 2/3: Why You're Writing
Share information on the person you are writing about, including why they are qualified and what they have to offer. It's fine to include more than one paragraph to provide details of the student's academic and work performance. Including examples of how they have excelled is a good way to show how the person is qualified.

Paragraph 4: Summary
Write a brief summary of why you are recommending the person. Mention that you "highly recommend" the person or that you "recommend without reservation" or something similar.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion
Offer to share more information and let the reader know how to contact you (phone, email, etc.) for a follow-up conversation.

Letter Closing
End your letter with a formal letter closing and your name and title. If you are mailing a printed letter, include your signature underneath your typed name: 


Signature (for hard copy letter)

Your Name

If you’re sending an email, include your contact information in your signature. 

How To Use Letter Examples and Templates

It is a good idea to review recommendation letter examples and templates before you write a recommendation letter or a request for a letter. They can help you decide what kind of content you should include in your document.

A letter template also helps you with the layout of your letter, such as how many paragraphs to include, and how to sign the letter. Templates also show you what elements you need to include in your letter, such as your contact information.


While recommendation letter examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point, always tailor a letter to fit the particular situation

Student Recommendation Letter Example

Download the recommendation letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a student recommendation letter

The Balance

Recommendation Letter Example (Text Version)

Brian Smith
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345

March 9, 2021

Emma Johnson
Café Bistro
72 Dock Street
Pacifica, Oregon 97233

Dear Ms. Johnson,

Daniel Williams worked as a server and manager at Central College’s student café under my supervision for seven semesters, beginning in Spring 2019.

Over that time, I was consistently impressed with his customer service and people management skills, as well as his dedication and good humor. I've often said that if I could clone Daniel, I'd never have to worry about staffing problems again. He's a truly gifted server, fast on his feet, and able to remember complicated orders without using an order pad.

He’s also an innovator. Thanks to his suggestions, we revamped the café menu last year to focus on the most popular dishes and dropped some expensive, time-consuming menu items. The result was a 10% increase in profits.

Our customers love him. More than one has suggested that Daniel become a “super senior,” so that he can stay with us next year. Alas, he’s graduating on schedule, with highest honors and a boatload of references to attest to his skill, hard work, and talent. I’m honored to be one of them.

I enthusiastically recommend Daniel for the position of server/manager in your café. If you have any specific questions about Daniel’s experience and skills, I’m happy to help. Please call me at 555-555-5555.


Brian Smith

Student Coordinator

Central College Café

Character / Personal Recommendation Letters

A character reference is a recommendation written by someone who can attest to one’s character. These letters may be needed for people applying to join an association or purchase property.

They can be used as an alternative to a professional reference for someone who doesn't have work experience, and they may also be required for jobs that require a high level of trustworthiness.

Who To Ask for a Character Reference

If you have limited work experience (or worry you will get a negative reference from your former employer), you might ask someone to write you a character reference. This might help balance out a negative employer reference.

Consider asking a friend, neighbor, volunteer or club leader, colleague, or other people who may never have employed you, but can speak to who you are as a person.

What To Include in a Character Reference

If you are asked to write a character reference, focus on the person’s character traits and abilities. You can provide examples from personal interactions with that individual.

Character Reference Letter Example

Download the character reference letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.

Screenshot of a student character reference letter

The Balance

Character Reference Letter Example (Text Version)

Jane Lee
330 Chestnut Street
Kerry Springs, Massachusetts 01006

February 3, 2023

Sandra Gomez
Program Director
Kids at Play, Inc.
Centertown, New Hampshire 03225

Dear Ms. Gomez,

Before I had the pleasure of working with Liz Dwyer on our neighborhood cleanup committee, I was her next-door neighbor for 10 years. It didn’t surprise me at all when she was the youngest person to show up for our initial organizational meeting or when she volunteered to take notes and spearheaded the playground project. 

Liz is a very special young person, the kind that gives you hope for the future. It’s not just that she’s organized and dependable, although she is. It’s that she has passion, drive, and a deep optimism for what’s possible. I’ve seen firsthand how she uses that optimism to inspire others and help them see the possibilities in an empty lot or rundown corner. 

I’ve also been impressed with Liz’s growth as an artist. Since she started at Eastern College, her talent has grown. She has used her new skills to improve our neighborhood, rallying the local kids to help her make a mosaic wall for the new playground. 

I know she would be a bright light in your arts program, inspiring and guiding the kids in your care just as she has the kids on our block. I enthusiastically recommend her for the job. Please feel free to reach out to me at jane.lee@email.com or (413)555-6078 with any questions. 

Best regards,

Jane Lee
Director, Chestnut Street Block Association

How to Create a Reference List

A reference list is a page with a list of your references and their contact information. Send this letter as part of your job application if it is requested. Employers who ask for a reference list might call or email the people on that list and ask them for more information about you.

When creating your reference list, be sure to first ask permission from each person on your list. Not only is this polite, but this will give each person time to prepare a response for the employer. Make sure you provide all the necessary contact information for each person.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should a student’s letter of recommendation include?

A letter of recommendation for a student should describe their positive qualities, including their academic achievements, interpersonal skills, work ethic, and character. To be effective, the letter should focus on skills and qualifications that are most valuable in the job or program for which the student is applying. 

How long should a recommendation letter be?

A recommendation letter should be at least a few paragraphs long, typically a page or two in length. It should contain specifics that illustrate why the subject is a good candidate for the job or position they’re seeking. The recommender should unreservedly endorse the subject of the letter. 

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  1. Georgetown University Center for Research and Fellowships. "Do's and Don'ts of Writing Recommendation Letters."

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