Letter of Recommendation

All states
Upd. 23, Jan, 2023
~ 1 page
A letter of recommendation provides feedback on an individual's performance, work ethic, leadership, and/or character. It is usually accompanied by a job or academic application but is also suitable for personal situations, such as a rental agreement or standard scholarship application. Edit this legal template by Lawrina online and download the prepared PDF document for your professional needs.

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Template Description

A letter of recommendation can be written by a mentor, a teacher, or a current or former employer to vouch for an individual's qualifications, skills, character, and work ethic. 

What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

teacher showing recommendation to student

A recommendation letter template is a written evaluation of someone's character. An applicant may be required to send a letter of recommendation with a job, scholarship, or academic application, but it can also be used for other personal situations, such as rental agreements. The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to highlight the individual's accomplishments and demonstrate their competence and suitability for what they are applying for. Using a generic recommendation letter template can make things easier for you.

Parties of the Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is someone's assessment of another individual’s qualifications and performance. There are only three parties regretted to in the letter:

  • Applicant — The applicant or candidate is the individual applying for a certain role or position and asking for endorsement in the form of a letter of recommendation.
  • Referee –– The person who is writing the letter of recommendation to endorse the applicant or candidate. A suitable referee has first-hand knowledge of the candidate's attitude and performance within the context of the recommendation.
  • Recipient — The institution or individual considering the candidate for an opportunity. The recipient uses the recommendation letter to decide on the candidate's potential to succeed in the role, position, or with a scholarship or award.

Key Terms

Unlike a contract, a recommendation letter does not contain any technical terms. However, there are certain words and phrases that can be included in the letter to make it more impactful for the recipient and benefit the candidate. Some examples of words included are as follows:

  • Confident — Institutions want to work with people who are sure of themselves and their abilities. If the candidate you recommend is a confident individual, be sure to mention this trait and provide a specific example as evidence.
  • Articulate — An articulate person can clearly and succinctly describe their thoughts, defend their ideas, and mobilize people towards a common goal. Using this word in a recommendation letter will paint a picture of a competent candidate where the environment requires them to interact with others. 
  • Resourceful — Being able to create unique solutions when the answers are not obvious is the quality of being resourceful. When this word is used to describe a candidate in a letter of recommendation, it demonstrates that the individual is creative and offers out-of-the-box solutions to challenges. 
  • Delighted — Use highly positive phrases such as this to show the recipient that you are happy, confident, and honored to vouch for the candidate. These types of words show that you hold the candidate in high regard due to their ethics, capacity, and achievements and that they are a great person who is deserving the opportunity they have applied for.

Types of Letters of Recommendation

There are five main types of letter of reference templates:

  1. A general letter of recommendation template – You can use a general recommendation letter which provides an overview of a person's achievements and suitability for their chosen discipline or line of work. The letter speaks to the person's academics, character, and employment performance. 

  2. Academic reference – This is written by a teacher or professor to recommend a student for a scholarship, college, or graduate program. 

  3. Fraternity recommendation letter – This type of letter is written by a current or former fraternity member seeking to recommend a friend to be accepted into their fraternity. 

  4. Character reference – This reference letter vouches for an applicant's character and ability, emphasizing their positive attributes and competencies. Courts, employers, immigration offices, and schools may require character reference letters before making decisions concerning an individual.

  5. Professional recommendation – This is written by a colleague, supervisor, or any other professional person who has knowledge of the applicant’s employment performance in a particular role. The purpose of the letter is to articulate that the applicant's academic, professional, and character are suitable for the job they have applied for. 


You may also provide a negative recommendation regarding an applicant. However, if a recommendation letter contains incorrect or misleading information, the referee may be liable for defamation. Therefore, you should always be careful to stipulate the facts that can be proved by sufficient evidence if negative information was mentioned by you in the letter of recommendation. 

Importance of a Letter of Recommendation

A template for a letter of recommendation is essential to help the organization you are applying to gain a solid idea of who you are as both a person so they can be sure they are making the right decision in selecting you. For example, suppose you are a graduate looking for admission to an international school to further your studies. In that case, you may have to provide an academic letter from your college faculty and a professional letter from your previous employer. 

A sample letter of recommendation template is essential for five key reasons:

  1. Enhancing your application's quality and value — If you are applying for college admission or a full-time job, a letter of recommendation will help you stand out from the sea of other applicants.

  2. Unique insight into your personality — A letter of recommendation document describes someone else's experience and opinions about working with you. A highly personalized letter can provide a unique perspective on your personality and abilities, which can leave a lasting impression on the recipient.

  3. Makes you stand out from the competition — Always remember that an institution is only interested in the best candidates. To break a tie between two favorable candidates, the quality of their letters of recommendation plays a crucial role. 

  4. Identify strengths and justify weaknesses — A recommendation letter can thoroughly explain your weaknesses and highlight your strengths. Most colleges and prospective employers will ask about your weaknesses, so it is important to discuss them in a way that presents you in a good light. To help the admissions committee weigh your strengths against your weaknesses, you should request that the person recommending you answers this question in a thoughtful manner.

  5. Make your case — A good recommendation letter should reflect your objectives if you are applying for a job or to study a particular subject. For example, include the title and description of the position you are applying for. Give the individual writing your letter as much information as possible to present you in the best possible way, according to their opinion and experience of you.

What Should Be Included in a Letter of Recommendation?

An excellent printable form for a letter of recommendation should attest to the applicant's exceptional qualities, achievements, and qualifications.


For instance, when writing a recommendation letter for someone seeking a job, highlight their project management and interpersonal skills if you worked on a project with them. Your letter should be relevant to the purpose of the candidate’s application and attest to the candidate’s qualities and characteristics.

A letter of recommendation form should include the following:

  • Date;

  • Recipient's name;

  • Relationship;

  • Key competencies of the individual, such as their character, reliability, and consistency; and

  • The contact details for the person recommending the individual.

How To Write a Letter of Recommendation Template

Create and Download the Form

Create and download a standard reference letter template PDF from Lawrina. This is a one-page document. To use it, confirm that your chosen type is relevant to the relationship with the candidate.

Fill Out the Variable Details

Once you have the letter, complete the following variable details:

  • Your name;

  • The candidate's name;

  • The number of years you have known the individual; 

  • In the context of your relationship, you could mention the company where you worked with the individual or the school the person attended; and

  • Your contact information.

Print and Sign

Read through the document and ensure that it accurately reflects the true nature of your relationship with the candidate and that you have assessed their character and qualifications truthfully and fairly. 

Once you are satisfied with the letter you have written, print, date, and sign the document.

When Do You Need a Letter of Recommendation?

You may need to provide a letter of recommendation any time you are required to demonstrate evidence of your skills, qualifications, or competencies. The letter should validate the value of your achievements and capabilities when applying to a potential employer, school, or other opportunity.

Common Use Cases

You may need a simple letter of recommendation template for the following circumstances: 

  • Applying for a job;
  • Entering a competition;
  • Seeking out financial support through a scholarship;
  • Seeking admission to a graduate or college program; or
  • Applying for a professional license or certification.

When Not To Use a Letter of Recommendation

Do not use a printable letter of recommendation if:

  • The opportunity you are applying for did not ask for a recommendation letter. Some institutions may ask you for references but not recommendation letters; 
  • The person recommending does not have the capacity, or is unable to adequately, assess your skill or qualifications; and
  • The person recommending you does not have up-to-date knowledge of your achievements and qualifications.

How To Ask for a Letter of Recommendation: Tips & Tricks

Take the Hassle Out of Writing

Download a recommendation letter template from Lawrina to use as a guide when preparing this legal document. Give your letter some thought before you ask someone to be your referee. As most people are busy with their own lives, sitting down for a couple of hours writing down all the great qualities you have can be a hassle, regardless of how highly they may regard you. 


Write a letter of recommendation that sets out all of the best qualities you believe you possess before you ask your chosen referee to deliver your request. By doing this, the individual can then sign and amend the letter easily and will likely include more compliments and nice words about you.

Take a Respectful Approach

student asking teacher for recommendation

When discussing with someone about the possibility of them writing a letter of recommendation for you, make sure they are available and have the time to do it. It is best to send your request via email in advance of the due date and let them know when you need the letter.

Having Patience Is Key

Give your selected referee at least one to two weeks after requesting a letter of recommendation from them. If you are insistent or pestering, the letter may come quicker, but it may also be less inspiring and comprehensive. Nobody wants to do a favor for someone who behaves disrespectfully.

Receive and Review

Make sure you proofread the completed letter of recommendation before sending it off to the recipient. 


Be sure to offer sincere thanks and appreciation to the person who took the time to write the letter in support of you.

State Law

An effective letter of recommendation is honest, accurate, and provides a complete picture of the applicant. Should the person writing the letter of recommendation fail to adhere to these three principles, they will likely face lawsuits from the candidate or the institutions that make decisions based on the letter they have written. 

States do not have laws directly related to letters of recommendation, but civil rights and liberties apply as follows: 

  1. Tort law — States recognize tort law as civil wrongs. In the context of recommendation letters, it is essential to always be truthful about the character and qualifications of a former employee or student.

  2. Nondiscrimination law — Nondiscrimination laws require that you do not disclose any discriminatory information about the candidate in the recommendation letter. Information such as gender, race, and religion are irrelevant to the individual's character and qualifications. You may be liable for discrimination if you include such details in a letter of recommendation. 

  3. Libel laws — Libel is also a civil wrong. An employer who provides false information about the character or qualifications of an individual, which prevents them from getting an opportunity, is liable for defamation of character. Recommendation letters need only be truthful.

  4. Right to access — Students have a right to access recommendation letters written in favor or against their interests when seeking to join an academic institution. Violating this right might lead to lawsuits unless the student waives their right to access their recommendation letter. 


For example, if you fire one of your employees for certain misconduct and he or she comes to you asking for a recommendation letter to secure another job, you may be liable in certain cases if that former employee perpetrates similar misconduct in his or her new job and you wrote a positive recommendation letter. You have a legal and moral obligation to inform other individuals or institutions of the candidate's character, and committed misconducts. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a letter of recommendation be?

The ideal length of each letter varies depending on its content, but it should generally be between three to five paragraphs long. 

How to request a letter of recommendation?

When asking for a letter of recommendation:

  • Identify potential references: Choose the most qualified professionals from your network to write it. Ask your manager or coworkers for a letter of recommendation if it is for a potential job opportunity.
  • Describe your goals: Talk about your career goals with someone before asking them to write you a letter of recommendation. 
  • Provide context and information: Inform the person of your latest achievements and accomplishments you would like included in the recommendation letter. Provide the person with information about the job position and company history. Include an updated resume so the writer can access your previous work experience. Allow plenty of time for them to prepare the letter. Use a letter of reference template whenever possible.
How can I format a letter of recommendation?

A recommendation letter has three main parts:

  • Introduction — Provide the names of the author and applicant and the context within which you know each other.
  • Body — Highlight the applicant's qualifications, competencies, and key achievements. Consider giving specific examples of how the applicant has demonstrated the attributes listed and applied their knowledge. 
  • Conclusion — Give any reservations about the applicant. If none, summarize the recommendation and express overall support for the applicant.