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an example of parallel structure

Common Writing Challenges

Reference Letter

Normally, three and certainly not more than four paragraphs are sufficient for a letter of reference. State the purpose of the letter and your connection to the subject in a brief first paragraph. In the second paragraph, briefly relate that to how the subject is suitable for a particular job, scholarship, membership, or other goal. Give one or two examples to back up your claim about the subject. In a final paragraph, clearly state your support for the subject.

The letters and sample sentence below all support favorable references. It may be better to not commit to writing a reference letter for a person whom you cannot support in a positive way.


• It is a pleasure for me to submit this letter of reference for William Jones, whom I know as his (teacher, employer, colleague).

• Kelly is a fine (student, employee), and I am sure my feeling reflects the consensus among those who know the job applicant.

• Teka has been a computer programmer with us for four years, and I am happy to see that she is applying for a position that will put to use her full ability and creativity, which the nature of her position here limits.

• I have mixed feelings about submitting this letter of recommendation for René Leckmann: He deserves a position in which he can more fully exploit his many skills. However, everyone here will lament the loss of his skills and fine personality if he leaves for a more challenging position elsewhere.

• I am writing this letter of reference at the request of Abdi Selam, who requires it for a security clearance.

• Riki Gonzalez, my colleague here at Richards, Ozawa, and Partners, has asked me to write this letter of reference for him. Riki is applying for a position with your law firm.

• Without hesitation I can recommend Mai Lun for (a nursing scholarship, an internship position). If I can provide additional information about Mai, please contact me at the number above.



Dear ———,

I am writing this letter of recommendation at the request of Gill Brossard, a student of mine, who is applying for a scholarship for the graduate program in statistics here at St. Paul University.

Gill is a student who overcame a lot of obstacles, none of his own making, to successfully graduate from college with a 3.8 GPA in three and a half years, and I am confident that he will apply his persistence and patience to successfully complete the graduate program in statistics.

In addition to his academic ability, Gill is a considerate and respectful person. As his academic adviser, I have observed him in several social situations and I know he is affable, well-liked, and respected.

I think Gill is doing the right thing by applying for the graduate program in statistics, and I do hope that he is successful in his scholarship application. If I can provide more information about Gill Brossard, please contact me at the e-mail address above.

Respectfully yours,



To whom it may concern:

I am writing this letter of reference to support the application of Patricia Petite to Humboldt University. Patricia is a student of mine at Kennedy High School, from which she her to graduate at the top of her class in spring.

Patricia was the best student in my international baccalaureate history class, and as her teacher, I have had a lot of opportunities to observe her academic ability, progress, and potential. Her ultimate goal is to become a college teacher, for which I believe she has the intellect, the enthusiasm, and unique cultural and bilingual experiences.

Patricia has been an engaged student, and an active participant in class who completes all her assignments, often going beyond what is required of her. She is cooperative and respectful of all students in the classroom and has the talent and academic skills to succeed in college. If I can provide additional information about Patricia, please contact me at 123-0000, ext. 40.




Dear ———,

I write this reference letter at the request of Leslie Ohara who requires a member's recommendation to join the Municipal Press Club. Leslie is one of my colleagues at NewsReleases.com, where I am editor in chief and Leslie is a photographer and videographer.

It has been my pleasure to work extensively with Leslie, and I have been impressed by his conscientious application of journalism ethics to his work and his keen interest in the field of journalism and generosity toward his co-workers. Last year Leslie was recipient of the Online Photo Journalism Award for his contributions to online news gathering.

I highly recommend Municipal Press Club membership for Leslie Ohara. I know the club will benefit.

Sincerely yours,



Dear ———,

This letter is a reference for Ekachai Sri who requires it for an application for citizenship.

I am happy and honored to be able to support Ekachai's application for citizenship. My family and I have known this young man and his parents since they immigrated to the United States seven years ago, and we have followed their remarkable assimilation here.

Ekachai has been successful in preparing for a career in engineering, graduating from the university only last week. He is now a very employable candidate for a position with a prestigious company.

I cannot imagine anyone who will be more proud to be an American citizen, and I wholly support Ekachai's application.

Sincerely yours,



Dear ———,

Douglas Lassier has asked me to write this letter of reference for him to join Volunteers of America as a teacher. He told me that he is required to submit a recommendation from a friend who knows him well.

Doug and I were roommates together when we lived in the same dorm at Western University, and we graduated from the same high school together. I can say that loyalty and dependability are characteristics of Doug's friendship, and I consider myself lucky to be his friend.

Doug is also a person with high moral standards. When answers to a final physics exam were passed around the dorm one semester, Doug, unsurprisingly, refused to accept them, remarking, “I put a lot of work into that class, and I want to pass it on my own effort.”

I know Doug as an honest, forthright individual; he will make a great contribution to Volunteers of America.

Sincerely yours,