Cover Letter Tips

Remember that all cover letters need to be specifically tailored for each position to which you apply. In addition, they should complement your resume, not just restate it. Read the tips below to learn what information you need to include and how to format a great cover letter. After reviewing this, remember that our Academic Writing Center staff can help you to develop a killer cover letter for any position! 

Cover Letter Formatting Tips

  • A cover letter should be single spaced, with 1-.75” margins.
  • There should be a blank line between paragraphs. 
  • Use a professional font (Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria, etc.), font size 11 or 12, and black text color. 
  • In the upper left corner, list your name and address, the date the letter is being sent, and then the employer/job contact's name and address.
    • If the job description mentions a specific person to address the application to, make sure to include it here with an “Attn” line.
  • Use a respectful saluation, such as "Dear", and valediction, such as "Sincerely".
  • After the valediction, leave space for your signature and then type your full name. If you’re submitting the cover letter in print, remember to sign the letter. Either way, repeat your name in print below the signature. 

Cover Letter Rhetoric Tips

  • State your reason for writing by stating the title of the position you’re applying for and mentioning how you heard of the organization or of the position. 
  • If you've already talked to the person to whom you are sending the letter or if you have a connection to the company or organization, include that here. 
  • “Connection” can mean either a connection to the company itself, prior knowledge of one or more employees at the company, or interest in/experience with what the company does.
  • Demonstrate that you’re the right person for the job. Do this by honing in on words or ideas used in the job description and/or found in the company’s mission statement, motto, and/or work and connecting them to your experience. This shows that you’ve researched the job and makes your claims that you can do it well plausible. 
  • Making smooth links between your experience, this job, and your career goals is a good way to recommend yourself. It shows you understand the job and are prepared for it, and that you’ll actually take the job and stick with it if they make you an offer. 
  • Consider formatting your body paragraphs so that each paragraph focuses on one experience or skill you have that suits you for the job. This will help you focus on specific details and skills to keep you from talking vaguely. 
    • This can be a particularly useful approach if your experience doesn’t qualify you for the job “on paper,” but when you explain it, actually does prepare you for it. 
  • Restate your interest in the job, repeating the position’s exact name. 
  • Express your interest in an interview (though not a specific time or day) and offer to provide additional material, if appropriate.
  • State that you will follow up with a phone call or email after 10-14 days (and be sure to if you haven't heard back by then).