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Tips for Writing Letters of Reference

If you have been asked to complete a letter of reference for a student, here are some tips designed to assist you when preparing the letter.

  • If you cannot write a positive letter of recommendation or if you have not had enough contact with the student that you can accurately describe his qualities, decline to write the letter.
  • If you agree to write the letter, ask for any information from the student that can help you write it, such as a resume or transcripts.
  • Indicate your relationship to the student, including how long and in what capacity you have known them.
  • If you taught the student in a class, compare the student's academic performance with that of their peers.
  • Connect the student's experience and characteristics to the position for which the student is applying. It is very important to include examples where possible.
  • Indicate how you can be contacted for further information (list address, phone number, and e-mail address).
  • The letter should be one to two pages in length, written on departmental stationary, and include your title and signature.
  • Make sure you are aware of the deadline and where the finished letter needs to be sent.


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Career Center
Indiana State University
231 North 6th Walkway
Terre Haute, IN. 47809
(812) 237-5000
(812) 237-4392 (fax)