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How To Write A Reference Letter Or Letter Of Recommendation For A Friend Or Colleague

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By Regina

Most of us will be asked to write a letter of recommendation at one time or another. However, it’s not always easy to find the right words. Sometimes, it’s difficult to just get started!

writing a letter of recommendation a friend or colleague

Whether the reference letter is for a job, a scholarship, a grant, or some other opportunity — there are some key points you’ll want to include in your letter of recommendation.

Why? Because the better your letter is, the more likely your friend will get what they are seeking.

Here’s what you need to know about writing a reference letter, including the 3 most important things to include when writing a letter of recommendation for a friend or colleague.


Types Of Reference Letters

There are 3 main types of reference letters.

Here’s an overview of how each is written differently:

#1 – Employment reference letters:


#2 – Academic letters of recommendation:


#3 – Character reference letters:

The 3 Most Important Points To Make In A Letter Of Recommendation

When it comes to writing a letter of recommendation for a friend or colleague, there are some key things to keep in mind. These are the 3 main things you want to be sure to include:

1. Explain how you know the person.

Your relationship to the person you’re writing the letter for is very important. You should explain this right away — because it clarifies why you are qualified to write a letter of recommendation in the first place.

2. Explain what the person did for you in the past.

  • If the individual was your employee, then explain what the person’s job was and what their job duties entailed.
  • If the person was your student, then say what classes they took from you and how they did in those classes.
  • If the letter is a character reference, then you want to focus on the person’s personality traits and how those traits make them the best person for this particular task.

3. Explain why you’re recommending the person.

Be sure to explain why you feel this person is the best possible choice for the task at hand. Go into detail, and provide examples which back up your reasoning. Stories about the person are important — but don’t go overboard.


Helpful Tips For Writing A Reference Letter

  • Don’t use wording that could be used to reference race, religion or anything else that could be taken as discrimination.
  • Avoid wording that speaks in generalities. You should also avoid mentioning these things in the letter.
  • Use attributes that fit the person you’re writing the letter for — such as interpersonal skills & sociability, imagination & creative thinking, leadership, dedication, intelligence, and honesty & integrity.
  • Always be honest.
  • If you don’t have the time to write a reference letter (or don’t think you can be enthusiastic about the person who is requesting the letter), then gently refuse and suggest they ask someone else. There is nothing worse than a lukewarm recommendation letter — and it could be the kiss of death for the person requesting the letter.
  • The length of your reference letter will be determined by a number of different factors. Use these tips as a guide.
  • Add your contact information at the end — so you can be contacted for further information, if necessary.

Here are some step by step guidelines showing you how to format your letter of recommendation, what you should include in the opening, the body, and the closing paragraphs, and some power phrases that will help your letter stand out.


Recommendation Letter Examples

You can use these reference letter templates and samples as a guide to write your own recommendation letter for a friend:

If you keep these tips and techniques in mind when writing a recommendation letter for a friend our colleague… then you, the person you’re writing the letter for, and the reader of the letter will walk away happy and satisfied!