Cover Letter Format

Format for a Cover Letter for a Resume

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The middle section of your cover letter explains why you are qualified for the job.. Copyright Peepo/E+/Getty Images

When you submit your resume, you will typically need to write a cover letter as well. Since it is a formal letter, there are set guidelines for what information to include in your cover letter.

The following cover letter format lists the information you need to include in the cover letter you submit with your resume. Since a cover letter is a formal letter, it's important to adhere to these formatting standards.

Use the guideline below to create customized cover letters to send to employers. Then, review cover letter samples, a cover letter template, and tips for formatting hard copy and email cover letters you can use to write your own letters.

Cover Letter Format

Your Contact Information
Name
Address
City, State, Zip Code
Phone Number
Email Address

Date

Employer Contact Information (if you have it)
Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Salutation
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name,

  • Cover Letter Greeting Examples: Note: If you do not have a contact name, you can skip the salutation entirely. Or, you can use Dear Hiring Manager, To Whom It May Concern, or one of the other examples listed in the link. Ideally, you will be able to address your cover letter to a specific person. Doing research can help you figure out who is the most appropriate person to receive the letter. Note: If you do not know the gender of your contact, you can write out the person's full name, e.g., "Dear Cory Smith"or "Dear Jordan Parish."

    Body of Cover Letter
    The body of your cover letter lets the employer know what position you are applying for, why the employer should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up. Organize the body of your cover letter into the following paragraphs:

    • First Paragraph
      The first paragraph of your letter should include information on why you are writing. Mention the position you are applying for and where you found the job listing. Include the name of a mutual contact, if you have one.
      • Middle Paragraph(s)
        The next section of your cover letter should describe what you have to offer the employer. Mention specifically how your qualifications match the job you are applying for. Think of this section of the cover letter as where you're making a pitch for your fit as an employee and show makes you a great candidate. Keep in mind that employers will be more interested in what you can do for them, than a list of your background. Make the connection between your qualifications and the job requirements clear. Use this section to interpret your resume—don't repeat from it verbatim.
      • Final Paragraph
        Conclude your cover letter by thanking the employer for considering you for the position. Include information on how you will follow-up. Optionally, you can briefly restate why you would be a good fit for the position.

      Complimentary Close

      Respectfully yours,

      Signature

      Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter)

      Typed Signature

      Email Subject Line

      When you're sending an email cover letter, include a subject line that enables the hiring manager to recognize who you are and the job for which you are applying.

      Formatting Tips for Cover Letters

      Here are some formatting tips to keep in mind when you are writing your letter:

      • Email versus hard copy: The example letter below is formatted for a printed out hard copy. If you are emailing your cover letter, you'll need to pay particularly attention to the subject line of your email. See more tips for formatting your email cover letter.
      • Font choices: The details count when it comes to cover letters, so choose a professional font in a 10 or 12 point size. This is no time to break out emoticons or emojis!
      • Spacing: Your letter should be single-spaced. Include a space between every paragraph, and in general, a space between each section of the letter. (That is, there should be a space between the address and the date, and then again between the date and the salutation.) In an email cover letter, where many sections are left off, you will want to include a space between the salutation and between each paragraph, and another space before your complimentary close. 
      • Proofreading: Remember that note about details counting in cover letters? Make sure to avoid errors by carefully proofreading your letter. Use your word processor's spell check to catch common errors, and then consider reading your letter aloud — or having a friend review it — to catch additional errors. Here are guidelines for proofreading your cover letter.

      Cover Letter Samples
      Examples of cover letters for a variety of different types of jobs, types of job seekers, and types of job applications.

      What Else You Need to Know:

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