Student Recommendation Letter Samples and Writing Tips

Sample References, Reference Lists, and Letters Asking For a Reference

College student with professor
Hero Images / Getty Images

Are you a student who needs a letter of recommendation for an application, and aren’t sure how to request it? Or are you responsible for writing a recommendation letter, and you're not sure how to format it, or what information needs to be included? Maybe you've been asked to provide a list of references, and you're not sure how to do that.

When you're not sure how to request or write a recommendation letter, these samples can help.

Below, you'll find examples of academic recommendations, personal recommendations, letters asking for a recommendation, and lists of references. You’ll also find some letter templates.

How to Use Letter Examples and Templates

It is a good idea to review letter examples and templates before writing a recommendation letter or a request for a letter. They can help you decide what kind of content you should include in your document.

A letter template helps you with the layout of your letter, such as how many paragraphs to include, and how to sign off on the letter. Templates also show you what elements you need to include in your letter, such as your contact information.

While recommendation letter examples, templates, and guidelines are a great starting point for your letter, you should always tailor a letter to fit the particular situation.

Requesting a Recommendation Letter Samples

When you request a letter of recommendation (sometimes also called a letter of reference), make sure to remind potential letter writers how they know you, and give them information on why you need the letter (for example, tell them the types of jobs you will be applying for).

You might also provide the person with your most up-to-date resume or CV. These details will make it easier for them to write a personalized and targeted reference letter.

You should also provide all the information the person needs for how to submit the letter, what to include (if there are any requirements), and when it is due.

When considering whom to ask, students might ask former or current teachers or professors, as well as employers.

Finally, if the person agrees to write you a letter, remember to follow up with a thank you letter.

Reference Letter Samples

Below are lists of reference letter samples. When writing a reference letter, be sure to explain how you know the person, and describe some of the qualities that make him or her a good candidate for the job or school. Use specific examples to show how the person has shown those qualities.

Focus on the specific job or school that the person is applying for. Try to include qualities and examples that will help them get that position or get into that school.

Finally, feel free to ask the person for whom you’re writing the letter for more information. You might ask to see the job listing, their resume, or a list of their related coursework.

School / Academic Reference Letter Samples

Academic reference letters are generally written to help students get into graduate school or get internships. When writing an academic reference letter, focus on the skills, qualities, or experiences the person has that make them a good fit for the specific school or academic program.

Character / Personal Recommendation Letter Samples

character reference is a recommendation written by someone who can attest to one’s character. These letters may be needed for people applying to join an association or purchase property. They are also sometimes needed for jobs that require a high level of trustworthiness.

If you have limited work experience (or worry you will get a negative reference from your former employer), you might ask someone to write you a character reference. This might help balance out a negative employer reference.

Consider asking a friend, neighbor, volunteer or club leader, colleague, or other person who may never have employed you, but can speak to who you are as a person.

If you are asked to write a character reference, focus on the person’s character traits and abilities.  You can provide examples from personal interactions with that person.

Recommendation Letter Templates

Use these templates to make writing letters easier and to ensure that the formatting of your letter is correct.

Reference Lists

A reference list is a page with a list of your references and their contact information. Send this letter as part of your job application if it is requested. Employers who ask for a reference list might call or email the people on that list, and ask them for more information about you.

When creating your reference list, be sure to first ask permission of each person on your list. Not only is this polite, but this will give each person time to prepare a response for the employer. Make sure you provide all necessary contact information for each person.

Review these examples before providing a list of your references.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Advice on how to write a letter of recommendation, including what to include in each section of the letter, how to send it, and sample letters of recommendation for employment and academics.

Letter of Recommendation Samples
Reference letter and email message samples including academic recommendations, business reference letters and character, personal, and professional references.