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Tips on Letters of Reference

If someone has agreed to write you a letter of reference, then it’s your job to make their life easier by providing all the necessary information.


  1. What are you applying for? (name of program, department or school).
  2. Why are you applying? Why are you a good candidate for this position? (Write this in ONE paragraph)
  3. Details about yourself (awards, volunteer work, languages spoken, high grades received, deans list or honor role, classes you’ve taken with the referee, & anything else interesting or unique about yourself)
  4. Provide a statement of interest (this is the usually part of your application package already. It’s also called a “personal statement”).
  5. Your transcripts.
  6. Your resume/CV.
  7. Sample of your best writing (hopefully from the instructor’s course).
  8. Anything else you want specifically mentioned (i.e. maybe it’s important to emphasize volunteer work for this position? Or your time management skills or public speaking skills, etc).  Tell us what you would like emphasized. This matters.
  9. Names (who are we addressing the letter to?); and DATES (when is this due?)
  10. Remind us of the deadlines a few times. We have a lot going on in our lives, so don’t feel like you’re pestering us. Believe me, the gentle reminders help, especially one week before they’re due.
  11. Send a thank-you email. Common courtesy goes a long way.
  12. Finally, keep in touch and let us know what happened. Did you get in? We spent time writing a letter for you, we’re invested too, so let us know!