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Cover letter Formatting Basics
Format a cover letter like a standard business letter:
The side, top and bottom margins should be one inch all the way around.
Font type and size
Stick to a point size of 12 and a standard font that’s easy to read like Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial.
Line and paragraph spacing
Your cover letter should be single-spaced, with a double-space between paragraphs.
The text on the letter should be left-justified.
Your cover letter should be one page and between 250 and 500 words.
It’s crucial to save your cover letter in a readable format. The best way to do this is to save it as a PDF file, unless the job posting asks for a different format.
How to Correctly Format Your Cover Letter
Double-check your contact information, especially your email address, keeping everything professional (no funny email addresses like email@example.com here). If you need to include the date and the employer’s address, place them just under the header and aligned to the left, separated by line breaks.
It’s best to be straightforward and use “Dear,” rather than “Hello,” or “Hi,” even if you’re addressing someone you know in the company. If you’re contacting someone for the first time, use formal titles such as “Mr.,” “Ms.,” and “Dr.” Always address the letter to a specific person when you can, rather than going with “Dear hiring manager” or “To whom it may concern.” For more tips in this area, see our article Who to Address in Your Cover Letter.
Keep your opening paragraph to a few crisp sentences. Rather than just stating the obvious, such as “I’m interested in applying to job X,” grab the employer’s attention by making your pitch: a brief rundown of who you are and why you think you’re a good fit for the job. Establish your enthusiasm and positivity about the opportunity. Read our article Writing the Perfect Cover Letter Opening for more advice.
This is the time to tell your story: Get more detailed about your best skills and career experiences, and explain why they help fill what the new job requires. You can do this in a paragraph, with a sentence followed by bullet points or a paragraph with bullet points.
The body is also your chance to show you’ve done your homework and mention specific aspects of the job and the company that attract you. As with the opening paragraph, keep each of your body paragraphs concise (three to four sentences at most).
As they say in show business, leave them wanting more — conclude your letter by reiterating your enthusiasm for the new job, but also tell employers you’re excited to further discuss your qualifications. Finish by requesting a follow-up call or interview, putting the ball back in the addressee’s court. Finally, use a simple, formal phrase such as “Best regards,” or “Sincerely,” for your sign-off. Our article How to Write a Killer Cover Letter Conclusion gives some more examples of how to finish with a flourish.
How To Format Your Cover Letter for an Email
Formatting a cover letter to send via email follows the same standards we explained above. You begin with a salutation such as:
Don’t forget this information — the recruiter or employer you’re writing to needs to know the best way to contact you. Make sure to list the job you are applying for in the subject line of your email, and spell-check your email before you send it.
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