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How to Format a Cover Letter in 2022

To create a cover letter that impresses employers, you need to get the cover letter formatting right — that means organizing each section correctly and nailing technical details like fonts and margins. Our expert tips and cover letter format examples on this page will help you do both.

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Cover letter format: the basics

To format a cover letter for a job application, use this example as your guide. Treat your letter the same as you would a standard business letter, with the following sections. For more tips on how to write each section, visit our guide on how to write a cover letter, and for more cover letter format examples, check out our cover letter examples page.

  1. Contact information:

    Keep everything professional, including your email address (no funny email addresses like bubbalicious23@mail.com here). You can also include a link to a professional online profile, such as your page on LinkedIn.

  2. Hiring manager’s address:

    If you need to include the date and the hiring manager’s address, place them just under the header and aligned to the left, separated by line breaks.

  3. Salutation:

    Be straightforward and use “Dear,” rather than “Hello,” or “Hi,” even if you’re addressing someone you know. 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 salutation tips, see our article Who to Address in Your Cover Letter.

  4. Opening paragraph:

    Don’t just state the obvious, such as “I’m interested in applying to job X.” Grab the hiring manager’s attention by making your opening a “pitch” in which you lay out who you are and why you think you’re a good fit for the job. Establish your enthusiasm and positivity about the opportunity.

    Cover Letter Formatting Example: I’m a marketing coordinator with five years’ experience working with large teams and driving social media campaigns — qualifications that I believe would fulfill the needs of your social media manager position.

    Read our article Writing the Perfect Cover Letter Opening for more advice.

  5. Body paragraphs:

    Give more details about your best skills and career experiences, and explain why they will help you excel at the new job.

    Cover Letter Formatting Example: Over the past two years, I’ve worked as a store manager, engaging with customers and handling inventory distribution for three sister stores. My experiences working with transportation brokers, managing database information and maintaining high-level service fit what your company seeks in a logistics manager.

    Your body paragraphs are also your chance to show you’ve done your homework on the company: Mention specific aspects of the job and organization that attract you.

    Cover Letter Formatting Example: I’m impressed with your company’s dedication to improving your products while sticking to environment-friendly building processes. I share your passion for caring for the environment through my involvement in nonprofit work that seeks to reduce our carbon footprint.

    As with the opening paragraph, keep each of your body paragraphs concise (three to four sentences at most).

  6. Closing paragraph with a call to action:

    As they say in show business, leave them wanting more. Conclude your letter by reiterating your enthusiasm for the new job, and tell employers you’re ready and excited to discuss your qualifications further. Request a follow-up call or interview, putting the ball back in the hiring manager’s court. Our article How to Write a Killer Cover Letter Conclusion gives some more examples of finishing with a flourish.

  7. Sign-off:

    Use a simple, formal phrase such as “Best regards,” or “Sincerely,” for your sign-off.

Formats Basic

Free cover letter format templates

Get started immediately on your cover letter formatting by using these pre-formatted templates. Just select a template, download and update the text to fit your needs. For even more templates, visit our cover letter template page.

Modern template

This cover letter format template presents a sleek, readable appearance perfect for situations in which you want to present yourself as an up-to-date, cutting-edge employee.

Professional template

You can’t go wrong with this cover letter format template for jobs that emphasize reliability, efficiency and productivity.

Creative template

Make your cover letter stand out from the crowd with this design, utilizing elegant colors and a stylish monogram design.

Simple template

Even simple can look good as long as you organize your letter in a streamlined format, as this example demonstrates.

Formatting Tips

Image Description

Technical cover letter formatting tips

Formatting your cover letter isn’t just about lining up each section of the letter it’s also about the little details that result in a good-looking document, including margins, fonts and spacing. Follow these rules of thumb to ensure your letter looks its best.

  1. Margins

    The side, top and bottom margins of your cover letter should be one inch all the way around.

  2. Fonts

    Use a point size of 12 and a standard font that’s easy to read like Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial. Unusual fonts can confuse applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers use to scan cover letters and resumes. We also recommend you stick to black for your font.

  3. Spacing

    Your letter should be single-spaced, with a double-space between paragraphs. Just use the cover letter format examples on this page as a guide.

  4. Alignment

    Your text should be left-justified throughout your letter. The one exception to this might be your header, depending on the cover letter template you’re using.

  5. Length

    Your cover letter should be one page long, between 250 and 500 words.

  6. File format

    Unless the employer specifies your cover letter file format, it’s best to send it as a PDF or Word document. If you use our Cover Letter Builder, you can save your letter in both these formats.

How to format a cover
letter for an email

If you’re requested to send a cover letter via email, use these tips to format your message.

While your content will stay mostly the same, the way you present it will be different.

  • Subject line: If the employer doesn’t give you specific instructions for filling out the subject line, state the title of the position you’re interested in and your name.
  • Start with the salutation: Notice that you don’t need to include the employer’s mailing address in an email just jump straight to the salutation (e.g., “Dear Mrs. Jones,”).
  • Contact information at the bottom: Place your contact information underneath your sign-off, in this order:
    • Your full name
    • City and state of residence
    • Email address
    • Phone number
    • Job profile link (if available)

Cover Letter Email

For an in-depth guide for email prep, visit our page How to Format a Cover Letter for an Email.

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Cover letter format key takeaways

  1. Use 1 inch for your cover letter margins, and 12-point font for your text.
  2. Feature your name, phone number and email at the top.
  3. Align the date and hiring manager’s address at the top left under the header.
  4. Begin with an opening paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention with a specific career and/or skill.
  5. In the body paragraphs, elaborate on why you’re interested in the job and the skills you can bring.
  6. Close your letter by re-emphasizing your interest and enthusiasm for the position. Offer a call to action (e.g., request a phone or face-to-face interview).
  7. Sign off with a simple, professional “Regards” or “Sincerely.”

More cover letter formatting tips

Our career center has plenty of additional tips and guides to help you get your cover letter format right.

Common Cover Letter Formatting Mistakes

8 Cover Letter Formatting Don'ts

Beware of cover letter clutter, not to mention these seven other common mistakes.

Cover Letter Design Basics

Cover Letter Design Basics

How do you get a bit creative with your cover letter look but still keep it readable? Follow these tips.

5 Types Cover Letter Cliches Avoid

5 Types of Cover Letter Clichés to Avoid

Telling an employer you’re a “perfect fit” doesn’t get you nearly as far as explaining why. Learn how to avoid this and other cliches.