To create a cover letter that impresses employers, you need to get the cover letter formatting right — that means following the right guidelines and nailing technical details like fonts and margins.
If you’re not sure how to format a cover letter and need help figuring out what to do, you’ve come to the right place. Our expert tips and cover letter format examples on this page will help you do both.
The proper cover letter format
A professional cover letter format follows the same structure as a standard business letter. To format a cover letter for a job application, use this example as your guide.
A professional cover letter format starts off with the contact information. Keep everything professional, including your email address (no funny email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org here). You can also include a link to a professional online profile, such as your LinkedIn profile.
Hiring manager’s address:
Like a business letter, every cover letter should include the hiring manager’s company address, work title and today’s date. Place this information just under the header and align it to the left, separated by line breaks.
Be straightforward in your professional cover letter and use “Dear” rather than “Hello” or “Hi,” even if you’re addressing somebody 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.
Don’t just state the obvious in your cover letter writing, 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.
After introducing yourself, it’s time to give more details about your best skills and career experiences. Show that you’re the perfect candidate by connecting your experience and qualifications with the requirements and responsibilities detailed in the job description. Just take a look at this cover letter format example:
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. In your cover letter writing, 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).
Closing paragraph with a call to action:
As they say in show business, “leave them wanting more.” Conclude your professional cover letter by reiterating your enthusiasm for the new job, and tell employers you’re ready and excited to discuss your qualifications further. Also, request a follow-up call or interview to put the ball back in the hiring manager’s court.
Our article How to Write a Killer Cover Letter Conclusion gives more professional cover letter examples for finishing with a flourish.
To wrap up your cover letter, use a simple, formal phrase such as “Best regards” or “Sincerely” for your signoff.
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 — in it, you’ll find plenty of preformatted cover letter layouts you can use as inspiration.
Free cover letter format templates
Don’t worry about having the proper format for a cover letter and use our preformatted templates. Just select your favorite design, download it and rewrite the text to fit your needs. For examples of the best cover letter format, visit our cover letter template page.
Modern cover letter template
This proper format for a cover letter presents a sleek, readable appearance — perfect for situations in which you want to present yourself as an up-to-date, cutting-edge employee.
Professional cover letter template
You can’t go wrong with this professional cover letter format for jobs that emphasize reliability, efficiency and productivity.
Creative cover letter template
Make your cover letter layout stand out from the crowd with this design, utilizing elegant colors and a stylish monogram design.
Simple cover letter template
Even simple can look good as long as you organize your letter in a streamlined format, as this cover letter structure demonstrates.
Technical cover letter formatting tips
Having a professional cover letter format 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 you have the proper format for a cover letter.
Our samples show you how to format a cover letter so the side, top and bottom margins of your job application letter are one inch all the way around.
Like in our cover letter format examples, use a point size of 12 and a standard font that’s easy to read, such as 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.
Your cover letter layout should be single-spaced, with a double-space between paragraphs. Just use the cover letter format examples on this page as a guide.
Your text should be left-justified throughout your cover letter layout. The one exception to this might be your header, depending on the cover letter template you’re using.
The proper cover letter format should be one page long, between 250 and 500 words.
Unless the employer specifies the preferred cover letter format in the job application, 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 and more.
How to format a cover
letter for an email
If you’re requested to send a job application letter in the body of an email, use these cover letter formatting tips to send your message. While your content will stay mostly the same, the way you present it will be different.
If the employer doesn’t give you specific instructions for submitting a cover letter for a job application, use the subject line to 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 — so an emailed professional cover letter format jumps straight to the salutation (e.g., “Dear Mrs. Jones,”).
Contact information at the bottom:
A proper format for a cover letter places your contact information underneath your signoff, in this order:
- Your full name
- City and state of residence
- Email address
- Phone number
- Job profile link (if available)
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
We’ve taught you how to format a cover letter and given the best cover letter format tips, but let’s do a quick recap to wrap up:
- Use 1-inch margins for your cover letter layout. The text point size should be 12 and your cover letter font should be readable.
- Feature your name, phone number and email at the top of a properly formatted cover letter.
- Align the date and hiring manager’s address at the top left under the header of your job application letter.
- Begin a great cover letter with an opening paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention with a specific career or skill.
- In the body paragraphs of your professional cover letter, elaborate on why you’re interested in the job and the skills you can bring.
- Use the cover letter structure to close your cover letter by reemphasizing your interest and enthusiasm for the position. Offer a call to action (e.g., request a face-to-face or phone interview).
- Sign off your professional cover letter 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.
How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job That Doesn’t Exist…Yet
Beware of cover letter clutter, not to mention these seven other common mistakes.
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 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.