Cover Letter Format Guide: Best Examples & Tips on How to Format

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: March 21, 2024

Master the art of first impressions with our comprehensive guide on cover letter formats. Unlock the secrets to crafting a cover letter that stands out and lands you your dream job.

  • 30% higher chance of getting a job‡
  • 42% higher response rate from recruiters‡
Cover Letter A Formats

As seen in:*Foot Note

A cover letter is a one-page document, formatted as a business letter, which offers additional insights about yourself not covered in your resume. It’s an opportunity to display your personality, communication skills, and enthusiasm for the role.

A compelling cover letter can distinguish you from other candidates, enhancing your prospects of securing the job. Discover inspiration in our extensive collection of over 200 cover letter examples.

Mb Business Cover Letter Sample

How to format a cover letter

A cover letter is an introduction to your resume. The purpose of a professional cover letter format is to effectively frame your qualifications — including your character and interest in the position — so you can get a chance at a job interview. Your cover letter format has to be perfect if you want employers to read your letter.

Follow this guide to learn how to format a cover letter for a job application correctly. You’ll want to include:

Your contact information

A proper cover letter format begins with a header that contains the job seeker’s contact information. Your contact information should match your resume, and it must be current and professional. Leave the unprofessional email addresses like catlady2020@mail.com for personal correspondence and have a professional email address like YourName@mail.com ready for job applications.

Contact information in a cover letter format should include:

  • Your full name
  • City, state and ZIP code
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • A link to your LinkedIn profile, professional website or portfolio if you have them

Contact Information

Hiring manager’s contact information

Every business letter includes the recipient’s contact information. A cover letter address format looks like this:

January 13, 2022

Leona Evans, Office Manager
Climate Solutions Corp
Franklin Park, IL 60131
555-555-5555
example@example.com

Salutation

The job application letter format calls for a professional and formal greeting. Use “Dear” rather than “Hello” or “Hi” in your cover letter salutation, and address the reader by name. Do your best to find the name through the company’s website, LinkedIn or by searching online.

Don’t use formal titles such as “Mr.” “Miss” and “Ms.” unless you know the person’s gender; otherwise, you run the risk of misidentifying the person you’re addressing. Instead, use their full name, like “Dear Bruce Jackson.”

If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name after doing some research, it is acceptable to greet your reader by their title, like “Dear Professor” or “Dear Doctor.” You may also address a department, like “To the Hiring Manager” or “To the Human Resources Department.” Never write a generic greeting like “To Whom It May Concern.”

Opening paragraph

Like all business letters, cover letter formats start with a brief but engaging opening paragraph.

In three to four sentences, grab the hiring manager’s attention by enthusiastically making an opening “pitch” in which you tell them what you can do for them and then back it up. Convey passion for the work and confidence in your abilities — they won’t be able to turn away!

The format of a cover letter introduction follows a basic formula: Brief introduction + why you’re writing + why you are the best person for the job.

This cover letter formatting example shows what that looks like in practice:

I’m a marketing coordinator with five years of experience driving social media campaigns for Company B. I’ve been following Gadgets, Inc. on Instagram since the company was launched last year and was excited to see you have an opening for a social media manager. My consistent track record of conversion-winning campaigns at Company B shows that I can increase your customer base and retention by 25% in my first three months as your social media manager.

PRO TIP

Numbers make a big impact! Quantify your achievements and goals in your cover letter format when possible.

Body paragraphs

It’s time to provide details about your skills and job experiences. A good cover letter format will have two or three body paragraphs that connect your top job qualifications with the requirements and responsibilities detailed in the job description.

Take a look at this cover letter format example paragraph to see what we mean:

Over the past two years, I’ve worked as a store manager, engaging with customers and handling inventory distribution for three sister stores. My experience working with transportation brokers, managing database information and maintaining high-level service aligns with what you’re looking for in a logistics manager.

Cover letter body paragraphs are also where you can show you’ve done your homework on the company, underscoring your interest and enthusiasm.

While you’re at it, mention specific aspects of the job and organization that attract you, like this:

I’m impressed with your company’s dedication to improving your products while sticking to environmentally friendly production processes. I share your passion for caring for the environment. To that end, I volunteer weekly at my local chapter of Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

PRO TIP

The format for cover letter body paragraphs is three to four sentences each, so make every word count. Use action verbs throughout to pack a punch!

Closing paragraph with a call to action

How do you close a cover letter? As they say in show business, “leave them wanting more.”

The format for a cover letter closing is one paragraph with three to four short sentences that confidently recap why you’re the best candidate for the role. It’s also a good idea to thank the reader for their time, reiterate genuine interest in the job, and invite the hiring manager to follow up with you for an interview.

For example:

Thank you for considering my application. I’m certain my talent for contract negotiations, eye for design and aptitude for organization make me the event planner you’ve been looking for. I’d be honored to show you why Atlanta Magazine named me “Planner of the Year” in 2018 and 2019. Please contact me by phone or email at your earliest convenience to discuss how we can work together to achieve your event planning goals this year and beyond.

Signoff

The cover letter standard format for a signoff is a simple formal phrase, followed by a comma, then a space, then the writer’s name.

Wrap up your cover letter with phrases like “Best regards,” “Regards,” “Respectfully,” or “Sincerely,” for your signoff.

Don’t use informal terms like “Thanks!” Take care,” “Cheers!” or “Have a nice day!”

Best regards,

Best cover letter format

The best way to format a cover letter is with a professional cover letter template.

Download one of our expertly designed templates for free to create a cover letter from scratch, or use a template with our Cover Letter Builder and let us do the work for you!

Our cover letter templates are sure to organize your qualifications with the correct formatting and they meet the latest applicant tracking system (ATS) requirements, making it a breeze to write a professional cover letter in minutes.

In addition, our builder offers the following features:

Job-specific phrases and skills:

No matter the job you’re applying for, we give you the right words and relevant skills you can incorporate with just one click.

Easy customization:

Write a cover letter for every job application and save as many versions of it as you need.

Step-by-step guidance:

Get expert advice at every step to help you present your best self and get the job.

Multiple download formats:

Save and export your cover letter as a PDF, DOCX or plain text.

How to format a cover letter for an email

An email cover letter format differs slightly from a standard cover letter format. If the job description requires you to send your letter in the body of an email, then use these tips to organize your email message perfectly:

  1. Create a professional subject line:

    If the employer doesn’t give you specific instructions for submitting a cover letter for a job application, put the title of the position you’re interested in and your name in the subject line.

    Subject Line

  2. Start with the salutation:

    You don’t need to include the employer’s mailing address when you format a cover letter for an email message, so jump straight to writing a formal greeting (e.g., “Dear Mrs. Jones”).

    Start With Salutation

  3. Include your contact information at the bottom:

    A professional 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)

    Include Contact Information

Your email cover letter message should look like this:

Email Cover Letter

Learn more about how to format a cover letter for an email in our in-depth guide.

Free cover letter format examples

Get inspiration from a cover letter sample format. We have an extensive library of cover letter layouts for most jobs, industries, career levels and circumstances, so you’re sure to find the best cover letter format for your needs.

Modern cover letter format example

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

Cover letter professional format example

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

Creative sample cover letter format

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

Simple job application cover letter format example

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

Professional cover letter format tips

Having a professional cover letter format isn’t just about filling in each section of a cover letter. A good-looking document is in the details, including margins, fonts and spacing.. Follow these rules of thumb to ensure your cover letter looks great.

Margins

Our samples show you how to format a cover letter so the side, top and bottom margins are one inch all the way around.

Fonts

A proper cover letter format uses standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Helvetica or Arial, in 12-point size. Unusual fonts can confuse applicant tracking systems (ATS) that employers use to scan cover letters and resumes.

Spacing

As our cover letter examples demonstrate, your cover letter layout should be single-spaced, with a double space between paragraphs.

Alignment

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

File format

Unless the employer specifies the preferred cover letter format to save your file in, it’s best to send it as a PDF or Word document.

PRO TIP

Our Cover Letter Builder, you can save your letter in both formats and plain text.

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Key takeaways

Here’s a quick recap so you can write the perfect cover letter and get an interview.

  1. A cover letter format follows a straightforward business letter format.
  2. Use 1-inch margins with a common font like Helvetica in 12-point size for maximum legibility.
  3. Align the date and hiring manager’s address at the top left under the cover letter heading.
  4. Start with an attention-grabbing opening paragraph that shows interest in the position and confidence that you are the best fit.
  5. There are two or three body paragraphs in a cover letter format. Use them to elaborate on why you’re interested in the job and the skills you can bring.
  6. Emphasize professional achievements and use numbers to make an impact.
  7. Don’t be afraid to invite the hiring manager to contact you for an interview in your cover letter closing.
  8. Your letter should be one page and 500 words long.
  9. A cover letter template makes creating a professional cover letter easy. Use one with our Cover Letter Builder, and we will format a cover letter for you.

FAQ

What is a cover letter format?

A cover letter format is a framework that organizes information in a cover letter. The best format for most cover letters is the same as a standard one-page business letter. It should contain the following sections: a header with the applicant and hiring manager’s contact information, a salutation, an opening paragraph, one or two short body paragraphs, a closing paragraph and a signoff.

Read up on what to include in a cover letter for additional guidance and advice from career experts.

How to format a cover letter in the body of an email?

The format for cover letters written in the body of an email is slightly different than those written in a document. When writing a cover letter in an email, remember the following:

  • You can omit a header if you send your cover letter as an email.
  • Sign your cover letter with your name, followed by your city and state of residence, email address, phone number and job profile link (if available).
  • Check the job description to see if the employer wants you to use a specific subject line. If not, write the subject line with the job title, such as “Application for Teacher’s Assistant role” followed by the job number if it has one.
How long should a cover letter be?

The general rule for standard cover letter formats is one page. One page is enough to convey your qualifications and interest in the job without overwhelming the reader with too much information. Explore our guide on basic cover letters for additional guidance creating a succinct yet compelling letter.

When writing a cover letter, it’s important to be concise and to the point. Use short paragraphs and bullet points to highlight your relevant skills and experience, and avoid repeating information that is already in your resume.

Keep in mind that employers may receive many applications for a single job posting, so you want to make sure that your cover letter is easy to read and makes a strong impression. By keeping your cover letter to one page, you can ensure that it is well-written and focused and demonstrates your suitability for the job.

What should I write in my cover letter if I don’t have any work experience?

If you don’t have any work experience, you can still write a great cover letter! To do this, focus on the transferable and hard skills you can apply to the job and explain how you would do so. Tell stories about how you used those skills in personal, school or volunteer experiences. 

For example, if you have strong interpersonal skills and have previously used them to achieve something or support someone, write about it. Or, if you are applying for a job that requires good writing skills, explain how you have used this skill to achieve something.

What are some common mistakes when writing a cover letter?

Some of the most common mistakes when writing a cover letter are:

  • Not using the correct format.
  • Writing lengthy letters.
  • Using informal salutations and signoffs.
  • Rehashing their resumes.
  • Forgetting to include a call to action.
  • Not proofreading.

Check out the best AI cover letter generators and use one to make an error-free cover letter in minutes.

What format should a cover letter be in?

A cover letter should be in a professional format with a clear and concise structure. Here are some tips for formatting your cover letter:

  • Use a standard font: Choose a standard font such as Times New Roman or Arial, and use a font size of 10-12 points.
  • Use a professional tone: Your cover letter should be written in a professional tone, with correct grammar and punctuation.
  • Use a clear structure: Your cover letter should have a clear structure, with a header, introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Address the hiring manager: If possible, address the hiring manager by name in your opening paragraph.
  • Use keywords: Use keywords from the job description to tailor your cover letter to the role you are applying for.
  • Keep it concise: Your cover letter should be no more than one page in length, and you should aim to keep your paragraphs short and to the point.
  • Proofread your letter: Before submitting your cover letter, make sure to proofread it carefully for spelling and grammatical errors and to ensure that it is well-written and professional.

Overall, your cover letter should be well-structured, professional, and easy to read, with a clear focus on your skills and qualifications for the position.

How do you format a cover letter for an internship?

When formatting a cover letter for an internship, it’s important to follow a professional format and tone while highlighting your relevant skills and experience. 

Use a standard business letter format, with your contact information, the date and the employer’s contact information at the top. Address the employer by name, if possible. If you don’t know the employer’s name, use a professional greeting such as “Dear Internship Coordinator” or “Dear Hiring Manager.”

In the opening paragraph, introduce yourself and explain why you are writing the letter. Mention the specific internship you are applying for and why you are interested in the position. In the second paragraph, highlight your relevant skills and experience, and explain how they make you a good fit for the internship. In the third paragraph, explain why you are interested in the company and what you admire about its mission, values, or culture. 

In the closing paragraph, thank the employer for considering your application and express your interest in discussing the internship further. Include your contact information and a call to action, such as “I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

How do you write and format a cover letter when you don’t know who to address it to?

If you don’t know the name of the person to whom you are addressing your cover letter, there are a few options. Here are some tips on how to write and format a cover letter when you don’t know who to address it to:

  • Do some research: Try to find the name of the hiring manager or recruiter by doing some research online or by calling the company’s HR department. If you’re applying to a specific job posting, the contact information may be listed in the job description.
  • Use a generic but professional greeting: If you don’t know the name of the person you’re addressing, you can use a generic greeting such as “Dear Hiring Manager,” “Dear Recruiting Team,” or “Dear Sir/Madam.” This is a polite and professional way to address your letter when you don’t have a specific name.
  • Use a departmental address: If you can’t find a specific name, you can address your cover letter to a department rather than an individual. For example, you could address it to “Dear Marketing Department” or “Dear Human Resources Team.”

Keep it professional: Regardless of how you address your cover letter, make sure to keep your tone professional. In the body of your cover letter, focus on your qualifications and how they make you a good fit for the position.

How do you format a cover letter for an online application?

When applying for a job online, it’s important to format your cover letter in a way that is easy to read and upload to the company’s website or application portal. Use a standard business letter format with a professional font such as Times New Roman or Arial.

Save your cover letter as a PDF file to ensure that the formatting remains intact and the document is easy to read. Use a clear structure with a header, introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Before submitting your cover letter, proofread it carefully for spelling and grammatical errors and to ensure that it is well-written and professional.

If you are writing the cover letter directly into the company’s application portal, you should still include a heading, professional greeting and signoff in addition to the body of your letter. Check that the body paragraphs are separated and that the letter is well-structured and easy to read.

More cover letter formatting tips

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

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