How to Format a Cover Letter in 2023 With Templates and ExamplesBuild my Cover Letter
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Located your dream job, but you can’t remember the last time you wrote a cover letter? Don’t worry. This guide will save you from common errors in your cover letter so you can be confident in your job application.
Our cover letter format guide will show you:
The standard cover letter format
Your header sits at the top of your cover letter. In this section, you put your name and contact information, including your telephone number and professional email address.
This is where you say hello to the person reading your cover letter, for instance, a hiring manager or potential supervisor.
In a single paragraph, outline why you are applying for the job. It should be succinct but entice the hiring manager to learn more by mentioning critical skills and experience directly related to the role.
The most significant part of a cover letter, this section should be two to three paragraphs long. Use this space to connect critical information from your resume to the requirements outlined in the job posting.
This section summarizes the contents of your letter in a few sentences and should finish with a call to action for a future interview.
What is a cover letter format?
A cover letter format organizes the cover letter’s five sections. Every cover letter should follow the same format, that of a standard business letter.
This is in contrast to resumes, which you can organize in three different resume formats.
Cover letter formatting refers to the cover letter’s visual details such as font size, line spacing, indentation and margins. Following a set of formatting rules will ensure your cover letter looks top-notch and professional.
Cover letter format templates and examples
You can easily edit the fill-in-the-blank text with your details in these free downloadable cover letter templates:
General cover letter template
Cover letter examples
These cover letter examples give you a clear idea of what a well-written document looks like for various jobs.
Accountant cover letter
Project manager cover letter
Registered nurse cover letter
Customer service representative cover letter
High school teacher cover letter
Sales agent cover letter
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How to write the 5 cover letter format sections
Writing a cover letter is easy if you follow the help of this step-by-step guide. Here, you’ll get straightforward instructions on how to follow the standard cover letter format.
If you’re ready, let’s begin!
Format your header correctly.
Your cover letter’s header begins with your basic contact information, like:
- Your first and last name
- Your phone number
- Your email
- City and state of residence
Below, you will add:
- The date you plan to send the letter
And then the hiring manager’s information:
- Hiring manager’s name and job title
- Company name
- City, state and ZIP code
Greet the hiring manager.
You should address your cover letter’s recipient by name.
However, if you can’t find their name, you should refer to them as the hiring manager.
Avoid outdated salutations like “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern” that make it seem like you’re sending the same letter to other job applications.
Try to have a personalized greeting, such as these:
Examples of appropriate cover letter greetings
- Dear Mr. Kim,
- Dear Ms. Lopez,
- Dear Dr. Smith,
- Dear Prof. Chang,
Examples of cover letter greetings when you don’t know the recipient’s name
- Salutations by job title
- Dear Hiring Manager,
- Dear HR Director,
- Dear Marketing Manager,
- Salutations by team or department
- Dear Customer Service team,
- Dear Research and Development Department,
Write a compelling opening paragraph.
Begin your cover letter with a strong opening statement that expresses your desire for the job and gives a peek at your credentials for the position.
Formula for an opening paragraph
I saw the opening for [job title] and knew my [1-3 skills] and [X] years of experience in [area of expertise] made me the ideal candidate for the [Company name] team.
Opening paragraph example
“When I saw the job advertisement for the junior account executive position at LCL Global, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity after excelling as a copywriter with brands like Burger King, Lancome and Porsche for the past three years.”
Share top achievements in the body paragraph.
When writing your cover letter’s body paragraph, you need to take the time to craft a brief story of your career.
Share the milestones that made you successful in previous roles. Explain how you got to where you are and how this experience can help you bring similar results to the new position.
A few examples of achievements you can include in your body paragraphs are:
- Projects you’ve led
- Money saved by your productivity/efficiency
- Positive feedback from clients
- Research you conducted that benefited the company
- Training you imparted to staff
- Deals and negotiations that were a win
Body paragraph example
“As a store manager in one of the busiest stores in the largest shopping mall in the state, I’ve trained over 400 employees in sales, stocking, customer service and warehouse operations. I’m confident I am ready for a promotion for district manager, partly because my peers have consistently recognized me for outstanding leadership and for increasing and maintaining a high level of sales and client satisfaction. When I began my career as a cashier, I knew my discipline, attention to detail and interpersonal skills would allow me to be a district manager one day.”
Seal the deal in the closing paragraph.
Your closing statement should tell the hiring manager that you’re excited about the prospect of working for their company. You should be straightforward and confident about your desire for a job interview. Close with a summary of your top qualifications and finish with a compelling call to action.
Cover letter closing paragraph example:
“My content and UX writing skills and SEO experience make me an ideal candidate for this position. I look forward to hearing from you to discuss how I can be an asset to the team.”
And finally, remember to add a proper sign-off and your name.
List of appropriate cover letter sign-offs:
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- Thank you,
- Thank you for your consideration,
If you need more help with writing and even more examples, check out our extended cover letter writing guide.
The easiest and fastest way to
write a cover letter!
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While applying to multiple jobs is smart, creating a customized cover letter for each application can take a big chunk of your time. Savvy job seekers include a personalized cover letter for every job application, which is easy to do with our builder.
Focus on fine-tuning your job search, and let us take care of the writing with the help of our Cover Letter Builder.
Our builder offers all this and more, including:
- Hundreds of industry-specific content suggestions so you can customize all sections of your cover letter.
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- Cover letter content generated from your resume.
- Over a dozen professionally designed templates.
- 15 pairs of matching cover letter and resume templates so you can have coordinated designs.
7 Cover letter formatting tips
These essential formatting tips will make your cover letter look like a pro wrote it:
Use easy-to-read fonts.
Like Arial, Georgia or Calibri, and keep the font size of your letter between 11 and 12 points. A font size of 10 or lower will be challenging to read. Font sizes above 12 can make the text too large and make your letter over the one-page mark.
Align your text to the left and adjust the margins to 1 inch.
Our Cover Letter Builder has automatic formatting, but you can easily play around with the margins if you need more space. Just make sure you don’t exceed the ½-inch line.
Make the text single-space.
And add a paragraph break for each section of your cover letter.
Use bullet points in your body paragraph to break down the text.
Like in the resume’s work experience section, you can mention your top achievements in a bulleted list if the paragraph is too long.
Keep your cover letter to one page.
You can write up to three paragraphs, but try to convey your message in as few words as possible.
Save your cover letter as a PDF.
This file format prevents anyone from tampering with your letter. However, if an employer requests a cover letter in another format, our Cover Letter Builder lets you save it as DOCX, JPG, PDF and more.
Name your file as “Cover-Letter-[Your Name]”.
Including your name in the cover letter’s file makes it easy for recruiters to search for your document on a computer and shows you are attentive to detail.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a cover letter ever optional?
Smart job seekers include a customized cover letter for every job application. Writing one, even when they are not mandatory, allows you to show off your communication skills and your willingness to go the extra mile. Additionally, writing a cover letter will enable you to draw direct connections between your skills and experience and the requirements of the role. A cover letter is optional only if the job ad explicitly states not to include one with your application.
Can I include my cover letter in the body of an email?
Including a cover letter in the body of an email is fine unless the job ad states that it should be included as an attachment. However, the rules for an email cover letter structure are slightly different. Here are five tips for formatting a cover letter sent via email:
- If you send your cover letter as an email, you don’t need the letter’s header. Simply cut and paste the letter’s contents into the composition field and write a Subject line.
- Choose a straightforward subject line that mentions the job title to which you are applying, such as “Application for Legal Assistant role.” If the job ad includes a job number, have that in your subject line.
- If you want to send your application letter as an attachment, save your letter as a PDF file or Microsoft Word document (.doc).
- Include your name when naming the file so hiring managers can quickly identify it as yours.
- In your email, let the recipient know you’ve attached your resume and cover letter.
Do I need a cover letter for every job application?
Yes. A sure way to get passed over for a job is to apply with a generic cover letter. It’s crucial to customize your cover letter with skills and accomplishments that demonstrate you possess the right skill set to excel at one particular job. Remember that employers are looking for specific qualifications and expect to see them in your cover letter and resume.
How to write a cover letter with no experience?
If you’ve never had formal work experience, your cover letter should focus on experiences in other settings that show you have the necessary knowledge for the job. You can mention academic achievements, internships, hobbies or volunteer work related to the skills you need for your desired position.
How personal should I make my cover letter?
While you should customize your cover letter to each job you apply for, it should never contain personal information. Mentioning marital status, religious beliefs, political views, and similar personal information should never happen on an application letter. Including this type of personal information can introduce bias into the hiring process. However, if you’ve been out of the workforce due to a layoff, because you’ve been raising children, or for other personal reasons, it’s OK to explain the gap in your cover letter. Just keep it brief and don’t go into great detail.