You've probably been told a million times to keep your cover letter brief, but sometimes there's a lot to say. Whether you're applying for an executive-level position that requires decades of experience or are you are making a case about your transferable skills as you enter a new field, sometimes there is no choice but to go a little long.
Luckily, we have gathered a handful of handy cover letter formatting tips to help optimize a lengthy cover letter and improve its readability.
Find the right font size
Unlike in English class, it's okay to experiment with your cover letter's font size – to a point. If you want to make a long cover letter fit into less space, feel free to tweak your text size by a point or two.
Keep in mind, however, that the standard range for font size in a professional document is 10-point to 12-point font.
Your main goal should be to make sure a hiring manager can read the document so anything smaller than 10-points is likely too small.
Similar to the standards to font size, a cover letter's margins should generally stay somewhere between 1-inch and 1.5-inches. Keeping in this range, find a margin size that best condenses your text, which for a long cover letter is likely a smaller margin.
Break things up with a list
If your long cover letter starts to look like a wall of words, it will make it less readable. Try formatting a block of text as a bulleted list instead to create white space and give the eye something to land on.
Using bullet points instead of paragraphs allows you to write in incomplete sentences, which means you can add more information in less space. Not only does this give you an opportunity to adjust the length of your long letter, but it allows you to better detail your lengthy list of qualifications.
Don't repeat your resume
Regardless of your formatting choices, a cover letter should always complement a resume as opposed to repeating its content. If you need to rein in the length of a cover letter, devote a considerable chunk of your editing process to eliminating redundancy. Frame your cover letter content as bonus information by adding details to important elements of your resume.
Study the job ad
If your cover letter has become unwieldy, there is likely unnecessary information included in the document. The best way to focus your content is to study the job ad to zero in on what the employer considers critical to the role.
Look at the requirements of the role and address those in your letter by giving examples of your most relevant skills and experiences. Similarly, add transferable skills that would be of use in the position. If you find that you have reached your one-page limit after you've addressed these important points, stop there. Your other credentials can be addressed on your resume and during the interview process.
Keep your signoff short and sweet
No matter how many qualifications you manage to pack onto the page, it's a good idea to write a short signoff when formatting your cover letter. Not only does this leave the maximum amount of writing real estate for your myriad qualifications, but it helps serve your cover letter's primary goal of selling your resume.
A short, one or two sentence "thank you" that explicitly reminds the reader to review your resume and provides details on how to contact you should be all you need, especially after you've already dedicated so much space to detailing your accomplishments above.
Need more help? LiveCareer's Cover Letter Builder can carry you through the entire process of crafting and formatting your own document. If you first want to read up on how to write a cover letter, we have resources to help with that, too.