Writing a Character Reference (with Sample Letters & Examples)

Character reference letters are tricky. After all, these are formal letters, but they aren’t as formal as a reference letter. Which begs the question: what is a character reference letter? Why does the person need one? How formal or familiar should I be when writing one? These are all normal questions that go through someone’s head when they are asked to write a character reference letter. First of all, what is a character reference letter?

A character reference letter is a letter that is used to determine a candidate’s qualifications for a job based on what the writer knows of them. It is less formal than a letter of reference, but equally important. Normally, these letters are written by friends rather than a professional employer. These can also be used to determine punishments in court cases and for matters of immigration. If you’re being asked to write one, congratulations! This is definitely an honor and you should be proud!

But, what do you need to write? Should you be nervous that you’re being asked to write a character reference letter? And what information do you need to include? Let’s dive right in and get started!

First Things First: How to Begin?

When you agree to write a character reference letter, you shouldn’t be nervous! While character reference letters are formal letters of reference, to an extent, you shouldn’t be expected to spill out a person’s entire life story. Nor are you going to have to pour out your life story to prove that you are qualified to write on your friend’s behalf.

Before you begin writing, here are some important questions to ask:

  • What position has the person applied for?
  • What are the qualifications for this job?
  • What qualifications does this person have that you think would make them good for this job?
  • How long have you known this person?
  • How often do you speak to this person? (This can also be used by you to determine how well you actually know them.)

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can rest easy! Your letter will practically write itself from here.

What Information Do You Need to Put in Your Letter?

This is an important question to ask. Am I giving too much information? Not enough? What do I say?

If you’ve answered the above questions, you’re well on your way to writing your letter. The answers to the preceding questions are important to include in your letter. This gives your friend’s prospective employer enough information to go off when they are trying to make a decision on hiring for a job. Often times, a good character reference letter can be the deciding factor for them.

But, there are other important pieces of information that you should make sure are included, as well. There are a few non-negotiable items that you should make sure are written into your letter:

  • Your contact information. Much like a formal letter, this should be including in the heading of the letter.
  • Your relationship with the person. Are they your friend? Your sister? This helps a prospective employer decide how well you really know them.
  • How long have you known this person?
  • The skills that this person has that will make them good at the job. Don’t include any negative information. This would be too much for the employer to know.

Once you have included all of these items into your letter, it is good to finalize. These letters are generally shorter than other formal references and you do not need to make it more than a page!

How Do You Format This Letter?

Good question! Your letter should be formatted the same as any other formal letter. Follow the following order of information:

  • Your heading. Include your name and pertinent contact information.
  • Formal greeting. Try to find out who you are writing to. Otherwise, a generic “To Whom It May Concern” will suffice.
  • Your relationship to the person for whom you are writing the letter for.
  • The person’s qualifications for whom you are writing the letter.
  • A restatement of your contact information

We will provide examples further in the article. But, if you choose to write your letter from scratch, following this structure will help you to achieve the correct formal structure for your letter.

Using a Character Reference Letter Template

Templates can help give you a starting place. You’ll just need to change some things and make it your own! Make sure that the letter sounds like you. Otherwise, if this person calls to speak with you, your manufactured response is not going to sound like you. Use templates to guide you and keep it short. These shouldn’t take you more than an hour to write.

Character Reference Letter 01

character reference letter for court

Sample Reference Letter from an Employer

Character reference letter from neighbor

character reference letter template

Reference Letter from Principal

Sample Reference Letter from Brother

Letter of Reference for Babysitter

Reference Letter from Friend’s Parents

character reference letter examples

Personal or Character Reference Letter

Character Reference Letter for Teacher

sample personal character reference letter

Character Reference Letter for Friend

sample character reference letter for a friend

character reference template

character reference examples

character reference for a friend

character reference for court

character reference sample

    What If You’re the One That Needs a Letter?

    This seems to be a self-explanatory question…unless you are the one looking for the letter of reference. If you’re the one looking for a letter of reference, ask yourself who are the closest to in your life. This can be a friend, or a neighbor. It can be a family member or an employer. Make sure that you ask someone who knows you well enough to speak to who you really are.

    When asking for one, here are a few tips to ensure that the person you ask says yes:

    • Be polite and courteous.
    • Make sure that you give them enough notice to write the letter.
    • Make sure this is someone that you have a strong relationship with. You want a strong letter that will speak to them.

    Who Can You Ask to Write a Character Reference Letter?

    There is a long list of people who can write you a character reference letter. Here is a list of possible people to ask, if you are still struggling to come up with who should write your letter:

    • A close friend
    • A Professor
    • A Teacher
    • An employer
    • A family member
    • A classmate
    • A Co-Worker

    With these letters, it is especially important to ask someone that you know well and are extremely comfortable with.

    Samples of Character Reference Letter

    Sample Character Reference Letter for Job

    September 1, 20XX
     
    John Smith
    123 Park Street
    Anytown, MA 12345
    555 555-5555
    jsmith@email.com
     
    Lisa Kiel
    Director, Human Resources
    Anytown Horse Therapy
    123 Business Rd.
    Anytown, IL 54321
     
    Dear Ms. Kiel,
     
    I have known Sydney Doe in a variety of capacities for many years. She has been my daughter’s riding instructor for the past several years. In addition, she is my daughter’s babysitter while I am out of town on business.
     
    Sydney is efficient, detail-oriented, and extremely competent. She often successfully finishes a task well before the deadline. She is extremely organized, and never misses a deadline or forgets an assignment.
     
    Sydney also has an excellent rapport with people of all ages. She has taught riding to both young children and the elderly, and every age in between. Her excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) allow her to connect with all kinds of people and to inspire them to put for their best effort.
     
    In summary, I highly recommend Sydney for any position or endeavor that she may seek to pursue. She will be a valuable asset to any organization.
     
    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
     
    Sincerely,
    John Smith

    Sample Character Reference for Immigration

    Note: All Character Reference Letters have VERY Subtle Differences!

    September 1, 20XX
     
    John Smith
    123 Main Street
    Anytown, MA 12345
    555 555-5555
    jsmith@email.com
     
    To Whom It May Concern:
     
    I have known Haramrit Mulani in a variety of capacities for many years. She has been my daughter’s private flute instructor for the past five. She has also been my coworker at Johnson City School Corporation. She has lived in this country since her teens and is now able to apply for citizenship.
     
    Haramrit is efficient, detail-oriented, and extremely competent. She often successfully finishes a task well before the deadline. She is extremely organized, and never misses a deadline or forgets an assignment.
     
    Haramrit also has an excellent rapport with people of all ages. She has taught music lessons to both young children and the elderly, and every age in between. Her excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) allow her to connect with all kinds of people and to inspire them to put for their best effort.
     
    In summary, I highly recommend Haramrit for citizenship. She is dedicated to this country that she calls home and it would only be right to call her an American citizen.
     
    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
     
    Sincerely,
    John Smith

    Sample Character Reference Letter for Court

    September 1, 20XX
     
    John Smith
    123 Main Street
    Anytown, MA 12345
    555 555-5555
    jsmith@email.com
     
    To The Presiding Judge:
     
    I have known Jim Morrison in a variety of capacities for many years. He has been my daughter’s softball coach for the past 3 years. He and his wife have been personal friends of my family for the past 12 year.
     
    Jim has expressed to me the charges that were filed against him due to owing back child support for his son who is now 14 year of age. Having known Jim for the time that I have, Jim has expressed to me his sadness that he has not been able to have a relationship with his son due to the tension between him and his ex-wife. I have watch him for the past 10 years as he has been struggling with his custody battle.
     
    Jim works with young people coaching softball every weekend. He personally has offered assistance to families to make sure they and their children were able to make games and practices. He and his wife run a camp during the summer for students who are unable to afford summer care and do not charge a fee to provide activities and meals to the students. They run solely based on grants and donations that the two of them have obtained.
     
    In summary, I believe that Jim should receive leniency in this case due to the punishments that he has already suffered.
     
    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
     
    Sincerely,
    John Smith

    Character Reference Letter Examples (College, Court, Job, Friend, Personal, Neighbor, Co-worker)

    personal character reference letter

    character reference for a friend in court

    sample character reference letter for court

    sample character reference letter for court pdf

    Reference Letter from Current Employer

    Reference Letter from Neighbor

    personal character reference letter

    character reference letter to judge

    character reference for a friend for a job

    character reference letter for court template

    character reference letter for court example

    Reference Letter from Principal

    character reference letter for student

    character reference letter for a friend

    character reference letter for employee

    character reference letter for a mother

    character reference letter for coworker

    sample character reference letter for student

    sample character reference letter for a relative

    character reference letter for college