Standard Formal Reference Letter Format (with 8 Best Examples)

A formal reference letter or letter of recommendation is a letter that assesses the strengths and characteristics of the writer of the letter about performing a particular task. A formal letter of reference is usually written when you are seeking employment or a scholarship opportunity abroad.

How Do You Format a Formal Reference Letter?

*Draft out the layout of the letter.

*Get enough information about the person you are recommending and ask about the position in question.

The following is the layout of a reference letter

The address

Like any other letter, you should start with his or her address at the top right-hand of the page. After which, you write the date. Below this, to the left margin, put the recipient’s address, writing the name if you know it but if not, simply write the institution name. This should be followed by the salutation, i.e., Dear Sir/Madam.



February 20, 20XX

7594 JK Street,
POLY, NY 57382

Dear Sir/Madam,

The opening

In this part, you should try to bring out a positive image that is appealing to the receiver. However, you should not over-praise the person being recommended. It should be short and at the same time enthusiastic since first impression is key. 


“It is with great honor that I recommend Miss Sharon for the position of Chief Registrar in your company.”

Introducing your relationship with the recommended person

You should let the receiver of the letter know how you got to know the person being recommended. In this part, you get to show some of your success and qualifications. 


“I met George when we were in the task force spearheading the investigations.”

Candidates qualifications

Here, it is key to highlight the qualifications and success of the person being recommended. Rather than describing the person in general, you should focus on details and add instances when possible. At the same time, make sure to praise the person. Moreover, you can compare the candidate’s success to that of other people in their previous place of work or study to show his or her great ability at what he does. 


“Miss Sharon’s work rate exceeded the combined effort of three other assistants at the hospital.”

However, you should not exaggerate the success and abilities of a person such that if he or she is taken, he/she may fail to meet the expectations portrayed. If the candidate has a weak point or area, do not hide it, for it may come out in the future, embarrassing the candidate. 


“Miss Sharon is a pace-setter and a go-getter, relentless and a perfectionist at what she does and what is required of her.”


Recommendation and if possible, leave your contact information there in a courteous manner in case he wants to find out more about the candidate. After this, you should go ahead and sign off with either “sincerely” or “thank you”, followed by their signature. 


Yours Sincerely,

Mary Jackson.

Sample of Formal Business Reference Letter

A business reference letter is a letter of recommendation from a previous manager that praises and highlights the services of a specific employee. A recommendation from the manager recommended the employee for the position of customer service manager, as this employee had been an asset to the company.

free formal business reference


Formal Reference Letter for Nursing

The formal reference letter for nursing, as the name suggests, would serve as a sample when an individual needs to write a reference letter for a nursing professional or even a nursing student. Reading the relevant samples can be of great assistance when writing the reference letters.

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Formal Job Reference Letter Example

The Formal Job Reference Letter serves as a sample letter for writing a recommendation for a former employee recommending him for a new job. It highlights the abilities of the employee. This letter mentions the strengths of the employee in their work.

editable formal business reference


Sample Formal Employment Reference Letter

The Sample Formal Employment Reference Letter recommends a certain former employee for an organization. It highlights how this employee had been performing the duties successfully during the tenure with the former company. This sample mentions a strong point, which is quite valuable that is, asking the former employer any further questions if necessary.

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Formal Scholarship Reference Letter Sample

The Formal Scholarship Sample Reference Letter as the name suggests is a letter containing blank spaces, which an individual can change as per their position and title. This letter recommends a certain student as ideal for a certain scholarship. The person writing this letter can use this sample as guides and create their own material inserting the name of the student and by mentioning the relevant scholarship.

printable formal business reference letter


Formal Student Reference Letter Sample

The Formal Student Reference Letter Sample recommends a certain student for admission to a certain program at a university. The writer of this reference letter can fill out the names as per their requirement. The content of the letter would serve as a guideline as in what to include in the letter to write a good recommendation for a student.

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Formal Reference Request Letter Template

This Formal Reference Request Letter Template as the name suggests is a template for someone who is writing to request a letter of recommendation in support of their relevant applications. The sample highlights the skills of the person and what he or she would further like to achieve in life and how the recommendation can be of great assistance.

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Formal Employment Reference Letter Example

The Formal Employment Reference Letter Example would serve as a sample for someone who is looking to write a recommendation letter for an employee who has served at various locations. It would highlight the duties performed by the employee as well.

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About This Article

Mary Erickson
Authored by:
Business Writing | PhD in Communication and Society
Mary Erickson is an expert in business writing and currently serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Western Washington University. She completed her doctoral studies at the University of Oregon, obtaining a PhD in Communication and Society in 2011. Mary is an active member of prestigious academic organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the National Communication Association, and the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. With her deep knowledge and extensive experience in the field, Mary is dedicated to advancing the understanding and practice of effective business writing.

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