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How to Write a Properly Formatted Cover Letter

A cover letter has many different uses in business, including:

  • An introduction of yourself and/or your company.
  • To outline your services, experiences, and qualifications.
  • To and request a call to action to be taken by your customers and/or clients.
  • To introduce other documents that are enclosed in the same package.

 

Letterhead

If you don’t have a logo with a letterhead as of now, you should make sure that you include the most important and up-to-date version of your company’s contact information including:

 

  • Company name
  • Return address
  • Telephone number
  • Email address

 

It would also be wise to include any other specific details that would be applicable such asa fax number, company, etc.

Recipient’s Address and Date

It is proper format to include the recipient’s address and the date that the letter was written on after your contact information. This should all be aligned to the left.

Usually, the recipient’s address box includes the following:

 

  • First & Last Name (with prefix if applicable)
  • Title
  • Company
  • Mailing Address

 

You may sometimes include the recipient’s position and/or any other details that pertain to the recipient’s relationship with the company.

Greeting

This area of your cover letter will usually acknowledge the greeting of your recipient by name, and will have a colon following this.

Typically, the recipient’s prefix and last name will be used in accordance with “Dear” (i.e., Dear Mr. Smith). Adjustments to this standard greeting can be made to reflect the relationship between the recipient and the sender. If you are closer with the recipient and the letter is meaning to be less professional, you could greet the recipient with: “Dear John,” or even drop the”Dear” entirely to just have “John,”. This offers a great alternative to the more rigid format with the hopes of having a more personal letter.

Opening Sentence

The first sentence of a cover letter should come just after the greeting and offers something similar to a subject line or title. What it should do is summarize as to why you are sending this letter to the recipient, and start to bring forward what the letter will actually contain.

You may want to acknowledge how you came about contacting the recipient in this area. An example of this would be; you can mention the fact that they opted-in to the monthly newsletter or you were introduced by a coworker. Basically, it could have anything that pertains to how you gained the recipient’s contact information.

This would be a great example of an opening sentence:

“As to the meeting we had on April 18th, our proposal to provide our financial analysis services for you business has been enclosed.”

Body

Your body paragraph(s) should introduce exactly what enclosures are attached, and highlight any details as to what your recipient is reading about and what you would like them to understand.

If this is a cover letter for a proposal, you should summarize what kind of experience you have as well as your qualifications. You may also want to include any previous, successful projects that you underwent in the past and why the recipient should pick your company for the job. Including too much detail will bore the reader so make sure not to go too in depth. Make sure that you are engaging the reader’s attention with good transitions and interesting facts. Do everything possible to convince the recipient to read the enclosed documents as it’s here that the recipient will begin to truly consider your proposal.

This area of your cover letter should not be much longer than three to four average-sized paragraphs. It definitely wouldn’t be a bad idea to use bullets and lists where possible to be more precise and to the point with the hopes of keeping your reader’s attention and utilize the primary points.

Call to Action

Following the body area of your cover letter will be your call to action. To make your cover letter a success it should end with precise steps that you would like your recipient to take following the closing of the letter. For example, in a proposal you would most likely want the recipient to continue reading the enclosed documents. Sometimes, you may have multiple calls to action where you would want them to do this and contact you with any questions. It all depends on the situation and what your business wants.

Calls to action to specifically highlight exactly what you are hoping will happen next, after reading the cover letter. A good example of precise call to action would be:

“Please continue to review the enclosed documents related to our proposal. If you have any questions as to the information provided in this letter, contact us with the information provided at the top of this document.”

Closing

The closing of almost every cover letter contains a valediction such as; sincerely, regards, best regards, your truly, etc., followed by your handwritten signature, your name, title, and usually your position at the company.

It’s important to always include your unique handwritten signature and not one that’s been computer-generated to personalize the letter and instill trust in the recipient. It will also appear as though more effort has been put into the creation of the cover letter and all other enclosed documents. Your signature should go underneath the valediction and before your name so it would be wise to leave some space here. If you are using an online resume, you can used an online signature to replace your physical one.

Don’t forget to include the word Enclosure along with the number of enclosures at the end of the letter on the very last line. This references the additional documents and notifies the recipient as to how many documents have been enclosed.

It would look something like this:

“Enclosure (3)”