How To Write A Reference Letter For A Friend

For a friend, you all need to write a reference letter. Here are some points that elaborate, what one must know about its purpose and how to write it in the most useful way.

What Does a Reference Letter Mean?

Generally, a letter that is written to confirm abilities, quality and/or accomplishments of a person or (rarely) of a business group, is called as reference letter.

It also is known as a ‘recommendation letter’ occasionally. Being an official document, it should be typed and written in a strictly professional manner.

As they are used in a variety of conditions, a perfect list can’t be given to cover these situations. Yet, general examples are:

  • In job application, an applicant may need it.
  • After the selection, your Company may require it before signing a contract.
  • A student often requires it for some academic course.
  • A student applying for scholarship often needs it.
  • Companies may use them as evidence, to their ability to carry out a certain task.
  • Potential renters may need it from a past owner or from a current employer, to provide to their landlord, which give proof to their financial position.

Whose Reference Letter is Considered Valid?

When someone (an applicant, a student or a company,) requests you to write a reference letter, think whether you are permitted to do so legally. 

Being a formal document, a reference letter should not present any lie or falsify the truth in it. If it happens, there could be lawful consequence.

Always remember the following points when someone asks you for a reference letter:

  • You must know the applicant well. If you’re a teacher, you can’t mention confidently on the educational ability of a student, who has only been present for your lectures for a short period of time.
  • You must be acquainted with the applicant, so that you can be a significant reference. If you were a colleague of the person, you can write a reference letter to his potential manager.
  • You must supply a sincere and helpful reference. If you know that the applicant has no first-rate qualities, you should tell him/her to get a reference letter from someone else.

What Should a Reference Letter Look Like?

The construction of a reference letter depends on the type of reference. However, following can be used as its basic structure:

Start with the business letter set-up: Put-in the recipient’s name and address. You have to address them as ‘Dear [name]’. Presently, when the recipient is someone you don’t know personally, write ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To whom it may concern’.

  1. In your letter, you should introduce yourself in the first paragraph. The recipient doesn’t need your biography. So, give it in a concise way that clarifies your status and your link with the applicant.
  2. In the next paragraph, you should verify the facts that the applicant has provided. For example, if yours is a reference for a job applicant, a few (or all) of these facts are correct:
  • The person’s work title and position in the business group.
  • The person’s last remuneration with the organization, where they were previously employed.
  • The dates (from __ and to __) that confirm the person’s employment.
  • In case of a reference letter for a student, you need to prove the person’s educational status.

In the third part, you should provide your opinion on the applicant’s abilities and worth. Affirm that his tenure with your business group was nice, or state his role in your organization was well-appreciated.

  • Confirm the applicant’s exceptional qualities.
  • When feasible, use the fourth paragraph for some examples when the applicant did extremely well.
  • You may also give some references about his extra-curricular activities, or something that he would like you to include in the reference letter.
  • End the letter with an optimistic message.
  • Include your contact details.
  • Every business letter should be finished properly. ‘Yours sincerely’ when you know the name of the recipient, and ‘Yours faithfully’ when you don’t know the recipient’s name.

Stay Away From The Following Things

  • Don’t point out any weakness that the applicant has.
  • Don’t state anything that could defame the applicant.
  • Don’t write in an informal language. Jokes, slangs and casual language must be avoided. It may spoil the applicant’s opportunity.
  • Don’t use personal information like applicant’s race, political standpoint, religion, nationality, marital status, age or health – except when the nature of the reference letter requires you to do so.
  • You must be sure to make the letter formal. Spelling, typing mistakes and casual writing must be avoided as the letter is highly significant for the applicant.

Yet, if you are hesitant to what can be included in the reference letter, put yourself in the place of applicant’s likely employer. What information would he or she require? What characters would he like his future employees to have? You must try to highlight on areas that will provide the recipient the most valuable information about the applicant.

Examples of a Reference Letter

There are many patterns you can take for writing good reference letters. Here’s one given that would be suitable as a general reference letter. If you were writing a reference letter as the applicant’s ex-employer, you must be careful to use exact details:


To whom it may concern

I verify that I have known (name) for (number) years.

(Mention: – link, public or company status, working together: – in a club, activity, project, etc.)

I have always found (name/him/her) as (state characteristics – eg, trustworthy, meticulous, careful, truthful, agreeable, polite, etc, with some gratifying facts of the essential skill).

I’m glad to offer additional information if required. (not obligatory)

Yours faithfully, etc.

Here’s one from a previous employer in support of a job candidate:

To whom it may concern:

I highly suggest (name) as a candidate for service. He/She was engaged with (Company Name) as a (Designation) from __ to __. He/She was accountable for office/shop floor (use the relevant term) support, with __, __, __, __, and __ (write the titles of his/her working area).

He/She has an outstanding skill of __. Additionally, he/she is extremely structured, unfailing and knows almost all about __. He/She can work without help and pursues everything to make certain the quality of the work allotted. He/She works on any mission handed over to him/her. He/She was always willing to help in other areas of company’s functions when he/she was employed with us.

He/She has been great asset to us. He/She deserves my sincere reference.

If you have more queries about his/her qualities, please feel free to call me.


(Write your own name with Designation, Company Name, Address, Phone and Email ID)


* “Applicant” = the person who the reference letter is about,

“you” = he person writing the reference letter,

* “recipient” = the person receiving the letter.

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