Your cover letter ought to be set up in standard business letter
format, including the following parts in the order listed:
- Your return address
Your return address includes your
street address, city, state, zip code, and the dateline.
- Your prospective employer's address
employer's address, also called an inside address, includes the
contact person's name and title, the name of the company, the street
address, city, state, and zip code. You can either put the person's
name and title on the same line, or you can separate them on two
NOTE: never guess the gender of the contact person's name.
Some names -- like Alex, Jan, Kelly, Loren, Mitch, Pat, and Randy --
can be either male or female. When in doubt, leave the Mr. or Ms.
- Your salutation
- Dear Mr. or Ms. is the standard salutation, followed by the
person's last name and a colon.
- Never address the letter to Dear Sir or To Whom It May
Concern. Call and find out the name of the specific person who
is doing the hiring, the correct spelling of his or her name,
and the appropriate title. This only takes a few minutes, and
recruiters appreciate people who take the time to find out who
- The body of your letter
The body of your letter
follows, using either indented paragraphs or flush left paragraphs.
If you use flush left paragraphs, double-space between them.
- Your signature block
The signature block includes the
closing and your typed name. The closing -- usually Sincerely or
Sincerely Yours--appears double-spaced below the body of your letter
and is followed by a comma. Your typed name, then, appears triple-
or quadruple-spaced below that.
- An enclosure reference
An enclosure notation appears
double-spaced below your signature block. It includes the word
"Enclosure" or "Enc." followed by the word "Resume."
Spacing and Margins
- Spacing should be standard. Your letter should be
single-spaced with a double-space between the inside address and
salutation, the salutation and the body of the letter, the body of
the letter and the signature block, and the signature block and the
enclosure reference. Spacing between your return address and the
inside address can vary from 2 to 6 spaces, depending upon how your
letter fits on the page.
- Margins should make your letter look balanced on the
page. A standard rule of thumb is to establish equal top and side
margins, with a bottom margin that is a bit bigger -- ideally
one-and-a-half times the size of the other margins.
Your Return Address and Signature Block
Your return address and the signature block can be flush with either
the left or the right margins. But be consistent: if you put one on the
left, put both there.
If you line up both address and signature block with the left margin,
you'll probably want your paragraphs to be flush left too. This is a
more modern form -- and also lets you fit more on the page. This can
sometimes help if your letter is running to a second page. Most
prospective employers prefer one-page cover letters.