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How to Format Your Cover Letter

Updated Aug 12, 20214 min

How to Format Your Cover Letter

Updated Aug 12, 20214 min
How to Format Your Cover Letter

How to Format Your Cover Letter

Updated Aug 12, 20214 min

How to Format Your Cover Letter

Updated Aug 12, 20214 min
How to Format Your Cover Letter

It’s not just what you say in your cover letter—presentation matters. Once you’ve written the three short sections of your cover letter, it’s time to put on the finishing touches to make sure it looks professional. We’re talking about font size, spacing, and file format.

Heading

If you’re submitting your cover letter as an attachment, whether the attachment is to an email or an online application, include a header that details your contact information.

Don’t put this info in the actual “header” of your document. Just put it at the top of the page.

If you’re going the old-school approach: In the top left of your Word document, provide the following:

Date

Your Name

City, State

Phone Number

Email Address

If you’re going REALLY old-school and happen to be sending your cover letter as a printed document via mail, the heading should be formatted as such:

Date

Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code

Your Phone Number

Your Email Address

Hiring Manager’s Name

Company Name

Company Address

Company City, State, ZIP Code

Greeting 👋

Start with the greeting. Use the person’s name to assume gender or marital status. It’s peculiar to read, “Dear Sir,” when you’re a woman! Instead, you can say “Dear [First Name Last Name].” 

If possible, figure out the hiring manager’s name so you can put it on the document and figure out how to network your way to that person.

Now we know you’re thinking… what if I don’t know the name of the hiring manager?! Not to worry - we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve.

Sometimes this information is listed in the job description or on the company website. Check there first.

If you still can’t find the right name, try searching LinkedIn. Spend some time looking at the people who work at the company and try to find the recruiter responsible for the division you’re applying to. If after a quick search you can’t find the recruiter’s name, stick with “{Company name} {Division you’re applying to} Team:” (e.g., Snapchat Accounting Team:)

Don’t say the old-fashioned “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” That sounds outdated and awkward. 

Closing 🤞

After the three paragraphs, at the end of your cover letter, is the closing. Strike a balance of friendly yet professional here. Pick one of these tried-and-true closings:

  • Thank you

  • Sincerely

  • Respectfully

Then type your name below the closing. Include your last name if you wish.

Font

A cover letter is a professional document just like your resume, so match your font and font size to your resume- a font that reflects that tone. A basic font such as Arial, Calibri, Times New Roman, or Verdana are good options, and the font size should be 10- or 12- point. 

Spacing

Intentional white space in your resume makes it more easy to read and digestible - both of which are helpful for the hiring manager as they make their way through dozens, if not hundreds, of applications.

Keep your cover letter single-spaced.

Add a space (using Enter on your keyboard) in between each section of your cover letter. There should be a paragraph space between the contact information, salutation, first paragraph, second paragraph, third paragraph, closing, and name.

There is no need to indent any of your paragraphs (this is true anytime you single space a document #learnsomethingeveryday).

Margins

Document margins should be 0.5 to 1-inch all the way around. Look to match the margins to your resume so that it feels consistent.

File Format

Most of the time, you’ll be submitting your cover letter, resume, and job application online. If you’re sending your resume and cover letter to someone via email, both documents should be attachments and in PDF format. 

Check the name of your file before sending it. Aim to have as clear of a document name as possible and incorporate the company’s name into the document title. We recommend the following format: “First Name_Last Name__Company Name_Cover Letter.”

Suppose you’re sending your resume and cover letter via an online application. In that case, there will be specific instructions on if you should attach them in a particular file format or if there’s a text box for you to copy and paste into. 

Read any instructions carefully - you don’t want to disqualify yourself from an opportunity because of a silly file formatting mistake!

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