Cover Letter Guidelines

Job search letters, including letters of inquiry, thank you notes, academic cover letters, and cover letters are essential to a successful employment search. The Purdue Owl Job Search Letters site addresses each in detail and provides step-by-step guidance in crafting persuasive correspondence.  An overview of the cover letter and its parts is as follows:  

Cover Letter Formatting and Parts

FORMATTING: The basic format of a cover letter is that of a business letter.  Standard margins, aligned to the left.  Indent first line of each paragraph. 

Length: Keep to one page. 


  • Single space your letter
  • Leave a space between addresses and dates in the heading
  • Leave a space between your heading (contact info) and greeting (Dear ...)
  • Leave a space between each paragraph
  • Leave at least three spaces between  your complimentary close (Sincerely...) and typed name
  • Sign your name in ink between the complimentary close and your typed name

PARTS: Four basic parts of a cover letter: Heading, Introduction, Argument/Body, Closing. 


  • Your contact information
  • Date you are writing the letter
  • Address of the company

Introduction (Paragraph 1): 

  • Greet the specific person with whom you are corresponding
  • State the position for which you are applying and where you heard about it
  • Name drop if you have a good connection
  • State why you believe you are a good match, including 2-3 key qualifications you will address in the rest of your letter (that will also match your resume)

 Argument/Body (Paragraph 2 and MAYBE 3):

  • Tailor cover letter for each job application.
  • Focus each paragraph on one qualification that shows you are a good match for the job and organization.
  • Give specific examples to prove where you got these skills and how you have used them before.
  • Tell a story; do not just list your skills.
  • Refer to your resume; do not repeat it.
  • Do not use contractions.

Closing (Final Paragraph)

  • Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job and the organization.
  • Request an interview in some way.
  • Provide contact information.
  • Thank the person for reading your material.
  • Sign your name and print it underneath.



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