Fonts, spacing and margins
A great cover letter is also defined by proper use of margins, white space, and font style and size.
Not all fonts work well on cover letters. Some, like Times New Roman, are easy to read while others, such as , and are not. Your cover letter has to be both professional and easy to read, so choose one of the standard business-style fonts: , , or and use only that font throughout.
Font size matters, too! We recommend using only 11- or 12-point fonts because those sizes are easiest for most people to read.
Cover letters should have one space between lines of text and between words; two spaces between paragraphs; and two spaces between each section.
Margins and alignment
The standard rule of thumb for cover letters is that margins should be 1 inch and text should be aligned to the left of a document. Some designs allow headers to be centered or right-aligned, but always align the salutation, body and complimentary close to the left.
Cover letter examples and templates
Here are some examples and styles demonstrating how to properly format a cover letter, paying particular attention to fonts, spacing and margins, as well as paragraph treatments within each cover letter.
Sending a cover letter via email
While some companies still ask job applicants to send their cover letters and resumes by mail, most modern employers expect them directly through online applications or by email.
Below, we provide best practices for sending a cover letter by email, including formatting tips, naming conventions, and which file formats to use.
Use a professional email address. If you don’t have an email address set up specifically for job applications, then take the time to create one with a standard email provider. Employers will take you more seriously if your email address consists of your first and last name or a combination of your name and initials, like: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Never use personal email monikers with nicknames like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, and avoid numbers like email@example.com. Employers will notice and they may pass you by without reading your cover letter.
Follow instructions in the job description. Employers often provide instructions in the job description for how to send your cover letter and resume, so read it carefully. You might be asked to write a cover letter in the body of an email or you might be asked to include it as an attachment in a specified file format (most often Word document or PDF). Not following instructions is grounds for most employers to dismiss your job application.
If the employer requests a cover letter in the body of an email, then copy and paste the text of your cover letter as a message. You might have to reformat it after pasting it. Keep the same margins, spacing, and alignment, but use the default font and style of your email provider.
If instructions are not included, err on the side of attaching your cover letter as a PDF. An attached cover letter is considered by many employers to be more professional, and since you will likely be sending your resume as an attachment, it’s consistent. PDFs are a safe bet because they maintain their formatting no matter what software is used to open them, while Word files run the risk of losing their formatting depending on how they are opened.
Name your file properly. When sending your cover letter as an attachment, the file name, like your email address, should be professional. The appropriate way to name a cover letter when saving it as file is:
First Name-Last Name-Job Title-Cover-Letter
For example: Jane-Smith-Journeyman-Electrician-Cover-Letter.pdf (or .doc)
Include a brief email message. Always write a brief note when sending your cover letter as an attachment in an email.
Your email message might be something like:
Dear Ms. Rodriguez,
I’m writing with interest in the catering position with Yummy Eats.
I’ve attached my cover letter and resume for your review.
Please let me know if you require any additional information.
Thank you for your consideration!
Add a relevant subject line. Increase the chance that the recruiter or hiring manager will notice and open your email. Be specific and succinct.
The best way to do this is: Job Title-Cover Letter-Your Name
Custodial Manager-Cover Letter-Sam Lyons
How do I write a cover letter format?
How do I start a cover letter?Begin with a salutation like “Dear John Smith,” or “To Jane Doe.” If you don’t know the recipient’s name, then you can choose to use a title such as “Head of Marketing.” Never use the generic “To Whom it May Concern” if you want to be taken seriously.
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