Your cover letter is an important part of any job application package, because it allows you some space to tell hiring managers more about yourself. While your resume needs to be laser-focused on your achievements and history, your cover letter gives you scope to tell a story about your career journey so far. It’s a way to let a little more of your personality shine through.
That’s why choosing the correct cover letter format is so important. Whether you need to submit your cover letter in the body of an email or a Word document, making sure it looks professional and presentable is vital. And depending on the industry where you want to work, the standards of professionalism in a cover letter format may vary—so it’s important to do your research when formatting your cover letter.
That’s where we come in! We’ve written a comprehensive guide to formatting a cover letter, so you can submit your application with confidence. On this page, we’ll cover the following points:
It’s one thing to know what a cover letter should say. It’s something else entirely to know how to arrange that message so it comes across to best effect. Here are the most important things to remember when putting together your cover letter:
This structure will produce a reliably readable cover letter that ticks all the boxes for most hiring managers. But what about the design and layout of your cover letter?
When it comes to fonts, it’s always smart to opt for a standard font—nothing too elaborate or unusual. Calibri, Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman are generally safe bets. Your font size should be 11pt or 12pt, for ease of reading.
You also need to pay attention to the spacing of your letter. Margins should be one inch wide on all sides, and you should use line spacing between 1 and 1.5—with two line breaks between paragraphs. Your whole cover letter needs to fit on a single A4 page, so opt for narrower line spacing if you’re worried about fitting everything in!
Still not sure how to format your cover letter? Don’t worry—we’re here to help! We’ve produced some example cover letters in a range of different formats, so you can choose the format that’s right for you.
Most cover letters submitted in Word documents use the standard block format—left-aligned text, without any extra frills or design elements. Here’s an example of a cover letter formatted for Microsoft Word:
Dear Ms Yang,
I’m excited to apply for the role of pharmacist at BluCo Solutions, which I saw advertised on LinkedIn. Having built a career as a pharmacist, I am familiar with BluCo’s pioneering work, and it would be my privilege to work for such an innovative company.
Having worked for two years as a pharmacist’s assistant while completing my DPharm, I am currently employed as a pharmacist with Walkers Pharmacies. This is a customer-facing role with a high level of public interaction, and it has taught me how to balance strong factual recall and attention to detail with the charm and positive attitude necessary for customer service.
The customers who come to a pharmacy often do so because they are in urgent need, and delivering the service they deserve can make a serious difference to them. Last month, I was able to assist a customer whose prescription had lapsed due to the closure of her family doctor’s practice. She was so relieved to receive her medication and avoid any discontinuation side effects! Those moments are at the heart of why I love this career, and I know I can bring the same service to BluCo’s customer base.
My resume is attached. I appreciate your time and consideration, and am available to discuss this opportunity further over the phone at (888) 888-8888.
If you’re applying for a job at a big company, consider using a business cover letter format instead! This format can feature a header, with more design elements than a Word cover letter format. Here’s an example of a business cover letter:
Jennifer Young Certified Public Accountant | (888) 888-8888 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear hiring manager,
I’m proud to apply for the role of certified public accountant at Hunters Accounting, which I saw advertised on LinkedIn. As an experienced professional in the accounting sector, I know how highly your company values customer service, accuracy, and integrity. These are all qualities I value in myself, and I am confident that our shared values would enable us to enjoy a successful working relationship.
I have spent the past four years employed as a certified public accountant at Fogle and Sons Financial Advisors. While this work has of course required me to develop extensive mathematical skills, it has also required a high level of customer service. As a CPA, I have always been mindful of the trust that businesses place in me. I work every day to honor that trust by delivering the highest standards of integrity and attention to detail in all facets of my work – while also maintaining excellent relationships with clients. In fact, all of the clients I have worked with during tax season at Fogle and Sons have returned every year – a testament to the quality of my service and my work.
I am now keen to bring these skills and experiences to Hunters. I know that my client retention rate, my passion for finance and my unwavering commitment to accuracy will be a credit to your company.
My resume is attached. Thank you so much for your time and attention; I look forward to discussing this opportunity further via email at email@example.com.
Another common professional cover letter format is the T-shape cover letter. This format uses a two-column table to compare the requirements of the job description, point by point, with your skills and experience as a candidate. It makes for a more concise and readable cover letter, cutting out everything that isn’t relevant to a hiring manager.
Here’s an example of a professional cover letter using the T-shape format:
Dear hiring manager,
I am writing to submit my application for the role of Software Developer at Nyoom Software, which I found advertised on LinkedIn. As an experienced software developer with 4 years’ experience in a management role, I believe I have the skills and experience that will allow me to thrive at Nyoom.
|Job Requirements||My Experience|
|BS in Computing, Information Technology, or other relevant field||BS Computing – University of Texas, Austin|
|Minimum 3 years experience in a software design or development role||4 years’ experience leading a team of junior software developers|
|Fluency in multiple coding languages||Fluent in Java, Python, C++, and Scala|
|Experience of project management and client liaison||4 years’ experience working to client briefs and developing project timelines in compliance with client deadlines|
I look forward to meeting with you to discuss this role further. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at (888) 888-8888 for any further information.
When applying for an internship, your cover letter should use a standard block format. The main difference is that it should focus more heavily on your educational achievements than your work experience—because you probably don’t have much work experience to talk about in your letter.
Here’s an example of an internship cover letter format:
Dear hiring manager,
I’m writing to express my interest in your internship scheme, which I learned about through the careers office at the University of Texas, Austin. I am hoping to build a career in financial services, and I believe I have the motivation and the willingness to learn to make the most of an internship with your company.
I am currently in the final year of my undergraduate studies at UT Austin, where I am majoring in Economics. My GPA is 3.8, and I was awarded a prestigious academic prize in my first year of study for exceptional performance in final exams. These achievements speak to the commitment with which I approach all my pursuits, whether academic or otherwise. I am capable of working independently and in a self-directed manner, while also asking for support and advice when I need it.
I take pride in my ability to balance my academic work with my extracurricular pursuits. I am currently the vice-president of the UT Austin Investment Society, where I liaise with external speakers to organize seminars on finance and investing. This has allowed me to develop my professional demeanor, a quality which I believe will allow me to thrive at Fogle and Sons.
I am really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to discussing it with you in more depth. I can be reached over the phone at (888) 888-8888. Thank you for your time and attention!
An email cover letter format is slightly different from any of the other formats listed above! It doesn’t require you to list a mailing address for the hiring manager, and it can be written directly into the body of an email. You just need to make sure that the subject line refers directly to the role you’re applying for, so hiring managers know what they’re looking at as soon as your email arrives.
Here’s an example of an email cover letter format:
Subject: Experienced Merchandiser Seeks Merchandiser Role at Paillette Clothing (Job ID: 12345678)
Dear David Young,
Please find attached a copy of my resume for the role of Merchandiser at Paillette Clothing (Job ID: 12345678).
As a longtime customer at Paillette, I knew immediately that this was the role for me. I’ve always admired the way Paillette has staked out a clear brand in the face of strong competition, and I believe that I have the skills and experience to help build that brand even further.
I have been fortunate to get my start as a sales associate at my local Heller and Michaels store. In this role, I have thrown myself into learning from my colleagues, seeking out opportunities to train and develop. After I assumed merchandising responsibilities, our store’s quarterly sales figures went from 10th to 3rd in the state! Fostering that growth is one of my proudest achievements, and I know I can bring the same results to Paillette.
I would love to meet with you and discuss this position further. Please let me know when would be a good time to talk about the role!