How to Write a Reference (Templates Inside)

Writing a reference letter is one of those things that seems easy… until you get down to it, that is. 

Relax! This guide's got you covered with everything you need to know to write a stellar reference that wows. 

We'll help you by: 

Now, let's dive in.

What’s a reference letter? 

A reference letter is essentially a supportive endorsement of an individual's abilities and characteristics, written by a person who knows that individual’s professional and personal qualities well. 

Reference letters are pretty much required for job applications, internship opportunities, volunteer work, and admission into college or university programs.

The idea behind these letters is to detail the reasons why a potential candidate is a good choice for the position or program they're after. It outlines their qualifications and readiness for the opportunity at hand. 

Organizations might ask for these letters during the hiring or admission process, or candidates might provide them proactively with their application materials.

What types of reference letters are there?

There are three main types of reference letters you should know about: 

Of course, the type of reference letter you need depends on what the letter is for. 

If you're applying to graduate school you need references from your professors. For a new job, you need references from former supervisors or coworkers. And, for situations where your character and personal qualities are relevant, personal references are what you’re after.

What you need to know before typing up a reference letter

Did someone ask you to write a reference letter for them? That’s a huge honor!

But before you start typing, there are a few things you'll want to get straight:

How to write a glowing reference letter

Think about what an endorsement is: focus on a person’s strengths, accomplishments, and what makes them stand out. 

Remember to mention specific examples of their work and the impact they had, with enthusiastic language, and highlight why they would be an asset.

Here are a few tips for writing a stellar reference letter:

Also, mind the format! 

What should your reference include?

Hold your horses, and don’t start typing yet. A great reference letter always includes some essential elements.

They are: 


First paragraph

Second paragraph (and beyond)


Letter closing


Writing a reference with a Lindy template

There are two ways to write a reference letter. You can either write it yourself using the templates we provide as a guide, or you can ask Lindy, our advanced AI assistant, to do it for you. 

Lindy can handle a huge range of tasks with incredible precision, and drafting compelling recommendation letters is one of its specialties

To get Lindy’s help, just click here to sign up (it’s free) and install our recommendation letter Lindy.

Once you're registered, Lindy will support you in creating a recommendation letter that is:

Some awesome reference letter templates for you

If you’d rather write a reference letter the old-fashioned way, we’ve taken the liberty of providing you with a few templates to get you started. 

Feel free to play around with these as needed to personalize the letter for your particular situation.

For a job or business reference:

Dear [Name],

I highly recommend [person’s name] for [job title] at [company]. I have known [Him/Her/Them] for [length of time] in my capacity as [relationship to candidate].

[He/She/They] has consistently demonstrated exceptional skills and work ethic. [His/Her/Their] key qualities include:

[Qualities, skills, accomplishments, strengths: 3-4 bullet points]

[He/She/They] would be an asset to any organization and has my highest recommendation. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information.


[Your name goes here]

[Your title]

For an academic reference:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to recommend [student’s name] for [program name]. I have served as [student’s] [course name] professor during [time period] at [college/university name].

[He/She/They] has exhibited an exemplary work ethic and enthusiasm for learning in my course. [His/Her/Their] key attributes include:

Relevant qualities, skills, accomplishments: 3-4 bullet points

[He/She/They] has proven [Himself/Herself/Themselves] to be a thoughtful, articulate, and diligent student. I give [Him/Her/Them] my strongest recommendation for admission to your program. Please let me know if you have any other questions about this exceptional candidate.


[Your name goes here]

[Your title]

For a Personal Reference: 

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [Name of the person you're recommending] for [mention the position, opportunity, or area where the recommendation is needed, such as a job, a college application, etc.].

I have had the pleasure of knowing [Name] for [duration] years, having met through [context of your relationship, e.g., "as a colleague," "through volunteer work," etc.].

Throughout the time I've known [Name], they have shown exceptional qualities that I believe will make them a valuable addition to your [organization, team, program, etc.]. [Name] is a person of impeccable character, whose commitment to excellence, coupled with their [mention specific skills, e.g., leadership abilities, dedication to community service, etc.], sets them apart.

[In the next paragraph, provide specific examples of the person's achievements or qualities. This could be about a project they led, their contribution to a team, or any personal attributes that are relevant to what they're applying for.]

For example, [describe a specific situation where the person has shown their skills or qualities]. This instance illustrates [Name]'s ability to [mention the relevant skill or quality, such as problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, etc.], making them an ideal candidate for [mention the position, scholarship, program, etc.].

[Name]'s positive attitude and ability to face challenges head-on were particularly impressive. [He/She/They] consistently demonstrates resilience and a strong work ethic, qualities that I admire and believe would be beneficial to your [organization, team, program, etc.].

In conclusion, I highly recommend [Name] for [the position, scholarship, etc.]. I am confident that [he/she/they] will bring the same level of dedication, excellence, and passion to your [organization, team, program, etc.] as [He/She/They] have shown in [His/Her/Their] previous endeavors. 

Please feel free to contact me at [your phone number] or [your email address] if you need further information or to discuss [Name]'s qualifications and abilities further.


[Your name goes here]

Summing up

Writing a reference letter is far easier than you think. Just follow our tips, use the templates we provided, and your letter will help your friend, colleague, or student get that job, scholarship, or opportunity they deserve. 

And, if it’s still too scary, just ask Lindy to do it for you, and you’re good to go!