Reference Letter Templates and Samples

What Is a Reference Letter?

A Reference Letter is a document completed by a character witness or a sponsor that provides information about an individual who is applying for a job, lease, immigration, etc. The purpose of the letter is to characterize the individual by giving them a generally positive endorsement, as well as underline their most valuable qualities and strong suits. Usually, the document is supposed to be written by a character witness or a sponsor, who knows the individual well.

Alternate Names:

  • Character Reference Letter;
  • Personal Reference Letter.

Check out our library below for more Reference Letter templates and samples.

Various types of situations require individuals to present this kind of document. They can include the following:

  1. A written Letter of Recommendation is better than an oral reference given via phone since it is possible to save the letter and come back to it when it is necessary. A written document can also be attached to other documents when needed.
  2. The general Reference Letter format requires the character witness (or sponsor) to sign the document, which proves that the information in the letter is true and valid. It puts the responsibility for its content on the individual who has signed it.
  3. A Letter of Reference contains a part where the character witness (or sponsor) provides their contact information in case the receiver of the letter will have any further questions. It simplifies the communication process between the involved parties.

Types of Reference Letters

In order to find a letter that will suit their situation best, an individual can browse through different Reference Letter examples described below.

  1. Applying for an immigrant visa or permanent residency often requires submitting a character reference for immigration. This type of Reference Letter can be used when an individual is applying for citizenship and needs a document that will describe their positive character traits and behaviors. The document can be written by a colleague or a close friend.
  2. A character reference for court can be used in situations when an individual is accused of a crime. The letter can be provided to the judge, from which they will get an impression of the accused and make a decision about the penalty. The letter can be provided by a coworker, friend, family member, etc.
  3. A character reference for a lease can be requested by a landlord when an individual is applying for a lease. In this case, the potential landlord would like to receive a document written by the individual’s previous landlord that will give a proper characterization of them.

How to Write a Reference Letter?

A basic Reference Letter template should contain the following parts:

  1. Introduction. In the first part of the document, the person providing the reference (i.e., the "character witness") can introduce themselves and indicate why they are suitable to give a reference for the individual. They can explain under which circumstances they have met the individual, how well they know them, and how often they used to interfere. This information will help a receiver understand how reliable their opinion of the individual is;
  2. The individual's characteristics. The character witness can use this part to characterize the individual by stating their professional skills, personal qualities, and other features that can depend on the circumstances of the situation in which the document was requested;
  3. Examples and personal stories. Here the character witness can provide personal stories and evidence that will illustrate why they characterized the individual a certain way. It can contain descriptions of different experiences of the individual that the character witness has seen first hand;
  4. Conclusion and contact information. In case any questions connected with the subject occur the character witness can provide their contact information, which can include their email, telephone number, and postal address.
  5. Signature. To verify the information presented in the document, the character witness should sign and date it.

How to Request a Reference Letter?

When deciding how and who to ask for a Reference Letter, an individual should define for themselves the purpose of the document and why it is requested. For example, if an individual is required to submit a Job Reference Letter, then the document should be written by their previous employer. Or if they are required to submit the reference for a lease then it should be made by their previous landlord. The document should contain the information required by the specific occasion and signed by an appropriate person.

After an individual has chosen who to ask for a reference, they should contact the prospective reference and explain why they would like to receive a Reference Letter from them. The reasons can be different, nevertheless, the individual should underline that they value the character witness’s opinion and respect their professionalism enough to ask them for a reference.

Still looking for a particular template? Take a look at the related templates below:




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This written statement may be prepared by a landlord, for a tenant who plans to move out and needs to show their future landlord that they should be chosen as a tenant.

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This type of document is a form used by Cornell University students to request a reference letter.

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The purpose of this document is to provide an immigration judge (or another representative of immigration authorities) with information about an applying individual and to fully characterize them.

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This letter supports an individual when they want to apply to become a member of a volunteer organization.

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This document is used to provide a personal reference for someone in Arizona. It may be requested by employers, landlords, or other parties to learn more about an individual's character and qualifications.

This letter is prepared on behalf of an individual looking for a job, an educational opportunity, an internship, or medical treatment.

A person who knows an individual in the process of adopting a child may use a template such as this to testify to their character and endorse them as a good parent.

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