Cover Letter Format: The Definitive Guide for 2022
First and foremost, you should know all cover letters follow a standard business letter format. You will always include these five sections: heading, greeting, introduction, body paragraph and closing statement. You’ll also need to correctly apply five formatting principles to strengthen your cover letter’s organization and aesthetics to create your most effective cover letter yet.
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5 Cover Letter Formatting Fundamentals
There are five formatting fundamentals that you need to follow to build an impeccable cover letter that’s professional and visually pleasing.
- Font: Use a 10- to 12-point font. Anything larger than that will look odd and take up space from your letter, and anything smaller will be too hard to read. We recommend easy-to-read fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. Eccentric fonts won’t look professional and might not even be properly scanned by applicant tracking systems (ATS).
- Margins: These should range between 1 to 1.5 inches. This margin width gives you ample space to write a long-form letter without your text looking cramped or cutting off when you print or download your letter.
- Alignment: All your paragraphs should be aligned to the left since it allows for the most natural reading flow. Make sure to be consistent with indentations. If you indent the first sentence of one paragraph, follow through with the rest of them.
- Length and spacing: Don’t extend your cover letter past one page and avoid long, run-on sentences. For line spacing, between 1 to 1.5 spacing is ideal. To reduce length yet remain concise, you can also format the body paragraph using bullets.
- File format: You won’t need to send your letter through conventional mail. You’re more likely to email it or attach it to an electronic job application form. To avoid malicious interference, you should try to use file formats that won’t permit anyone else to easily edit it, such as PDF. With our Cover Letter Builder you can easily write your document and download it in multiple file formats like PDF, JPG, GSV, DOC and TXT.
How to Format Key Sections
Although business letters follow a strict, standard format, you can customize your cover letter’s heading and body paragraphs using the following design tools. These customizable sections allow you to showcase your personal touch.
If you wish to create a more eye-catching cover letter, you can edit the heading based on your personal design style. As long as you include your name, address, the recipient’s information and the relevant contact information, you can format it creatively.
Some design choices you can add are:
- A pop of color to highlight your name
- Larger or different fonts that stand out
- Decorative elements like lines, figures and background colors that express your artistic side
Check out an example below!
Always be mindful of the industry to which you’re applying, as this will determine the amount of flourish you should include on your cover letter.
In the body paragraph of your cover letter, you should present your professional accomplishments and quantifiable achievements. You can write it as either a traditional paragraph, or present the information in bullet points or numbered lists.
Lists allow you to separate each accomplishment individually to bring equal attention to all of them. They are also easier to read, so if you already have a text-heavy introduction and closing, a bulleted list is an excellent formatting choice.
This is how a bulleted body paragraph can look for an administrative assistant:
Throughout my career as an administrative assistant in the real estate industry I have achieved many goals for my employers such as:
- Creating an online marketing campaign that increased our client base by 30%
- Improving our customer satisfaction ratings by 65% by providing concierge-level customer service
- Establishing an interactive online calendar to reduce appointment incongruencies and optimizing realtor’s schedules, increasing monthly viewings by more than 65 listings
The Right Cover Letter Template For You
Now that you understand how to format a cover letter, you can choose a template that fits your style and profession. Hloom has a wide range of cover letter templates, from traditional and serious styles to more contemporary and bold designs.
If you want to make sure you correctly apply the five fundamental principles to your cover letter, you can use our templates that already come pre-formatted to follow these guidelines.
Check them out and choose the one that suits you best!
Basic and Simple
These no-fuss black-and-white templates are fantastic for anyone from recent graduates to senior executives.
Crisp and straightforward designs with a pop of color make our Clean templates traditional yet attractive.
Our Modern templates offer brightly colored margins and eye-catching designs perfect for job seekers in fashion, tech and other creative industries.
The one- or two-column layouts in our Contemporary category give you plenty of space for your job pitch or any gap years you wish to explain.
Our Creative templates will stand out from the cover letter pile, ideal for professionals in social media, content creation or graphic design.
Cover Letter Format FAQ
How do you sell yourself in a cover letter with no experience?
A lack of formal experience shouldn’t discourage you from writing a compelling cover letter. You can also impress hiring managers with your cover letter by highlighting the following:
- Soft, hard and technical skills
- Personal projects related to your industry or profession, i.e., creative content portfolios, hardware creations, software development, YouTube channels
- Hobbies, volunteer work, school club activities
- Relevant coursework or research projects
- Personal anecdotes that demonstrate your professional or leadership capabilities
What are employers looking for in a cover letter?
After hiring managers learn about your work history and skills in your resume, your cover letter needs to quantify your accomplishments. This is where research of the company or employer gains relevance.
Don’t just write a long letter that’s all about what you have done in the past and leave it at that. Instead, create an engaging letter that frames your accomplishments as potential solutions to the needs of the hiring company.
For example, let’s say that you’re applying for an administrative assistant position at a real estate firm. You can state that by “creating a more streamlined filing system” at a previous job, you can “optimize the organization of client and employee contracts.” Stay one step ahead and show your employer how you’re ready to bring positive change to the workplace.
What are three things that you should not do in your cover letter?
Although including a cover letter in your job application is the right choice, some mistakes could hurt your chances of impressing employers and hiring managers.
Three things you should not do on your cover letter are:
- Repeat the same information on your resume. Instead, offer your perspective on the goals or challenges you’ve had throughout your job history and talk about experiences that have made you grow both professionally and personally.
This way, you’ll create a cover letter that complements — not duplicates — your resume.
- Write a generic cover letter. Do write a personalized cover letter for each job, so you can present yourself as the best candidate for that specific position. Showing you’re a candidate who’s invested in the job is a big plus for employers.
- Ignore typos. They might seem like common mistakes, but in a tight pool of candidates, being the one with perfect grammar will give you bonus points. Turn on your spellcheck and have someone else proofread your cover letter just in case.