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How to Format a Cover Letter: Layout Examples for 2022

How to Format a Cover Letter: Layout Examples for 2022

You learned how to format a letter at school, but it was ages ago. No time for a trip down memory lane. See the types of cover letters & pick the best cover letter format with us.

As seen in:

Most applicants know nothing about the cover letter format—layouts are sloppy, and the contents basically put readers to sleep.

 

What if I told you that in 7 minutes, you’d be the only one to learn how to wake everyone up?

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • Cover letter format example better than 9 out of 10 others.
  • What types of cover letters are that you can use to find a new job.
  • How to format a cover letter to impress employers with your attention to detail.
  • The best cover letter formatting tips that recruiters will thank you for.
  • And ideas for a modern or traditional but always proper cover letter format.

 

Want to write your perfectly formatted cover letter in 15 minutes? Use our cover letter templates here.

 

Create your cover letter now

 

Sample cover letter made with our builder—See more cover letter examples here.

Here’s how to format a cover letter step by step:

 

  1. Choose the Best Type of Cover Letter
  2. Format Your Cover Letter for a Job Application
  3. Create a Professional Cover Letter Header
  4. Start With a Personal Salutation and a Strong Opening
  5. Make an Offer and Explain Your Motivation in the Central Paragraphs
  6. Use a Clear Call to Action
  7. Finish with a Professional Sign-Off

 

Cover Letter Format Example

 

Mary Chao

Digital Marketing Specialist

4710 Oak Way

Omaha, NE 68102

402-214-2558

marychao@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/mary.chao

 

Omaha, 01/28/2019

 

Ashley Alameda

Head of Marketing

Avanix, Inc.

2509 Hall Valley Drive

Omaha, NE 72662

 

Dear Ashley,

 

Two months ago, I hit a goal I never thought I'd reach. I pushed SEO traffic to 20 million monthly views. One year ago, traffic for our four sites—all of which I manage through a team of 25 employees—rested at just 4 million per month. Upper management challenged me to lead the team toward doubling our traffic. We hit that goal in just six months, blowing away our sales revenue forecasts in the process.

 

I know your main upcoming challenge will be to grow revenue from your new website. With over seven years of experience in SEO and social media marketing, and as someone who is passionate about staying on the leading edge of tech, I'm confident I can repeat the growth I achieved with XYZ as your new Digital Marketing Manager.

 

In my current position, I successfully lead creative strategy and internal development teams. Specifically, I have:

 

  • Skyrocketed Inbound Marketing ROI by 43%.
  • Reduced Cost Per Lead by 35%.
  • Boosted Landing Page Conversion Rates by 55% 

 

What impresses me most about your online marketing strategy is that you’ve managed to build a self-reliant team aligned with two basic key metrics only: traffic and conversions. This perfectly reflects my core professional values.

 

I'm adept at reading Google and user search intent, then translating that into measurable returns. Can we schedule a call to discuss ideas for growing your revenue by 25% in 2018?

 

Sincerely,

Mary Chao

 

How to Format a Cover Letter?

 

Let me walk you through how you can format your cover letter equally well:

 

1. Choose the Best Type of Cover Letter

 

Before you get down to writing, you should learn what types of cover letters are. Otherwise, you might end up using the wrong one.

 

You can use cover letters for a variety of purposes. Experts name the three types of cover letters: the application cover letter, prospecting cover letter, and networking cover letter. Less common types include the email cover letter and referral cover letter.

 

Let’s have a closer look at these six types of cover letters:

 

Types of Cover Letters

 

  • Application cover letter is the most popular cover letter type. You send it to a company’s recruiter or hiring manager in response to a job advertisement. An application letter is usually sent together with a resume or a CV.
  • Prospecting cover letter (a.k.a. cold contact cover letter or a letter of intent) asks about available openings at the companies that interest you. You can send this type of cover letter to businesses that don’t openly advertise their vacancies.
  • Networking cover letter can be used to ask the individuals in your business network for support with your job search. The point of this type of cover letter is to inquire about job openings, career advice, or help with finding a new job.
  • Email cover letter is a shorter version of the cover letter types mentioned above. Instead of attaching a separate cover letter to an email, you write the letter's content directly in the email message. The email cover letter is less formal and more condensed.
  • Referral cover letter is used when someone you know refers you for a position. In this cover letter type, you should introduce yourself and name the person who referred you. Adding a reference list to your resume wouldn’t hurt either.

 

So, which types of cover letters would assist you in landing a job interview? 

 

Theoretically, every single one can help. But practically, it depends on your work profile, experience, and the company itself. 

 

Some businesses may have a policy of hiring people through open job advertisements—in such cases, sending even the fanciest prospective cover letters won’t get you a job outside the normal recruitment process. However, there’s no harm in trying different types of cover letters for jobs.

Need a closer look at the differences between a cover letter and a letter of intent? Check here: Is a Letter of Intent or a Cover Letter Better for You?

2. Format Your Cover Letter for a Job Application

 

Now that you know everything about different types of cover letters, you can move on to writing the one you need. Start with the basic formatting first. Start with the basic formatting before you get down to writing. You’ll benefit from the effort you’ll put into creating your cover letter template. Here’s everything you need to know:

 

Are you sending a cover letter via email? Here’s exactly what you need to format your electronic letter: Email Cover Letter Writing Guidelines

 

You need to have specific details handy to write a cover letter header. And they are:

 

  • Your full name, mailing address, phone number, email, and LinkedIn profile handle.
  • Date of writing
  • Hiring manager’s or recruiter’s name, job title, company name, and location.

 

Addressing the cover letter right is the single most important thing in cover letter writing. Fail at this stage, and your application is good to go (to the trash).

 

cover letter header

 

Here’s the correct way of formatting the cover letter header:

 

Professional Cover Letter Format—Heading

 

Mary Chao

Digital Marketing Specialist

4710 Oak Way

Omaha, NE 68102

402-214-2558

marychao@gmail.com

linkedin.com/in/mary.chao

 

Omaha, 01/28/2019

 

Ashley Alameda

Head of Marketing

Avanix, Inc.

2509 Hall Valley Drive

Omaha, NE 72662

 

Leave a slightly larger space between your contact information and the date of writing.

 

When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.

 

When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.

4. Start With a Personal Salutation and a Strong Opening

 

There’s excellent research that shows nothing activates our brains as much as hearing or seeing our own name. So open your cover letter with the correct name, and you’ll get the attention you deserve. 

 

You can look for the name in the job description, company website, or LinkedIn. Call the company and ask for the hiring manager’s name if you're struggling.

 

Cover Letter Format—Salutation

 

  • Dear Ashley,
  • Dear Ms. Jones,
  • Dear Ashley Jones,

 

By no means open the cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Nothing screams generic more than these two. Go for “Dear [XYZ Team] Hiring Manager” or “Dear Hiring Manager” if all strategies have failed.

 

Now that you have the recruiter’s attention, use one of those opening strategies:

 

  • Mention a significant (yet relevant) accomplishment you’re proud of
  • Discuss something you love about the company you’re applying to
  • Comment on the recent award or news the company was honored by
  • Drop names
  • Showcase your passion, skill, or other outstanding quality

 

See this example of a powerful opening paragraph:

 

Cover Letter Format Example—Opening

 

Two months ago, I hit a goal I never thought I'd reach. I pushed SEO traffic to 20 million monthly views. One year ago, traffic for our four sites—all of which I manage through a team of 25 employees—rested at just 4 million per month. Upper management challenged me to lead the team toward doubling our traffic. We hit that goal in just six months, blowing away our sales revenue forecasts in the process.

 

5. Make an Offer and Explain Your Motivation in the Central Paragraphs

 

In the main parts of your cover letter, focus on what you have to offer, not what you want out of a job. And then make them feel special. Let your cover letter say why exactly you want to join them, not any other company. 

 

These points should help you figure out how to sell yourself in the cover letter:

 

  • Read the job ad carefully. Identify the key challenges your future employer is facing. Then, explain how you can help them.
  • Emphasize how your expertise will help solve their problems. You can use bullet points to break up the text and highlight your achievements with numbers.
  • Explain your motivation. Once your employer understands they want you, they’ll want to know why you want them.

 

Format of a Cover Letter—Body

 

I know your main upcoming challenge will be to grow revenue from your new website. With over seven years of experience in SEO and social media marketing, and as someone who is passionate about staying on the leading edge of tech, I'm confident I can repeat the growth I achieved with XYZ as your new Digital Marketing Manager.

 

In my current position, I successfully lead creative strategy and internal development teams. Specifically, I have:

 

  • Skyrocketed Inbound Marketing ROI by 43%.
  • Reduced Cost Per Lead by 35%.
  • Boosted Landing Page Conversion Rates by 55% 

 

What impresses me most about your online marketing strategy is that you’ve managed to build a self-reliant team aligned with two basic key metrics only: traffic and conversions. This perfectly reflects my core professional values. 

Are you intimidated by those achievements? You must be at the beginning of your journey then. Read more: Cover Letter Writing Tips for No-Experience Candidates

6. Use a Clear Call to Action

 

The hiring manager wants to give you a shot already, so don’t let them change their mind. Finish your cover letter with a compelling call to action. This is how:

 

  • Reiterate your value and sum up your qualifications in a single sentence.
  • Ask for a call or a meeting.
  • Restate that you can help them achieve their objectives.

 

How to Format a Cover Letter—Call to Action

 

I'm adept at reading Google and user search intent, then translating that into measurable returns. Can we schedule a call to discuss ideas for growing your revenue by 25% in 2018?

 

7. Finish with a Professional Sign-Off

 

A cover letter closing format is the same as any other formal business letter. Write “Sincerely” and sign off with your full name one or two lines underneath. 

 

Optionally, include a digital copy of your handwritten signature in your sign-off. It will add a professional touch.

 

Proper Cover Letter Format

 

Now that you’re stocked with cover letter formatting tips see what the best cover letter looks like:

 

Cascade

 

 

If you want a format that focuses on what’s important in a cover letter, you’re right to choose Cascade. The darker sidebar covers the boring, leaving your hiring manager with the juicy and plenty of white space they can rest their eyes on.

 

Cubic

 

 

Looking at Cubic, you can tell it was made for C-suite professionals. It’s elegant. It’s neat. It’s perfect. The heading is designed to highlight your position, so use it to your advantage if you’re a senior candidate with an impressive resume.

 

Iconic

 

 

Are you recruiting to the creative industry? Then Iconic is a perfect cover letter format for someone with a knack for design and communication. Iconic will help you tell your story thanks to a sleek layout that feels complete.

 

Primo

 

 

Sometimes you want things to be uncomplicated, and you want to be direct and put your thoughts down uninterrupted. The Primo cover letter format gives you just that.

 

Vibes

 

 

Entry-level candidates—here’s something just for you. A splash of color and square icons will add personal vibes to your cover letter. It is precisely what employers are looking for in candidates like yourself.

 

Key Takeaway

 

In this article, you’ve learned about the different types of cover letters and how you should format your cover letter to appear as professional as possible. Do you need a reminder of the main points?

 

In a nutshell, this is how to format a cover letter:

 

  • Use one-inch margins, single line spacing, and 11 to 12 pt font.
  • In the top-left corner, put your contact details, city and date, and the employer's contact details.
  • Open with a personal salutation.
  • In the body of your letter, open with the hook, make an offer, and explain your motivation.
  • Finish with a clear call to action.
  • Sign off with a “sincerely” and your full name.

 

All check? Then you can be sure your cover letter for a job is formatted perfectly.

 

Want to learn more about cover letter setup? Have additional questions we didn’t answer above? Drop me a line in the comments, and I’ll be happy to chat!

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Cover Letter Formats

How to format a cover letter correctly?

Even if you know what a cover letter should say, it’s still important to structure the message correctly:

 

1. Put your contact information at the top of the letter.

2. Address the cover letter to the hiring manager.

3. Add today’s date.

4. Use a professional cover letter greeting and the hiring manager’s name.

5. Open the letter with a hook.

6. Explain why you’re a good fit for the position in a few bullet points.

7. Finish the letter with a call to action.

8. Add a cover letter closing and sign the letter.

 

To properly format a cover letter, use popular cover letter fonts such as Arial, Calibri, or Helvetica, and set the font to 11–12 points. Remember to keep the margins 1-inch wide on all sides. The spacing of the cover letter should be 1–1.15 between lines and double between paragraphs. Your cover letter should fit on one A4 page. Use white space to separate different parts of the letter—it’ll also make it easier for the recipient to read. 

How to format a cover letter for an internship?

Candidates applying for an internship can use a business cover letter format. The main difference is that instead of referring to their work experience, they should put emphasis on their academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and relevant knowledge they learned while studying—very similar to an entry-level cover letter.

 

This is how you should format a cover letter for an internship:

1. Put your name, field of study, and contact information at the top.

2. Address the cover letter to the hiring manager or internship coordinator.

3. Add the date.

4. Use a professional greeting and the hiring manager’s name.

5. Introduce yourself and provide an attention-grabbing accomplishment.

6. Explain why you’re interested in the internship and how well you fit the position.

7. Provide relevant examples of academic achievements, extracurricular activities, personal projects, etc.

8. Finish with a call to action.

9. Add a cover letter closing and sign the letter.

 

Remember to use a cover letter template matching your internship resume. And don’t forget to get into the details of cover letters for internships here.

What’s a good cover letter email format?

A good email cover letter format, or an online cover letter format, is shorter and less formal than a classic cover letter format. You can use such a format when the job advertisement doesn’t specifically request a cover letter. This way, you can introduce yourself and present your qualifications for the job without spending extra time on making the layout for your cover letter or choosing a Word cover letter template.

 

Follow our guide to read more about the best email cover letter format.

What’s the APA format for a cover letter?

The APA format for cover letters is used when submitting a manuscript for publication. It’s quite different from a formal cover letter for a job.

 

APA-format cover letter for journal submissions includes:

  • Title of the manuscript
  • List of authors
  • Assurances stating that the authors agree with the content of the manuscript and the order of authorship
  • Assurances stating that the corresponding author takes responsibility for informing other authors of any editorial changes made to the manuscript
  • List of closely related manuscripts that have been submitted to the same or another journal
  • Information about conflicts of interest that could be seen as influencing the research
  • Request for review
  • Verification related to the ethical treatment of human or nonhuman participants
  • Copy of permissions needed to reproduce the copyrighted material
  • Contact information of the corresponding author

 

The APA-format cover letter must be addressed to the journal editor. APA, which stands for American Psychological Association, also defines the format of resumes for jobs in the psychology field.

What’s the MLA format for a cover letter?

MLA-format cover letters follow the Modern Language Association style of academic writing. They can be used when applying for research positions or academic jobs. The difference between a business cover letter and an academic cover letter is that MLA cover letters emphasize the author’s scholarly work, such as a thesis, dissertation, or research. You can send an MLA-formatted cover letter with an academic CV or a Ph.D. resume.

 

How to write an MLA-formatted cover letter:

1. Add your full name and contact information at the top of the letter.

2. List the employer’s address.

3. Add the current date.

4. Address the letter to the hiring director or the hiring committee.

5. Mention the job you’re applying for in the first paragraph.

6. Highlight why you’re a good fit for the position.

7. Explain how your thesis, dissertation, or research relates to the offered position.

8. Mention how your background can help you fit into the academic institution or organization.

9. Finish your MLA-format cover letter with a call to action by proposing a meeting or a phone conversation.

10. End with ‘Sincerely,’ your full name, and credentials.

What’s a T-format cover letter?

A T-format cover letter is a business cover letter that compares job requirements and a candidate’s qualifications. The name stems from the T-shape lines that divide the page into two columns. The T-format cover letter can be easier to scan than a classic cover letter format.

 

Follow these steps to use the T format for a cover letter:

  • Pick a basic cover letter template or create one by yourself.
  • Start writing by adding your contact information, date, company information, and salutation.
  • Follow with the opening paragraph to introduce yourself.
  • Add a table with two columns and two rows.
  • Label the columns ‘Job Requirements’ and ‘My Experience,’ or something similar.
  • On the left side, add bullets with job requirements that mirror the ones listed in the job advertisement.
  • On the right, provide examples from your experience to prove that you have the skills needed for the job.
  • End the cover letter with a short closing paragraph and a professional salutation.

 

Some career experts claim that a T-format cover letter can help you sell yourself to the recruiter better than a classic cover letter format.

How to write a cover letter in block format?

A block format cover letter is the most common cover letter format. All the information on the page is aligned to the left side, and the text uses single-line spacing, with double-spacing between paragraphs. Most free cover letter templates for G-Docs and other programs follow the block format.

 

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Michael Tomaszewski, CPRW
Michael is a career writer, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and the newsletter coordinator at Zety. Apart from sharing his own resume-writing expertise, Michael reaches out to recruitment and hiring gurus to help you learn the most effective strategies for managing your career.
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