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How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? [Ideal Word Length & Page Count]

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? [Ideal Word Length & Page Count]

Before we get to discussing the ideal cover letter length, remember: it's not the only thing that matters. You must know how to put the space you have to good use.

 

In this article: 

  • You'll see an example of a cover letter with the right word count.
  • We’ll answer a couple of nagging questions about the length of a cover letter, like “Can a cover letter be 2 pages?” 
  • Plus, you'll learn how to keep your cover letter length under control.

 

Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.

 

sample resume and cover letter set

Sample Cover Letter for a Resume—See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

 

If you have already found the answer to your question, you may want to explore other subjects related to cover letter writing:

 

1

How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

 

A cover letter should be between half a page and one page in length and never longer than 400 words. For greatest impact, divide your cover letter into 3 or 4 short paragraphs and only include the most relevant information.

 

Here are the numbers to benchmark your cover letter against:

 

Ideal Cover Letter Length

Page count

Approx. 0.5

Paragraph count

3–4

Word count

200–400

 

Why so short?, you might ask. Think about the main purpose of a cover letter: your cover letter introduces you to the recruiter and it’s supposed to get them interested in you as a candidate. As such, it has to be brief and to-the-point—it must strike the right balance between the length and the message. 

 

Recruiters receive dozens of job applications for each position. If instead of the information they’re looking for, they come across a story of your life, they’ll skip it without batting an eyelash.

 

And here's an example of a one-page cover letter with the right page, paragraph, and word count:

 

 

 

One Page Cover Letter—Example of a Cover With the Right Number of Wordsone page cover letter

Sample cover letter made with our builder: See more cover letter templates and create your cover letter here.

Create your cover letter now

 

The example above shows a cover letter outline. Its length is perfect for a PDF file that you can send as an email attachment.

 

But—

 

You may want to write your cover letter in the body of the email you’ll be sending to the hiring manager.

 

If that’s the case, just skip the cover letter heading and start with Dear [Hiring Manager’s Name]. Plus, make it as compact as possible—get rid of all the fluff and do your best to reduce the message to the absolute minimum. Take a look at how it's done in the example below where the main body is only 120 words:

 

Short Email Cover Letter—Example

 

Dear Anne,

 

I'm very excited about the software engineer position at Igatronix, Inc. I'm confident I can help you become the #1 SaaS video editing platform on the web. For one, I led the team that won the Bossie for an online video editing application.

 

To me, the Bossie wasn't just an award, but a culmination of:

  • Eight years as the CEO of a profitable video production firm.
  • Growing revenue for a SaaS business 22% through superior development.
  • Advanced product testing, pulling in client teams to boost customer ratings 32%.

 

I've been a huge fan of Igatronix products for several years. It's your commitment to letting employees guide the life cycle that delivers your success. You value self-motivated, highly creative software engineers, and my record speaks for itself.

 

Can we set up a time...

 

The trick is to use experience bullet points to your advantage. They not only make your strongest selling points prominent but also help you save a lot of space.

 

And, just like with a paper cover letter, make sure you sell:

  • Why this role.
  • Why this company.
  • Why you.

 

If you don’t know how to write a good cover letter email, this article will guide you by the hand: How to Write an Email Cover Letter

 

For more information on how to write a short and sweet cover letter, check out this guide: Short Cover Letter Examples [5+ Samples for Job Application]

 

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

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

 

2

How to Arrange Your Cover Letter to Make the Most of Its Length

 

Here’s a typical scenario:

 

You typed up your entire cover letter and… realized it’s more of a novelette than a letter.

 

Don’t worry, though, we’re here to help.

 

Let's start with frequently asked questions about the cover letter length—

 

Can a cover letter be 2 pages?

 

A cover letter should never be 2 pages. A 2-page cover letter violates the cover letter definition. Namely, a cover letter is a brief description of why you fit the job. In rare cases, a resume can be two pages if you've got enough experience.

 

Is my cover letter too long?

 

A cover letter is too long if it's a full page or longer. Three-page or two-page cover letters are a waste of paper. A cover letter should be about three paragraphs of facts explaining why you're perfect for the position.

 

Should a cover letter be one page?

 

A cover letter should always be less than one page. Short cover letters get more eye-time with managers. A cover letter that's less than a page sends an instant signal to the manager that your letter won't run over to page 2.

 

How many words should a cover letter be?

 

Cover letter word count should be between 200 and 400 words (300 is the sweet spot.) Why? Because that's the right length to fill up slightly more than half a page with 12-point font. But that's not how you'll get the interview.

 

How long should an electronic cover letter be?

 

An electronic cover letter should be the length of cover letters on paper. Namely, three paragraphs, 250-300 words, and less than a full page. The difference is, write a great subject line and leave the address section off the top.

 

Should a cover letter be double spaced?

 

A cover letter should not be double spaced. Always single space a cover letter. That includes the address. The only place to double space a cover letter is in between the paragraphs. That is: insert a blank line after each paragraph ends.

 

What about academic cover letter length?

 

A cover letter for an academic position should be no longer than two pages, but long enough to show off your accomplishments. Research, teaching, departmental service, and relevant accolades. The typical academic cover letter is usually one and a half to two pages long (or about five to eight paragraphs.)

 

Why does the right length of cover letter matter?

 

 

The right cover letter length matters because it sends a signal you're worth looking into. But how you make a cover letter the right length decides how many interviews you get.

 

So the real question is, how do you make your cover letter the right length?

 

This is how to get your cover letter length just right:

 

  1. Focus on the value you bring.

Identify what’s relevant and ignore all the rest. How? Treat the job offer as a guide and only touch upon the things it mentions. Say what you can do to help the company in the areas specified by the recruiter in the ad.

 

  1. Don’t write a biography.

Cover letters introduce you to the recruiter. So make sure it’s an introduction, not the story of your entire life. If you have no idea how to go about this, read our guide on how to write a cover letter.

 

  1. Get a second opinion.

Have someone read your cover letter and ask them for a critique. The thing is that it’s very hard to see redundancies and inconsistencies in your own piece of writing. Give it to someone who’ll look at it with fresh eyes.

 

  1. Observe the limits.

If the right cover letter length is about 400 words, do your best to stay below this limit. Also, double-check if the employer hasn’t specified their own limits anywhere. If they did, stick to these.

 

  1. Don’t reveal everything.

Imposing a limit on the length of your cover letter will make you less likely to give everything away too soon. In other words, do show your best side on the cover letter, but keep some aces up your sleeve for the interview.

 

  1. Get the formatting right.

White space is your friend, so don't fill up the entire page with densely packed paragraphs. Set one-inch margins all around, left-align the contents, choose an elegant cover letter font, and don't go below 11pt in terms of the font size. But don't overdo it. Adding double spaces between lines of text is not such a great idea—stick to single line spacing or 1.15 at the maximum. 

 

Still not sure how to format your cover letter to optimize its length? Head straight to our guide on Proper Cover Letter Format

 

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

 

matching set of resume and cover letter

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

 

The ideal cover letter length is:

  • Less than a full-page
  • Longer than half a page
  • Word count: About 250-300 words
  • Format: 3 paragraphs

 

But it's the things that make it the right length that land the interview. Fluff should never add to cover letter length.

 

The ideal length of a cover letter should be decided by how long it takes to prove three things:

 

Why this job, why this company, and why you.

 

Want to know more about how long to make a cover letter? What frustrates you about the cover letter length? Give us a shout out in the comments! We love to help!

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Maciej Duszyński, CPRW
Maciej is a career expert with a solid background in the education management industry. He is a certified professional resume writer (CPRW). Maciej worked with people at all stages of their career paths: from interns to directors to C-suite members, he now helps you find your dream job.

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