References Step Five - Help Recommenders Differentiate Their LettersYou are here: Vince Prep / References / References Step Five - Help Recommenders Differentiate Their Letters
- References Overview - Ten Ways to Help Your Recommenders
- References Step One - Understand the Process
- References Step Two - Decide Who to Ask
- References Step Three - Confirm the Questions
- References Step Four - Organize Questions by Theme
- References Step Five - Help Recommenders Differentiate Their Letters
If she is open to suggestion, you might help your recommender differentiate her letters by using these tips.
- It is generally recommended to include each question, followed by the answer, but you can do it in different ways (changing fonts, format, margins)
First of all, be sure to read and follow each school's instructions.
- Chicago accepts an "old-fashioned" letter, so recommenders need only cover all suggested categories and vary the format of each letter. "The letter of recommendation form is available electronically through the online application system. Once you access that system, you will be asked to provide the names and email address of your recommenders. They will get an email message providing them the link to the online form. Chicago Booth will no longer accept letters of recommendation via mail or fax."
- Columbia asks recommenders to copy and paste answers into online text fields (boxes), so you can ignore all issues mentioned hereafter.
- HBS says, "Please answer the following questions in a separate document and upload that document into the system. Most recommendations are 1-2 pages in length, but you are welcome to write more if you wish. Single-space your responses. Please include the question or question number in your response."
- Wharton says, "Answer all of the questions in a single document. Single space your answers. Separate your answers by writing each question at the top of each response."
- Stanford says, "Letters of Reference should not exceed 4 pages, double-spaced, using a 12-point font. Recommended fonts are Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman."
- Kellogg says, "Please limit your responses to two to four pages total."
- Berkeley says, "We encourage you to provide specific examples wherever possible. Please provide your responses on your company letterhead or stationery, but use this form to mark your responses to question 9 (see grid here)"
- One letter starts and ends like a formal business letter with addresses, date at top and signature space plus full title at end
- The other document is less formal, just questions followed by answers
Indented paragraphs vs. block-style (extra line between each paragraph)
One letter uses block paragraph style (add a blank line between each left-justified paragraph)
The other indents paragraphs by including three to five spaces before the start of each new paragraph, without the extra line between each paragraph
Formal vs. informal: one recommender refers to you by your last name (common) while the other mostly calls you by your first name (less common, more casual, but OK in some cases)
Topic sentence style
Vary sentence length
Vary paragraph length
One letter uses a serif font (Times, Garamond, etc.)
Other letters uses a sans-serif font (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana)
Either way, make sure font is no smaller than 10-point (11 or 12 preferred in most cases)
Aim for 1-inch margins (2.54 cm) on top, bottom, left, and right
If you need more space, go down to 2 cm but be sure everything prints OK
Margins (right-side justified / even vs. "jagged" / uneven)
HEADERS AND FOOTERS
- One letters uses headers and footers (page numbers, titles)
Other recommender does not add extra info like page numbers, only includes information requested by the school
-Updated by Vince on 18 Nov 2011
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