If you have arrived at this site looking for information and/or samples on how to write a letter of recommendation or a letter of reference, you are definitely in the right place.
In fact, this Web site is the Number One resource and information site on the entire Internet when it comes to comprehensive information on how to write ALL types of letters of recommendation and/or letters of reference.
Of the more than three million annual visitors to my two main "writing help" Web sites, over 60% of them are looking for some type of letter-writing assistance, and of those, 50% are seeking help with writing a "letter of recommendation" or "letter of reference."
Letters of Recommendation and Reference Can Be Difficult
Why do so many people need help with recommendation letters over and above all other types of letters, you might ask? Well, the main reason is this - they are BY FAR the most difficult letters to write. The main reasons are as follows:
So, BEFORE you go any further, please let me briefly clarify a few points on this whole recommendation letter and/or reference letter issue so that you don't go charging down the wrong path unnecessarily, and end up with the wrong information about how to write the wrong type of letter for your situation.
It so happens that there IS a lot of confusion about the differences and similarities between letters of recommendation letters and letters of reference. For instance; Which is which, and why? How are they different? In what ways are they similar?
It's confusing enough for the average person who only has to write one of these letters every once in a while. However, when you look into it in-depth as I have, and realize that many of the so-called "experts" don't even know the differences between a recommendation letter and a reference letter, the general state of confusion is very understandable.
Clarifying the Confusion
Since I wrote my first book on this subject, I've been watching the whole issue carefully and have conducted additional research, leading me to conclude the following:
... and "never the twain shall meet", as the saying goes.
The fact is that there are TWO major categories of such letters: Letters of Recommendation and Letters of Reference. Within each of these categories fall a number of different types of letters, differentiated primarily by the category of addressee, the level of detail covered, and the specific purpose of the letter.
Below is how I have defined and differentiated them in my popular book on this subject Instant Recommendation Letter Kit - How To Write Winning Letters of Recommendation.
Letters of Recommendation - Definition
A "letter of recommendation" is one that is specifically requested about someone, and therefore is always specifically addressed to a particular requestor. Generally speaking, letters of recommendation are usually employment-related, or college program admission and/or scholarship related.
Typical letters of recommendation are:
Click here for letter of recommendation information, resources, and samples.
Letters of Reference - Definition
A "letter of reference" is normally more general in nature and is not normally addressed to a specific requestor. Typically, "letters of reference" are addressed as; "To Whom It May Concern" or "Dear Sir/Madam". Typical letters of reference are:
Click here for letter of reference information, resources, and samples.
Note of Caution:
It seems that somehow over the years, the line between the two types of letters has become blurred and many people and institutions now use the two terms interchangeably. As far as those organizations are concerned, both letters are exactly the same thing.
Accordingly, please note that many colleges and universities, as well as some companies and institutions, use the terms "recommendation letter" and/or "letter of recommendation" when referring to exactly the same thing as what many other colleges, universities, companies and institutions call "reference letters" and/or "letters of reference".
So, when dealing with these types of organizations or institutions, MAKE SURE that you use whichever term they use in the same way that they use it. DON'T try to convert them to your terminology. That will just confuse things and you will pay the price.
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