How to properly format a cover letter
- Put your name and contact information in a header
- List today’s date like this: day month year (for example, 8 October 2021)
- Left-align the contact person’s name and company address
- Address your cover letter directly: ‘Dear [Mr/Mrs/Ms][Contact Person’s Name],’
- Start your cover letter with a short introduction paragraph, emphasise your top achievements and state the position you’re applying for
- Use 1–2 body paragraphs and a bulleted list to explain your relevant skills, experience, and achievements
- End your cover letter with a call-to-action paragraph that requests an interview and lists your contact information
- Sign-off with a polite phrase like “Yours sincerely,” and type (or sign and type) your name
Here’s what the final product should look like:
3 UK cover letter format examples
1. Simple cover letter format sample (free Word download)
The above example works for any job application that asks you to upload or email your cover letter as a Word or PDF file. You can download the template as a Word document and replace the information with yours.
2. Email cover letter format example
If you’re writing your cover letter in the body of an email, shorten it for easier reading. Take these steps to shorten your email cover letter:
- Remove the contact person’s name and address from the top
- Move your contact information to your email signature
- Write your bullet points into the body paragraphs
3. Online job application cover letter format sample
You don’t need to include the contact information and date sections when you paste your cover letter into an online job application. Those details are automatically included in the version of your application the employer receives when you hit Submit.
6 cover letter layout tips
Here are six formatting tips to help you write a covering letter that gets you an interview at a great UK company:
- Highlight your name in a header
- Find a professional font
- Keep it on one page
- Maximise your content with optimised margins
- Correctly use commas and capitalisation
- Use standard spacing and alignment
1. Highlight your name in a header
To make your cover letter stand out, put your name and contact information in a header using the following formatting:
- Centre-align your name using a bolded, extra-large font to help the employer remember your application
- Put your contact information under your name. Use centre alignment and either place each item on a new line or keep them all on one line, separated by extra spaces, slashes, or vertical bars. Also, you can use a smaller font size than you used on the rest of your cover letter to make your information fit.
- Consider adding a splash of colour to make your cover letter stand out. Some cover letter templates include headers with coloured backgrounds or text to make your application stand out.
Here’s an example of a well-formatted cover letter header:
2. Find a professional font
The font you use for your cover letter should be:
- easy to read
- black (but you can use other colours in your header)
- between 10.5 and 12 points
Professional fonts employers can easily read include:
- Times New Roman
3. Keep it on one page
Your cover letter should be 250–400 words and must not exceed one page. Employers expect candidates to succinctly detail why they’re a good fit for the job, and they won’t take the time to read multiple pages.
4. Maximise your content with optimised margins
Typically, you can use your word processor’s preset margins when you write your cover letter. However, if your content is too long or short, adjust your margins between 1 cm and 2.5 cm to ensure it fills one page. Just remember:
- overly wide margins cram your information together and make it hard to read
- excessively thin margins create excess white space and make your cover letter appear empty
5. Correctly use commas and capitalisation
Capitalise the first letter of every word in your greeting (except for articles and prepositions shorter than four letters). Use capitals because you’re either addressing the contact person by name or substituting the name of a company or department. End your greeting with a comma.
Here’s an example of a properly formatted greeting:
Dear Ms Jones,
When you sign off your cover letter, only capitalize the first word because it’s only a phrase that leads to your name. A good sign-off looks like this:
6. Use standard spacing and alignment
Here’s how to align and space every section of your cover letter:
Contact information and date
Single-space your contact information in a centre-aligned header or a right-aligned list. On the first line under the header, right align today’s date, and then hit Enter twice to add a paragraph break before listing the contact person’s single-spaced information. Left-align the contact person’s information.
Here’s what the contact information and date sections of your cover letter should look like with a header:
Here’s what your contact information should look like with a right-aligned list:
Add a paragraph break after the contact person’s information and write your greeting. Then insert another paragraph break to get to your first paragraph.
Here’s what the spacing between the contact information, greeting, and introduction paragraph looks like:
Single-space the text in your paragraphs. When you’re ready to start a new paragraph, just hit Enter twice to create a paragraph break.
Here’s an example of properly spaced paragraphs:
After your final paragraph, make a paragraph break and write your sign-off phrase. Then add a paragraph break and write your name.
Here’s how your sign-off should look:
More job application resources
Here are more resources to help you write and format a CV and cover letter that help you get hired in 2021: