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Quick Content Tips for Cover Letters

Summary:

This page provides a down-and-dirty guide to writing cover letters. Here you will find brief answers and lists of what you should include in a cover letter, how to order and format such a letter, and what to do before sending it out.

If you want a short guide to writing cover letters, this is it! Be sure to examine the "Quick Formatting Tips for Cover Letters" for helpful information about your cover letter's page design. Please refer to the more in-depth cover letter handouts and the cover letter online workshop for explanations and more ideas.

There are four basic parts to a cover letter: heading, introduction, argument/body, and a closing. Here are some tips on what to include in each section:

Heading

  • Provide your contact information.
  • Include the date you are writing the letter.
  • Include the address of the company.

Introduction

  • Greet the specific person with whom you are corresponding.
  • State the position you are applying for and where you heard about it.
  • Name drop if you have a good connection.
  • State why you believe you are a good match for the position and the organization, including 2-3 key qualifications that you will address in the rest of the letter (these items should match up with your resume).

Argument/Body

  • Tailor cover letter for each job application.
  • Focus each paragraph on one qualification that shows you are a good match for the job and organization.
  • Give specific examples to prove where you got these skills and how you have used them before.
  • Tell a story; do not just list your skills.
  • Refer to your resume; do not repeat it.
  • Do not use contractions.

Closing

  • Close with a strong reminder of why you are a good match for the job and the organization.
  • Request an interview in some way.
  • Provide contact information.
  • Thank the person for reading your material.
  • Sign your name and print it underneath.
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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.