Recommendation letters can generally be classified into three types: Academic Reference letter, Character reference letter and Employment Reference letter.
One of the pre-requisites for writing a Recommendation letter or a reference letter is that you should know the person well enough to recommend him or her.
At the outset of the letter, it is important to establish the writer’s credibility in order to make the letter more effective.
It is best to write such letters on a business or company letter-head and also to include designation (in case of Employment and Academic reference letters) of the writer. Scholarship recommendation letter is one such example.
While writing these letters, it is important to remember to clearly show for how long and how well the writer has known the individual in question and also in what capacity. For instance, an Employee recommendation letter would be more effective when given by the immediate boss or supervisor.
The closing paragraphs should preferably reiterate the recommendation of the individual.
The body of the letter should include specific instances which throw more light on the personal traits of the individual, which would be beneficial. Sample Character Reference letter would be one such example.
The length can vary, but generally should be about a page, as the person reading the letter may not have too much time to go into minute details. It would also be a good idea to give a contact number or e-mail address for any further clarifications.
The letter should be personalized as it has a better chance of it being more effective. For example, a Student Recommendation letter can highlight the good qualities of the student which may not be reflected in the test scores or grade sheets.