While being asked to write a character reference letter can be flattering, it can also be a bit intimidating. If you need to create this type of letter, consider using one of the sample letters provided here as a starting point rather than beginning from a blank page.
Sample Character Reference Letter Templates
The example letters below are customizable templates that can be downloaded, edited, saved and printed. Choose the sample document that best represents your relationship to the person who has requested a character reference letter to begin. Just click the image of the letter and it will open as an editable PDF document. If you need help downloading these letters, check out these helpful tips for working with printables.
1. Example Character Reference for a Colleague
If you need to write a character letter for a current or former co-worker employee, this is the right sample letter for you to use. Alternatively, you may prefer this example character reference for a work colleague.
2. Personal Character Reference Example
If you are asked to write a character reference on behalf of a friend or other personal contact, the letter below is the best option for you. It will work whether you're writing a letter for a classmate, someone you met through a community organization, a teammate, a relative, or anyone else with whom you have a personal relationship.
3. Character Reference Template for a Student
If you're a teacher, youth leader, or other individual who has been asked to write a character reference for a student, the letter template below is designed for your needs.
Writing Tips for Character Reference Letters
While the example letters provided here can be a good start when you're drafting a character reference, it's important to focus the document on the particular individual and situation. Key tips to consider include:
- Verify exactly what was requested before drafting an actual letter. Some organizations want actual letters such as the ones provided here, while others require a specific character reference form. If a specific form is required, the organization likely won't consider character reference documents submitted in another way. If a letter is required, make sure you follow best practices for writing business letters and reference letters.
- Ask the individual to tell you a little about the opportunity for which he or she needs the letter so you can customize the content to match the situation. For example, if the letter will be submitted with a job application, speak to your knowledge of the individual's skills and work habits. If it is for a scholarship application, speak to the person's motivation, need for financial support, and academic history.
- Regardless of the purpose of the letter, it's a good idea to include information about your perceptions of the person's honesty and integrity, as these are essential indicators of character. If possible, share some specific examples of how the individual exhibits these characteristics.
- Include your contact information so that a representative of the organization will have an easy time conducting a reference check or to request additional information. Be sure to include both your telephone number and email address.
- Clarify the deadline the letter is due and be sure to meet it. Applications that require character references often have specific timeframes; if a letter is late, that could keep the person who requested the letter from being considered.
- Verify how the letter is to be submitted. In some cases, character references should be given to the individual about whom the letter is written. However, there are also situations where the person writing the letter needs to send it directly to the recipient rather than giving it to the individual first.
- Proofread the letter carefully, making sure it is free of typos and grammatical errors. Remember that every aspect of the letter you send will reflect on the candidate, including the content, format, and quality of writing.
Consider the Implications
Any time you agree to provide a reference for someone, it's important to consider the implications. Character references are often needed in support of a person's application for a job or a scholarship, in consideration for a leadership role with an organization, for a court proceeding, or another significant situation. The letter you write can help or hinder someone's chances of accomplishing an important goal. Only agree to write such a letter if you can truthfully provide a positive, helpful reference and if you plan to honor your commitment. Once you have accepted, follow through with what you have promised in a timely, professional manner.