How to Write Personal Reference Letter for a Friend

How to Write Personal Reference Letter for a Friend

Knowing how to write personal reference letter for a friend is not a difficult task as long as you know the guidelines to follow. A personal reference letter simply refers to a letter that describes the character of a friend in a manner that is genuine.

As the writer of the letter, you are supposed to use a positive approach so as to draw the reader towards the appealing capabilities and qualities of the applicant. Reference letters are often requested while making job or scholarship applications.

3 basic steps to writing a reference letter

  1. Start by stating your name and basic information for purposes of introducing yourself. Also, state the kind of relationship you have with the individual you are writing the reference for.
  2. Take into consideration the purpose of the reference and provide descriptions/information regarding your friend that are relevant and honest.
  3. Offer your personal contact details in case the reader needs additional information and wish the recipient well.

Tips on how to write personal reference letter for a friend

If you don’t know how to write personal reference letter for a friend, the following are some of the things you need to consider while writing one:

  • Use the format of a business letter: Put the recipients address and name if you know them and address them as “Dear (name).” If the recipient is not known (like in the case of academic application) use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern”.
  • Often, it is important that you introduce yourself in the first lines of the letter. The recipient does not need to know your entire life history. Just write one or two brief sentences that explain your position and the kind of relationship you have with the candidate.
  • The next paragraph is supposed to confirm facts you know about the applicant. For instance, if the letter is for a job application some of the details you might consider including in it include the following:
  • Their job title and the role they play in the company
  • The individual’s leaving salary at the time they were employed by either you or your organization.
  • The dates the person was employed to when they left

If the reference letter you are writing is for academic purposes, make sure that you confirm the academic grades of the individual beforehand.

  • In the third paragraph, provide your own judgment regarding the qualities and skills of the candidate. Often, it is appropriate to state you would consider re-employing them or their contributions to college class was highly valued. Also in the third paragraph, single out exceptional qualities you have noted in the candidate-this could be their enthusiasm, drive, skills to lead or ability to pay attention to details.
  • Whenever possible, use the fourth paragraph to provide concrete examples of the times the candidate excelled. (You could ask the candidate to share any extra-curricular projects they were involved in or to highlight anything they would like included in the letter.)
  • Close the letter on a positive note. If you expect further correspondence regarding the application, state this clearly. Also, be sure to include your contact details as well.
  • As is the case with business letters, end the personal reference letter appropriately “Yours sincerely” while writing to a named recipient and “Yours faithfully” when the recipient of the letter is not known.

What to avoid while writing a personal reference letter for a friend

Anyone who knows how to write personal reference letter for a friend knows there are things they need to avoid such as:

  • Mentioning the candidates weaknesses
  • Saying things that can be interpreted as libel
  • Using an informal approach to write the reference letter. It is important that you keep the tone of the letter business like. Avoid using casual language, slang or jokes as they are not appropriate and could lower the chances of the candidate.
  • Do not include any personal information that is not relevant to the candidate’s application. Stating the candidate’s political stance, marital status, health, age or race is often considered inappropriate.
  • Avoid spelling mistakes, typos or sloppy writing. Remember that the reference letter is of great importance to the candidate as such, you must be careful to ensure that it is business like.

Examples of personal reference letter for a friend

With the following samples on how to write personal reference letter for a friend, it should be considerably easy for you to deliver a winning letter:

Example 1

Xena Smythe



State, Zip


Alexandra Clement

Designs by Alex



State, zip

Dear Ms. Clement,

I am writing to you regarding Suzanne Element. I have known Suzanne personally for over 10 years, and I have always known her to be an organized, responsible and easy going individual. I believe that her skills and experience make her an excellent candidate for office manager in your organization…

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me by phone or email.


Xena Smythe

Phone Number

Email Address

To read the whole letter above, clicking here. Pay attention to what the writer has included in the second and third paragraphs as they will guide you on how to write personal reference letter for a friend.

Example 2

June 5, 2015

To Whom It May Concern

I know Anthony Start since we were both students at Janesville Primary School in 1995. We have been inseparable since we met in grade 2 and I can safely say that I am probably the only person who knows him very well.

Since Anthony and I both ended up attending the same high school and college, I can confidently say that Anthony is someone who believes in integrity and hard work. Despite umpteen opportunities to play hooky in college, Anthony never missed one class. He was affectionately called “the best student” as he would forever be in “assistance mode.”…

If there is anything else you want to know about Anthony Stuart, please feel free to contact me at (333) 333-3333.



Adam Morse

90 Colby Lane

Janesville, Wi 88892

(000) 987-5678

View the sample above here.

Example 3

Letter Date

Recipients Name

Address line 1

Address line 2

State, Zip Code

(Subject: Normally Bold, summaries the intention of the letter)-Optional

Dear (Recipients Name),

I hope this letter finds you. I am Anne Anders, Administrative Assistant at Fluency Inc. I am writing regarding Jean Jenkins’ application for the training program your company is offering. I have known her for the past five years as both a colleague and close personal acquaintance, and may be able to provide useful information.

Ms. Jenkin’s has been working for our company for five years now. She has an excellent track record and is well known for her sense of initiative and persistence. A good example of these is the fact that most of our new campaigns came from her ideas. I am sure that she will grow even more and do a great job in your training program.

Thank you for your time. If you would like to ask more questions, I will be happy to accommodate you. Simply, give me a call at 555-5555. I wish you all the best.


(Senders Name)

(Senders Title)-Optional

(Enclosures: number) Optional-

Cc: (Name of copy recipient)-Optional

The sample above which can be viewed here, starts with introduction of the writer and proceeds to other aspects that make such a letter appealing to the reader.

Tips to remember on how to write personal reference letter for a friend

Here are additional tips on how to write personal reference letter for a friend:

  • Make sure you keep the recommendation straight to the point and short
  • Mention the kind of relationship you have with the applicant
  • Mention the span of your relationship with applicant
  • You should make sure the letter does not sound unrealistic
  • Always highlight and stress the positive attributes your friend possesses
  • Never forget to mention instances that demonstrate the capabilities of the applicant
  • Bear in mind a reference letter services as a formal letter. As such, make sure you frame crisp and clear sentences
  • Avoid making claims or sentences that are dramatic

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