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Cover Letter Format Guidelines - Via E-mail

These guidelines apply similarly to both hard copy correspondence and email.

The main difference between the two is format: your signature block (your address, etc.) goes below your name in email versions, while it goes at the top of the page on hard copy. You won't have a handwritten signature on email, but don't forget this important detail on a hard copy letter.

Month, Day, Year

Mr./Ms./Dr. FirstName LastName
Name of Organization
Street or P. O. Box Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. LastName:

Opening paragraph: State why you are writing; how you learned of the organization or position, and basic information about yourself.

2nd paragraph: Tell why you are interested in the employer or type of work the employer does (Simply stating that you are interested does not tell why, and can sound like a form letter). Demonstrate that you know enough about the employer or position to relate your background to the employer or position. Mention specific qualifications which make you a good fit for the employer’s needs. This is an opportunity to explain in more detail relevant items in your resume. Refer to the fact that your resume is enclosed. Mention other enclosures if such are required to apply for a position.

3rd paragraph: Indicate that you would like the opportunity to interview for a position or to talk with the employer to learn more about their opportunities or hiring plans. State what you will do to follow up, such as telephone the employer within two weeks. If you will be in the employer’s location and could offer to schedule a visit, indicate when. State that you would be glad to provide the employer with any additional information needed. Thank the employer for her/his consideration.


Your name typed
Your Street Address
City, State Zip Code
Telephone Number
Email Address

Resume attached as MS Word document (assuming company web site instructed applicants to do this)

(Note: the contents of your letter might best be arranged into four paragraphs. Consider what you need to say and use good writing style. See the following examples for variations in organization and layout.)


Use business-like writing style

Keep attention to grammar, spelling, punctuation (same rules as for hard copy correspondence)

Have a clear "signature block" with your full name, postal mailing address and return e-mail address (obviously there is no handwritten signature).

Be careful about including quotations and sayings in your signature block. Obviously don't include anything that has potential to be offensive or misunderstood. Think about the impression your message sends to someone who doesn't know you, and be judicious.

Don't use all capitals. It's the e-mail equivalent of SHOUTING and people don't like it.

By the same token, don't use all lower case letters. (Your purpose in business correspondence is not to attempt to pass for e.e.cummings.)

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