How to Punctuate a Cover Letter

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A cover letter is a professional document used in the job hiring process, normally sent with a resume. When writing a cover letter, it’s important to maintain a formal tone and use appropriate punctuation. A properly formatted letter can be the difference between an invitation to interview for a job position and no response. As a general rule of thumb, a cover letter should be made up of four paragraphs and should not exceed one page.

Select a businesslike font such as Arial or Times New Roman font and 10- or 12-point type.

Type your return address at the top left of the page margins. Put a comma after your city name. Do not include punctuation at the end of a line or use hyphenated words. Skip down one blank line space.

Type the date you are writing the letter. Use a comma after the day of the year. For example, January 1, 2011. Avoid abbreviations, dashes and hyphens.

Enter the first and last name of the recipient of the cover letter. If the recipient has a middle name, add a period after the initial. On the next line, enter the recipient’s job title. On the next line, type the company name. Do not use a comma before or after Inc., Ltd., Limited, or Incorporated unless the official name of the company includes a comma. On the next line, enter the street address, and on the next line enter the city, state and zip code. With a comma after the city name. Skip down one blank line space.

Add a salutation, such as “Dear John Q. Public:” or "Dear Hiring Manager:" Use a colon after the salutation.

Write the body of the letter using clear, concise sentences. Write in the active tense. It is okay to use hyphenated words, but avoid exclamation marks altogether. When providing a list of accomplishments or highlights from your career, use bullet points. Close the body of the cover letter with a final sentence, such as “I look forward to speaking with you soon.” Skip down one blank line space.

Enter a complimentary close, such as "Sincerely," with a comma, and and enter extra blank line spaces, about four, to make room for a hand signature. Type your name. Do not add a period after it. After printing the letter, enter a hand signature.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's okay to include a telephone number and email address in a cover letter.

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