How to Format a Cover Letter: Best Font, Size and Layouts

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A cover letter is meant to highlight why you’re the perfect fit for the position you’re applying for. It should capture the employer’s attention, leaving them with a memorable impression of you. Every job that you apply for should have a unique cover letter. This article explains how to present the information in your cover letter in a visually organized format, using the best font, size and layout.

Best format for a cover letter

Learning how to format a cover letter is one of the first things you’ll need to do before applying for a job. Most employers will insist that you submit both a resume and a cover letter when applying for a job. This is important to know especially when applying for your first job⁠ because you might not have any previous experience with this process. A well-written cover letter will consist of a meaningful introduction, concise examples of relevant skills and work experience, and a brief conclusion. 

The most effective cover letters focus on having these elements for the best format:

  • Readable font style
  • Standard font size
  • Visually appealing layout

The body of the cover letter should be written in about three short paragraphs, on one page and you should identify the reason behind why you want to join the organization. However, if you submit your resume using the incorrect fonts, font sizes or layout, you may be eliminated from the job pool no matter how compelling your personal story is.

Tips for choosing the best font for a cover letter

The secret to writing a pleasant-looking cover letter is to make sure you’re including all of the fundamental sections while also focusing on using the best fonts, font sizes and layout. 

Some of the best fonts to use are:

  • Arial
  • Book Antiqua
  • Calibri
  • Cambria
  • Didot
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Helvetica
  • Trebuchet

The best cover letters use fonts that are easy to read in print and on screens. Make sure your cover letters are written using fonts that make it easy for both a human recruiter and a software tracking system to read. In most cases, it is a good idea to use simple, modern fonts and avoid adding color to the font. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean to eliminate all creativity in your cover letter.

Essentially, you need to make sure that the font used in your cover letter does not overwhelm the ability of the hiring manager or software bots to read or properly scan. To satisfy both parties, you’ll need to find a balance between design and simplicity.

Common font sizes for a cover letter

Too large or too small of a font size can be a challenge for both the hiring manager and the parsing software to read. The ideal font sizes are 10, 11 and 12.

Here are some tips you can follow to help you decide what font size to use for your cover letter:

  • Use the font size 10 when trying to keep the cover letter to no longer than one page
  • Use font size 12 when you’re trying to fill the page out a bit more
  • In all other cases, the preferable font size is 11

For example, if you’re using font size 11 and your cover letter fills only about half the page, go ahead and increase it to 12 to fill out the page to make the entire document more visually appealing. Also, in cases where your cover letter exceeds one page, do not decrease the font to below 10 to try and fit it all on one page. The best solution is to rework the letter to decrease the overall word count.

How to format a cover letter

The formatting of a cover letter should align with the business and the industry for which you are applying. For example, if you’re applying for a position in the finance industry, you should not have a creative or flashy-looking cover letter with colorful borders and exotic fonts. Instead, focus on creating content that matches keywords, while keeping a clean, modern look. 

Here are some steps you can follow to format your own cover letter:

1. First, begin by listing the date and your contact information

2. Second, address the hiring manager with a salutation or greeting

3. Third, use the opening paragraph to introduce yourself and state why you’re interested in the open position

4. Next, use the middle paragraph to outline your relevant experience, qualifications or skills that make you the ideal candidate

5. Then, include a closing paragraph to thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration

6. Finally, add a complimentary phrase and your signature to close the letter in a friendly way

Each of the elements in your cover letter should all use the same font and font size throughout the entire document. The layout should be consistent with a typical business letter with a left-margin justification. Also, the cover letter should be single-spaced and a return should be placed between each of the six sections. Finally, when submitting the cover letter, make sure it is in a compatible file format, such as a Microsoft Word document or PDF. This will ensure that the parsing software and the hiring manager can properly open the document.