Guidelines for Writing a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) by Shiksha Study Abroad

4 mins read14.6K Views Comment
Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Aug 27, 2022 03:08 IST

If you search online for a decent format for a Letter of Recommendation (LOR), there are various formats available on the internet. However, the number of formats and document styles can lead to confusion. Often students end up using an incorrect or haphazard format, which can hamper the whole application. Hence, Shiksha Study Abroad has a set of guidelines for all application-related documents that students can use without any confusion and without it affecting their overall application.

Following are the guidelines for a generic LOR which students can follow to draft their LORs for any course (UG, MSMBA or PhD). To help you understand it better, we have divided the LOR into sections for your convenience:

First Paragraph: Introduction

The Introduction of a LOR consists of a brief description of the recommender’s credentials, such as the name, title, college/company name, city, and his relationship with the student. Also, include details of how long and in what capacity the recommender has known the student. Highlight the student’s stand. In this case, the recommender can compare the client’s status as against any other persons (in the student’s batch), whom he has supervised or taught. The recommender should identify responsibilities including a number of people supervised/ class strength etc. End this paragraph with the client’s outstanding qualities that motivate the recommender to recommend the client. This line should give an overview of the qualities and attributes that the recommender is going to discuss in the following paragraphs.

Updates on similar topics are just a click away! Subscribe to curated alerts

Second Paragraph: Discuss one Quality

Start the paragraph stating one key quality or skill of the student, such as academic prowess, research aptitude, ability to think out of the box, leadership, organizational ability, team skills, ability to take initiatives, work ethic and/or maturity. You can choose any one of these or some other quality that relates to the student, and then provide a substantial and impressive example/ instance, where the recommender observed this particular quality in the student. This is an important aspect of the LOR as it showcases that the student indeed possesses that quality. Thus, in a LOR the examples are the most important aspect where the skills or qualities mentioned, are demonstrated/proved. The idea is to ‘show’, rather than ‘tell’.

You might be interested in these free downloads
What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR): Check Types of Recommendation Letter Format
What is a Letter of Recommendation (LOR): Check Ty...10k downloads
Statement of Purpose (SOP): All You Need to Know!
Statement of Purpose (SOP): All You Need to Know!48k downloads
Financial Documents Required for Study Abroad Applications
Financial Documents Required for Study Abroad Appl...4k downloads

Third Paragraph: Discuss the Second Quality

This should be different from the one mentioned above. Ideally, there should be three-four different qualities discussed in each LOR. Here also, you need to state an instance that supports the quality mentioned. With the help of such instances, Ad Com is able to estimate/identify the potential of the applicant and is able to make its decisions. It also makes the recommender’s claims more believable.

Learn to write LORs with the help of videos by university experts

Fourth Paragraph: Discuss the Third Quality

Include a third quality of the student and explain/justify it with the help of an example where the recommender witnessed that quality. Try and make each body paragraph unique by discussing different skills/qualities, through different examples. Similarly, try and make each LOR also different from the others. Please do not repeat either qualities or examples. The examples, of course, should be unique to that recommender.

Fifth Paragraph: The Conclusion

As evident, this is the closing paragraph of the LOR. In the end, you need to summarise the student’s strengths and provide a strong and positive endorsement of the candidate. Please do not repeat either qualities or examples. The examples, of course, should be unique to that recommender. Also, remember not to introduce any new ideas in the conclusion.

NOTE: Each LOR draft (considering there are two-three LORs for one student) should be highlighting different qualities so that they do not look as if they were written by the same person. Overall you have to discuss 3-4 qualities, per LOR, each supported by a relevant example to highlight/prove that quality. Check How To Choose The Right Recommender to know which person to approach for a LOR.

Qualities to be highlighted in a LOR

Here are some examples of the qualities one can discuss in an academic LOR, without repeating any of them in the successive LORS:

  • Academic Prowess
  • Research ability and previous research experience/s
  • Passion for the subject and in-depth engagement with it
  • Fit for the target research program
  • Original and innovative thinking, conceptual experimentation, imagination, creativity
  • Perseverance and motivation for the field
  • Ability to take initiatives
  • Achievements
  • Leadership skills
  • Team skills
  • Good communication skills - written and oral
  • Comprehension abilities
  • Work Ethic - disciplined work habits
  • Maturity: How you have handled situations, taken responsibilities, solved problems and reacted.
  • Integrity: Values, sincere intentions, honest approaches, not compromising on your principles or quality of work.
  • Reaction to setbacks: Personal, academic, otherwise - what have you learned from each and how have you utilized the learning later.
  • Concern for others: How you have helped and supported others, understood their problems, found solutions to make life better for others.
  • Flair for implementation of theory/application skills
  • Self-confidence: Challenges/problems you have overcome, great responsibilities
  • Critical thinking power
  • Interest in faculty work
  • Extracurricular activities

Qualities to be highlighted in a Professional LOR

  • Leadership
  • Team skills
  • Diversity in education/occupation
  • Career progression
  • International exposure
  • Extracurricular Activities/ Community work
  • Professional and personal achievements
  • Time management and deadline orientation
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Basic business understanding
  • Decision making
  • Presentation skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Motivation
  • Maturity
  • Integrity
  • Reaction to setbacks
  • Concern for others

Drop us a comment below to clarify any doubt or query!

About the Author
Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert

Srishti has spent six years in the Education industry helping study abroad aspirants draft their application documents for their dream universities. Experienced in creating impressive SOP, LOR, and Essays, she knows... Read Full Bio



Yeswanth Raj

a year ago

Do universities specifically check for plagiarism in letters of recommendation? Do they use any tools for doing that? or do they simply read the letter and assess the person based on those letters?

Reply to Yeswanth Raj


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert

a year ago

All written documents submitted by you are checked for plagiarism by the admissions team of all universities.


Kush Kumar

2 years ago

I don't have contact of any teacher who taught me then how do I get letter of recommendation and in school there is no counsellor and no one has .edu email. Please help me in this

Reply to Kush Kumar


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert

2 years ago

You have to contact the school in this case.

We use cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.