How to Write a Reference

How to Write a Reference. Today's business and personal mores dictate that you always give someone a reference letter if they ask for it. Only positive things are written about a person or company. There is a very good reason for this and it's a seven-letter word: lawsuit!

Confirm that the person worked for you, the range of dates they were employed and possibly their salary, if this is to be a reference for a new position. Talk about their job description and what tasks they performed for the company. Depending on how talented they were, you can write with enthusiasm and mention that they were an asset to your company or keep the comments about their performance toned down.

Talk about the length of time you have known a person and describe the situation that created the relationship if you are giving a personal or character reference. This is one situation where if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.

Recommend the excellent service a company provides if you are asked to write a reference for a business. Discuss the consistency and quality of their workmanship, their professionalism and their timely payments and good credit standing if the letter of reference requires that information.


  • If you receive a phone call checking for reference information and are uncomfortable being put on the spot, tell the caller politely that your company has a policy of not discussing personnel information over the phone. Ask them to send your personnel director (or you) a letter requesting that information. This gives you time to think over what you wish to say.


  • If you are writing a character reference at the request of an attorney, be careful that what you say is accurate as you may be asked to appear in court.

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