How to Write a Character Letter

by Lauren Treadwell; Updated September 26, 2017

Character letters, also called character references, provide potential employers, college admissions offices and courts with personalized information about someone's positive attributes. These letters require people who know the person, such as family members, friends, clergy or former teachers, to state why the individual is a good person and to give specific examples of his good characteristics. A character letter should have a positive tone, but it must also be realistic. If it is not, the person reviewing the letter may question the creditability of the writer.

Step 1

Put your name, address, phone number, email address and the date in the top-right corner of the page. Put the addressee's name and address two lines under your information, on the left side of the page.

Step 2

Give the reason you are writing the letter in the first sentence. This can be a simple statement, such as, "I am writing to provide a character reference for (Name)."

Step 3

State how long you have known the person about whom you are writing in the second sentence. Also, provide your relationship to the person.

Step 4

Describe the good qualities about the person in the second paragraph. If the character letter is for a job or school, include qualities that will help him perform the work. If the letter is for legal purposes, such as testimony in a court case or for sentencing, state why the crime is outside of the person's usual nature or why he deserves leniency in sentencing. Give specific examples of activities or organizations the person is involved in that speak to his good character.

Step 5

In the last paragraph tell the reader that you are confident in the person's abilities. If the character letter is for legal purposes, assert that you believe the person is innocent or has learned the error of his ways. If the letter is for a job or academic purposes, tell the reader that you are confident in the person's ability.

About the Author

Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.