Cover Letter Spacing and Margins

By Matthew Zane - Apr. 25, 2021

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Writing a standout cover letter is about more than just having great content. Coming off as professional in both form and function is going to help you get noticed by hiring managers.

That means using proper spacing, margins, indentation, and length. Do these things correctly and your cover letter will be well-organized, clear, and easy to read.

Whether you’re sending a physical cover letter or an email, we’ll provide guidelines to make your cover letter format perfect. We’ll also show you a sample cover letter for both a physical copy and an email version.

Cover Letter Spacing

We’ll start with proper cover letter spacing, which is the first thing any hiring manager is going to notice upon first glance. Follow these rules and your page will look professionally done.

Spacing varies slightly depending on if you’re sending a physical cover letter or a digital cover letter. Let’s start with spacing guidelines for a physical copy.

Physical Cover Letter Spacing Guidelines

  1. Single-space your cover letter

  2. Start with your contact information in the following order:

    • Your name

    • Your current address

    • City, state, zip code

    • Phone number

    • Email address

  3. Add one space

    Job type you want
    Full Time
    Part Time
    Internship
    Temporary
  4. Write the date

  5. Add one space

  6. Add the contact information of the letter’s recipient in the following order:

    • Hiring manager’s name

    • Company Address

    • Company city, state, zipcode

    • Hiring manager’s phone number

    • Hiring manager’s email address

  7. Add one space

  8. Write your salutation

  9. Add one space

  10. Write 3-4 paragraphs, with one space between each one

  11. Add one space after your final paragraph

  12. Write your closing sign-off (e.g., Sincerely)

  13. Put three spaces between your closing and your typed name

  14. Put your signature in the space between your closing and your typed name

Tip: You can use the same header for your cover letter as your resume.

Email Cover Letter Spacing Guidelines

  1. Single-space your cover letter

  2. Start with a salutation

  3. Add one space

  4. Write 3-4 paragraphs, with one space between each one

  5. Add one space after your final paragraph

  6. Write your closing sign-off (e.g., Sincerely)

  7. Add two spaces

  8. Write your contact info in the following order:

    • Full name

    • Position

    • Phone number

    • Email address

If you have a formatted email signature, you can use that for step 8. You can add a digital signature between your closing and contact info if you think it looks snazzy (or, better yet, you think your prospective employer will think it looks snazzy).

Tip: When emailing a cover letter, keep your subject line clear and professional. State your name, the position title, and the fact that you’re sending along documents for an application. It should look something like “Donald Duck — Sales Representative Application.”

Margins and Alignment in a Cover Letter

Like most documents, your cover letter should be aligned to the left. You should use 1-inch margins on all sides, but if you’re going over one page, then you can consider making the margins smaller. But really, if you’re sticking to our cover letter length guidelines (more on that below), then you should have no issues with standard 1-inch margins.

At no point should you indent any of your paragraphs. And don’t go bigger than 1-inch margins, because it’s going to look super obvious that you’re trying to make the letter’s content look beefier than it is.

If you’re writing your cover letter in Microsoft Word, you can change margins by pressing Page Layout followed by Margins. If you’re writing your cover letter in Google Docs, you can change margins by pressing File and then Page Setup.

Guidelines for Cover Letter Font

A good rule of thumb is to make your cover letter as aesthetically similar to your resume as possible. That means using the same font. Basic, everyday fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri are all good options.

Font size should generally be 12-point. If you’re trying to include more content, you could consider bringing that down to 10-point, but play around with margins as well to see which option allows you more space while keeping the letter visually pleasing.

Things to avoid like the plague are: underlining, highlighting, colored lettering, and CAPITALIZING. You can consider using bold or italicized text but use these sparingly to emphasize the key points of your cover letter. And if you choose to use bold, don’t also use italics (and vice versa).

Tip: Look at whether your prospective company uses “serif fonts” (tails at the end of letters, like in Times New Roman) or “sans serif” fonts (no tails at the end, like Arial). Then, use a font in the same style for your resume and cover letter.

Proper Cover Letter Length

Just like your resume, your cover letter should never exceed one page. Ideally, the body of your cover letter should be between 200-300 words (aiming for the lower end of that spectrum is your best bet). Hiring managers have to sift through tons of these cover letters, so keeping things short and sweet is beneficial.

A cover letter should have three paragraphs, four at the most.

  1. Opening paragraph. Your opening paragraph should introduce yourself and your background, grab the reader’s attention with a big accomplishment, and let the company know why you’re applying. If you were referred by someone in the company, this is a good place to mention it.

  2. Body paragraph(s). Your middle paragraph(s) should focus on your professional qualities and experiences that relate to the company for which you’re applying. Don’t repeat credentials from your resume, because the hiring manager has probably already looked at it. Dig deeper and highlight why you’re the perfect fit for the position.

    If you’re having trouble deciding which elements of your professional history are best to include here, read the job description again. Note the required qualifications and significant responsibilities.

    Then, look back on your experience for moments where you applied similar skills or achieved results comparable to what the new company wants to achieve. Any time you can give percentages, dollar figures, or numbers to describe your duties, it will be more impactful.

  3. Closing paragraph. Your closing paragraph thanks the employer for considering your application. You can also express how eager you are to learn more about the role and the company.

Cut out unnecessary information and you should have no trouble fitting everything in a 300-word count maximum.

Tip: Never address your cover letter with “To whom it may concern”. Do your best to find the name of the person who will be reading your cover letter, and address it to him or her. If your best efforts turn up nothing or you’re still unsure, use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of its alternatives.

Sending Your Cover Letter

If you’re sending your cover letter as a file, make sure to give it an appropriate name. For example, “John-Doe-Cover-Letter” tells the recipient exactly what the file is.

Be advised that many companies use an applicant tracking system when reviewing resumes and cover letters, so using a compatible file format like PDF or .doc is your best bet.

Sending your application documents as PDFs ensures that formatting will remain consistent across devices and operating systems. That makes it a strong choice most of the time, unless the employer specifically asks you not to send a PDF. Instructions directly from the employer always trump any advice we give here.

Physical Cover Letter Sample

Jonathan Cash
123 Apple Street
Anywhere, CO 12345
(999) 765-4321
Jonathon.Cash@gmail.com

August 22, 2020

Phyllis Vance
789 Company Lane
Somewhere, CO 56789
(543) 210-9876
Phyllis.Vance@gmail.com

Dear Ms. Vance,

I was excited to see a job posting for the Sales Representative position on NextCompany.com. I have been working in sales since I was a child with my first lemonade stand, and have 6+ years of formal experience working in sales.

During my time at CurComp, I have developed my knowledge of marketing strategies, my ability to generate interest in new products, and my skill at maintaining strong, lasting customer satisfaction. My proudest achievements as a sales representative have been exceeding sales quotas by 10% or more each quarter, closing $900,000 in 2018 (25% above goal), and ranking as the top salesperson in the company in Q2 of 2019.

Helping customers see the value of products that I truly believe in is the greatest source of satisfaction in my professional life. I would be thrilled to be in a position where I could implement my proven strategies to sell products offered by NextCompany, which have garnered the attention and excitement of industry experts for years.

Thank you for considering me for the Sales Representative position. I look forward to discussing the role further and learning how my brand of salesmanship could fit into NextCompany’s business model.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Cash

Email Cover Letter Sample

Dear Pat Murphy,

ABC Inc. needs an Accountant who is determined, organized, and has years of expereince maintaining financial records. Luckily, I meet all three of those criteria.

After getting an MBA with a specialization in Accounts from the University of Florida, I began working in the financial sector. For more than six years, I’ve helped companies upkeep and maintain financial records, run risk assessments, and handle all payroll and invoice documentation. I’ve also dedicated my Saturday’s performing pro bono accounting consultation for a local food bank. I was glad to see that ABC is also greatly involved with aiding the impoverished areas of our city, which further drew me to apply for this role.

In my current position with XYZ Corp., I lead a team of 12 junior accountants managing a total of $10M+ in assets and cash. By setting up a new invoice system for contractors, I was able to reduce overhead by 8% and increase the efficiency of contracted projects by 6%. My proudest moment at XYZ, though, was finding a budgetary error that was bleeding over $15,000 monthly from the company. When I identified and fixed this problem, XYZ awarded me “Top Performer of the Month” in January 2020.

With me, you get more than a regular CPA — you get a top-notch presenter who thrives in collaborative, deadline-driven work environments. I look forward to speaking more about how I can help XYZ achieve its goals in the years to come.

Sincerely,

Joanne Diggerly
Johnston, HI 54321
(555) 432-1098
J.Diggerly@gmail.com

Final Thoughts

Cover letter spacing and margins might be the last thing on your mind, but they’re the first thing that a hiring manager or recruiter is going to notice. A bit of creativity is great when you’re applying for jobs, but some standards exist for a reason.

Stick to 1-inch margins and single-spaced, unindented paragraphs, and you’ll be off to a great first impression.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Matthew Zane

Author

Matthew Zane

Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.

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