How long should your letters of rec be?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
billables247
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How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby billables247 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:20 am

I've heard from a few people that one page (or roughly 2 pages double spaced) should be enough. I understand that your individual relationship with the professor will determine the length and that quality is better than quantity, but is the one page length a standard for your typical letter?

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you'rethemannowdawg
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Re: How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby you'rethemannowdawg » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:12 am

billables247 wrote:I've heard from a few people that one page (or roughly 2 pages double spaced) should be enough. I understand that your individual relationship with the professor will determine the length and that quality is better than quantity, but is the one page length a standard for your typical letter?


Long enough that there is enough good information about you, short enough that admissions committees will actually read the whole thing.

That said, 1 page double spaced seems a little short to me. I think 1 page single-spaced/2 pages double-spaced is pretty standard.

bp shinners
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Re: How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby bp shinners » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:13 pm

you'rethemannowdawg wrote:
billables247 wrote:I've heard from a few people that one page (or roughly 2 pages double spaced) should be enough. I understand that your individual relationship with the professor will determine the length and that quality is better than quantity, but is the one page length a standard for your typical letter?


Long enough that there is enough good information about you, short enough that admissions committees will actually read the whole thing.

That said, 1 page double spaced seems a little short to me. I think 1 page single-spaced/2 pages double-spaced is pretty standard.


Most of the ones I've seen (students asked the professor; the professors forwarded them a copy; they asked my opinion) have been one page, single-spaced.

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Cicero76
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Re: How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby Cicero76 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:56 pm

One page single-spaced

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:10 pm

The longer the better. The length is a form of signalling. If someone writes a very short letter, even if it is positive, the implication is that the person had nothing more that was positive to say about you, and/or didn't care enough about you to write anything more. A longer letter sends the opposite message.

That said, it's probably not going to help much/at all if the extra content is off topic, repetitive, or not positive in tone.

This will be especially true if professors read them, as letter length is a well known form of signalling on the academic job market.
Last edited by AntipodeanPhil on Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Happy Gilmore
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Re: How long should your letters of rec be?

Postby Happy Gilmore » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:12 pm

Let your professor know there is a 500 word minimum when you ask for the letter.




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