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How to Address Envelopes for College Recommendation Letters

Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.

Sample college recommendation envelope

Sample college recommendation envelope

6 Steps

  1. Locate Address. Look for the information about recommendation letters to see where these need to be sent.
  2. Print Address on Envelope. Type or clearly print the name and address on the front of a business-sized envelope.
  3. Return Address. Don't put your own address here. Instead, put your reference's professional address in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope If the reference is a teacher, put their name and the name of the school, and the school address.
  4. Bottom Left-Hand Corner: Put "Re:" and your name and what you are applying to. That way, your letter can reach the right person more quickly.
  5. Stamp. Be sure to put a postage stamp on the right-hand corner of the envelope. If the letter of recommendation includes several forms, you might want to put two stamps. You don't want your application delayed because it had insufficient postage!
  6. Highlight Instructions: Make sure your reference knows what they need to do. You can highlight on the forms places they need to sign or the instructions. You can also include a note, especially if the reference is to seal and sign the back of the recommendation for authenticity. If you are sending a recommendation for someone else, it doesn't hurt to sign the back in ink across the seal.

How to ask for Recommendation

Each college is different and if you are applying to several, you will need to keep the forms straight. Some colleges want your references to fill out a form. Others want a letter. Make sure your reference knows what you need to have done. Here are steps you can take to get the best possible recommendation:

  • Give Your Reference Clear Instructions. If the college provides instructions, then be sure to provide a copy. If the college does not provide instructions, then type what you need out for your reference.
  • Give Your Reference Something to Write About. It doesn't hurt to remind them of some of your best moments in their class, or even to give them a transcript or a list of your achievements. Having written many of these letters, I know the hardest part is when you draw a blank and can't remember anything specific to say.
  • Make Sure You Include a Stamped Envelope. If you don't put a stamp on the envelope, then your reference will have to do that out of their own pocket. I can't believe how many times I've had to do that. Remember that the person giving you a reference is doing you a favor. A big favor. You want to make a good impression. Forgetting the stamp shows you are either lazy or not on top of things.

Recommendation Tips

Underneath envelope flap for college recommendation: add a note telling when the recommendation is due and any special instructions

Underneath envelope flap for college recommendation: add a note telling when the recommendation is due and any special instructions

When students have similar grades, test scores, and lists of student activities, often it is the recommendation letter that makes the difference in college admissions. The recommender should know you well enough to tell the college or employer:

  • What kind of a person are you?
  • What is the quality of your work?
  • How hard do you work?
  • What makes you stand out?
  • Do other people get along well with you?

Since your acceptance depends on that letter getting to the right place, at the right time, make sure you have it addressed properly. Look at my photos and step-by-step instructions for addressing college recommendation letters properly. I also give tips on how to get the best recommendations.

Remember to Send Thanks!

When the reference has been sent, be sure that you send a thank-you note to show that you appreciate the time and effort. A small gift of cookies or a $5.00 Starbucks or Sonic gift card is also appropriate. Remember, you may need to ask for a reference again and you want that person to think about you favorably. Besides, it is just good manners.

Questions & Answers

Question: What should the writer use if he doesn't have a seal for the college letter of recommendation?

Answer: You should close the envelope normally and then sign your signature across the envelope back (on top of where it is closed).


Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 13, 2012:

Seeker7--I hadn't even thought about not having the envelope even having an address! I have had email requests for recommendations that I had not heard about from the perosn. You are so correct that you can tell when someone makes an effort and my husband (who does dozens of medical school applications each semester) told me it makes a difference for him because if it takes him a long time to figure out where to send things, or the person didn't give good instructions, it puts him in a bad mood as he writes the recommendation!

Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on October 13, 2012:

A very useful hub for students. I know from past experience that when youngsters have asked me for a reference for college/university, that when no stamped addressed envelope arives with the request it can be very annoying - not to mention a request landing on your desk and the person has even't bothered to ask you! Thankfully the majority of our young carers who were moving onto other things did write out their requests properly and with a stamp! It's also easy to tell who made a big effort and who didn't and yes it makes all the difference!

Great hub + voted up!

Eiddwen from Wales on October 13, 2012:

Interesting and useful.


Virginia Kearney (author) from United States on October 13, 2012:

Thanks ElleBee--I actually often use that idea of referencing what is in the envelope when I have something important. I think that is especially important when you are addressing something to an office and not a particular person. That way, the person who is sorting the mail has a better idea of where it goes. Generally, that should get the mail where it belongs faster! I'll have to look at your Hub! I have a daughter applying this year to college and we need all the advice we can get!

ElleBee on October 13, 2012:

Interesting! I never knew the students information was supposed to go on the outside as well. Makes sense though, I guess I just neer thought about it. Most of my college apps wanted the recommendations sent in along with the application (in envelopes that they signed across the seal, to make sure I didn't peek), so I guess that's why I never thought about it much! I love your tip about putting a post-it with info about the deadline inside the envelope, very smart. I wrote a hub about getting good college recommendations also, I'll have to link your hub to mine so people have information on adressing their envelopes.