"reference letter" vs "recommendation letter"

What is the difference between “reference letter” and “recommendation letter”

Thanks a lot

letter of reference - a letter containing information about you that is written by someone who knows you well, and is usually intended for a new employer
letter of recommendation - (especially American English) a formal letter or statement saying that someone would be a suitable person to do a job, take a course of study etc
I think, it’s the same, but I’m not sure.
And I want to add Covering Letter to your list of letters. What is it?

Thanks a lot, Inga,
And if you are not sure either, let’s wait for some native speakers’ ideas.

Please help us clarify the difference among “reference letter”/ “recommendation letter”/ “covering letter”
Many thanks once again

Could anybody please answer me?

Thanks a lot

I don’t see the difference between reference letter and recommendation letter. But I know what the covering letter is. Is is the letter where you describe why you want to work for this or that company, employee etc. accordingly your degree and previus or relative backgrounds. Which opportunities that position gives you. But it is only as I know.

Hi Nessie,

‘A reference’ is often used to describe information about the suitability of someone for a particular post/job/position. An employer will ask someone who wants to work for them to give written and signed documents that give an indication of what the person is like who is applying for the job. ‘A recommendation’ is sometimes information that will act as a sort of introduction if an individual wants to establish contact with a person who may be able to help in their future career.


Hi Alan,
First of all, thanks a lot for your help :slight_smile:

And next, please tell me who are supposed to write a reference letter and who a recommendation letter. Besides, acording to Tilt’s explaination, I think the two term “reference letter” and “covering letter” are so much alike (+_+) May I have your clarification, Alan?
Many thanks :slight_smile:

To Tilt:
Thank you very much for your idea, Tilt :wink:

Nessie, it is not my idea, it is a common using.

Hi Nessie

If you are applying for a job, for example, a letter of reference and a letter of recommendation would be letters not written by you. In other words, someone else would have written these for you, based on their knowledge of you personally and/or professionally.

A cover(ing) letter, however, is a short introduction of yourself written by you. This letter is generally sent to a prospective employer with your resume/CV.

So, there is no difference between a letter of reference and a letter of recommendation?

Hi Inga

Yes, there is a difference between a letter of recommendation and a letter of reference. However, that had already been covered by you and Alan.

Nessie asked about a ‘cover(ing) letter’ afterwards.

when you apply for a job, you will need a few different types of documents.

if they ask you to fill out an application form (no resume), you only need to send that. you may want to include a cover letter if you have time (see #1 below)

if they ask you to send a resume, you should send the following:

  1. a cover letter – this is a formal self-introduction. briefly tell them who you are, why you want the job, and why you’re a good candidate. this is especially good for areas your resume doesn’t cover. it’s also useful when you don’t have much experience related to this particular job.
  2. a resume – be sure to highlight parts of previous jobs, volunteer experience, and education that are relevant to THIS job
  3. a list of references (optional) – this is just a list of names, titles, and contact information for people who would be able to say good things about you, usually former bosses, supervisors, teachers, co-workers, etc. be sure to ask permission before listing anyone’s name or conact information on this list.
    NOTE: i personally do not include #3 when i apply for a job. instead, i write, “References available upon request.” this way, i can notify my references before they are contacted without having to bother them and ask permission to use their name EVERY time i apply to a new job.

i think letters of recommendation and letters of reference mean the same thing. they are letters written by someone who can speak about your previous experience or your ability to succeed in some academic, volunteer, or work environment. you do not have to provide these unless asked. often times, they are unnecessary, as many employers prefer calling your references. if you do provide them, however, be sure they are from someone who knows you well enough to talk about you! what are your strong points? how did you improve while you worked/volunteered with them? why would you be good for the job you are applying to? (e.g., if it is in a “fast-paced environment,” they may say something like, “He works well in stressful situations and is skilled in the art of multi-tasking.”) what is unique about you? – questions like this should be covered in their letter. sometimes, you will be asked to provide “sealed” reference/recommendation letters. these should be in a sealed envelope, and the writer should sign over the sealed part. do not open these letters before sending them to your future employer. NOTE: i always ask the writer to give me a copy if they don’t mind. this way, i can see what they say before deciding to send the letter to my future employer.

good people to write reference/recommendation letters:
a former (or current) boss
a former (or current) job supervisor
a former (or current) volunteer supervisor
a former (or current) teacher
a former (or current) co-worker

letters from these people aren’t as useful (unless your future employer specifically asks you to get one from them):
boyfriend/girlfriend or partner

i know it’s late, but i hope that helps!!


by the way, i’m a native speaker (usa).

God forbid! Thank you very much =) It’s not late!

i want to improve my english and communication

Hello, Olvira, let me think, we all here would like to improve our english. You’re very welcome, there is a warm climat and a lot of opportunities for improving english skills!

Best regards,


Thanks very much for this comment. It help me to think about my ideals.

Tks again and pls keep posting.

If you want to get more materials that related to this topic, you can visit: recommendationletter.biz

Best regards.

i guess following link might be helpful
satteststudy.com/sample-letter-o … mendation/