The English application: Cover letter

Cover letter: Format and layout

The cover letter must be clearly arranged and easy to read. Long sentences, insufficient line spacing and too many paragraphs are all inappropriate because they overload the letter. Bright colours do not belong in a cover letter nor does an overload of different colours, fonts, boxes, graphics and the like. Furthermore, you must ensure a consistent layout for both, cover letter and CV.

Font and size

An appropriate font size facilitates reading for the recipient. Choose a font size of 10 to 12 points and avoid fancy fonts. Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri are standard options. Note also that the font style and size on your cover letter should match those on your CV.

Paper format

In the US and in Canada, the standard cover letter is written on the letter format. This measures 21.6 cm x 27.9 cm and differs in size from the standard European A4 format, which is approximately 6 mm wider and 18 mm shorter in length. Your best option is to set up the cover letter in this format at the beginning. This will save you the trouble of making adjustments to the layout later. You can use the A4 format for applications to the UK.

Final follow-up

At the end, check whether the layout is consistent throughout the document. The CV and the cover letter should not differ in terms of layout. It is advisable to show both documents to a friend: he/she might notice if the line spacing differs in parts, or if there are other layout mistakes.


Regardless of whether you are applying in the US, Canada, Australia or the UK, the cover letter must never be longer than one page.

Short and sweet

  • Short and sweet
  • Simple and clear structure
  • Maximum length of one page
  • Consistent font and layout
  • Appropriate font size (10–12 points)
  • Avoid bright colours and graphics
  • Special letter format for US and Canada

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