Reference letters have the power to make a difference and give an added advantage to the applicants when they are seeking admission or employment. Generally, they are categorized as Academic, Character and Employment reference letters.
Before describing the positive points of the candidate make sure to establish your own credentials first. For that, it is best to write the reference letter on a formal letter-head which has the details of your job-title, name of your work place and contact information.
The first paragraph must state briefly who you are and in what capacity you know the applicant. It is also good to mention how well and for how long you have known the candidate. These details are important as they add to the credibility of the letter.
The body of the letter must concentrate on the positive aspects of the candidate, by giving specific examples. These positive facets must be those that are not clearly visible in a formal application form.
Remember to keep the letters sincere without going overboard with words of praise. It is best to highlight the plus-points again in the last paragraph, before concluding.