How to Write a Character Reference

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How to Write a Character Reference

Writing a character reference can be a daunting task, especially if you have never written one before. It’s important to provide a truthful and accurate reference as it can be used to determine someone’s admission into an educational institution or their employment prospects. A character reference should provide insight into the character and the personal traits of the individual you are writing about. Here are the steps to help you craft the perfect character reference.

Step 1: Determine If You Are Suitable to Write the Reference

Before you begin writing your character reference, you must determine whether you are in an appropriate position to write the reference. It’s important to determine whether you are capable of providing a truthful and accurate reference of the subject you are writing about. Consider the following:

  • Do you know the subject personally?
  • Do you have first-hand knowledge of the individual’s conduct and character?
  • Are you in a position of authority such as a teacher, employer or other professional?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to the questions above and you are in a suitable position, then you may be appropriate to write the character reference.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Information

Once you have determined that you are suitable to write the character reference, it’s important to gather all the necessary information for the reference. You will need to answer the following questions:

  • Name and contact details of the subject
  • Where you first met the subject
  • Your relationship to the subject
  • Length of time you have known the subject
  • How often you interact with the subject

Having all the necessary information gathered prior to writing the character reference will make the process much smoother.

Step 3: Format Your Character Reference

Once you have gathered the necessary information it’s time to format your character reference. Begin by stating your relationship with the subject and the length of time you have known them. Provide the name and contact details of the subject so the reader can easily identify who the reference is for.

Next, outline the qualities that make the subject unique and why you are recommending them for the purpose of the reference. This may include qualities such as responsibility, integrity, hardworking, compassionate, etc. Back up your statements with concrete examples. For example, if you are writing about the subject’s integrity, describe a time you experienced the individual’s honesty and trustworthiness.

Step 4: End Your Character Reference Positively

Once you have made your statements about the individual’s character it’s important to end on a positive note. Provide an overall summary of why the individual would be suitable for the purpose of the reference. Express your confidence that the individual would excel at the task they are applying for.

Step 5: Edit and Proofread Your Character Reference

Before submitting your character reference it’s important to edit and proofread it to ensure there are no errors. Read through your reference to check for any mistakes in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. It’s a good idea to have someone else review your character reference as they may be able to identify any errors or mistakes you may have missed.

Step 6: Submit Your Character Reference

Once you have completed your character reference and checked it for any errors, it’s time to submit it. Check the submission guidelines to ensure you are submitting your reference in the correct format. It’s important to submit your character reference on time as late submissions may not be accepted.


Writing a character reference can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Following the steps above will ensure you craft the perfect character reference. Remember to gather all the necessary information and to provide concrete examples to back up your statements. Make sure to end your character reference on a positive note and edit and proofread your work before submitting.

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