Writing Residency Letters of Recommendation – Authorship Guide

Writing Residency Letters of Recommendation

In a previous article, we discussed Letters of Recommendation and how to get the best results. With this additional Authorship Guide to Writing Residency Letters of Recommendation, we hope to further streamline the process and help you get the strongest letters possible.

Below, we have included an outline for writing residency Letters of Recommendation. We hope that this guide may help authors feel confident that they are providing you with a strong letter. Reviewing this information will also help you gauge which of your letters or letter writers may be the best. Moreover, this will serve as a comprehensive guide for all those who have been tasked with writing their own letters, in lieu of the actual ‘author.’

We would recommend considering printing out the information below and including it in the package you provide to your LoR author upon meeting. If you need a reminder as to what all you should include, review our post about Letters of Recommendation.



Authorship Guide – Writing Residency Letters of Recommendation



  1. Official institution logo
  2. Institution address (optional)
  3. Includes the date created (preferably within 1 year, 2 years MAX) 


  1. Provides detailed background on the relationship with the applicant
  2. Length of time known and the nature of the relationship
  3. Clearly stated that author is able to write a well informed and unique LoR

Character / Content

  1. Uses specific clinical examples which demonstrate knowledge, skills, and behavior, commenting on growth if applicable
  2. Reflects attributes mentioned in the Personal Statement (or to be mentioned if the Personal Statement has not been written), as well as the ACGME 6 Core Competencies (Medical Knowledge, Patient Care, Professionalism, Communication, Practice-based learning and Systems-based practice)


  1. Honest, not overly-grandiose
  2. Positive, using concise detail (best I have seen in X years > truly outstanding > excellent > very good > qualified)


  1. 3-5 Paragraphs – (1-2 pages MAX, 1 full page recommended minimum)
  2. Paragraph 1 – (introduction) – pleasure in writing the letter, how you know the applicant, a summary statement of abilities
  3. Paragraph 2 – (body) – reasons for recommendation, attributes, specific examples
  4. Paragraphs 3-4 – (optional) – highlight additional qualities/characteristics, exemplary stories
  5. Paragraph 5 – (conclusion) – final recommendation and summary of performance highlighting applicant strengths


  1. Handwritten signature
  2. Includes author name, title, academic rank, and contact information


Writing Letter of Recommendation Example



You may choose to introduce this guide with your letter writer upon meeting with them; or, you can more subtly include it in your manilla envelope of documents which you will be providing them. If you would rather not print out this guide for the author, familiarize yourself with the main points and be sure to reiterate those which you feel are the most important upon meeting with your letter writer. We’ve tried to make this guide as unassuming as possible, while at the same time remaining helpful and informative.


Residency Experts is happy to provide feedback with regards to your Medical Residency Letters of Recommendation through our unique LoR Review Service. Please don’t hesitate to call 858-221-8580 to learn more.