A Guide to Using a Cover Letter Template in Word Processors

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 17, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for a job, you typically accompany your resume with a cover letter. Having a template in a word processor can allow you to customize your document according to the position of your interest. Understanding how to use a template can help you maintain a professional writing structure while changing the content to best suit the role. In this article, we explain how to build a cover letter template in word processors, detail the importance of creating one, list the types of these documents, and provide a sample template for your reference.

Why is a cover letter template useful?

Cover letters are usually an essential part of the job application process. While your resume typically outlines your professional experience and education, a cover letter personalizes your candidacy. It tells the interviewer why you're a good fit for the position. Every time you apply for a job, you can rewrite the content to persuade the reader to consider you as the right candidate. Instead of designing and writing a letter in your word processor for each different application, you can use a template as a fixed starting point.

Templates typically help you maintain a professional document structure while still allowing you to adjust the text. For example, you can establish a design structure that helps you create a professional brand and visibly differentiate yourself from competing candidates. The variable fields in the template can ensure that your contact information remains fixed, while the addressee, job title, and content can change each time you use the template.

Read more: How to End a Cover Letter: Key Elements to Ensure an Ideal Cover Letter Ending

How to build a cover letter template in word processors

To build a cover letter template in word processing software, you can follow these steps:

1. Open your word processor

There's a wide range of word processing technologies, with Microsoft Word among the most common. It's the benchmark design of most word processing software, so even if you use a different program, such as OpenOffice Writer, it often works in a very similar manner. Once you open the application, navigate to the file selection. Select "new" and then "new from template". This takes you to the library of available templates, which may vary slightly depending on the application.

2. Choose a suitable template

The format of your cover letter typically depends on the industry you work in. Some formats are bold and colourful, suitable for web designers and artists. Other templates feature clean lines and structured information, working well in office environments. Some cover letters focus on brevity by featuring centred text and apparent contact information. Others may highlight a narrative and have a structure that allows for significant amounts of text. Before downloading a template, determine which type best fits your purpose.

3. Customize the template

Once you've downloaded the template, you can customize the cover letter depending on how you choose to present yourself. You can input your personal information, including links to your website or professional profile online. If you have an existing logo or colour scheme, you can adjust your document. You might also include sections that allow you to personalize your candidacy. It might benefit you to highlight the sections that require changing when you fill in the template, such as the job title or the recipient's name.

Read more: Best Regards and Other Variations to Use When Communicating Professionally

4. Name and save the template

Once you have a complete template, navigate to the file, then select "save as". You can choose the destination storage space like a cloud-based service or your computer's hard drive. Naming the file as your cover letter template can help you easily identify it. Consider protecting the document by restricting edits as the account administrator.

When you make changes to the document, rather than altering the template, you can navigate to the file and then create or save a copy of it. You can title the new document according to the position for which you're applying and then change that document. This way, you can preserve the original template while still having the ability to make changes and use the document's structure.

Types of cover letter templates

There are many cover letter templates to choose from, largely because of the diverse job market. These pre-structured word documents generally fall into one of the following categories:

Design-focused templates

This type of template focuses on the visual aspect of the cover letter. This usually features large borders, a fixed colour pattern, or wide margins. Depending on the program, you can choose bold colours or opt for a softer appearance. When properly used, these cover letters can attract the reader's attention to the important information and create a pleasant experience.

Read more: Cover Letter for Graphic Design (With Tips and an Example)

Position-specific templates

Some industries may have specific expectations of cover letters, especially in professions such as accounting and law. Using your cover letter to show that you understand the standard practices in your chosen industry can help your candidacy. This type of template is suitable if you plan to apply for a particular position or work exclusively in one sector.

General-purpose templates

If you plan to search for work in multiple sectors and industries, a general-purpose template is an effective solution. It typically allows you to maintain the body of the text and only make changes to specific parts of the letter. General-purpose cover letters can be useful frameworks on which to base a customized document.

No-cost templates

Some templates, whether online or through an application, are free. When you download such a template from a website or another resource, ensure you practise digital safety. Provided they're compatible with your system, allow you to make necessary changes, and are safe to download, free cover letter templates can offer a good selection.

Premium templates

Premium templates typically incorporate interactive features and advanced designs. To access this type of template, you usually require a paid membership to the service. In many cases, you can add the design features to a generic template, but it can take time. If you regularly use a word processor, it can be valuable to opt for the premium selection to save time and access the advanced features.

Sample template

The following is an example of a generic cover letter that you can use to structure your personalized version:

[Full name]
[City and province]
[E-mail address]
[Cell phone number]

[Date]

[Addressee's name]
[Addressee's role or job title]
[Name of the company or organization]
[Address of the organization]
[City, province, and postal code]

[Dear honorific and name of addressee]

[First paragraph: detail your reason to apply]

[Second paragraph: explain your qualifications]

[Third paragraph: focus on your soft skills in bullet-point form]

[Fourth paragraph: explain your reason for applying to this specific position ]

[Final paragraph: include a call to action statement]

Yours truly,

[Signature]
[Your full name]

How to structure your cover letter

The following provides a guideline for how to create your cover letter content using a paragraph structure:

1. Introduce your reasons for applying

The first paragraph typically states the reason for your application. It's usually important to clearly indicate the precise role that you seek, including any listing identification number or code. You can briefly outline the main qualifications that make you suitable for the position. These can include education or professional experience.

2. Detail your qualifications

Usually, the second paragraph is where you detail your qualifications. You can identify up to three of your most noteworthy qualifications and specify how they can benefit the prospective employer. Prioritize anything relevant to the position, especially if it matches the requirements on the job listing. Whenever you can, use quantifiable means to highlight your achievements. For example, instead of saying you increased sales, you can say that you increased them by 12% year over year.

3. Provide more details

The third paragraph typically provides further details on your qualifications and skills, though it focuses more on soft skills. It can be your opportunity to highlight your collaborative nature, time-management skills, and communication abilities. You can customize the skills you include in this section to match the position you seek. For example, if you pursue a management role, you may choose to include leadership training or experience. You can make the document reader-friendly by using bullet points. Some common examples of these include:

  • Current or former leadership roles

  • Significant workplace achievements

  • Noteworthy projects or former employer

  • Useful technical or interpersonal skills

  • Any certifications and advanced education

4. Emphasize your interest

The fourth paragraph usually details why you chose to apply for a specific position. It often shows that you've researched the business, familiarized yourself with its corporate culture and initiatives, and genuinely want to be a part of the team. That genuine presentation can significantly improve the chance of getting a response from the company. It's beneficial to indicate specific reasons why you want to work at the company, such as its mission, culture, or values.

5. Close with a call-to-action

The final paragraph typically emphasizes your interest in the company and the role you seek. It often serves as your call-to-action paragraph, where you invite the addressee to look at your resume. It's also important to thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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