Character Reference Letter Examples & Template (For Court, Friend, Coworker) [2020]

A character reference letter is a form of validation for a person's positive character. Often confused with a reference letter or recommendation letter, a character reference is focused on the person's personal qualities versus their employment history, skills, or other characteristics of their job history.

Character reference letters can be used in the following ways:

  • To present to a magistrate or judge on behalf of a defendant (to reference the defendant's character) in the case of court proceeding.
  • To present to a magistrate or judge on behalf of a custody proceedings.
  • To provide verification of a person's character for a close friend or relative, usually for real estate or mortgage purposes.
  • To provide verification of a person’s character for future employment opportunities.
  • To provide verification of a person’s character for immigration, green card or work visa purposes.

The character letter contains positive qualities about a person. These qualities are normally explained through short stories that reference the qualities and characteristics of the person in question. This can be helpful for an employer to reference, a judge (or magistrate) to reference, or other professional parties (like landlords of mortgage companies).

Writing a Character Reference

When writing a character reference letter, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your letter positive. Recall situations where good character and positive attributes are on display regarding the person in question.
  • In your first paragraph, state the relationship you have with the person in question and how long you’ve had that relationship for.
  • In your second paragraph or body paragraph, reference a specific example of a time when the person in question displayed their good character, good judgment, and character. These should speak to the good qualities that you believe the other party is seeking validation for.
  • Be sure to include your contact information like full name, work phone number, and email address for contact. And to officially become the personal reference.

When being asked to write a character reference, be sure to speak with the person regarding their needs and have them clearly articulate what their objectives are with the letter. For example, in the instance of employment, the professional should provide you with their cover letter, resume, and job application as well as an outline of what their intentions are to help you write your letter.

Character Reference Formatting

A good character reference letter should be written in the following format:

  • General business letter format.
  • 9pt to 11pt font size.
  • Use professional font faces, like Garamond or Calibri.
  • Use the default page margins.
  • Use 1.5” line spacing.
  • Formal writing style with proper grammar and punctuation.

Sample General Character Reference Letter

Below is a character reference sample for general purposes. This can be used for a job candidate who is attaching this to their job application to provide to their potential employer. Or a personal character reference (personal reference letter) that can be used for real estate or loan application needs.

Sean Eaton
Director of Finance
GNA Trusts
188 Chestnut Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94112

May 1st, 2020

Ian Anderson
SVP of HR
Apple, Inc.
1 Infinite Loop.
San Francisco, CA 94112

Dear Mr. Anderson:

I’ve known Mr. Jackson for roughly 4 years. I had had the pleasure of being able to work with Mr. Jackson as well as become close friends with him and his family. His relationship has truly changed me. I’d like to provide you with some detail regarding Mr. Jackson’s character and personal qualities for your future reference.

There was a time where Mr. Jackson really showed his character to me. His loyalty is something I’d like to share with you. When my family was in need and Mr. Jackson was occupied, he went out of his way to make sure that he could accommodate what was happening in my family's life. We realized that Mr. Jackson was dependable in emergency situations and this is something special. And this should carry into how he treats his team, his employees, employers, and other professionals around him.

If you’d like to know more about Mr. Jackson, I would be happy to provide you with any further information that you need.

Thank you,
Sean Eaton

Character Reference Letter Sample for Court

Below is a sample letter for court reference. Or a character reference letter example for someone acting as a character witness.

Sean Eaton
Director of Finance
GNA Trusts
188 Chestnut Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94112

May 1st, 2020

To the Honorable Judge Mattis:

I’ve known Mr. Jackson for roughly 4 years. He is someone who has been close to our family, the neighborhood, and our community. He is someone who always displays honesty and integrity in his presence. There were many times that Mr. Jackson chose to be someone who provided a great deal of positive character toward the community.

In a situation that is close to my heart, Mr. Jackson had decided to put on a Christmas party for the community, where he dressed up as Santa Claus and helped the neighborhood foster children feel as though they had a family on that day. He organized the community to get together and to play an integral part in providing gifts and food for the young children in attendance.

I believe that this speaks to his qualities as a parent, community member, and sound-minded person.

Thank you,
Sean Eaton

Character Reference Letter for Employment

Below is a sample employment reference letter regarding a professional’s character for a prospective employer. It can be helpful to reference the professional’s cover letter, resume, and job application before writing a letter. For the job applicant, be sure to bring multiple copies of these letters with you during your job interview.

Sean Eaton
Director of Finance
GNA Trusts
188 Chestnut Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94112

May 1st, 2020

Ian Anderson
SVP of HR
Apple, Inc.
1 Infinite Loop.
San Francisco, CA 94112

Dear Mr. Anderson:

I’ve known Mr. Jackson for roughly 4 years. I had had the pleasure of being able to work with Mr. Jackson as well as become close friends with him and his family. His relationship has truly changed me. I’d like to provide you with some detail regarding Mr. Jackson’s character and personal qualities for your future reference.

During the time that we were able to work together, there were countless times when we needed to stay late to finish projects and initiatives. This was something that not everyone chose to do. Some would depart right at 5PM and didn’t care whether or not the business was impacted. But with Mr. Jackson, this was something he simply could not do. I believe that this speaks very highly of his character.

If you’d like to know more about Mr. Jackson, I would be happy to provide you with any further information that you need.

Thank you,
Sean Eaton
character reference template

Character Reference Template Download

This sample character reference and template can be downloaded for free. Can be imported as a Google Doc. Instant download. No email required.

Download Template

Reference Letter Resources

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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