Writing Recommendation Letters Online


Welcome to Writing Recommendation Letters Online


A Handbook for Faculty

A photo of Joe Schall
Joe Schall

Building on the foundation laid by the popular earlier print editions of his faculty handbook on writing recommendation letters, Joe Schall digs deeper in this new online edition, addressing issues ranging from the ethical considerations faculty wrestle with when writing letters to the new challenges posed by the information age. Citing sources ranging from The Chronicle of Higher Education to refereed journal articles to excerpts from listserv discussions among scholarship directors, this handbook advises faculty on the best practices when writing letters for students, as well as informs writers about nine of the nation’s top scholarships and the detail that selectors crave in winning scholarship reference letters.

About the Author

Joe Schall was the Giles Writer-in-Residence for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State from 1988 until 2008. He received an M.A. in English from Penn State in 1988 and a B.S. in English Education from Juniata College in 1981. He has won numerous honors for his writing and teaching, including the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers from New York University and the Wilson Award for Outstanding Teaching from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. His publications range from short stories to style guides (Writing Personal Statements Online and Style for Students Online). He has published articles about writing in a wide variety of magazines, including Graduating Engineer and Computer Careers, Writers' Forum, and Academe. By invitation, he has taught writing workshops on the subjects of his style guides at over 20 schools, including Pepperdine University, MIT, Roanoke College, SFSU, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Joe Schall is currently a Health Communications Specialist for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Features of this Manual

  • Internal search engine.
  • Printer-friendly chapters and pages.
  • “Further Study” links to additional resources and recommended websites.
  • Sample recommendation letters available as PDFs.

Permission to Use Material from this Manual

This manual is available for free use by students, faculty, and other interested parties, and the intention is to make this material as widely available as possible. For those interested in obtaining permission to use any material herein, the rules are spelled out by the creative commons license.

Comments on this Manual

Comments on this manual are welcomed and can be directed to the author at schall@ems.psu.edu.