Should Cover Letters be Indented?

April 13, 2020

Should cover letters be indented? One of the biggest struggles someone faces when applying for jobs is the dreaded cover letter. There are so many rules as well as expectations from the employers, and you don’t want to screw it up. Even the simplest mishaps can be an automatic rejection from a potentially great job, and one of these common mishaps is the use of proper indentation.

So, should cover letters be indented? No, cover letters should have no indentation- for the most part. You can indent your paragraphs, but it is entirely not necessary. However, the rest of your cover letter should have no indentation. It really comes down to personal preference, but no indentation will leave you more room to write.

If you’re worried about your cover letter and how and where to place indents, then you have come to the right place. We’re going to give you some inside information on everything you need to know about indenting on cover letters so you can do a stellar job and (hopefully) snag the job of your dreams. Let’s take a look.

cover letter indent

Should Your Cover Letter Have Any Indentation?

The best way to answer this question is no, your cover letter doesn’t need any type of indentation. It simply isn’t doing your cover letter any favors.

To put it simply, a cover letter doesn’t need any indents for the following reasons:

1. You Will Have More Room to Write

One major benefit of disregarding indents altogether is that you will have more room to write. Remember that your four paragraphs are going to be all about your accomplishments, skills, awards, and everything else that makes you the top pick for the job. You want to give yourself as much room as possible to really ‘wow’ the hiring manager.

With no indents, you also won’t have to worry as much about going over the recommended length for your cover letter. That’s a major plus, as no employer wants to see a cover letter that is too long. They will simply skim over it and lose interest because it’s simply too long. Keep it short and easy to read without skimping on selling yourself.

2. It Looks More Professional

Hiring managers will look at your cover letter in hopes of seeing how professional you are. That is why it is so important to check your grammar and spelling before turning in a cover letter, and it’s important to remain professional from top to bottom. And while the major signs of professionalism will be found in the bulk of your paragraphs, there is also the issue of formatting.

Employers want to see a professionally styled cover letter to pique their interest, and a cover letter that is void of any indents is going to appear more adept, clean, and neat. To put it simply, indents are going to take away from a sleeker appearance, and that’s something to consider when you’re writing up your cover letter.

3. It’s Not a Part of a Traditional Cover Letter

While indenting your paragraphs doesn’t mean that your cover letter is going to be tossed, it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to one-up any of the competition. Indenting or not indenting isn’t going to have a major impact on the hiring manager, but there is something to say about traditions and what the employer will likely expect while reading cover letters.

Indents are simply not a part of traditional cover letters and they will not be expected by an employer. This doesn’t make it a hit or miss issue when it comes to your cover letter, but it won’t represent a ‘traditional’ format that your employer is used to seeing. And in the case of standing out, there are much better ways to do it then trying to indent in odd places- let your paragraphs make you the standout!

Can You Place Indents in Your Cover Letter?

You have heard us say over and over again that you don’t need an indentation. But does adding indentation to your cover letter mean an automatic deal-breaker for an employer?

Not necessarily.

Let’s take a closer look:

The Entirety of Your Cover Letter Should Be Structured to the Left

While most people’s cover letters will automatically be structured to the left to look clean and professional, some people might think it’s okay to put some information- like contact information, greetings, and salutations- at an indent.

Is this okay?

No, you should never indent any of this information on your cover letter.

It’s simply not proper formatting and the employer will notice. Remember that employers make formatting a major priority when they’re scrolling through cover letters, so you definitely don’t want to mess it up.

Don’t think that odd indentation will make you stand out.

Some people might think that putting something in the middle, such as their contact information, will make their cover letter appear bolder, but this simply isn’t the case.

Odd indents in weird areas of your cover letter are only going to make you appear unprofessional like you don’t know what you’re doing when writing a professional letter of any kind.

Cover Letter Indent Paragraphs? You Can Place Indents on Your Paragraphs, Though

Again, indenting your paragraphs is entirely not necessary and not traditional.

However, some people might find that they like the way their cover letter looks with the paragraphs indented. We learned in school to indent, after all, so it’s easy to take that knowledge into the world of cover letters.

If you decide to indent your cover letter, don’t worry- indenting your paragraphs won’t hurt your chances and won’t make your cover letter appear unprofessional.

It’s essentially ‘okay’ to indent your paragraphs without hiring managers thinking you don’t know what a cover is and how to format one correctly.

When it comes to indenting paragraphs, it’s all about personal preference.

So, if you’re speeding through your cover letter and have nailed it from top to bottom, then don’t be concerned if you tossed in indented paragraphs and hit the ‘send’ button without thinking twice about it.

Keep it Simple and Don’t Stress

While formatting is ultimately important, it’s fairly easy to remember how to indent- keep your cover letter to the left without indentation, but don’t stress out if you indent your paragraphs.

The most important thing to remember is that your paragraphs need to be jam-packed with information that sets you apart from the competition and you’ll be set.

Related Questions

Are 500 words too long for a cover letter?

You know that cover letters shouldn’t be longer than a page, but what about actual word count? How do you know when you’ve gone too long? The unspoken rule for a cover letter is that they should land at around 300 words. That means that yes, 500 words are definitely too long for a cover letter and you will need to somehow shorten it to appease hiring managers.

What should the spacing be on a cover letter?

Much like indentation is a hot topic when it comes to formatting a cover letter, another big issue is spacing. The best thing to remember is that the entirety of your cover letter should be single-spaced, except at the end when you will leave three spaces in-between your closing and your name. This leaves room for a signature, which is very professional.


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