Letters of Commendation (With Template and 3 Samples)

Letters of commendation are valuable referrals that employees earn through achievement. They often remain on record and help to make an employee’s application for a promotion or a new job highly competitive. You should use a clear and effective format to write a commendation letter. Learn more about what a letter of commendation is and how to write one, and use the provided template and sample letters to help you get started.


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What is a letter of commendation?

Letters of commendation or commendation letters are messages written to express gratitude and general recognition for a special deed. They are usually unsolicited. In some cases, they offer rewards for the action being recognized, such as a promotion or pay bonus. When particular behaviors meet with praise, employees are more likely to repeat those behaviors and continue to improve their performance. 


Related: Benefits of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace


How to write a letter of commendation

Follow these steps when writing your next letter of commendation:


1. Introduce your recipient

The first step in writing a letter of commendation involves formally introducing the recipient by name, title or working relationship. If necessary, explain further your years of working together just after the introduction. This establishes who the commendation is for and its positive purpose. Additionally, it personalizes the letter at the beginning, setting the tone for the rest of the message.


2. State your reason for commending

The second step involves elaborating on your reason for sending the letter of commendation. Explain the importance and positive nature of your letter. Using two or fewer paragraphs, explain the action your recipient made and how it either benefited you or the company as a whole. Include details as to why it was a unique action or better than what’s normally expected. Use specific details to avoid confusion as time passes between the event and the writing of the letter.


3. Summarize why it deserves recognition

The third step involves summarizing in your last paragraph why the recipient deserves recognition. Explain what impressed you most about their actions, noting any unique approach or other important context. Express why you believe they deserve specific recognition and outline any other rewards they may receive for their actions.


4. Thank your recipient

Use your final paragraph as a closing to thank your recipient. If you haven’t up to this point, speak directly to the recipient using second-person pronouns. Thank them for their work, their actions in this event and their commitment to their role.

After finishing your letter, ensure that all content fits on one page. Letters of commendation work best in short form, getting to the point of the matter and thanking the employee for their deeds.


Related: How to Write the Perfect Job Offer Letter Email


Letter of commendation template

The following template provides further detail for the layout of your letter of commendation:



[Use this section to formally introduce your recipient. You can either begin with a name and a comma, a dear statement or begin a full paragraph.]



[Within the body, address your reason for commending and summarize why their action deserves recognition. Use two to four paragraphs for the full section.]



[Close out your commendation letter by thanking your recipient. Limit this section to a single paragraph of three to five sentences.]



[Provide a typed or written signature below your closing. Your personal, handwritten signature is often preferred here.]


Sample letters of commendation

The following examples apply unique scenarios to the above template:


Example 1


Dear Dr. Arjun Gupta,

It was an honor teaching your class during your leave of absence for the month of December. These are some of the brightest and most passionate students I’ve seen in the field of microbiology. Their level of intelligence, determination and overall enthusiasm made for the most inspiring class I’ve ever worked with. When I asked them what makes them different, they explained that you, Mr. Gupta, taught, guided and mentored them in ways they were wholly unfamiliar with, lighting a new flame within them. It’s for this reason I present you with this letter of commendation.


I admire the talent of all my teachers at this prestigious institution. They’ve molded many a bright mind. However, the techniques you employ and the love you have for the field of microbiology show in ways I can’t even begin to describe. In fact, upon your return, I sat in on many of your lectures and was floored at the difference between you and other microbiology staff members. You’re an inspiration for students and teachers alike. 


Again, it is an honor to have you on staff, Mr. Gupta. I sincerely thank you for your efforts to this school and its students. You’re an incredible lecturer, and I’m privileged to have you with us.


Sincerest thanks and admiration,

Adanna Hausa, Ph.D., Department Head of Microbiology


Example 2


To: Nilini Ahuja, Team Lead 2

In regard to last week’s incident involving a fight between two employees on your team, you were able to not only solve the problem but also to end the conflict. We prefer not to have to call local authorities for such situations, as it causes even further distractions within the call center. I present you, Mrs. Ahuja, with this letter of commendation for your efforts in effectively managing your team. 


It’s extremely rare to find a team lead who knows their team members so well to deescalate a situation. You’ve raised the bar for the other three team leads on the call center floor and created a safer environment for all teams. It’s truly an honor to have you a part of this organization.


Thank you so much for your incredible leadership skills and commitment to your team and the organization. I am very grateful to have you here with us.



Adrian Blackwell

Floor Manager


Example 3

Daniel Perez,


I’m writing to thank you for your efforts during our emergency onboarding period. You exceeded all expectations bringing on our two new members, even without a background in human resources.


Over the last month, due to your onboarding and training efforts, our two newest recruits are more productive and more effective than previous new hires. Our process worked so well, we have decided to offer you a promotion to human resources manager. The other managers and I understand you prefer to be in the field with our employees, but we believe your natural talents could significantly aid our lacking human resources department. Your pay would also increase, of course.


Whether you decide to take the new position or not, we sincerely thank you for your efforts. The company could not have survived that time without your hard work, determination and further efforts outside of working hours. Thank you for being part of this team, and we hope you remain with us for the foreseeable future.



Nathan Abebe and the management team 


Related: Onboarding Best Practices


Letter of commendation FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about letters of commendation:


Can letters of commendation extend beyond one page?

Under normal circumstances, letters of commendation remain under a single page in length. The purpose of the letter is to simply thank an individual and praise them for their efforts. Any more information than that causes redundancy. However, there are rare circumstances in which a complex situation requires an equally complex description and thanks. Keep it under a single page unless absolutely necessary.


Should a letter of commendation include specific brand tones?

Letters of commendation should be as personal as possible. Write them as if they were an in-person message delivered directly to the individual. Using a brand tone creates a less personable and more robotic or pre-determined letter. The purpose of these letters is to write personal messages to individuals and extend thanks to unique situations.


Is there a difference between a letter of appreciation and of commendation?

Although these terms are often interchangeable, the main difference is within the meaning of the words. Commendation is the act of praise or favorable representation. Alternatively, appreciation is a valuation or estimation of merit or worth.


Should a letter of commendation always come with an additional reward?

Rewards are always at the discretion of management or whoever writes the letter. In most cases, the letter itself is sufficient. It boosts morale and lets employees know that management noticed their hard work. Often, rewards are held only for those who have done a greater than normal deed. For example, if a salesperson not only made the most money within a week but also broke company records, their manager may offer additional rewards such as a bonus or raise.


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