1. Select faculty with whom you have worked closely and preferably those with whom you have completed more than one course. They will usually know you best and can write with authority about your strengths. Do not select faculty if you have just begun taking a course with them, as they will have no information to use in their letter.
  2. That being said, it is probably not wise to select faculty in whose courses you have received poor or mediocre grades. As a rule of thumb, if you have not earned a B+ or higher grade from a professor, they will not be able to write you a strong letter of recommendation and may refuse to write one for you at all.
  3. Faculty need at least one month to comply with your request for a letter of recommendation, even if they have a letter on file, since they will probably want to update it. Never assume that letters can be faxed or emailed at the last minute. Always assume that professors are busy and have many such letters to write, in addition to their other responsibilities.
  4. In your request to faculty, you should always include a copy of your resume and transcript (unofficial will do), as well as a copy of any statement of purpose or essay that is required by the application. If no essay or statement of purpose is required, include a paragraph or two explaining to the letter writer what you hope to accomplish with their application.
  5. Always include an addressed stamped envelope, with which your recommender can send their letter, unless the application specifically calls for electronic submissions.
  6. Copies of past work done for the letter writer or even in another relevant class may be helpful for the recommender. Please ask them if they require any copies of such work.
  7. Make sure that you have filled out the section indicating whether or not you wish to waive confidentiality. Letters cannot be sent unless you have done this.
  8. Do not rely solely on email when sending your professors requests for letters. You will have much more success if you approach potential recommenders in person during their office hours.
  9. Please ask before sending electronic copies of any relevant documents (essays, transcripts, etc), as many faculty will prefer hardcopies of these materials
  10. Do send your professor a note expressing your gratitude for their help and do let them know the end results of your application.

*Adapted from guidelines found on the website of the Department of History, Brown University