If you are submitting a manuscript for publication, or are applying for a position in the field of psychology, you will want to include a cover letter that makes clear your intentions for your submission. You also will want to ensure that the cover letter you submit is in keeping with American Psychological Association (APA) style guidelines.
Address your cover letter by naming an exact recipient. Regardless of the intent of your cover letter, you should target one specific person. If necessary, research the organization to confirm that the person to whom you are writing is the one who handles these types of inquiries. This shows you have a real interest in being involved in the organization and that you are not simply sending out letters randomly. The Purdue Online Writing Lab points out that your cover letter determines the first impression you will make on a potential publisher, employer or adviser. Be sure your cover letter is specific to the matter at hand.
Use a business letter format, starting with the date, followed by the name and contact information of the person to whom you are writing. Include a formal greeting, such as "Dear Mr. Jones," followed by a colon. Your letter should be flush left with one-inch margins on all sides of your document. Select a font that is no larger than 12 points. Accepted font choices in APA style are Times, Arial or similar legible fonts. This letter should be single-spaced, with a space between each paragraph.
Explain in the first sentence of the body of your letter why you are writing. For example, if you are submitting an article for publication in a psychology journal, you could write, "I have enclosed a document for your review which explores the possible connection between diet and developmental disorders." Throughout the body of your letter, show the person to whom you are writing how the organization will benefit from your involvement.
Include specific information about the contents of the package you are sending. The Purdue Online Writing Lab suggests that you use a "story-like format" to describe your academic and professional background in your cover letter. Cover letters are used to add context to the materials being submitted. If you have enclosed a résumé, manuscript and photographs in your package you will want to address what is being submitted and how they should be reviewed by the receiver.
Explain your intention for sending the cover letter and the other contents of the package. According to the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual, the cover letter is a rare exception in APA style guidelines that allows you to write from a first-person point of view. Detail how you would like the reader to proceed after reviewing the package.
Close your cover letter by thanking the recipient for his time and consideration when reviewing your submission. Sign your name with blue or black ink at the bottom of the page.
Things You Will Need
- APA style manual
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: General APA Guidelines
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: What is a Cover Letter?
- APA Publication Manual, Fifth Edition: American Psychological Association; 2001
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