Career Center

Basic Instructions to Create 
Electronic Letterhead and Signature

Many graduate and professional programs (such as medical schools, law schools and others) still require reference letters to be on letterhead and bear a signature—whether they are submitted on paper or electronically. Consequently, The UM University Career Center is unable to house unsigned letters and letters without letterhead since they will not be accepted by some of these programs.

When uploading reference letters to the UM Reference Letter site you can:

  1. Print your reference on letterhead, sign it, then scan and save as a PDF
    OR
  2. Use an electronic template of your letterhead and signature to create your reference letter and save it as a PDF.

In either case, file size may not exceed 2 MB.


TIPS FOR OPTION #1 (Repeat this option for each letter you write.)

  1. Type your letter in Microsoft Word or the word processing program you use.
  2. Print on your department/organization letterhead.
  3. Sign.
  4. Scan, then choose File > Save As… and select the PDF file format*; save it to your computer’s desktop.
  5. Upload your PDF to the RLS system.

TIPS FOR OPTION #2 (Use this option if you expect to write several reference letters.)

If you don’t have an electronic template of your letterhead:

  1. Contact your department/organization administrative assistant and request that a template be e-mailed to you as a Word document attachment.
  2. Type your reference letter in the template.
  3. Cut and paste an image of your actual signature.  [Names typed in a calligraphy font (e.g., john doe signature) are not acceptable.  If you do not have an electronic signature, please refer to the directions below to create one.]
  4. Save the resulting document as a PDF (from the File > Save As… menu*).
  5. Upload to the RLS system.

If you don't have an electronic signature:

  • You can easily create one in person at the Reference Letter Service. Stop by 3200 SAB, 515 E. Jefferson, during business hours (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm). With the assistance of a staff member, you will sign on an electronic pad so that your signature can be e-mailed to you or saved on your USB as an image to use to sign letters of reference and other correspondence from now on; or
  • If you have a scanner, you can follow the directions below.

If you don’t have either an electronic version of your letterhead, or an electronic signature, you will need to create a template with an image of your letterhead and signature and use this as a base for all your references.  While it is a bit time consuming to create images of your letterhead and signature, you only need to go through the steps described below once.

  • Obtain a clean paper copy of your official letterhead.
  • On a separate piece of white bond paper, sign your name several times in black ink with a good quality pen, leaving ample space around your signatures.
  • Scan both sheets and save as JPG files (preferably using a scan resolution of 600 dpi or better).  As an example, you might want to name them letterhead.jpg and mysignature.jpg.
  • [Optional] You may need to open these JPG files in an image-editing program (Photoshop, Paint, etc.) to crop and/or resize the results.  Save this altered file with a different name (e.g., mysignature_01.jpg) to avoid losing the scanned original.
  • Open a blank document in Microsoft Word or the word processing program you use.
  • Select the JPG that depicts the heading of your letterhead document and copy/paste at the top of your blank document.
  • Select the sharpest scanned signature and copy/paste at the bottom of the same document, inserting it after the closing, e.g., “Sincerely,” and above your typed name and title.  (You may need to resize your signature to fit appropriately.)
  • Save this newly created document as it will become your template for future use.
  • Type your reference letter in the template.
  • Save as PDF.
  • Upload to the RLS system.