Target the recommendation. Is it for an academic post, a job, a volunteer position, a background check, or a personal reference? Write your letter so that it is focused on this purpose. For example, if the letter is part of a job application package, it should focus on the professional qualifications and conduct of the candidate.
Inform yourself about the person you are recommending. Spend some time talking to them about their goals and the position they are applying for. Gather together their current resume, any memos or notes you may have on them, and any other information that will help you as you write the letter. The best recommendations are thorough and specific, and having all the information at hand will make the process much easier.