Get feedback. If you’re not sure of your letter-writing skills, or if your letter will carry a great deal of weight for the candidate’s application, ask for feedback from a trusted colleague who may also know the candidate. If you are putting your reputation on the line for this person, you want to put your best foot forward with this letter.
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.