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.
Some applications, such as professional schools give applicants the choice to waive their right to view their letters or not. Usually, applicants are encouraged to waive their rights because if they do not, it is a sign they are not confident in their recommenders.