* I must know the individual well enough to have the basis for a recommendation, more specifically in terms of having substantive experience of their work in one or more areas by virtue of the particular role I filled (e.g., higher education administrator).
* I limit the scope of my recommendation to these areas as they pertain to my role. I would never, for example, comment on an individual's public speaking skills if I had not heard him or her speak.
* I identify and comment on the positive attributes or behaviors the individual displayed in these same areas. Using this general guideline, I have always been able to find many things to write about! If for some reason I couldn't find anything positive to discuss about a person, I would gracefully decline the opportunity to write the recommendation.
* I create each recommendation letter from scratch, neither using a past document as an example nor consulting words or phrases I tend to incorporate in such writing. Instead, I want to craft a document as spontaneously as possible after reflecting on my experience of the individual and assessing their strengths and positive attributes
The bottom line is that I feel comfortable and confident writing recommendations based on these general guidelines, and look forward to many more opportunities to do so in the coming years.