Sample Annotated Cover Letter: Serviceable

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Serviceable Cover Letter

592: 1

December 10, 2002

Portfolio Committee

English Department

Humboldt State University

Arcata, CA  95521-8299

Dear Portfolio Reader:

English has always been my weakest topic but its fun when I write about what I like or have a great amount if interest in.  I am proud of all the interesting information I have written about which I gathered from personal experience and thorough research.  I do not like sharing my undeveloped work which is a cause for the lack of sharing.  Another challenge I faced while writing my papers is length.  I found that the longer my paper was the more comprehensible and interesting they became.  Only through feedback was I able to expand my paper.  [Comment on first paragraph.]1

While writing my paper "C++ vs. Java"2 I could not come to identify my audience.  My first thought was the portfolio readers; after all they are grading my paper.  This led me to conclude that everyone should be a suitable audience.  When I first wrote my paper I was frustrated because nobody could understand what I had to say.  The intern said that I had to define and explain everything.  If I could pull this task off I would have accomplished my goal.   While working on my paper I realized that somebody that has no clue what my topic is will completely miss out on the point.  It's like trying to explain how a car works to somebody that doesn't know what a car is.  If they don’t know what a car is why would they care how it works?  My solution was to change the audience to those who have knowledge about the subject.  The change was dramatic.  I cut out a whole page of history and terms.3

My second paper The Artificial Sanctuary4 was a lot easier to write.  The ideas just rolled off my fingers although they still need to be worked on.  For example, how playing video games helped me to become a better reader.5  This topic also involves computer and it might seem to people that computers are all I care about.  That's only half true.  I chose to write about this topic because of the influence it has had on me through out my life.  That's the case with all my topics.  Oddly enough they involve computers.6  I provided specific examples to prove some of my points.  I had trouble trying to get the reader to be in the video game and experience the same feelings.  I decided that it would only make my paper stronger.7

What I and most people found very interesting in my "Free Software Foundation" paper is how I was able to talk about a topic and relate it to others.  This is also my only paper where I didn't do any planning.  I just wrote it all in one sitting.  I came up with creative but cryptic sentences such as "The United States is structured in a way in which the corporations we help succeed oppress us."8  The challenge I faced was trying to expand on that sentence before I moved on.  To me it was self-explanatory.  The history provided made it more comprehensible and is critical to understanding what the Free Software Foundation is.

During high school I was forced to do free write's and outlines for every paper.  The freedom my professor provided allowed me to discover how I produced my best work.9  This is reflected through my best piece "The Free Software Foundation".  Writing these entries has been a great learning experience.  I understand that my writing isn't the best and I have no sense for grammatical errors,10 but with time and revision I was able to over come of these hurdles.  Before I started my portfolio my goal was to be able to show knowledge of a subject and clearly articulate my ideas.11  I feel like I have accomplished my goal.




  1. This first paragraph strikes me as vague and jumbled: the writer addresses several topics and provides only generalizations, no specifics.   back

  2. This author remembers to identify each of this submissions by title--not by genre--and he formats the title appropriately.   back

  3. Here the author discusses one of his writing decisions--a very smart strategy.  Not only does he reveal his control over his writing, he also casts this section of his paper as a strength rather than as an oversight or mistake.  The analogy also works very well for me.   back

  4. This author does a good job adhering to title capitalization conventions; he does not, however, remember to enclose this title in quotation marks.   back

  5. This is author is right: some of the ideas in this paper "still need to be worked on."  As an evaluator, I am comforted by the fact that he knows it and that he can identify a section that deserves this kind of work.  After all, the first step in rectifying a problem is recognizing it.   back

  6. This section feels like a tangent to me: I don't see how this information applies to his second paper.  I would be more comfortable encountering this information, maybe, and I need more help understanding the logic of these statements.   back

  7. I need more information here: I would like to know how he solved the problem of getting "the reader to be in the video game and experienc[ing] the same feelings."  I would also like to know WHY he believes that reader connection would "make [his] paper stronger."   back

  8. I appreciate this example of a "creative but cryptic sentence[]."   back

  9. I applaud this attention to process, to how the semester has changed or enhanced is process.  Now I need to know how freewriting and outlines hindered him.  I also need to know what kind of freedom he enjoyed and how that freedom "allowed [him] to discover how [he] produce[s] [his] best work."  In other words, I need to know more about his new process.   back

  10. I am comforted by this acknowledgement because although the errors don't affect my understanding of his writing, I do find many punctuation errors.  I would be even more comforted if he had identified the kinds of grammatical errors to which he refers and if he had discussed his strategies for catching and correcting them.   back

  11. I appreciate this reference to goals, and I find myself looking forward to reading the portfolio to determine the extent to which he meets these goals.  This sentence kind of launches me into the portfolio itself--an appealing tactic.  I also appreciate the fact that he doesn't rely on the stale "I hope you enjoy reading these submissions as much as I enjoyed writing them" conclusion.   back

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Updated: 08.16.07