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Should I let each of my recommenders for grad school know who else is writing letters for me? I often see it suggested on checklists of what information to provide the writers.

Would this help the writer in any way? The only way I can see it being helpful is avoiding potential overlap between letters.

  • The main thing is what you say--so your letter writers have a better idea what they should focus on in their letters. But you can just ask your letter writers to see if they want to know--some will care, some won't. – Kimball Dec 9 '15 at 0:09
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Overall, in my experience (as many others will likely agree), providing letter writers as much [concise and straightforward] info as possible will almost always ensure for a better letter. This includes mentioning who else is writing a letter for you (especially if they are from the same institution).

One potential benefit is the letter writer might be able to plan what strengths of yours to focus on or what tone to write the letter based on the knowledge of who else is writing your letters.

For example, if you asked two professors with whom you've previously taken separate courses that you did very well in, they might both be inclined to mention your achievement in their course. However, if you assisted with research with one of the profs and they know your other letter is being written by a professor that will likely discuss your classroom achievements, they will know to focus most of their letter on your research capabilities.

It's also not unheard of for two letter writers that know each other to discuss your achievements/capabilities. This could include, as you mentioned, avoiding unimportant overlap or, more importantly, developing better congruence concerning the "main point" grad programs should be taking away about you.

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