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Reducing white space above date in Letter Class

I am using the following cover letter template: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/arc/training/latex/resumes/let9b.tex

On line 33, this template uses the \vfill command to push the letter head to the top of the page. But this also yields a large blank space between the letterhead and the start of the letter (presumably so that the bottom of the letter is at the bottom of the page). (Build this and you'll see what I mean)

What is the simplest way to have the letterhead be flush with the top and have the letter start no more than a few lines below?

marked as duplicate by StrongBad, Thorsten, Claudio Fiandrino, Andrew Swann, Kurt Dec 19 '12 at 13:27

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There are a few things you can do here to achieve what you want. I haven't really used the letter class, so not sure if the fancyhdr package will work, so here is a simple modification based on what you have provided.

Start the preamble with the following, using the geometry package to define the page size and margins etc... Remove all the other geometry-related lines thereafter and before \begin{document}

\documentclass{letter} % Uses 10pt
\usepackage[a4paper,left=2.5cm, right=2.5cm, top=1cm, bottom=1cm]{geometry}

Then, rather than using the \vfill command, put the header in a minipage, as follows.

    {\large\bf Susan R. Bumpershoot}
    \medskip\hrule height 1pt
    \hfill 1985 Storm Lane, Troy, NY 12180 \\
    \hfill (518) 273-0014 or (518) 272-6666 

Note that the \vspace(-7cm} forces the minipage to retract closer to the top of the page. Edit as required/desired.

Hope this helps.

  • I'm curious. What does the [t!] do? I'm familiar with the options t, b, and c, but I've never seen t! before and cannot find any documentation for it. – A.Ellett Dec 19 '12 at 6:34
  • Probably not so critical here, more a matter of habit. I believe that it enforces to a higher degree where the item gets placed. A good example is when you wish to put a figure at the bottom of a page, if there is 'not-quite' enough room (ie white-space is being encroached), latex may put it on the next page, but, [b!] will force it to be placed at the bottom, where intended.... – Nicholas Hamilton Dec 19 '12 at 10:35

I don't fully understand the use of the letter document class. One reason being exemplified in this "template." It is just as easy to use the default article document class to obtain a similar (and much more flexible) result:

enter image description here

\documentclass{article} % Uses 10pt
  margin=1in, % All margins are 1 inch
  ]{geometry}% http://ctan.org/pkg/geometry


  \large\bfseries Susan R.\ Bumpershoot
\medskip\hrule height 1pt
  1985 Storm Lane, Troy, NY 12180 \\
  (518) 273-0014 or (518) 272-6666 


\noindent \today


  Ms. Terri Roberts \\
  Senior Staff Recruiter \\
  XYZ Corporation \\
  Rt. 56 \\
  Anytown, New Jersey 05867


\noindent Dear Ms. Roberts:


\noindent PARAGRAPH ONE: State reason for letter, name the position or type 
of work you are applying for and identify source from  which  you 
learned   of   the  opening.  (i.e.  Career  Development  Center, 
newspaper, employment service, personal contact).

\noindent PARAGRAPH  TWO:  Indicate why you are interested in the position, 
the company, its products, services - above all, stress what  you 
can  do  for  the employer. If you are a recent graduate, explain 
how your academic background makes you a qualified candidate  for 
the  position.  If  you have practical work experience, point out 
specific achievements or unique qualifications. Try not to repeat 
the  same  information  the reader will find in the resume. Refer 
the reader to the enclosed resume or application which summarizes 
your  qualifications,  training,  and experiences. The purpose of 
this section is to strengthen your resume  by  providing  details 
which bring your experiences to life.

\noindent PARAGRAPH THREE: Request a personal interview and  indicate  your 
flexibility as to the time and place. Repeat your phone number in 
the letter and offer assistance to help in a speedy response. For 
example,  state that you will be in the city where the company is 
located on a certain date and would like to set up an  interview. 
Or,  state  that  you  will  call  on a certain date to set up an 
interview. End the letter by thanking  the  employer  for  taking 
time to consider your credentials.

\noindent Sincerely yours,

\bigskip \bigskip

\noindent Susan R.\ Bumpershoot           % name for signature 

\noindent encl:                 % Enclosures


The use of \noindent is a bit much, but I'm not sure whether you might need indented paragraphs in your letter. If not, you could just set \setlength{\parindent}{0pt} in the document preamble.

geometry provides the layout specification. margin=1in will set a 1in margin (top, bottom, left and right) for all pages.

Also see Adding a signature on an online job application for adding a signature to your letter.


This is actually a "feature" of the letter class. For one page letters, the letter class centers the letter on the page. For multipage letters the pages, including the last page, are flush with the top. The way this is accomplished is

\def\@texttop{\ifnum\c@page=1\vskip \z@ plus.00006fil\relax\fi}

To change the behavior and make a one page letter flush with the top just add to your letter file.


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