College Essay Format with Style Guide and Tips

college essay formatTo learn about essays, it is important to understand why essays are such an important part of academics. To write a proper essay one needs to have structure of thought, imagination, and creativity. An examiner can tell a lot about a student by looking at the way a student writes his essays. Thus, essays have become an inseparable part of academics. The two most important parts of an essay are structure and content. The structure is the format and the content is whatever you write adhering to the essay format.

Before you write the contents of your essay, you need to get the format right; because without the format done properly, the examiner will not even consider reading the contents of your essay. If you fail to follow the simple MLA (Modern Language Association) instructions on how to format your essays, the examiners will think that you do not even have the capability to follow simple instructions properly. Thus, not just the content of the essay but also your ability to format properly will be judged by the examiner. Hence, it is very important that you pay attention to the simple college essay formatting guidelines, which are given below. For college applications, you may want to take a 10-step course on college application essay writing to know more.

Note: The formatting can be done easily in MS Word, so it is recommended that you write your essays in the program.

Margins, Spacing, and Font Size

First and foremost you should leave a marginal space of 1 inch from the top, bottom, left and right sides of the page. You can easily leave a margin space of one inches in Word by doing the following tasks:

  • Go to the page layout option and click the margins tab.
  • Click on the normal option, which is default to 1 inch space from all the sides.

Each and every line of the paragraph should be double-spaced. Proper line spacing can be achieved in MS Word through the following steps:

  • Select the paragraph.
  • Right click on the selected portion.
  • Go to Paragraph.
  • In the Indents and Spacing tab: go-to ‘line spacing’ option and select ‘Double’.

Make sure that you use the Times New Roman font with size 12 to write your essay. This is a universal font acceptable in all academic papers. Don’t try to use a larger font to write less!

Headings

The heading should start with the top left corner of the page. Make sure that you have set the indentation to left-justified. The left justified option can be easily enabled in your MS Word software.

The heading of the essay should follow a format which is:

  • Write your name on the first line of the heading.
  • Write your instructor name below your name.
  • Write the name of the subject and the subject code below the instructor’s name.
  • Write the date of submission below the subject name.

An example heading could be:

Marc Stevens
Dr. Thomas Daniels
Math 1005
4 March 2014

One of the most ignored but the most important parts in essay formatting is the header. The first page of the header should contain only the page number. From the second page and further, the header should contain your last name and page number, both should be right indented.

Header formatting steps for first page:

  • Go to the insert option.
  • Click on the header tab.
  • Check the different first page option.
  • Click on the page number tab in the design tab.
  • Inside the top of page option select the right indented page number.

Header formatting steps for second page and further.

  • Go to the insert option and click the headers tab.
  • Uncheck the different first page option.
  • Click on the page number tab in the design tab.
  • Choose the right indented page number style.
  • Write your last name before the page number.

The MLA rule book says that the paragraphs should start by leaving a half-inch space at the beginning. To keep it simple, you can start your paragraphs after pressing the tab button. Make sure that each and every paragraph that you write should follow this format.

  • The title should come after the heading and should be center aligned. After writing the title, make sure that you press enter twice before starting with the paragraph. You can use the formatting symbol (¶) option and check that there are two formatting symbols between the title and the paragraph. You can start writing the first paragraph after the title.
  • Keep the text left aligned every time you start with a new line.

These are simple college essay formatting guidelines that every student should follow in his academic age. The format makes the essay easy to read and comprehend for the reader. It is also very essential to learn the nuances of college writing to improve your essay writing skills. Now that you have the format right, it’s time for you to learn some tips that will help you make a killer impact with your essay.

Tip #1

Don’t beat around the bush! Keep your sentences short and simple. Also make use of the active voice as much as you can. The active voice will make your sentences impactful and also allow you to communicate more effectively. The point is very crucial in writing college application essays, you may also learn about writing a successful college application essay to know more.

Tip#2

Understand the topic! When writing essays, it is easy to drift away from the topic and go offbeat. So, when you are writing your essays you need to be connected to the topic at hand- in some way. Please do not talk about ‘birds’ when the topic is about dog food (Though dogs may love to eat birds!). To keep yourself on track, go back to the title after every paragraph you write. Ask yourself,” Is the next paragraph that I am about to write connected to the title in anyway?” If the answer to this question is ‘Yes’, then you may move forward.

Tip#3

Show connection and fluidity in your writing! There should be a connection between a sentence and the sentences following it. If you are not able to make that connection- it’s poor writing! So all you need to do is start with an idea, expand that idea and give a proper conclusion to it. That’s it! And your essay is already in the top notches.

Tip#4

Follow a structure! You should have a plan, a set structure, when you are writing an essay. Don’t go about writing your essays in a haphazard way without any goal. Plan an outline, plan each and every paragraph before you start to write. And most importantly plan the conclusion. The conclusion should summarize your essay in the most succinct form and should be able to make an impact on the reader.

Tip#5

It’s all about a killer title and an intriguing head start! One of the most difficult things in writing essays is coming up with a good title. The title should not only sell your essay in a few words but also give an idea about the most important point that you are about to make through the essay. So before giving a title, ask yourself- What impact do you want to make? Is your title relevant to the essay? And when you have the answers, go forth and give that killer title.

You should never be short on tips and good advice pertaining to essay writing, so take as many tips as you can. As far as head starts are concerned, you need to make that first few lines of the first paragraph have as much impact as possible. You need to make the reader want to read whatever it is that you have written. For that you need to plan a first few killer lines and include them in your text. You should learn some more about how to make a quality paragraph and write proper essays to keep that momentum going forward.