Writing an essay is one of the most vital skill that a student must learn. As early as grade school, students are taught how to make proper sentences, and how to use their words properly in order to get their thoughts across. Essays are hard work though, and there are a lot of ways to mess them up. From coming up with a topic, right up to the formatting, there are so many mistakes to be made. Understandably, a lot of people go out of their way to avoid making one. And then you reach college.
From college applications, right down to your final exams, essays essentially become unavoidable. Most times, your ability to write a halfway decent essay is the final piece to getting accepted by your dream school. Even worse, writing one decent essay could be the difference between a pass and fail. If you’re one of those who avoided essays all your life, what now?
Well, the topic needs to come from you, but to make your life easier, I can definitely help you out with the fundamentals of college essay formats.
Here’s what you need to know to go from maybe-decent to professionally appealing in just a few moves:
- Use readable fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri. Don’t go for fancy, cursive scripts that are hard to follow. Keep the frills for your glamorous presentations.
- Never stray from a size 12 font. This is the standard size for academic papers, from application essays to thesis papers.
- Cut through the monotony by using tabs. Reading big blocks of words can feel strenuous and boring. A single tab at the beginning of every paragraph will do wonders for your paper.
- Double-space. Don’t let your paragraphs get crowded in single-spaced chunks, let your words breathe, metaphorically speaking. Either go with a 1.5 spacing or go all out by using double-spacings.
- Use one-inch margins. This makes everything easier to read, and also contributes to making your essay look more clean-cut.
College applications can sometimes get tricky, so make sure you double-check everything before hitting send on all your requirements. If you’re going with the snail-mail route, then best make sure you send it early and that your mail actually arrives at its destination. You wouldn’t want to get a surprise return-to-address-mail, especially after a submission deadline, because…yikes.
College Essay Formats
College essays aren’t as free-form as most young students are used to. It’s more rigid and stricter, in order to maintain a certain standard of professionalism across all papers. There are many specific college essay formats that are usually required for different purposes, and most college students will encounter such formats one way or another.
These formats include the Chicago Styles, MLA, and APA. The difference in these formats typically lies in which discipline they’re being used in. Chicago Styles are generally found in Business fields, MLA for Humanities, and APA for Education, Psychology, and Sciences.
A standard college essay format is the Modern Language Association (MLA). It’s very similar to the previously discussed format, except the MLA has more details and is stricter to an extent. The basics of the MLA are:
- Times New Roman, size 12 font
- Double-spacing, from top to bottom
- One-inch margins all over
In the name of standards and order, the MLA format also has a page numbering requirement for multi-paged papers. Just follow these steps:
- Go to the header of your document. Either select the View tab to find it, or double-click on the upper portion of the file.
- Align right, then type in your last name, followed by a space.
- Insert a page number beside your last name using the Insert tab of your document. This option is under Header & Footer, predictably labeled Page Number.
After working out the page numbers, more data is required under the MLA format. The first page of the paper is the space for your basic information. This includes your name, the professor’s name, the course, and date. All this must be on top of each other, with your name at the very first line, subsequently followed by the rest. The easiest way to say this is:
- Your Name [ENTER]
- Professor’s Name [ENTER]
- Course [ENTER]
- Date [ENTER]
Follow it up with a center-aligned title of the essay. Bring your format back to a left alignment after the title, then hit tab for a ½ inch space, before you begin your paragraph.
Of course, after every paper, it is very important to cite your sources. To do this, create a whole new page on the document, and put “Words Cited” (not including the quotation marks) as the centered title. Make sure to change the paragraph format into Hanging, found under the Indents and Spacing Section. Then type out your sources in the MLA format, and voila! A completed essay, ready for submission.