In order to master the art of essay writing, as well as to ensure the correct college essay format, it is first essential to recognize the role and importance of such assignments in academic life. Producing a good essay requires imagination, creativity, and the ability to structure your thoughts in an effective manner. Examiners get an opportunity to assess students’ knowledge and potential from the manner in which the latter write their essays. Essentially, there is no way to separate essays from academics since the two are inextricably linked. Essays consist of two important parts, which are content and structure. Content is the matter a writer discusses in an essay, while the essay’s structure is the layout or format in which the content is placed.


The essay’s content is of the utmost importance, yet the format needs to be addressed first and you should do your best to get them right. In fact, evaluators or examiners may not even consider reading your essay if the format is not correct. For example, you have been instructed to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of formatting, but you neglect to adhere to it in your essay; an examiner may assume that you are not capable of following the most basic instructions. Therefore, it is more than just the content of an essay that counts, since examiners will assess your willingness and ability to format your work properly. Since it is crucial to pay careful attention to the formatting of papers, we have formulated simple guidelines that you can follow, and they are presented below. In case you have a college admission or an application essay to write, you may want to consider our ten-step writing guide, which is designed to help you understand this specific part of essay preparation.

NB: It is relatively easy to format a paper using Word processing software, so we recommend you use this program when you have essays to write.

College Essay Formatting

Font Size/Style, Margins, and Line Spacing

We suggest you begin by using Times New Roman 12-point font size as the default one. This font is universally acceptable for almost all types of academic papers.

When it comes to choosing the right margin size, we recommend setting one-inch margins on all four sides of each page, i.e. at the left, right, top, and bottom of all pages. It is easy to create one-inch margins. Just follow these steps:

  • Choose “Margins” in the “Page Layout” menu.
  • Select the option labeled “Normal,” which sets default one-inch margins on all sides of the page.

Paragraphs should be typed in double-line spacing. You can do this in the Microsoft Word software as well:

  • Select the option labeled “Paragraph.”
  • Look for a tab labeled “Indents and Spacing.”
  • Now select “Line Spacing,” followed by the option labeled “Double.”

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College Essay Headings in the MLA Format

Page headings must be placed in the upper left-hand corners of pages. Ensure you have the correct indentation set that is justified to the left-hand side. The following is the heading format you should use in your essays:

  1. The header’s first line should contain your name.
  2. The next line should contain the name of your teacher or course instructor.
  3. After this, you should type the name or title of the subject or course and its code.
  4. The last line should contain the submission date.

The example below illustrates the format described above:

Eric Bassett

Dr. Patrick Greene

Biology 1125

8 April 2017

Although it is often ignored, the way headers are formatted is one of the most essential aspects of formatting an essay. For example, headers should appear on every page of an essay, and a page number should not be omitted. Therefore, your last name and the essay’s page number should appear in the header of all pages of the essay, and both of these should be indented on the right-hand side of the page.     

How to format a page header in MS Word How to format a page header in MS Word

According to the MLA style guide, the first lines of paragraphs should begin with a half an inch indentation. The easiest and simplest way to do this is to press the tab key on your keyboard once. It is also important to ensure all paragraphs in your essays adhere to the same format. The following guidelines will answer your question “how do you format a college essay?”

  • The titles of papers should be centered and placed beneath the headings. After you have typed your paper’s title, you should press the enter key once before beginning the paragraph. There is a symbol in the formatting menu (¶) which, when activated, shows line spaces. You need to make sure there is one symbol separating your paper’s title from your first paragraph.
  • Check if your text is aligned to the left for every subsequent line.

Below you will find a few guidelines on formatting college essays you should adhere to during your studies. These formatting rules make essays for sale easy to read and understand. There are many peculiarities that pertain to college-level writing, and it is essential to learn these in order to become a good writer. Once you have learned how to format a college essay, it is time to consider a few tips that will enable you to write papers that are truly impressive.

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APA Format Page Headers

Header of a Page

The Header of a Page should be located in the top margin of all pages of your essay.

  1. Headers of the pages in the student essays only require numbers.
  2. Headers in professional essays must include both the running head and the numbers of pages.

Number of a Page

The following steps will help you to properly number your papers – both the student and professional ones– according to APA formatting style:

  1. Refer to the option of page-numbering in MS Word to include the numbers of pages.
  2. Place your page numbers on all pages of an essay in the top right-hand corner.
  3. The number of a title page should always start with 1.

Running Head of a Page

A running head of a page is a short version of your essay title (or if it is already short, you can include a full title). Professors of some institutions may not require including the running head in student writing assignments, while in most cases professional essays are expected to have the running head.

Follow these steps to format the running head of a paper according to the APA Style rules:

  1. Use capital letters in the running head of your paper.
  2. Do not exceed 50 characters, with punctuation marks and spaces included.
  3. Ensure that your running head does not contain any shortenings apart from the ampersand symbol (&) that you can use instead of “and” if you want to.
  4. Follow the same format of the running head on all pages of your paper.
  5. Type your running head without the words “Running head” before it.
  6. Ensure that your running head is located in the left upper corner of your paper, while the page number is in the right upper corner.

Essay Format for College

Do not beat around the bush! Sentences should be kept as simple and clear as possible. Additionally, you should make optimum use of the active voice. These tips will help you to make your sentences more convincing and enable you to convey your ideas in a more effective manner. This is a crucial point in writing any college admission essays, a genre of writing you can learn more about from our article on successful college application essay writing.

Next, you should understand the topic you have chosen or that has been assigned to you! While of writing an essay, it is extremely easy to stray off course and meander from the main topic. Therefore, when you prepare to write an essay, it is essential to stay connected to your topic in the most specific way. For example, if you are writing about “dogs,” you should not start discussing the peculiarities of cats (although dogs may enjoy chasing cats!) To remain on the right track, look back at the title or sub-title of the paragraph you have just written. Then ask this question of yourself, “In what way does the paragraph I am going to write next relate to that title?” If you see that there is a logical connection, you are ready to proceed.

Fluidity and connection should be evident in everything you write. Each sentence should be clearly linked with the ones that precede or follow it. Your written piece is likely to be deemed poor if this connection is not apparent. In order to achieve this unity and coherence, you should begin with a particular idea, then expand this idea, and bring it to a sound conclusion. That really is all! In doing so, you are already placing your essay in the “top” category.

Essays should rely on a clear structure! Therefore, it is advisable to create an essay plan with a strictly defined structure when you embark on a task like this. It is not advisable to approach essay writing in a chaotic manner without a specific goal. Begin your essay preparation by creating an outline for it, and plan every individual paragraph before you begin writing. At the same time, do not forget to plan your essay’s conclusion. You should use the concluding paragraph to summarize the entire content of your paper in the most precise and succinct manner possible so that it has a strong impact on those who read it.

Essay writing also requires creating a great title and an interesting starting point! A very difficult aspect of essay writing – possibly the most challenging part – is devising a worthy title. Not only should the essay’s title sell the entire work in a few well-chosen words, but also give a good idea about the main point that will be covered in the subsequent essay. Therefore, prior to settling on a title, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself: “What effect or impact are you trying to achieve in writing this essay?”, “Is the title you have chosen relevant to the essay itself?” Once you know the answers, you are ready to bestow upon your essay with that riveting title.

There is no reason not to follow some tips and sound advice when it comes to writing an essay, so avail yourself of as much good advice as you possibly can. When it comes to giving your essay a good start, it is vital to ensure that the opening lines in the introductory paragraph make a strong impact. Your aim should be to get the undivided attention of readers so that they are eager to read your essay to the end. To achieve this effect, the first lines need to be carefully planned. If necessary, you should consider learning more about writing high-quality paragraphs and effective essays to take the momentum and your writing skills forward.

College Essay Example

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