Cordon J.
Cordon J.

College Application Essay Format - A Complete Guide

5 min read

Published on: Mar 6, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 20, 2023

College Application Essay Format

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When you are applying to a college or university, even the smallest decision can feel high stakes. This is mostly relatable when it comes to writing a college essay. It is the most daunting part of the college application, which feels like the most personal section.

You might agonize over the common app essay format:

  • Font style
  • Size
  • Margins
  • Structure.

Or you might stress over how to organize your thoughts and information overall.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll get to learn the basics of how to write a college application essay format. This is how you will get an idea to format and structure your college essay properly.

How to Format a College Application Essay?

Nowadays, most of the admission processes are done online. In addition, top colleges and universities have their own specific online admission applications allowing students to fill in the required blanks.

These dashboards require you to just copy paste your college essay into a text box, and you are done. No formatting, no styling needs to be done.

You usually have to attach a formatted document according to the given college application essay guidelines. You need to follow the instructions for formatting, styling, and citations.

Thus, here is a comprehensive guideline on how to format a college application essay.

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College Application Essay Format

The standard college essay format includes three main sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. Make sure to organize your story into these paragraphs.

  • College Application Essay Introduction

The essay introduction starts with a compelling hook statement that is intended to grab the reader’s attention. It provides a brief background of what is going to unfold in your essay. In the end, it gives the thesis statement that discusses the main idea of the essay.

  • College Application Essay Body

The body section is a detailed part of the essay, where you provide evidence to support your claim. Here, the information should relate to the essay topics. If you are going to follow the 5 paragraph essay structure, there will be three body paragraphs. Each paragraph is dedicated to a specific idea.

  • College Application Essay Conclusion

The conclusion is the last section of the essay, where you clearly show why you are the best candidate. Here, you will mention the reasons why you are the most deserving and perfect candidate for college.

College Application Essay Heading Format

The heading format varies according to your writing style. However, most colleges specify the requirements that you need to follow. However, if you have not got the instructions, here is how you can format the heading of the essay:

  • Left Aligned
  • Font Size: 12pt
  • Font Style: Times New Roman
  • Written in title case

Below-given is a college application essay heading format example:

Leigh Rosen

The University of California, Class of 2020

December 10, 2020

College Application Essay Title Format

The essay title is the first thing that the reader sees, so it should be prominent. The following is the correct essay title format:

  • Center aligned
  • 14pt font size
  • Times New Roman font style
  • Title case

College Application Essay Paragraph Format

Essay information is divided into paragraphs. Follow the given instructions to format the paragraphs:

  • 1.5 or double spaced
  • Left aligned
  • First-line should be indented
  • Times New Roman in 12pts
  • The 1-inch margin on all sides

College Application Essay Formatting

The formatting requirements specify the font size, style, margin, and other elements. Here are the specific requirements for the essay:

  • Font Size: 12pts
  • Font Style: Times New Roman, Ariel, Calibri
  • Alignment: Left aligned
  • Margin: 1” on all sides
  • Spacing: 1.5 or double spaced

College Application Essay Citation Format

Several formats are followed for citation styling. The most common formats are MLA, APA, and Chicago. Each style provides its specific formatting guidelines. Check out the sample given below to understand in a better manner.

Formatting Tips for College Application Essay

A college application essay is usually around 500 to 650 words. Remember, you need to spend several days researching and crafting your essay. However, the admission officer has just a few minutes to read. Thus, make sure to grab their attention in the beginning.

Here are the tips that will help you format your college application essay correctly.

  • Carefully read the formatting and word count instructions in the college application. They provide you with hints of what admission officers are looking for.
  • Choose an interesting essay prompt for your application.
  • Make a plan before you start writing your essay and decide the main idea.
  • Make sure you write about just one idea at a time.
  • Do not cover everything just to complete the word limit.
  • Catch the reader’s attention by delivering an interesting introduction.
  • Use specific details and examples to explain your life experiences.
  • It is your personal statement. Thus, make sure it should be specifically about you.
  • Do not use phrases or cliches that people have used several times before.
  • Use your inner voice and show your quality of creative thinking.
  • Use simple words and sentences that are easy to read and understand.
  • Before submitting your essay, proofread it several times to ensure it is free from all types of errors. If you are using Microsoft Word, it will highlight the spelling mistakes that will help you catch the mistakes.

College Application Essay Format Examples

High school students do not have exceptional writing skills, but they can become experts in writing with practice. Here are some college application essay samples to inspire you to write your essay.

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Cordon J.


Cordon J. (Marketing, Education)

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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