Application Essay Format – How to Write It Right

06.05.23 How to write a college essay Time to read: 6min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


An application essay is one of the requirements that students must complete when applying for college. The essay must follow specific guidelines known as the application essay format.

Read on for detailed information on the application essay format.

Application Essay Format – In a Nutshell

  • An application essay is one of the key requirements for student college applications. The essay is an opportunity for students to show their personality and demonstrate their writing skills.
  • An application essay format is a set of guidelines to structure and organize your ideas when writing an application essay.1
  • An application essay format guides you in the logical direction for your essay. It also shows the examiner or application board that you can follow basic instructions.2
  • The application essay format may differ depending on the formatting style required, like:
    • MLA
    • Chicago style
    • APA style
  • The standard application essay format includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. There are also formatting guidelines regarding the font, spacing, indentation, etc.3

Definition: Application essay format

An application essay is a requirement that students must fulfill as part of their college application process.1 It helps students demonstrate their writing skills and show their personalities when applying for college. It also helps students showcase what makes them stand out from other applicants.

An application essay format is a set of guidelines that help you organize and structure your ideas logically and the application essay format guidelines may differ depending on the formatting style.

An application essay format is important because it gives your essay a logical flow. Additionally, it demonstrates to the examiner or application board that you are capable of following simple instructions.2

Tips for the final format revision of your thesis

Adjusting the format according to your university’s requirements is typically the final step. After several times of proofreading, many become blinkered to their own work and miss formatting mistakes. A 3D Look inside function representing the real-life version that can be edited virtually creates a fresh eye for formatting mistakes and helps you to detect them again.

Open your eyes with this function for free!

Application essay format: General rules

Application essay format guidelines may differ depending on the topic, formatting style, and institution. However, the following general application essay format rules are constant:

  • Word count
    You should always consider the word count given in the instructions. You should go above or below the word count by only 10%.3
  • Outline
    The outline usually includes an introduction, body, and conclusion for all application essays.2
  • Font size/style
    Avoid complicated fonts and stick to standard ones like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Aria. The default font size is usually 12 pts.3
  • Margins
    Use a one-inch margin on each of the four sides of the page.2
  • Paragraphs
    The paragraphs should be formatted in 1.5 or double line spacing. Also, use left alignment to justify the text.3

The table below demonstrates the dos and don’ts of an application essay format:


  • Follow the instructions provided
  • Ask for help if necessary


  • Assume anything regarding the format
  • Add decorative touches

Application essay format: Tips for writing

Besides the application essay format guidelines, your approach to writing the essay also matters. Here are some writing tips for an application essay:

Understand the prompt:

The prompt will guide your writing process. So, ensure that you have understood it before you start composing your essay.

Brainstorm and outline:

Once you have understood the prompt, the next step is brainstorming ideas for your essay. Next, create an outline for your essay based on the formatting guidelines.

Write the essay:

The next step is writing your essay. Ensure to employ creativity as you write.

Formatting your essay:

Follow the application essay format guidelines for application essays to format your essay.1

Edit and proofread:

After formatting, go through your essay and make changes where it is necessary. Also, check for minor mistakes like spelling errors.

Application essay format: Example

The following example will help you understand application essay format guidelines better:

The clock was remarkably slow as I sat, legs tightly crossed, squirming at my desk. “Just raise your hand,” my mind pleaded, “ask.” But despite my urgent need to visit the restroom, I remained seated, begging time to move faster. Essentially, I chose to struggle through a problem if the solution involved speaking out against it. My diffidence was frustrating.

My parents relied on me, the only one able to speak English, to guide them, and always anticipated the best from me. However, as calls for help grew, the more defunct I became. I felt that every move I made, it was a gamble between success and failure. For me, the fear of failure and disappointment far outweighed the possibility of triumph, so I took no action and chose to silently suffer under pressure. Near the meltdown, I knew something needed to be done.

Disillusioned and wrung dry of ideas, I followed my mom’s advice and joined a debate club. As expected, the club only reaffirmed my self-doubt. I became proud and confident. Moreover, I became eager to play my role in the family, and family relations strengthened. In fact, nowadays, my parents are interested in my school’s newest gossip. Four years of debate, and now I’m the kid up at the whiteboard; the kid leading discussions, and the kid standing up for her beliefs. More importantly, I now confront issues instead of avoiding them. It is exciting to discover solutions to problems that affect others.

I take a natural interest in global issues and plan to become a foreign affairs analyst or diplomat by studying international affairs with a focus on national identity. And just as my parents expect much from me, the first of my family to attend college, I have grand expectations for this field of study.

Application essay format: What should you avoid?

While there are specific application essay format guidelines, there are also things you should avoid in your essay. Most formatting guidelines do not highlight the things to avoid when writing a personal application essay.

Avoid appearing self-interested or materialistic in your personal essay. Most colleges are turned off by students that are keener on what the school can offer them than how they can benefit the school. So, your personal essay should demonstrate what you can contribute to the college community.

Avoid rehashing your resume in your personal essay. The essay should be an opportunity to demonstrate things that are not in the resume. For instance, use it to demonstrate your personality, personal growth, views on the world, virtues, and personal qualities.4

Avoid writing a generic personal essay. Colleges want to learn more about you from your personal essay. Therefore, your essay should be personable and specific. Use it to describe your interests and address specific issues. Also, do not shy off creative thinking and writing.

Avoid relying on your computer’s spell checker. Most of these spell checkers are unreliable, and they may cause you to submit a paper full of mistakes. Instead, seek professional grammar and spell checker tools for editing your personal essay.

Tip for submitting your thesis

Depending on the type of binding and customer frequency at a print shop, the printing process and delivery may take a longer period of time. Don’t lose valuable time and use the printing service with free express delivery at BachelorPrint! This enables you to finalize your thesis up to one day before hand in.

Find more details here


For the standard application essay format, you have to consider:

  • Outline
  • Font
  • Margins
  • Line spacing
  • Alignment

An application essay is a requirement that students must fulfill as part of their college application process.

An application essay format is a set of guidelines that help you organize and structure your ideas logically.

It helps students demonstrate their writing skills and show their personalities when applying for college. It also helps students showcase what makes them stand out from other applicants.


1 A., Cathy. “College Application Essay Format – A Detailed Guide.” My Perfect Words. February 22, 2019.

2 McCammon, Ellen. “How to Format A College Essay: 15 Expert Tips.” Prep Scholar. May 22, 2018.

3 Allen, Amy. “How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application.” HBR. December 14, 2021.

4 In Like Me. “19 Common Application Essay Mistakes And How To Avoid Them.” Accessed May 03, 2023.