How To Format A College Essay: Your Guide To Formatting Process


A college essay format is a new type of writing for all students from high schools. Since college essays and school essays have different requirements, it is quite important to adjust your writing manner to a new style. And for many students, it might be a real issue to find the proper rules on how to format a college academic paper. Not this time, as we have collected the essential tips for you to hold to when writing this special type of academic writing.

How To Format College Essay: Popular Questions Answered

When you start writing an academic paper, you probably have a bunch of questions regarding college academic paper format. How to title it? How to divide it into paragraphs? How long should it be? No worries, though; all these questions are answered below.

How To Title My Essay?

The title is not necessary to include in the college academic paper format. The title takes unnecessary space, which can be filled with your thoughts. It is optional for every student only if there is no clear title requirement in the instruction. However, if the title will complement the academic paper – feel free to add it to your paper.

Do I Have To Divide My Essay Into Paragraphs?

The answer is definitely yes. As your academic paper has structural parts, it should be divided into paragraphs for a reader to perceive it logically. You can separate the structural parts using indentation tools or the double-spacing technique.

How Many Paragraphs To Divide My Essay In?

There are no strict rules on the number of paragraphs to use. However, stick to the standard that every new thought should be written from the new paragraph. In an academic paper, for example, you can start every new argument and counterargument from a new paragraph. The introduction, thesis, and conclusion should also be separate parts of the academic paper.

How Long Should My College Essay Be?

Fortunately, the majority of colleges state the word count for an academic paper in the instructions. Let’s assume it is 500 words. Then, you should write within this norm. Don’t go over the limit, and don’t write the minimum word count. Write up to 450 words, and that will be a perfect length.

What About Font, Font Size, And Color?

Don’t try to write your college academic paper with the most creative formatting. A college essay format is not a chance to experiment with the look of your paper. Thus, it is always better to stick to the standard norms. Use the standard Times New Roman or Calibri font type. As for the size, 12-point will be the most suitable. And color – always black.

How To Format An Essay For College: Submitting In A Text Box And As A Document

An essay’s formatting depends on the way you will be submitting it. There are two options in that case: writing an academic paper in a text box or attaching it as a document. And for each of those possible ways, the rules of formatting will be different. Keep up with the following tips and submit your college academic paper format properly.

Submitting in a Text Box

Since you know that you will be sending your academic paper via a text box, you should forget about marking words in bold or italics. Otherwise, all your changes will be visible in the text box. If you plan to have a special shape for your academic paper, you had better stick to a regular one. Because the text box may format it in a strange form. And the last thing you should keep in mind when submitting an academic paper in a text box is your paragraphs. Make sure to double-check they are separated correctly.

Submitting as a Document

It is way easier to format your college academic paper when you have to submit it as a document. For your document, use the standard Times New Roman font and 12-point font size. Allow a 1.5 space between your lines. Also, create a 1-inch margin for your document. When you finish editing, save your document as a PDF file as it will prevent you from unpleasant surprises that often happen when working with Word documents. For your convenience, number every page if you have several ones with your last name and the number of the page. Double-check the academic paper length; as in the text box, there will always be an indicator that leaves out the words if they go over the limit.

College Essay Structure: How To Write An Essay Properly

Now, when you know how to stick to a college academic paper format, it is high time to discuss the structure of your essay. Except in cases where the structure is specified in the instructions, you can choose which structure to include in your paper. Depending on the type, the academic paper structure may be conventional or unconventional. Let’s see how they differ.

Traditional Essay Structure

If you are a fan of traditional writing structures, you can choose from three different conventional academic paper structures:

  • A narrative that is written at the moment of the story.
  • A narrative that is written after the story happened.
  • A set of stories or a montage.

Narrative That Is Written At The Moment Of The Story

It is a very convincing academic paper structure that is aimed to describe the story as if it happens at this very moment. In-the-moment narrative engages the reader to participate in the process. Thus, it greatly influences the person who is reading the essay as he feels involved in the story. When using this structure, you can include dialogues, monologues, emotional descriptions, and other devices.

In other words, you just share your internal world as it is: at a certain moment. However, students tend to overwhelm the readers with a great number of descriptions. In that case, it is suitable to add descriptions only to understand the story but not to confide the reader.

Narrative That Is Written After The Story Happened

When the story happens, and you want to rethink it – use this academic paper structure. It can be one story and its description as well as a set of stories that have one thing in common. The idea is to depict the story and how it changed you. Don’t be afraid to add your personal feelings when sharing something important from your life experience. Your honesty will be highly valued by the reader.

A Set Of Stories Or Montage

Just as in a film, in this academic paper structure, you add some different anecdotes that together have a common theme. They should not necessarily be similar. The thing is that these stories have to form one idea. When mastering this academic paper structure, it is quite important to create a coherent transition from one anecdote to another. Even though the stories can be different, the meaning of their selection should be one. For that purpose, you can use different transition devices.

Unconventional Essay Structures

If you want to experiment, then you can play with unconventional essay structures. However, it is quite a risky chance. Some professors may not take such a structure seriously. But if you master it, your grade will definitely be the highest. See how you can implement the unconventional structure in your academic paper.

Changing The Essay Format

If you plan to write your essay creatively, you can use the following ideas.

  • Write it as a film. Add characters, their lines, dialogues, and words of the author. Remember that the whole scene should form one holistic idea. Otherwise, the reader will not understand the purpose of the movie script.
  • Add song lyrics. Whenever you want to support your statement, you can do it originally by adding the song lyrics. However, don’t forget to identify the author of the song.
  • Structure your academic paper with an interesting visual effect. You can write your essay in the form of a balloon and create a visual aid.
  • Write a college essay format in the form of a debate. It is an advanced structure, but it will be a great example for those who enter the specialties like law.
  • Structure your sentences using different techniques. You can add some sentences in a different language or even write them as programming code.

What Format Should A College Essay Be In: Final Words

The college essay format can be mastered easily if taken into account some rules.

Before you start formatting it, pay special attention to the way you will submit your academic paper. If it is a text box – don’t use formatting in italics or bold. If you submit it as a document – be sure to save it in a PDF format to avoid any changes in the Word document. For college academic paper format, use a particular structure and experiment if you believe it will be successful.

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