College Essay Format: Outline and Structure

A college essay format is a series of guidelines that determine the organization of the paper. It covers the primary essay structure, citations and many more. When applying to a college, you may be agonized by the college essay format such as the fonts, margins, file format and others. Most students don’t know the appropriate format for a college essay. As a result, they fail to make their college essay appealing to the college admission board.

What Is The Format Of A College Essay?

Are you eager to know the format of a college essay? The format is based on whether you will be cutting and pasting the essay into the provided text box, especially on an online application form or attaching a formatted document in the college essay format. For this reason, check the instructions to understand the required means of delivery.

1.0 When you are required to copy and paste the essay into the text box

When doing copy and paste into the text box, check if everything is done correctly. Therefore, it is important to do the following;

  • Check that the whole essay was transferred. It is important to counter check to avoid such errors in the college essay.
  • Word count can be botched by wrong formatting or be counted differently in the text box. So, it is important to make slight changes in the text box.
  • If you copy and paste, you are likely to lose formatting, especially on bold or italics. At times, italics and bold may not work in the text box. So, it is better off not to use them, especially in this process.
  • The process may interfere with your paragraph spacing. Therefore,  describe all the paragraphs either through the tabs or skipped lines, especially when tabbing fails to work.
  • In the text box, standardized the front. However, if it fails, select a standard font like Times New Romans or Arial and a normal size of 12pt.

2.0 When you are required to attach the essay

When attaching a document, you must be concerned with the whole format of a college essay. In this case, spacing and margins are integral. Consider the following aspects:

  • Use one inch margins throughout. It is the standard and very easy for one to read.
  • Delineate the paragraphs. In this case, a single tab at the start is okay.
  • Single spaced is an acceptable spacing strategy, and some instructors may require this. However, the essay will be easier to read in a 1.5 or double spacing strategy. The latter spacing strategy makes it easy for one to read.
  • Use fonts like Times New Roman, Aria, Calibri and many more that is easy to read. The type of font you use determines the readability of the essay. College admission board members should not strain when reading your college essay.
  • You may include a college essay heading combined with a page number. You should not include your name if it is not specified in the application.

How To Structure A College Essay

A college essay structure is important because it provides you with a platform to show college administration that you are capable and different from other applicants. The structure of your college essay is a macro-level format. When we refer to a college essay structure, we mean how the essay looks on the page and the paragraphs used to build the look.

When you look at an essay, you will be able to see several paragraphs. The most common question that many people ask is whether there a secret paragraph formula that will vividly express all your strengths to a reader? Unfortunately, there is no such secret formula to make the paragraph clearer and achieve the intended format. However, a college essay is a good opportunity to play with the structure to some extent and break free from the five-paragraph essay.

In any paper, there is an introduction, body and conclusion. In a 5-paragraph essay, introduction and conclusion are given two paragraphs while the other three are dedicated to the main body. When you learn how to write a five-paragraph essay consisting of the three parts, getting the appropriate format in terms of structure despite the length becomes much easier.

  • Introduction section

An introduction is an important part of any writing, especially essays. In this section, you need to make sure that readers understand the purpose of the essay. It should give a clear idea of the direction of the essay. Also, the last sentence in this part should be a thesis statement. Your thesis statement should say why you should be admitted to the college in two to three sentences. This is a very critical part of the essay because it is how you are introducing yourself to a reader.

  • Main body section

The body forms the bulk of the essay and presents the arguments and evidence. In this part, give about three to five pieces of evidence to support the thesis statement presented in the introduction. The supporting evidence should offer some background details to the college admission board and separate your essay from many applications received. The evidence is the background of your argument because it offers the information that makes the thesis valid. Therefore, every sentence should offer information that has a direct link to the thesis.

  • Conclusion section

The conclusion is also an important part in the formatting of college essay. It sums up your argument presented in the body. This part is where you wrap up your essay by summarizing all the main points. It is worth noting that college admission board will be going through several college applications. So, it is important to make your conclusion brief but strong. Because you have presented the thesis and supporting evidence to the thesis, the conclusion is an opportunity for you to show the college admission board why your presence at the institution as a student will allow you learn while helping the school become better.

  • In-text citation

Citation is an integral part of any academic paper. Use in text citation when you cite someone else’s work. Show the reader where you found the information.


In a formatting college essay, consider the micro-level consisting of the fonts, headings and margins and the macro-level, mainly the structure of the essay.

Tips for micro-level

  • When you copy and paste the essay to a text box, ensure the formatting transfers effectively, and no cut offs.
  • When attaching the essay, ensure that the fonts can be read easily using the appropriate font, margin and file format.

Tips for the macro-level

  • Have an introduction, body and conclusion for the structure. The introduction should be clear while a conclusion should summarize the main idea presented in the body. The body of the essay should present evidence that supports the thesis statement.

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