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What’s the Best Scholarship Essay Format?
Many scholarships require students to write an essay as part of their application. These writing and essay scholarships want to learn about a your experiences, interests, or background as a student through the essay. But once you have finished writing, you may wonder: what is the best way to format my scholarship essay?
Should you include a title? What about spacing, page numbers or citations? These are important questions and should be essential parts of your editing and revising process. Keep on reading to make sure that your essay is formatted properly!
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
Jump ahead to:
- Getting started
- Essay titles
- Font size & style
- Should I single or double space the essay?
- Are page numbers required?
- Does proper scholarship essay formatting require citations?
Getting started with essay formatting
The first rule of the scholarship essay format is following all of the rules that the scholarship application states. Whether that is spacing, citations, or font size, you should always follow the directions. There isn’t a faster way to get a scholarship committee member to say “nah” than ignoring the directions.
Should you begin your essay with a title? In my experience reading scholarship essays, a title is very optional. If it is an especially clever or necessary title, then sure, go for it!
Otherwise, I would recommend saving your valuable word count and put it towards the actual essay. If you write your essay and are feeling stuck on a title, let it go and don’t worry about it.
Related: How to write an essay about yourself
Font size & style
The MLA recommends using size 12 font and that’s what we’d recommend using. As far as the style of the font, you should stick to something that is legible and easy to read. Times New Roman or Arial are both going to be good bets. The scholarship essay is not the bets place to get creative with a funky, hard-to-read font.
Should I single or double space the essay?
We know that most of your essays for school are probably double spaced. This is usually a good call for scholarship essays as well, because it makes the essay easier to read. In addition to spacing, you want to make sure that your scholarship essay is broken down into paragraphs and is not one single block of text.
Are page numbers required?
On many school papers, you may have to put a page number on each page. This is not necessary for your scholarship essays unless it is a requirement.
Does proper scholarship essay formatting require citations?
If you are citing other sources, it is a good idea to use citations. It does not matter whether you are using MLA, Chicago, or some other type of citation (unless it is specifically required). Instead, it is important to simply be consistent in how you cite your sources. Most essays probably will not require outside sources or research, but if you are applying to certain research-based or STEM scholarships you may want to brush up on your citations.
Do’s and don’ts
- Do use a 12 point font, and typically use Arial or Times New Roman
- Do cite your sources if you are using external facts. This is especially necessary in STEM essays
- Do include a title if you have an idea for a title that will make your essay more memorable
- Do double-space your essay
- Do carefully read the essay formatting requirements before submitting. These guidelines are meant to guide you through any formatting questions that are left unspecified in the application instructions.
- Don’t use any unconventional fonts
- Don’t include an overly casual or unnecessary title
- Don’t use page numbers unless the application requires them
- Don’t submit your essay before double-checking to make sure that you meet all formatting requirements
Writing can be a very stressful process for students, both in the scholarship process and the college admissions process. One of the best things that you can do is give yourself plenty of time to write and refine your essays. Ideally, you will also have a trusted outside reader serve as an editor for all of your essays.
The major rules of scholarship essay formatting are to follow the application instructions and make sure that your formatting is not distracting. Ultimately, you will want to ensure that the essay reader can easily and clearly read your essay and not distract them with sloppy or unconventional formatting.
Additional resources for writing scholarship essays
Frequently asked questions
Should a scholarship essay be double spaced?
Unless the prompt specifies otherwise, it’s a good idea to double space your essay. This makes it easier to read for the selection committee and improves the chances that your essay will have an impact.
What citation style should I use in a scholarship essay?
Always check thoroughly to see if there is a specified citation style in the prompt. If not, either MLA or Chicago are typically safe bets. If your scholarship is in a particular field, try to find out which style is more popular in said field.
Above all, the important thing to remember with citations is to keep them consistent. Don’t use half-MLA and half-Chicago, or it will come off as careless.
Do I need a title for my scholarship essay?
Unless the prompt asks you specifically for a title, you don’t need to add one. That being said, if you come up with a title that builds upon your essay or helps it to stand out, it’s fine to include it. Just remember that it’s also fine to include no title at all.
What font is good for a scholarship essay?
When it comes to scholarship essays, you want to stand out via the things you write, not the appearance of your essay. So, try to use a neutral and professional font. Usually, Arial and Times New Roman are the safest bet in this regard.