Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
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!
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.
Keep reading: How to write a winning scholarship essay