How to Format a Common Application Essay

If you belong to those students who are struggling with Common Application essay, i.e., the one that should be up to 650 words and written using one of several prompts, you are lucky to have found this article. The following tips will help to get your paper formatted and make it look nice. Here is what you need to know:

  • Use word processors. Although there is a Common Application text box, do not use it in the process of drafting the essay. It will inevitably lead to the loss of the text, and all your efforts will go in vain. Instead, use MS Word or Google Docs. They are simple to use, count number of words reliably, and what is the most important, have an incorporated spellcheck feature. It is exactly what you need to submit an excellent essay! Then, to transfer the paper from MS Word or Google Docs, you may just copy and paste the text or use Google Drive if you have a valid Gmail account.
  • Replace indentation. You should mind that Common Application text box does not allow the applicants to use tabbing. You need to think of another way of separating paragraphs. You may resort to block paragraphs, meaning that you should skip a line between them. However, even if you do in MS Word or Google Docs, be sure to check that this peculiarity is properly transferred to the text box while copying.
  • Do no play with fonts. If you are eager to use various fonts, add hashtags, highlighting, all caps, and other decorative stuff to the essay, you will be disappointed to find out that the maximum that Common Application text box allows is bold, italicized, and underlined writing. Whereas italics are indeed necessary for the names of books, foreign words, etc., bold font and underlining are definitely redundant in your Common Application essay. Note that if you use italics in MS Word or Google Docs, be sure to check whether the formatting was copied to the text box.
  • Do not add a title. Although a catchy and memorable title is a definitely a benefit, it might be difficult to make it look well in the text box. There is no possibility to center any text there as the way to highlight the title. A title is redundant. Still, if you are willing to include one, put it in the left upper corner and make it bold, for example. It might help to attract attention to it.
  • Do not copy the prompt. The word count of Common Application essay is limited and definitely should not be wasted on a prompt. If you are worried that a reader will not know which prompt you have chosen, please, do not! Just select the text box that lines up with the prompt best of all.
  • Do not forget about supplemental essays. If you choose to write one, remember that the formatting options of those text boxes are exactly the same. However, some questions do not have corresponding ones, so be ready to upload a file in pdf.
  • Verify the word count. All text boxes have a sign with the notification about the maximum and minimum word count. This feature is very convenient as it allows you to keep track of how much you write. However, the box might cut the text if you copy and paste it from MS Word or Google Docs file. So, be sure to check whether the whole essay, along with formatting, is copied.
  • Edit if there is a need. Common Application text boxes allows going back to the text and refining/adjusting it upon submission. If necessary, take advantage of this option.
  • Keep up with traditions. Common Application essay is not a place to demonstrate original formatting. Stick to traditional characteristics: 12-point font, Times New Roman or Arial, double spacing, etc.