What is the Best Definition of a Standard College Essay?

It can depend on the school as well as your subject, but for the most part, college essays contain the same format and guidelines. The actual rules for the written part will change, such as the type of essay you are writing, for example, an expository essay vs. a narrative one. Here is the standard formatting for a college essay that almost all professors would deem acceptable:

  • Font in size 12 times new roman or size 10 courier new
  • Double spaced
  • Title page with professor’s name, class name, date, then student’s name and name of essay (if applicable) with the title in size 16 times new roman or 14 courier new
  • Paragraphs not indented, with space between them
  • Margins should be 1” at the top, bottom, and sides

Other than that, you’ll have to make sure that you follow any other rules and specifics that your teacher wants for this essay. There are a few more things that are common with most essays, but not all that you could use as a general guide:

  • Write within -300 or +300 words of the required page count. If your essay is longer than that, a good student should know how to edit and trim away excess. Your teacher will be looking for how well you can follow instructions.
  • Have a printed copy in case they want it handed in that way, and make sure that it is on good quality paper with clean black letters; no printer smudges and an even stapling job
  • Some teachers like seeing your last name (only the last name) in the upper right header of each page followed with a page number of which page it is in the essay

Following these rules will take you part of the way, but it’s really best to check with the official instructions that your professor gave you as well. In the case that you don’t understand everything, it’s always a good idea to ask and make sure. Your teachers are there to help you, and they don’t mind clarifying something for one of their students. They’d rather have you ask them now then write the essay and lose marks on it that could have been prevented by talking about the issue before. Essays don’t have to be as frustrating as you might think; once you have the format down, it makes it easier.

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