Your personal statement is arguably one of the most important papers in your life. This is why you should make it one of the best papers you have ever written. Every trifle is important, and the personal statement format matters almost as much as its content does.
So, what should you know about the format of a personal statement?
Personal Statement Format: Basic Principles
When writing a personal statement, you should pay proper attention to the following format requirements:
- Font 12 Times New Roman or Arial (make certain you use the same font throughout your paper, including the title page and reference list).
- Margins 1 inch (2.54 cm) on all sides.
- Double spacing.
- Citations. Make certain to give credit to other authors if you use certain ideas from external sources. Check the guidelines for the citation style you use and do your best to comply with its requirements.
- Structure – the classical 5 paragraphs structure would be great. Use the traditional essay format - there is no need to use bulleted or numbered lists, just the three main sections:
- introduction – paragraph 1;
- main body – paragraphs 2, 3, 4…
- conclusion – paragraph 5.
- Tone and word choice - make it persuasive, but avoid shameless self-promotion. Try to show why you are the best candidate ever, without saying this directly. For instance, mentioning specific academic achievements such as participating in research projects would be better than stating that you are knowledgeable about the subject.
Personal Statement Format: Common Errors
These are some errors that students frequently make in their college essays. Be sure to avoid them:
- Discussing irrelevant issues. Remember that your personal statement should remain personal. Writing about famous people or global issues (such as acid rains or terrorism) is OK only if these topics somehow shed light on your personal qualities. If they don't, simply forget about them.
- Adding non-existent drama to your story. Some students think that telling about all their trouble is the only way to win the committee’s hearts. This is false. Be sincere and do not fabricate any false evidence.
- Making it too pessimistic. Even if you decide to write about some trouble, you’d better place the main emphasis upon your success in overcoming it.
- Summarizing a resume. Use the essay format for your personal statements. Do not use bullet points or a very official language.
- Being too shy. Too much self-promotion can be truly annoying. However, the other extreme of hiding or underestimating your achievements should be avoided as well.
That was all you needed to know about personal statement formatting and style. Feel free to use this quick guide as your checklist and good luck with your personal statements.
By the way, after you write an outstanding personal statement and enter the college of your dreams, you may need these Informative Speech Topics for College Students: Only Great Ideas. As you are now half way to the beginning of your college career, you should already start collecting valuable resources for your future academic papers.