common app essay

What size font for common app essay

7 mins read

In the labyrinth of college admissions, where every detail matters, the question of font size can be a source of anxiety for many applicants, particularly when crafting their Common App essays. While the content of your essay is paramount, the presentation also plays a crucial role. In this comprehensive guide, we will unravel the mysteries surrounding font size, providing practical insights and guidelines to ensure your Common App essay not only showcases your brilliance but does so with impeccable typography. Amidst the vast sea of information available online, it’s essential to note that not all essay writing services reviewed offer reliable advice on such nuanced topics. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek guidance from credible sources and experts in the field to navigate this aspect of the application process effectively.

1. The Default Standard: Times New Roman, 12-point Font

When it comes to Common App essays, the default and widely accepted standard is Times New Roman with a font size of 12 points. This classic font and size combination is not arbitrary; it ensures readability while adhering to the conventions of formal academic writing. Admissions officers are accustomed to this format, making it a safe and reliable choice.

Practical Tip: Set your default font and size in your word processing software to Times New Roman, 12 points, before you start crafting your Common App essay.

2. Margins Matter: Optimal Layout for Readability

In the quest for the perfect font size, don’t overlook the importance of margins. The Common App recommends a minimum of 1-inch margins on all sides of the essay. This generous margin not only complies with formatting guidelines but also enhances readability, creating a visually appealing document. A well-balanced layout with ample white space allows admissions officers to focus on your narrative without distraction.

Practical Tip: Adjust your margins to 1 inch on all sides to maintain a clean and professional appearance for your Common App essay.

3. Steer Clear of Fancy Fonts: Clarity Over Creativity

While creativity is encouraged in your essay’s content, the same cannot be said for your font choice. Admissions officers appreciate clarity over creativity when it comes to typography. Stick to standard and easily readable fonts like Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Fancy or decorative fonts may distract from your message and, in some cases, even hinder the readability of your essay.

Practical Tip: Resist the temptation to use fancy fonts; stick to standard options for a polished and professional appearance.

4. Formatting for a Competitive Edge: Bold, Italics, and Underlining

Enhance the visual appeal of your Common App essay by judiciously employing formatting options. Bold, italics, and underlining can be used to emphasize key points, creating a dynamic reading experience. However, moderation is key; excessive use of formatting may diminish its impact. Choose one or two elements to highlight essential aspects of your narrative, guiding the reader’s attention without overwhelming the page. As you delve into refining the visual aspects of your essay, it’s crucial to focus on the content itself. Seeking advice from the best essay writing services can offer valuable insights into striking the right balance between impactful formatting and a compelling narrative. By leveraging the expertise of these services, you can ensure that your Common App essay not only captivates visually but also resonates profoundly with admissions officers.

Practical Tip: Experiment with bold, italics, or underlining to accentuate important elements in your essay, providing a visual guide for admissions officers.

5. Proofread and Preview

Before submitting your Common App essay, engage in meticulous proofreading and previewing. A well-proofread essay not only reflects your attention to detail but also ensures clarity and coherence in your narrative. Utilize the preview function in your word processor to simulate how your essay will appear to admissions officers, catching any formatting quirks or issues that might arise during the submission process.

Practical Tip: Take the time to proofread your essay thoroughly and use the preview function to identify and rectify any potential formatting issues.

6. Stay Within Word Limits: Font Size as a Tactical Tool

Common App essays come with word limits for a reason. Adhering to these limits demonstrates your ability to communicate concisely and effectively. While the font size itself doesn’t directly impact the word count, your choice of font may subtly influence the overall length of your essay. Experiment with different fonts and sizes if you find yourself exceeding the word limit, but always prioritize clarity and readability.

Practical Tip: Use font size as a tactical tool to meet word limits, but prioritize readability and coherence in your essay.


In the intricate tapestry of college admissions, your Common App essay stands as a testament to your intellect, passion, and unique perspective. The font size may seem like a trivial detail, but its impact on readability and overall presentation should not be underestimated. By adhering to the default standard, optimizing layout, steering clear of fancy fonts, and using formatting judiciously, you can ensure your essay not only meets the technical requirements but also captivates admissions officers with its visual appeal. As you navigate the intricate details of your application, let your typographically flawless Common App essay be a beacon of your commitment to excellence.

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