Issues of Length and Form


Normally, the length of a personal statement will be dictated by the application—500 words or 800 words are typical limits, as are one-page or two-page limits. If you’re given, say, a count of 1,500 words, you need not write to the maximum length, but to compose only one-half of the word count might be an opportunity missed. In any case, what matters most is that the material you present conforms as closely as possible to these word or space restrictions—parts of your application might literally not be read if you violate the rules—and that your presentation is aesthetically pleasing and easy to read. To achieve these goals, I promote the following tips:

At times, especially when you fill out an application electronically or have to cut and paste, word limits will be defined by physical space. In such a case, keep enough white space between your text and the application text that the material isn’t crowded, and choose a font different from that used in the application if possible. Also, if your application is electronic and requires you to cut and paste text or conform to a word or character count, check the material that you input carefully to be certain that it’s complete and reads just as you wish it to. In some cases, you may lose special characters or paragraph breaks, and words over the maximum allowable count may be cut off. The safest practice is to proofread anything you send electronically within the very form in which it is sent.

Other online sites that give space to the subject of length and form in personal statements are these:

“Applying to Graduate School: Writing a Compelling Personal Statement,” from the International Honor Society in Psychology

“FAQs for Writing Your Graduate Admissions Essay,” from about.com

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Personal Statement

Personal Statement Format

Nova A.

Personal Statement Format | Step-by-Step Guide With Examples

Published on: Apr 13, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

Personal Statement Format

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A personal statement is often required of applicants to jobs, internships, and graduate programs. It can be challenging because you need to answer some questions about yourself in this document while still keeping it interesting!

Your statement should be more than just a list of skills and accomplishments. Here you have the perfect opportunity to write about your career goals, what makes you unique from other candidates.

These statements are always different and dependent on the institution you're writing for. But all types of statements require a specific format as in other academic papers, so make sure to follow these guidelines carefully!

This statement is a core component of the application essay process. In this blog, we will discuss how to write a personal statement in the correct format. So, let’s get this started.

What is a Proper Personal Statement Format?

You should always follow formatting and structure guidelines when writing your personal statement. By following the proper format, you can ensure all the information is organized correctly for easy reading!

Make sure you format your statement in both interesting and engaging ways. Here is a basic format that should help you get started:

How do you format a personal statement heading?

A statement heading should include the name of your document, your name, and for which school or department.

These statements should be formatted in a standard, reader-friendly style. Carefully consider the type of formatting that will make your statement appealing to review.

As admission committees go through thousands of these documents each year, it is important to make sure that you stand out from other applicants.

How to Format a Personal Statement?

Many students ask,  'What is the format of a personal statement?’ How should I write my personal statement?

The requirements for writing a statement vary but generally, it includes specific information in the format.

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It often begins with an opening statement designed to grab the reader’s attention. In this opening paragraph, you can highlight your skills and experiences so they can connect directly to the program you're applying for.

If you are applying for a degree or a position, make sure to include the program name and your title.

Body Paragraphs

In these paragraphs, you need to answer any specific questions about your qualifications, long-term goals, and compatibility with the program.

Should a personal statement have paragraphs?

Yes, your statement is a series of well-written paragraphs that connect together in an elegant and logical way.

Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence to inform the readers of what that paragraph will be focusing on. Also, provide examples from your experience and make sure these are relevant to the argument.

In conclusion, summarize all the points discussed in your body paragraphs. Also, restate your interest in that specific program or position you're applying for.

Highlight how this degree or position will help you achieve your long-term goals.

Personal Statement Format Examples

Do you want to know more about the perfect personal statement format? Check our helpful examples. Going through them will give you a great idea of how to outline your personal statement.

It is important to know the specific details that should be included in your statement. You want it to match who you really are and what makes YOU unique, right? We've provided some good examples of perfect statements below:

It is important to avoid plagiarism, but you should feel free to use the following examples as inspiration for your own statement.

Personal Statement Format for College

A statement for college is written to show admission officers who you are and why your talents deserve a place at their college.

In college personal statements, you must discuss your high school major accomplishments. With the help of this example, you can format your own statement for college.

The following example includes all sorts of ways to ensure that it is personalized and interesting enough, so colleges want YOU!

Personal Statement Format Graduate School

This statement is a chance to share more about who you are. It should not be simply an introspection but also provide insight into your plans and goals.

Do you want to know the best way to create an engaging and creative graduate school personal statement? Check out this example! This will help ensure that all of your information has been properly formatted.

Personal Statement Format for Masters

This statement is an opportunity to express your unique qualities in a way that will make you stand out from other applicants.

You might be wondering why students study the courses they do. They have reasons for wanting to take that specific course. Look at this Master's example to know how they mention those specific reasons.

Personal Statement Format for University

A personal statement is the most important document. It will help you convince the admission committee why you are a deserving candidate to study at their university.

These examples will help you write your own statement in an engaging and informative way.

MBA Personal Statement Format

It's time to take the next step in your career! Get an edge over other applicants by writing the perfect MBA personal statement.

It's not too late to get into the MBA program you've always wanted. This easy personal statement format template will surely help you write one.

Personal Statement Law School Format

This statement is your chance to reflect upon life and show law admission committees who you really are. So, it must be well-written and formatted correctly.

A perfect law school personal statement can be drafted using the following format:

Nursing School Personal Statement Format

The nursing personal statement is an integral part of your application process. It's an opportunity to show off your personality and address any questions that admission committees could have.

The following example will inspire you and ensure that your statement is on the right track.

Personal Statement Format Medical School

Personal statements for medical school are an opportunity to tell your story and explain why you want to be a doctor.

Your medical school personal statement should be creative, interesting, and engaging. The following example is a great way to stimulate your creativity.

Personal Statement Format for Job

What makes you stand out from the others? That's what your statement should be all about. It is an opportunity for self-expression and highlighting what makes you special, so use this space wisely!

Writing a statement for your job application can feel overwhelming, but don't worry! This is one of the short personal statement examples that will guide you through the process.

When you start writing a personal statement, always refer back to the guidelines and examples provided above.

When you are ready to write your statement, remember that it should be professional and follow all the formatting guidelines. After you've done writing, read your personal statement several times to ensure it is error-free.

This statement is a tricky thing to write for a lot of reasons. Sometimes mistakes are just too hard to overlook, and in the end, you lose everything that matters most - your chance at getting into college or university.

Wasting your time on your statement is a huge mistake. However, if you make the wrong choice, it's game over for scholarship opportunities.

Many people miss an opportunity by not doing enough to make their school application form perfect. But there’s always a way, and that includes hiring professional writers who can write custom statements for you!

The right professional writer can help you craft a statement that will make it easy for you to get into any college or university of your choice. A statement written by professionals flows smoothly and is impressive throughout.

You can get the best paper writing service at  CollegeEssay.org  to increase your chances of enrolling in your dream college/university. Bring to the table all of your important information and let our expert writers take care of it.

All you need to do is place your order and make a great first impression!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a personal statement.

A personal statement should not be more than 4,000 characters, so you'll need to stay within this limit when writing one. 

Does a personal statement need a title?

There is no need to add titles when submitting your personal statement. Avoid mentioning things that the college wants you to say. Be honest and genuine about yourself! 

Should I leave spaces between paragraphs in my personal statement?

Yes, you should leave spaces between paragraphs to avoid cramped-looking text. 

Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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Personal Statement Format

Should Personal Statements Have Paragraphs: A Guide

personal statement lines between paragraphs

There can be a degree of speculation regarding paragraphs in personal statements.

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Institutions and organisations often require a specific formatting style, especially concerning upload protocols, which can sometimes confuse applicants.

So, whilst there is no single rule for all applications, here’s a guide to whether personal statements should have paragraphs…

Personal statements should always have paragraphs. On average, a single page of typed text should contain between 4 and 6 well-written and logically structured paragraphs, and each paragraph should be focused on a single point, although a range of illustrative examples can be used.

That can mean that you may end up condensing your paragraphs into a single block, but it’s always worth structuring your statement in a paragraph format as you write it.

Here’s an example of how structuring your personal statement into specific paragraphs can deepen its impact and effectiveness…

Your First Paragraph Should Engage The Reader

You can demonstrate your individuality by giving the reader an insight into your background and personality.

You might begin by outlining an inspiring personal experience or achievement or explaining how you discovered an initial interest in the course or role you are applying for.

However, including a passage that conveys your academic or practical suitability, whether through a qualification you gained outside of formal education or a course you attended in preparation for your application, adds significant value and can be highly compelling. 

Similarly, it is good practice to include a passage in the first paragraph of your personal statement that makes a clear link between a skill or experience you possess and how it connects directly to the demands of a course or role.

Middle Paragraphs Should Be Logically Structured

Let’s assume that you are writing a standard six-paragraph personal statement , even if, ultimately, you later condense these paragraphs to meet a specific line or character count.

Writing in paragraphs as you develop your document is vital, not just because it allows you to visually navigate your document more accurately, but because it allows you to structure the content logically.

Personal statements are most compelling when the reader can see aspects of these three elements included in every paragraph.

By connecting your knowledge, motivation, practical activities and skills together within each paragraph, the links between each are strengthened and repeated, and the impression given to the reader is far more impressive.

Your Final Paragraph Should Outline Wider Skills

You should avoid writing your last paragraph in this style, as in most cases, a conclusive paragraph fails to add new information or further affirm your suitability.

You’ll often be working to a word or character limit and won’t have the space to repeat content.

“Don’t waffle – make sure that all information noted is relevant and you show how skills learnt from hobbies/outside interests are transferable to your chosen degree”. Cardiff University Admissions Team

Admissions tutors are looking for candidates who not only evidence academic suitability but who will cope with the social and practical demands of a more independent Higher Education.

You can check out my post on how to write about transferable skills here .

Perhaps you are looking forward to working as a volunteer counsellor on campus, or maybe your industry experience will be something you will enjoy passing on to your peers?

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

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Should an Application Essay Be Single-Spaced or Double-Spaced?

Best practices for spacing your college application essay.

Some college applications allow applicants to attach an essay as a file. To the chagrin of many, quite a few college applications do not provide guidelines for formatting personal essays , whether it be for undergraduate, transfer, or graduate admission.

Key Takeaways: Single vs. Double Spacing

The Common Application and many online forms will automatically format your essay, so you have no say when it comes to spacing.

Always follow directions if a school states a preference for single- or double-spaced essays.

If the school provides no guidelines, either single- or double-spaced is fine with a slight preference for double-spacing.

Your essay content matters much more than the spacing.

Should your personal statement be single-spaced so that it fits on a page? Should it be double-spaced so it's easier to read? Or should it be somewhere in the middle, say 1.5 spacing? Here you'll find some guidance for these common questions.

Spacing and the Common Application

For applicants using The Common Application , the spacing question is no longer an issue. Applicants used to be able to attach their essay to the application, a feature that required the writer to make all kinds of decisions about formatting. The current version of The Common Application, however, requires you to enter the essay into a text box, and you won't have any spacing options. The website automatically formats your essay with single-spaced paragraphs with an extra space between paragraphs (a format that doesn't conform to any standard style guides). The simplicity of the software suggests that essay format really isn't a concern. You can't even hit the tab character to indent paragraphs. For Common Application users, instead of formatting, the most important focus will be on choosing the right essay option and writing a winning essay .

Spacing for Other Application Essays

If the application provides formatting guidelines, you should obviously follow them. Failure to do so will reflect negatively on you. So if a school says to double space with a 12-point Times Roman font, show that you pay attention to both details and instructions. Students who don't know how to follow directions are not likely to be successful college students.

If the application does not provide style guidelines, the bottom line is that either single- or double-spacing is probably fine. Many college applications don't provide spacing guidelines because the admissions folks truly don't care what spacing you use. You'll even find that many application guidelines state that the essay can be single- or double-spaced. After all, the school has an essay requirement because it has holistic admissions . The admissions officers want to get to know you as a whole person, so it's the content of your essay, not its spacing, that truly matters.

When in Doubt, Use Double-Spacing

That said, the few colleges that do specify a preference typically request double-spacing. Also, if you read the blogs and FAQs written by college admissions officers, you'll usually find a general preference for double-spacing.

There are reasons why double-spacing is the standard for the essays you write in high school and college: double-spacing is easier to read quickly because the lines don't blur together; also, double-spacing gives your reader room to write comments on your personal statement (and yes, some admissions officers do print out essays and put comments on them for later reference).

Of course, most applications are read electronically, but even here, double spacing allow more room for the reader to append side comments to an essay.

So while single-spacing is fine and will be the default for a lot of essays submitted electronically, the recommendation is to double-space when you have a clear option. The admissions folks read hundreds or thousands of essays, and you'll be doing their eyes a favor by double-spacing.

Formatting of Application Essays

Always use a standard, easily readable 12-point font. Never use a script, hand-writing, colored, or other decorative fonts. Serif fonts like Times New Roman and Garamond are good choices, and sans serif fonts such as Ariel and Calibri are also fine.

Overall, the content of your essay, not the spacing, should be the focus of your energy, and the reality is that your spacing choice doesn't matter much if the school hasn't provided guidelines. Your essay, however, is extremely important. Be sure to pay attention to everything from the title to the style , and think twice before selecting any of these bad essay topics . Unless you fail to follow clear style guidelines provided by the school, it would be shocking for the spacing of your essay to play a factor in any admissions decision.

personal statement lines between paragraphs

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Common App Essay Formatting & Style Guide + Common Grammar Mistakes

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This guide to how to format the Common App essay and other college essays is dedicated to helping you take some of the guesswork out of punctuation, style, grammar. We’ll also share some common college essay grammar mistakes students make and show you how to fix them. 

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How to use the guide: We recommend skimming the document, reading the sections most relevant to you, then returning periodically, as a reference, as you write your essays. Use Ctr+F to find something in particular, or scan the Table of Contents for links that’ll take you right to what you’re looking for. To make it easier for you to skim, we’ve listed the top mistakes and style questions first, in order of what we see most often, then list the rest, in alphabetical order.

Table of Contents

Quotation Marks

About the Common App Platform



Apostrophes, word choice, 10 common grammar & style mistakes, 1. dangling/misplaced modifiers.

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2. Absolutes/Extreme language

Examples: Incorrect : Science has always been the lens through which I have observed the world, and it has shown me a different side of diversity. Correct : I observe the world through the lens of science, and it has shown me a different side of diversity. Incorrect : We used to go to the movies all the time. Correct : We frequently went to the movies.

Examples: Mary and her brothers prefer Thai food over Indian. The Lions and their mascot are taking the field.

Examples: The professor or the TA decides how the lab will be graded. Only a small car or a motorcycle fits in that spot.

Examples: Depending on who’s teaching the class, the professor or his assistants are in charge. Depending on who’s teaching the class, the TAs or the professor is in charge.

Examples: The box of cookies sits unopened on the counter. A class with 10 people of various skill sets is difficult to teach. The college campus , which has dozens of buildings spread over several square miles, is difficult to traverse.

Examples: On Friday, the committee votes to determine the new lunch policy. The girls varsity soccer team is on a winning streak. A family of ducks is living in the bush in front of my house.

Examples: The news these days is depressing. Sports is an all-too-common topic for personal statements.

Examples: His pants are too tight. The scissors are broken. The binoculars help you see long distances.

Examples: Everyone in the room knows at least one lyric to that song. No one in the class has earned an A on any of the tests so far. Anyone who has an interest is welcome to join the club.

4. Oxford Comma

The comma is commonly used in academic circles, so the people reviewing your essays are likely more used to seeing it than not. 

Not using the comma can cause confusion, as in this sentence: Asked to name her heroes, Sally listed her parents, Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr. (Read one way, this may seem to suggest that Angelou and King are Sally’s parents.) Fun fact: The extra comma was so consequential in one famous instance that dairy farmers in Maine won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that hinged on its omission—one more reason to favor the extra punctuation point. 

For students interested in hearing both sides of the debate, we recommend reading this essay for a well-presented argument against the comma’s use.

Examples: After running out of ingredients for the cake recipe, she went to the store to buy eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The course teaches kids how to bait their tackle, identify fish species, and cook their catches.

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5. Em-Dash vs. En-Dash

Examples: The em-dash — so named because it’s the width of the letter m — is the longest dash. The en-dash – so named because (you guessed it) it’s the width of the skinnier letter n – is the shorter of the two.

Examples: The world-class design won many awards. The design was world class , winning many awards. She wanted to live in off-campus housing. Her dorm was off campus .

Examples: The teacher had a party in her classroom when she turned fifty-six . The Smiths have a 10-year-old .

Examples: He was a self-described genius. He was an ex-military officer. The class was all-inclusive .

Examples: The president-elect will be inaugurated in January. The mayor-elect gave a speech.

Examples: The revolt occurred in the mid-1900s . The pre-Civil War era is also considered the Antebellum Period. Federal authorities believe anti-aircraft missiles took the plane down.

7. Quotation Marks

Examples: “I love it when my teacher gives extra credit,” Sally said. “It helps me stress less about getting every answer right.” He was told to “stand his ground.” Rebecca didn’t know what her teacher meant when she said to “do the right thing,” asking for specific examples. Exception : When question mark isn’t part of the quote, as in: Why would anyone say, “It is what it is”?

Exception : Use single quotes to set off a quote within a quote, as in: “John keeps saying, ‘Don’t do that,’ when I twirl my hair,” Jackie said.

8. Parallel Structure

Examples: Do this : The camp offered fishing , boating and kayaking on weekends in the summer. Not this : The camp offered fishing , boating and rides in a kayak on weekends. Do this : The professor instructed the students to take out their pencils, write down what they think will be on the test, and turn their papers in. Or also : The professor instructed the students to take out their pencils, to write down what they think will be on the test, and to turn their papers in. Do this : The class had several main goals: to teach the basics of physics, to prepare students for advanced physics, and to get students used to working in teams. Or also : The class had several main goals: teaching the basics of physics, preparing students for advanced physics, and getting students used to working in teams. Not this : The class had several main goals: to teach the basics of physics, preparing students for advanced physics, and students learn how to work in teams.

9. Spacing at the End of a Sentence

10. exclamation marks.

Exception : As the cliché goes, there are exceptions to every rule, and the exclamation point is no exception. Below are examples of when the exclamation mark is more acceptable: In direct quotes that express emotion : She looked at me hard and snapped, “I can’t believe you even said that!” When using onomatopoeia : I turned around, and, bam! The door slammed in my face.

Common App Essay Formatting & Style: What You Need to Know

Activities List Style Exceptions:

College Essay Grammar & Style: What Else You Need to Know

Ambiguous pronouns.

Examples: Incorrect : Julie took Sandy to the movies after she got home from work. Correct : After Julie got home from work, she took Sandy to the movies. Incorrect : When the vase toppled onto the glass shelf, it broke. Correct : The vase broke when it toppled onto the glass shelf.

Formatting Do’s & Don’ts

Examples: On first reference : The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert on the coronavirus Tuesday. On second reference : The CDC said all Americans who plan to travel to China should take specific precautions.

Note: It’s not necessary to use course code (e.g., Chem 103) in the ‘Why us?’ or other essays, and leaving them out can help you save on word counts. But if you prefer to use them for a specific reason, that’s ok too.

Examples: Chief Marketing Officer Mary Nunez was promoted Thursday. Mary Nunez is chief marketing officer for the Delta Farm Co. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer has led the Senate as minority leader since 2017. Schumer is the Democratic senator from New York. Exceptions: Capitalize your positions or job titles on your resume and Common App activities list.

Examples: I attended Berkeley High School for three years before finishing my studies at Fusion Academy Berkeley. My high school doesn’t offer AP classes.

Examples: When writing your personal statement, you have a choice: Do you tell the story of your life or a story from your life? The teacher gave us an assignment, but we knew we didn’t really have to do it.


Examples: I walked into the house, and my abuela greeted me with two besos on the cheek. She had a certain c’est la vie attitude toward life.

Examples: If I don’t get started now, Johnny thought, I’ll never get it done. My mind was flooded with questions. How can they get to know me if they’ll never meet me in person? Should I try to get an interview? What if I can’t?

Examples: “How to Revise Your Essay in Five Steps,” from College Essay Essentials “The Ghost at the Window,” from Wuthering Heights

Examples: “Illinois state employee retires at 102” in USA Today “Germany Navigates Its Climate Policies” in U.S. News & World Report “The Flip Phone Is Back and It’s Not a Total Flop” in The Wall Street Journal

Note: Use the headline styling used by the publication you’re quoting. In these examples, for instance, USA Today uses sentence case, capitalizing only the first word or proper names, like you’d do in a sentence (Ex.:“Why did the DOW tumble again on Tuesday?”). U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, use title case, capitalizing the first letter of each word except certain small words (Ex.: “Alcohol Grows as a Prime Time Killer”).

Examples: “An extra-uterine system to physiologically support the extreme premature lamb” “A Non-Canonical Function of BMAL1 Metabolically Limits Obesity-Promoted Triple-Negative Breast Cancer”

Note: Use the headline styling used by the publication you’re quoting.

Examples: When quoting something someone said : “If you expect to pass this class, expect to put in the work,” our teacher says.

Pro tip: Use direct quotes for statements that express emotion, personality or something specific you’re trying to portray. Otherwise, paraphrase, especially for routine facts. For example:

Do this : The instructions said to only use a piece of paper and a black pen. Not this : “You may use only a piece of paper and a black pen for this exercise,” the instructions said.

When quoting from a publication : “More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists,” the World Health Organization wrote in a recent press release.

Important note: If you cut and paste from another source—a particularly compelling quote, for example—you must use quotation marks and cite the source to avoid violating plagiarism rules. If you don’t want to use quotes and prefer to paraphrase, you have to substantially change the wording of the quote you’re citing.

Incomplete comparisons

Examples: Do this : The meal was healthier and tastier than the students expected of a lunchroom. Not this : The meal was healthier and tastier. Do this : The 2020 Chevy Impala is sleeker and more aerodynamic than earlier models. Not this : The 2020 Chevy Impala is sleeker and more aerodynamic.

Exceptions: Spell out any number that starts a sentence (except years). Examples: She counted 11 people walking with her. Thirty people were standing in line. 2019 had arrived.

Overused words

Passive voice

For anyone who’s curious, passive voice is primarily a verb construction in which the verb contains a form of [to be] + past participle, like “was smashed” or “are driven” in the example above. (Passive voice is often defined as “when a thing isn’t doing the thing that it’s doing in a sentence”... but that doesn’t seem super useful or clear.) And if you really want to dig into it, in particular to see instances in which passive voice is a good choice, UNC Chapel Hill does so nicely here .

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Examples: The girls’ soccer jerseys sported the embroidered championship patch from last year’s victory. It was the first time the girl’s mother met her teacher.

Examples: Incorrect : She went through high school and college in the 1990’s . Correct : She went through high school and college in the 1990s .

Examples: He knew what he had to do next: run.

Examples: Here are the top 10 reasons to lower the voting age: (followed by a bulleted or other list) This year, I plan to visit five cities in one trip: London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, and Versailles.

Examples: I’ll tell you this: Punctuation is tricky. The dog knew how to beg: with his eyes.

After introductory clauses Example: After taking a shower, I put on some clean clothes and headed to bed. Before and after parenthetical clauses Example: She took out her tablet, which she bought two weeks ago, and tried to log in. When addressing someone Example: It’s time to take a bath, Johnny. Before and after a year in a date in the middle of a sentence Example: He was born on June 5, 2005, in Biloxi, Miss. After a state when used with a city in the middle of a sentence Example: He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in the dead of winter. In compound sentences, with a conjunction like “and” Example: My iPad captured their attention, and I could see their eyes light up.

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After a question mark or exclamation mark in a quote Examples: Incorrect : “When are we going to be done already?,” she asked. Correct : “When are we going to be done already?” she asked. Around “too” Examples: There is no clear consensus around whether to use a comma before (and after, if it’s in the middle of a sentence) the word “too.” But we prefer not to use the commas because leaving them out saves characters and doesn’t force the reader to pause. (Ex.: He too believes her.). In the comma splice "Comma splice" is the term for when two independent clauses are mistakenly linked together by a comma (essentially, creating a run-on; not to be confused with the compound sentence, which does require a comma before its coordinating conjunction). Examples: Incorrect : He used to root for the Dolphins, now he’s a Patriots fan. Correct : He used to root for the Dolphins, but now he’s a Patriots fan. Correct : He used to root for the Dolphins; now he’s a Patriots fan. Correct : He used to root for the Dolphins. Now he’s a Patriots fan. Separating the subject and verb Examples: Incorrect : Thomas the Train, is still popular among toddlers. Correct : Thomas the Train is still popular among toddlers. After “but” or “yet” in the beginning of a sentence Examples: Incorrect : But, he knew he was wrong about trusting his former bandmate. Correct : But he knew he was wrong about trusting his former bandmate. Incorrect : Yet, those who knew him knew he wasn’t capable of such a crime. Correct : Yet those who knew him knew he wasn’t capable of such a crime. In “not only but also” construction Examples: Incorrect : He was not only kind, but also smart and helpful. Correct : He was not only kind but also smart and helpful.

Examples: He took the long way to school; he had no choice.

Examples: He plays the trombone, and he’s pretty good at it. He plays the trombone; he’s pretty good at it.

Examples: He was not only the smartest person in his class; he was also the most popular.

Examples: The class represented a wide range of cities from across the United States: Peoria, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Los Angeles, California; Dallas, Texas; and Boston, Massachusetts. The campers learned how to tie a knot, using just one hand; how to fish, in a lake and a stream; how to kayak, with and without oars; and how to build a bonfire.

Examples: The campus is dark at night; however, lighted paths are available on certain paths.


Examples: Her concussion affected her performance in all her classes. We’ve been seeing the effects of climate change for years now.

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Examples: The book alluded to Hitler’s mental decline. The escaped prisoner eluded the dragnet for six days before he was caught. It’s on the tip of my tongue, but the word eludes me. She’s won second place four times, but the top prize continues to elude her.


Examples: Rich assured Katrina that he turned off the stove before he left the house. The nurses are responsible for ensuring patients get their medications on time. He didn’t worry about the damage to the fender because the car was insured .


Examples: When asked to name my favorite treat, I had to choose between Kit Kats, strawberry ice cream, and gelato. When handing out the treats, the teacher had to distribute them evenly among the class.


Examples: The blazer complemented her outfit nicely. Tony complimented his brother on his passing techniques.


Examples: Freida wore a complementary ensemble of blues and greens. Ivan received nothing but complimentary feedback on his speech. The venue gave out complimentary beverages to military veterans.

Each other/one another

Examples: Tom and Nancy looked each other in the eye and promised not to lie. All 10 students sat next to one another , in adjoining seats, so they could study together.


Examples: My parents emigrated from Europe in the 1940s. Juan’s family immigrated to America during the Mariel Boat Lift.

Everyday/every day

Examples: The writer was asked to put the manual in everyday language. Mary uses her favorite pen every day .


Examples: We had to drive farther than we wanted to reach our destination. I plan to explore the topic further when I get to college.

Examples: He tried to hand out supplies to the class, but he had fewer pencils and less paper than he needed. I drink less water than I should. (But: I drink fewer glasses of water than I should.)

Examples: He did well on his exam. The test was a good measure of what we learned in class.

Examples: The candidates homed in on their opponents’ weaknesses in the last month of the race. Shania wanted to find a summer internship that would allow her to hone her skills as a researcher.

Examples: Katrina’s loves classical movies ( e.g. , Casablanca, Some Like It Hot, and On the Waterfront). I prefer certain fruits over others ( i.e. , the ones with seeds and not pits).

Note: Both “i.e.” and “e.g.” are followed by periods and commas, and in formal writings (like college essays), they are typically set off by parentheses, as in the examples above.


Examples: The instructions implied , without explicitly stating it, that you could take as much time as you wanted. She inferred from the group’s body language that they were getting bored with the lecture.

Examples: One in three women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. Sears announced in 2019 that it was closing most of its stores.

Examples: Jeetu lost his phone, but he thinks it’s in the classroom. The chair is in good condition, even though its upholstery is starting to fade.

Examples: Whenever I lie in the sun for longer than 10 minutes, I make sure to use sunscreen. She likes to lay her purse on the chair so she won’t forget it when she leaves. He lay in his bed for hours, tossing and turning, before he finally fell asleep. I laid the paper out on the counter so he could see it.

Examples: Jonathan took the lead in the last lap of the 10K, though he felt like his feet were made of lead. More than 30 Ram trucks led floats in last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Examples: Joe Smith won the primary but went on to lose the general election. Amy wouldn’t spend more than $10 on sunglasses because she knew she’d lose them. The chain was loose around his neck.

Examples: Toby and I went to the movies. Santa left presents for me and my sister, but not for our dog Chase.

Note : “I” comes second in the grouping; “me” comes first. Pro tip : When in doubt on which to use, remove the other person from the sentence. So, for the first example, try: I went to the movies. It wouldn’t be “Me went to the movies,” so “I” is the correct choice. For the second example, try: Santa left presents for me. It wouldn’t be “Santa left presents for I,” so “me” is the correct choice.

Examples: I couldn’t hear the phone ring because the sound was on mute . Jessica was going to explain why she deserved the job, but the point was rendered moot when Clark offered her the position.


Examples: Our teacher taught us a number of lessons on displacement and velocity before our physics test. We had a good amount of practice before we were asked to try the long jump.

Examples: Incorrect : I should of known the concert would be sold out a week before the show. Correct : I should have known the concert would be sold out a week before the show.


Examples: About 5,000 people have reached the peak of Mount Everest. Rush hour peaks at 6 p.m. Charlie peeked around the corner to see if anyone was coming. His mother was piqued that he didn’t finish the souffle she made just for him. The question piqued my interest; I had to find out more.

Pro tip : Here’s one way to remember the differences: “Peak” has an a, like in “acme;” “peek” has two e’s, like in “eye;” and “pique” has que in it, like “question.”


Examples: Nick O’Shea is the principal of John I. Leonard High School. Many people argue over the principal cause of the Democrats’ loss in the 2016 election. I agree with you in principle , but I take issue with your arguments. Nelson Mandela was a man of principle .

Examples: He was taller than I thought. Marcus graduated from UCLA, then pursued a doctoral degree in quantum physics at MIT.

Examples: The ball, which has three red spots, sat in the corner of the room. The ball that has three spots sat in the corner of the room.

Note that: The ball which has three spots is in the corner of the room. is also grammatically acceptable. But it’s probably not worth arguing with someone over. Also, some style manuals, such as The Chicago Manual of Style, recommend generally avoiding “which” in restrictive structures. When you’re in college, make sure you’re adhering to style guidelines for different fields (e.g. MLA, APA, Chicago). (*Note that in British usage, “which” and “that” are used interchangeably in restrictive clauses. In American usage, there’s disagreement. Though linguists generally seem to think the disagreement is silly —both work.)

are both fine.


Examples: The Kims celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. You’ll love my friends; they’re a blast. He wanted me to go there to bring him the keys. She knew there was only one answer to the question.

grammar 8.png

Examples: No one knew who ate all the pastries in the breakroom. (Here, “who” is the subject for the verb “ate.”) The coach was still deciding whom he should pick to start the next game. (Here, “whom” is the object of the verb “pick” → he should pick him/her/them/whom.) To whom it may concern: (Here, “whom” is the object of the preposition “to.”)

Note: Sometimes, using “whom” grammatically correctly can sound awkward or formal (in large part because of how we speak). In such instances, consider rewriting the sentence to avoid it. (For instance, “Have you decided whom to invite?” could be rewritten to say: “Have you chosen all your guests?”) General guideline: If you can replace it with “he” or “she,” use “who.” If you can replace it with “him” or “her,” use “whom.”


Examples: Take your time; I’ll be here all day. You’re better off not knowing.


Nicole learned how to tell other people’s stories after a 30+-year career as a newspaper reporter, covering both the mundane and the unforgettable, from serial killer Duane Owen’s retrial, to the Bush/Gore nail-biter, to the homeless family of four who found refuge in a storage unit. Her ideal day is spent playing Cribbage with her dad, beating her husband at RummiKub and planning the next girls trip with her teenage daughters. Top values: Creativity | Growth | Meaningful Work

personal statement lines between paragraphs

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By Nik Taylor (Editor, The Uni Guide) | 05 January 2023 | 9 min read

Personal statement FAQs

We've gone through some of the most commonly asked personal statement questions and put all the answers in one place

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Your personal statement is a big part of your uni application. It's where you can show universities why they should give you a place on your chosen course. Read on for quick tips on writing your personal statement. We'll cover what sort of things to include, along with answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that crop up over on our sister site The Student Room .  If you can't find an answer to your question here, try posting it to the personal statements forum on The Student Room .

When should I start writing my personal statement?

It’s never too early to start thinking about it! However, you'll need a good idea of what course you’re going to apply for before you launch into writing it. On the other hand, don’t leave it too late as it's quite a long process and you're likely to have a few drafts before reaching your finished product.

Remember, your referee will need to see your personal statement before they can write your reference. As a general guide, begin jotting down a few ideas during the summer and start writing it when you arrive back to school or college in September.

The Ucas application deadline for most undergraduate uni courses starting in September 2023 is 25 January 2023. If you're applying to Oxbridge or for medicine, dentistry or veterinary science courses to start in 2023, your deadline was earlier – 15 October 2022. You can find all the key Ucas deadlines and application dates for 2023 entry in this article . 

How long can the personal statement be?

Statements are limited to whichever is shorter of either:

Be aware that software such as Microsoft Word may not give a character or line count that completely matches what the Ucas form says. The character count should be reasonably accurate, but the line limit is more difficult because lines may wrap at different points depending on the software you're using.

The only way to be 100% sure what the character and line counts are is to copy your draft statement into your online Ucas form (but be careful not to submit it unless you're sure it's the final version). You can edit and save your personal statement without submitting it as many times as you like, and you'll only be able to mark the section as complete when you're on the preview screen. 

If testing out your personal statement draft on your Ucas form still feels too risky, you can get a good indication of where you're at by using the Courier New font, size 10, with the default margins, to get a reasonable estimate how many lines your personal statement will be. If you've left a line between paragraphs, then you will probably reach the line limit before the character limit.

Where do I start?

Most people won’t be able to just start writing the statement off the top of their head – so it’s a good idea to jot down a few notes first. The main things to think about are:

Many people have trouble writing about themselves and their personal qualities. If you’re struggling with this step, it can be helpful to look up some information on writing a CV - there are a lot of parallels in how to put yourself forward effectively.

What sort of structure should I use?

Most people write their personal statement in an essay style, starting off with the course, and why they want to do it, then talking about their relevant work experience and skills and finishing off with extracurricular activities.

As a guide, spend around two thirds of the space talking about your course and how you’re suited to it, and one third on your work experience and other activities. Exactly how you write your statement depends on your subject – generally people write more about work experience for vocational subjects like medicine and law than they would for subjects like maths or English where work experience is less important.

No formatting of any type is allowed in your personal statement (except using capital letters), so any bold, italic, or underlined words will disappear in the preview.

Tabs and multiple spaces will be condensed to a single space, so it is not possible to indent lines. Single spaces at the beginning of lines will also be removed.

You have a very limited set of special characters. Common symbols that aren't allowed are € and the special quote characters “ ‘ ’ ” which will simply be removed from your statement, so remember to replace quotes with " and '.

Backslashes (\) are also not allowed, but will be replaced with forward slashes (/) and curly brackets will be replaced with normal ones.

What’s the most important part of the personal statement?

Write about your aspirations in a meaningful way. The crucial bit about a personal statement is where you talk about the subject you are applying for and why you want to do this at uni. Admissions tutors will always focus on this bit – so make this interesting and not just a list of books. Your personality should emerge here – they should be able to understand what is driving you to apply for this course, as well as getting a sense of your energy and enthusiasm.

Should I talk about what I want to do after university?

You could, but only if you have a good idea of what you want to do. If you sound sure about what you want to do after uni it gives the impression that you’ve thought carefully about your course and what you want to do with it. It's also a nice way to round off your statement, rather than finishing on less important stuff like extra curricular activities. If you don’t have any future plans, then leave this bit out – you don’t want to be asked about them at interviews.

Should I talk about my qualifications?

No. There’s already a section on the Ucas form for this, so don’t waste the space on your personal statement. If you have something important which doesn’t go in the qualifications section, ask your referee to put it down in your reference – it will sound better if it comes from them than from you. This goes for module marks as well. Some people are told they should try to link each A-level to the course they are applying for. It can be far more effective to focus your time and space on talking about the subject you are applying for – that is what matters.

How do I write it for two different courses?

There’s no easy way to write a personal statement for two totally unrelated courses. If the courses are similar you may find you can write a statement relevant to both, without mentioning either subject by name. If the courses are completely unrelated, it may be impossible to write for both subjects without your personal statement sounding vague and unfocused. Instead you will need to concentrate on just one subject and just ignore the other – it sometimes works!

What are admissions tutors looking for?

Different admissions tutors are looking for different things, but in general they will be thinking things like:  “Do we want this student on this course?” , and  “Do we want this student at this university?”  And most will be looking for an interest in the subject you are applying for that goes beyond simply your A-level syllabus/reading list. 

Remember, most universities and departments now publish information on applications and writing personal statements, so reading the subject section of their website might list more specific information on exactly what they’re looking for. If in doubt, google the name of the university along with the subject/course and admissions statement.

Is it worth doing loads of extracurricular stuff to make it sound good?

There’s no point doing extra things just to try and make yourself look good to universities – you won’t enjoy it and it probably won’t help much either. An interest and aptitude for the course is likely to be more important to admissions tutors than lots of extracurricular activities. If you do want to do something to boost your application, read relevant books or do work experience related to the subject instead. 

What happens if I lie on the personal statement?

If you aren't confident that the universities will accept you based on your predicted grades or something else, you might reconsider applying. 

It's best not to write anything which you can't back up in interview if necessary. Interviewers can and do bring up nearly anything in a personal statement as a basis for questions. 

Any last tips?

What have you done that's relevant to your subject, that is unique, and that it's likely no one else is going to write about in their personal statement? Many people have similar interests and work experience, so you need something to separate you from the crowd. For example, everyone who applies for economics seems to read The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Guardian. So if you put down those, don't expect them to be amazed by your reading around the subject. Have a deeper think – what makes you special? 

And the most important thing?

Finally, remember that it’s your personal statement, and you can write  whatever you want  on it. If everything in this guide conflicts with what you’ve got already, but you think you still have a killer personal statement, then use that. A personal statement is about  you , and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what to put – sticking blindly to a formula will just stop your true personality showing through.

Tricks to squeeze more in

What should I do once I’ve written it?

Get people's opinions on it! Show it to your friends, parents, teachers, career advisors and so on and note down their comments. The most useful comments are likely to come from your teachers in the subject and the people at your school or college who handle Ucas applications. If you have enough time, leave your personal statement for a couple of weeks to a month and come back to it – if you’re not still happy with what you wrote, it’s time to start redrafting.

Definitely do not post it on an internet forum or discussion board. If your personal statement is published online before your application is complete, it may get picked up by Ucas' plagiarism detection .

You may want to look at these...

Personal statement secrets – universities reveal all.

Want to know how to craft an amazing personal statement? Take some advice from the experts...

Writing a history personal statement: expert advice from universities

Here’s how to shine in your history personal statement

How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

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latex template or example for personal statement

I am writing a personal statement in latex. I don't want the big margin at the top of the page not big title taking a lot of space. I just like to make the layout compact but still clearly spaced with title, name and other necessary information, since there may be restriction on the number of pages. One example would be http://www.hsc.unt.edu/education/CIM/Documents/PS-Sample2_000.pdf . I wonder where to find some good latex templates or examples?

Thanks and regards!

Charles Stewart's user avatar

3 Answers 3

I would use the geometry package to establish the desired margins. To get the margins in your sample document, try:

Your next requirement was to fix the title block. LaTeX uses the internal command \@maketitle to format the title block. You can redefine this as you like. To achieve the same title block style as in the sample document, use:

The \@title , \@author , and \@date commands will print the title, author, and date. You can use whatever formatting commands you like to set the text in bold, different colors, etc.

Put all of the above commands in the preamble of the document. The preamble is the space between \documentclass and \begin{document} .

godbyk's user avatar

Attempt #1: I've used the following style file, which I call cramp2e, for similar purposes. It is probably not right for you, but have a look:

Postscript This is for A4 size paper.

A slightly less LaTeX-ey solution would be to not use the \maketitle command. A couple of times I've simply used this as my title(marginsize helps too).

Set up smaller margins:

(EDIT: 1cm might be even better..) Minimal title:

Minimal Title

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Common App Essay Format

Need to format your Common App essay? Follow our top tips to get this step completed as quickly as possible.

1. Use a word processing tool

Should you type your essay directly into the online common application or should you use a word processing tool? Answering this question is your first step in formatting your essay. Either option is possible, but at Studential we recommend using the word processing tool as it allows you to easily plan, check and correct your essay while offline. In any word processing tool, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you will be able to format your essay.

For example headings using bold, UPPERCASE, italics or underline whichever is your preference (ours is Bold). You will be able to create paragraphs and check not only spellings and grammar, but also word counts. If you’re struggling for a word, most word processing tools provide thesauruses, synonyms etc. These are really useful and can spark ideas.

2. Check your word count

A very important fact is being able to check your word count (remember it is 250 to 650 words for your essay) and continue to recheck and refine it, until it is within this very strict word count. If you’re asking family and friends to proof read and check your essay before you submit it, you’ll also be able to set ‘track changes’ on the document so you can accept or reject their suggestions.

3. Add your essay

Once you’ve formatted it as you want it, the next stage is to cut and paste your essay into the correct field in the online Common Application.

Italics, bold and underline formatting from your word processing version should still be saved when you cut and paste. However occasionally when you cut and paste there may be formatting issues after you’ve pasted it. Don’t assume it’s all pasted correctly. Recheck it and reformat where you have to. For example, has the last line pasted in ok?  Do you have any line breaks or spaces that weren’t meant to be there? Are there capitals or lowercases which are incorrect? Is all the punctuation the same as the original? The online application essay field will also create block formatting of paragraphs and new paragraphs will not be indented. Instead there will be one line of space between each paragraph. This is normal for all online common applications and cannot be changed.

4. Beware your internet browser

Different browsers e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome may paste slightly differently, so if you struggle first time, try re-loading the online application using a different browser and then cut and paste again. Alternatively if this still doesn’t work, it’s about trying a different word processing tool. If you think you’re within the word count but it’s saying you’re not or your paragraphs are formatting incorrectly after you’ve cut and pasted them; the best idea is to cut and paste into Notepad (for windows users) or TextEdit (for Macs). Then from here cut and paste into the essay text box. This is because Notepad and TextEdit strip out all the formatting and just paste plain text. This may mean you need to create your paragraphs again but all the weird and wonderful formatting issues will most likely disappear.

5. Preview your essay

Once your essay is uploaded you can preview the page, once you’ve saved your changes and pressed continue. To double check the Common Application across all sections including your essay, you’ll need to fully complete every field and requirement and start the submission process. At this time you’ll have the option to save a pdf version to your computer. Don’t worry if you suddenly realize you’ve missed something. Since 2015/16 applications, the online system lets you make unlimited edits after you’ve submitted your first application.

Further information

For more tips and advice on putting together your common application for college, please see:

Line spacing in AMCAS

personal statement lines between paragraphs

Full Member


I was also wondering about spacing - I have 0 extra characters but want to know if not having adequate spacing will be a problem.  


hippocratess said: I was also wondering about spacing - I have 0 extra characters but want to know if not having adequate spacing will be a problem. Click to expand...


A Gimlet Eye

DrRiker said: When writing a personal statement, should I put a single or double line space between paragraphs? From an ADCOM readability standpoint, does it make a difference? Yes, I'm that short on characters. Yes, I also realize this may be overthought. Thanks! Click to expand...

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    Single space your text, skipping a line between paragraphs. You can indent paragraph beginnings or not, as long as you're consistent. At times, especially when you fill out an application electronically or have to cut and paste, word limits will be defined by physical space.

  2. Do you NEED blank lines in between personal statement paragraphs?

    I put a blank line between each paragraph. It's how our school teaches us to do it. We were told that if you are reading hundreds of the wretched things then you want them to be as readable as possible. Reply 9 13 years ago A headunderwater 15 I wouldn't, personally. I think appearance is quite important. Reply 10 13 years ago A Mask Of Sanity 14

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    The perfect length for a statement is 500 words. So, be sure to finish your paper within 495 - 505. Keep your paragraphs single-spaced and aligned with an extra line of space from the next. Times New Roman is a great font choice for every paper. Make sure the font size is 12 pt.

  4. Should Personal Statements Have Paragraphs: A Guide

    Personal statements should always have paragraphs. On average, a single page of typed text should contain between 4 and 6 well-written and logically structured paragraphs, and each paragraph should be focused on a single point, although a range of illustrative examples can be used. The provider or employer you are applying to, such as UCAS or ...

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    The website automatically formats your essay with single-spaced paragraphs with an extra space between paragraphs (a format that doesn't conform to any standard style guides). The simplicity of the software suggests that essay format really isn't a concern. You can't even hit the tab character to indent paragraphs.

  6. How do I reduce my personal statement line count without ...

    My personal statement is pretty much complete (~3600 characters), but when I paste it into the UCAS system it's 48 lines long, which is one more than the line limit. How am I supposed to reduce the line count and still get closer to 4000 characters? I could remove the line spacing between paragraphs so it is less like this: Paragraph x Paragraph y

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    Sports is an all-too-common topic for personal statements. Nouns that are composed of two things, like "scissors," "binoculars," and "pants" take plural verbs. Examples: ... so add an empty line between paragraphs to separate them. It allows italics, so see Italics in the Style Guide for guidelines on using italics. It allows bold ...

  8. Personal statement FAQs

    No formatting of any type is allowed in your personal statement (except using capital letters), so any bold, italic, or underlined words will disappear in the preview. Tabs and multiple spaces will be condensed to a single space, so it is not possible to indent lines. Single spaces at the beginning of lines will also be removed.

  9. latex template or example for personal statement

    The \@title, \@author, and \@date commands will print the title, author, and date. You can use whatever formatting commands you like to set the text in bold, different colors, etc. Put all of the above commands in the preamble of the document. The preamble is the space between \documentclass and \begin {document}.

  10. Line spacing on personal statement : r/6thForm

    Line spacing on personal statement How important is it to have paragraph separation in your PS. I know it is common practice to submit it as a block of text yet I only need to cut 2 lines of text for me to put in paragraphs, is it worth it to do this or better to not mess with the text and make it be a block of text. 5 7 7 comments Best

  11. Common App Essay Formatting

    The online application essay field will also create block formatting of paragraphs and new paragraphs will not be indented. Instead there will be one line of space between each paragraph. This is normal for all online common applications and cannot be changed. 4. Beware your internet browser

  12. Line spacing in AMCAS

    Two hard returns (push Enter twice) should give you a single empty line between paragraphs (which are typed in single-spaced format). That is sufficient to ensure readability. You must log in or register to reply here. Next unread thread Similar threads F line breaks in amcas flip_d Jun 27, 2006 Replies 2 Views 2K Jun 27, 2006 QofQuimica D

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    UCAS Personal Statement Line & Character Counter. Paste your personal statement here!. Automatic analysis (Not recommended for slow computers) Analyse Separate paragraphs (For readability purpose only. Will NOT be present in the UCAS submission) ... no personal statements are sent to the hosting server. All codes are executed on the client-side.