Some Helpful College Essay Writing Rules in the U.S. to Follow

  1. Write an outline, mind map, or rough draft of what you want to write. This will help you develop your idea in a more coherent way, rather than a random stream of your thoughts.
  2. Double space if you type. Write on every other line if your paper is handwritten. Leaving space between the lines allows room for comments.
  3. Book titles are underlined or italicized; the title of a short story is placed inside quotation marks.
  4. Avoid first person pronouns (I, we, my, us, etc.) and second person pronouns (you, your) unless they appear in a quotation.
  5. Leave one inch margins when you type your paper. Apps like google docs and microsoft word usually have the one inch margin option as the standard setting.
  6. Use active voice rather than passive voice. (e.g., Say “Michelle eats the french fries” rather than “The french fries was eaten by Michelle.”)
  7. or if you are running out of time and need to check if you the grammar on your essay is correct. My favorite grammar and plagiarism checker site is, but you do need to pay a small fee for this one.
  8. Always use writing center resources on campus, not just for your paper that might be due next week, but to also develop a networking resource and to maybe even develop a friendship with another ESL/ELL learner!
  9. If you feel like your vocabulary is not as advanced, use google to search up the synonym of a word. An example is to google the synonym for ‘use’ and one of the things that will pop up is ‘utilize’. Using ‘utilize’ over ‘use’ makes your essay sound more professional.
  10. Proofread, proofread, and proofread! 🙂

Summary: These are some helpful tips I wish I knew when I first came to America. Coming to a new country is nerve racking, but adjusting to the different rules can be even more nerve racking. If you utilize all these tips, your essays will show major improvement! Hope this helps! 🙂


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