What is a good format to use for the statement of purpose on a masters application? I read that margins should be 1 inch (2.54cm). This seems to leave quite a lot of space on the page though. Should I use the justify feature on word? I used this often when writing mathematical coursework, as a lot of my lecturers also used it in their lecture notes, but is it suitable/needed in this case?

The main things I'd like to know:

  • Font

  • Margin size

  • Use justify or not

  • Spacing

Note: by format, I don't mean the structure of content, I mean the aesthetics of the document.

1 Answer 1


You should follow the instructions. Absent any such guidelines, you can do whatever you like, within reason. In the US, "reasonable" tends to mean:

  • Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, or something similar
  • Single spaced, or something close to that (e.g., 1.1)
  • 1" margins, almost always
  • Left or justified alignment, personal preference
  • Indent your paragraphs or leave a space between paragraphs or both
  • Header on each page including your name, page number, and any other relevant information you'd like to include. (e.g., university name, application number)

Personally, I like to use letterhead (either institutional or with my name on it) for official documents like this.

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