I'm an undergraduate student applying to the graduate programs in the U.K. I'm preparing the personal statement and have a question about the format. From the website, there are no general requirements on that, but I wonder is it appropriate if I highlight (i.e., make bold) the part in a sentence to grab the reader's attention? For example:

After that, I took a leading role within my team for the second application of this method.

I don't know if highlighting some words in a sentence would be an asset or make the statement look less formal. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • 4
    While not exactly what you're asking, it's worth noting that for some statements, such as for the NSF GRFP, it is standard practice to highlight key sentences. Oct 27 at 20:54

I suggest that you don't do that. This is a professional communication. If people read it at all, they don't need the emphasis, which is a bit like shouting. Make it as professional as possible.

  • Thank you! That helps :)
    – IGY
    Oct 27 at 19:57
  • 1
    A subtle way to emphasise the important bit, commonly recommended for CVs (resumés) is to start the point with yourself. This is harder in prose than in bullet points, but can be applied at the paragraph level, so this might be "¶ I took a leading role after that in applying..."
    – Chris H
    Oct 28 at 8:27

You can bold a heading on a separate line but do not bold individual words within a paragraph. If you'd like to emphasize text within a paragraph, italics can be used sparingly. (Substituting italics for bold in your example would still be too much.) Also, take care to use only one font family.

  • Thanks so much!
    – IGY
    Oct 27 at 20:39
  • 5
    And shall your font of choice not be Comic Sans. Amen.
    – Lodinn
    Oct 28 at 7:37

Some of the submission tools might only store text. You probably can't be guaranteed that a reviewer actually sees your bold, suggesting you should avoid it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.