I am applying to Music Technology at NYU, and writing samples are requested. However there is no clear guidance on the webpage about my question. I've also sent email for the query, but still no response probably due to thanksgiving. Since the deadline is approaching, I am asking here for your help.

I am wondering if it is necessary (or better) to include a cover sheet on top of every submitted writing sample. If so, could you please give some suggestion on content as well as format/layout of the cover sheet? Because most of the resources or examples on the internet are for law schools, and I don't know if they apply to EE, CS or related fields. I am asking because I'm not sure about whether there is any "formal" way of doing this, including the proper content and layout.

Thanks very much for your help!

EDIT: Below is the description for the writing sample:

Program A: Please submit samples of previous scholarly work on music technology or related fields. You must submit at least three papers that best represent your ability to conduct research and write effectively about your area of specialization. We encourage you to submit published work.

There is nothing about cover sheet, so it might be unnecessary. Just that I am wondering if it is better to have one.

Program B: There is the other school asking for writing sample and it says Include your full name and department to which you are applying at the top of the document.

In this case, it seems better to include a cover having the requested information. If so, what do you suggest to write and in what format/layout?

  • My guess is that you don't need a cover sheet for each sample. If you link to their instructions maybe we can be more helpful. Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 6:36
  • @aparente001I just added the instruction from the school.
    – Fred
    Commented Nov 24, 2016 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


I did my application for grad school pre-internet, and no writing samples were requested. So this is not intended as an authoritative answer.

The instructions you posted weren't super clear, so I compared them against another randomly chosen program. It happens to be for an MFA program: http://english.olemiss.edu/how-to-apply-to-m-f-a/

Please provide a cover sheet with your name, address, phone number, and email, and the titles of the pieces in your work sample.

Okay, now I'll extrapolate from that and make my best guess. (If you don't mind waiting until Monday to do your submitting, you could ask the departments for clarification.)

Program A: If your pieces of writing already have your name clearly indicated somewhere near the top of the first page, then perhaps you don't need to add anything; however, a cover sheet as requested by the MFA program I quoted might not be a bad thing. If they find it extraneous, I suppose they could just toss it.

Program B: If the piece of writing is not published, I would guess this means that you should add the name of the program you're applying to below title and author, at the top of the page. If the piece of writing is a reprint of a published article, then my personal guess about this would be to use a pdf editing tool (e.g. Foxit's "typewriter tool" or "textbox"). If you are not the sole author, then in addition to the name of the program you're applying to, it might be helpful to put your name in that textbox too.

I guess if the reprint doesn't have enough space at the top for such a textbox, you could make a separate cover sheet, and then splice the two pdf's together with for example PDF Splice & Merge.

A nice extra feature for non-published pieces of writing would be a header or footer with your name and the name of the program you're applying to (and page#/#pages). In case the committee is sitting around a table with hard copies of applications, and things start to get messy. (I have no idea if that's how some committees work.)

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