If your essay is longer than one page, put your contact information – and page numbers – on each page.

I’m going to guess that you’ve never thought of this either, because judging by the applications I’ve received in the past, fewer than 1 out of about 500 applicants do this. But you should. Here’s why:

When thousands of multi-page essays stack up, it’s inevitable that some are going to get torn apart. Lots of them. What ensues is a tornado of loose paper and disconnected essays. “Somebody’s page 3 is over here, someone else’s page 2 is over here, here’s someone’s first page… do these essays go together? I can’t tell. Does this page look like it matches this one?”

Dirty Little Secret: When this happens, sometimes judges just say “screw it,” and throw all the loose papers away. Remember Rule #1: Competitors are everywhere, and thousands of people apply for every scholarship. Hundreds are excellent students with excellent essays who deserve money for college. Tossing a few loose papers away won’t mean a good candidate won’t be chosen. However, it does mean that you won’t get chosen if those loose papers happen to be yours.

If you’ve got your name and a page number on each page, there will be no confusion about who the essay belongs to and which pages belong together. This is very easy to do with the Header and Footer function of Microsoft Word or similar programs. You just open a header or footer (no need to do both), and insert your name and click a button to automatically insert the page number on each page (it varies depending on which program you’re using).

3 thoughts on “If your essay is longer than one page, put your contact information – and page numbers – on each page.”

  1. Specifically for your scholarships,which are all done online now, do you think submitting the essays in this format to still be beneficial? It would seem to be counterproductive to me unless you are printing out the essays to read them.

    Thank you,


  2. Hi, Alicia. I really was referring to contests where you have to submit actual print copies, so if you have a freeform text box like you do in our contests, I wouldn’t worry about it. For the record, though, we do a lot of essay-printing in judging, and I’m certain that lots of others do, too. Thanks, and good luck!


  3. I have a question for Josh:
    If my essay is more than 1 page, in addition to writing my name and contact information on every page, is it acceptable to staple the pages of the essay together? Or does this look unprofessional?


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