Writing Sample Guide

What is a writing sample?

A writing sample is a supplementary document for an application often requested for positions and programs that require frequent writing or research. It is used to gauge a candidate’s writing skills. When reviewing a writing sample, tone, relevancy, grammar, spelling, attention to detail, and adherence to the word count (if one is provided) are all of importance.

How to choose a writing sample?

When choosing the writing sample think about the style of writing you would like to convey.  Make sure to choose something that is relevant to what you are applying for.

Writing samples can consist of:

  • Research papers
  • Narrative papers
  • Professional blog posts
  • Journal articles
  • Press releases
  • Articles
  • Other written contributions

How long should a writing sample be?

Always make sure to review the guidelines for the writing sample, as you may be provided with instructions on how long the writing sample should be. If you are not provided with that information, a good rule of thumb is for the writing sample to be 1-2 pages double spaced. Try to be concise and effective with the space that you have. If you decide to use a paper or article that is longer than the length the employer has allotted you (or 1-2 pages), it is ok to provide excerpts if your samples are too long. If you provide an excerpt, make sure to provide at notation at the top that explains it is an excerpt and what paper the excerpt is from.

What if you don’t have a writing sample?

If you don’t have a writing sample, it is acceptable to create a new sample to use for the application.

Additional Tips

  • Always submit your best writing
  • Pay close attention to what you are being asked to submit
  • Follow the application instructions and do not be afraid to reach out for clarity if you are unsure about something
  • Proofread your document to avoid errors and typos
  • Provide clean copies of your writing sample. Make sure to submit copies free of comments

Further Assistance

If you need assistance with your writing sample, please make sure to utilize your campus resources: