Guide to Submitting a Writing Sample

Writing samples are pieces of your previous work that showcase your writing skills and ability to communicate effectively. They can play a crucial role in various aspects of your education and professional life, be it applying for a job, an internship, or a college program. By providing a relevant writing sample, you demonstrate your writing talent and persuade others that you’re perfect for the opportunity.

When selecting a writing sample, aim to choose one that best represents your strengths in written communication. It is typically advisable to pick a piece that is relevant to the position or designation you’re applying for.

It’s important to prioritize quality over quantity in your writing samples. Showcasing an error-free, polished piece helps to create a lasting impression and credibility. Therefore, it is advisable to thoroughly proofread and edit your writing sample before submitting it. Even if the submission guidelines don’t specify a word count or page limit, avoid submitting very long pieces, as people reviewing your application may not have ample time to read through them.

As you progress through your education or career, keep updating your writing samples with recent, relevant, and stronger pieces to reflect your improvements and growth as a writer. This will not only help you exhibit your current writing abilities but also keep you ready to seize any new opportunity that comes your way.

  • Make sure your writing sample is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Tailor the content to showcase your understanding of the industry and the tasks expected in the role.
  • Proofread your writing sample carefully. This is your chance to make a great first impression, so make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes.
  • Format your writing sample correctly. If a specific format or length is requested, follow these guidelines. Otherwise, use standard formatting: an easily-readable font, clear headings, and bullet points where appropriate.

Types of Writing Samples

Research Papers

Research papers are a great way to showcase your analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as your ability to conduct thorough research on a particular topic. This type of writing sample can be useful for jobs that require a deep understanding of complex concepts, such as scientific research or academic positions. Including a research paper that demonstrates your expertise in a specific field can set you apart from other candidates.

Articles and Blog Posts

Submitting articles and blog posts as writing samples is a good choice for positions in content marketing, brand development, or online journalism. Articles and blog posts should showcase your ability to engage readers while clearly presenting information on a specific topic. Choose samples that are relevant to the industry or company you are applying to, as this will help the employer see how your writing skills can benefit their organization.

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Press Releases and Public Relations

Press releases and public relations materials demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively with a wide audience, making them ideal for jobs in business, media, or journalism. These writing samples show your ability to deliver news or announcements in a clear and concise manner, which can have a significant impact on a company’s reputation and success. Be sure to select samples that highlight your ability to convey the main points of a story or event in an engaging way.

Narrative and Descriptive Writing

Narrative and descriptive writing samples allow you to showcase your creative voice and storytelling abilities. This type of writing is relevant for positions that involve crafting narratives, such as advertising, scriptwriting, or creative writing. Choose samples that include vivid descriptions and engaging characters to help the reader visualize your story. Be sure to maintain a professional tone, even when writing about personal experiences or fictional situations.

Cover Letters and Resumes

Finally, your cover letter and resume can also serve as writing samples, especially when applying for jobs that emphasize communication skills. A well-written cover letter shows your ability to clearly articulate your qualifications and why you are the right candidate for the position. Similarly, a well-structured resume demonstrates your ability to organize information and present it in a clear, easy-to-read format. Take the time to customize your cover letter and resume for each job application to highlight the most relevant skills and experiences.

How to Choose Your Sample

  1. When selecting a writing sample to submit, it’s important to consider the tone and style of your work. Make sure it aligns with the expectations of the audience you’re trying to reach. Think about who will be reading your sample and what they are likely looking for in a writer. Your writing should be engaging, informative, and reflect a style that is suitable for the medium.
  2. As you pick your writing sample, focus on relevance, selecting a piece that showcases your abilities in the specific genre, niche, or subject matter that is relevant to the position or opportunity you’re pursuing.
  3. Keep in mind the administrative aspects of submitting a writing sample, such as following submission guidelines, including word count, document format (such as PDF or Word), and any other specifics related to the requirements. Double-check your work for structure, grammar, and punctuation to ensure that your writing sample is polished and professional.
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Preparing and Formatting Your Sample

Before submitting a writing sample, take time to carefully edit and polish your work. Ensure that your text is free from grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Check your sentence structure to make sure your ideas are clearly articulated and easy to follow. Using a style guide, like the APA or MLA style, helps maintain consistency and professionalism throughout your writing.

A well-formatted writing sample is not only easier to read but also demonstrates your attention to detail. Break up large blocks of text into smaller paragraphs, aiming for three to five sentences per paragraph. This helps your reader stay engaged with your work and digest the information more easily.

Consider using formatting tools like bullet points or bold text to emphasize your main points. This allows readers to quickly understand the main concepts you’re presenting and makes the content more engaging. However, be cautious not to overuse these tools, as it might make your writing appear cluttered and unfocused.

Proper Submission of Writing Sample

  • To start off, craft an engaging introductory paragraph that immediately captures the reader’s attention. A strong intro sets the tone for the rest of the piece and ensures the reader understands your purpose and focus.
  • Make sure your writing sample is accessible in the required file format – typically, this would be a PDF or Word document. Double-check that the formatting is consistent throughout the text, including font style and size, as well as spacing and indentation. Should there be any specific formatting requirements, be sure to adhere to those guidelines.
  • Before submitting, take the time to proofread your writing sample thoroughly for grammar and spelling errors. Correct any issues you come across to ensure a clean, polished presentation. If possible, ask a friend or colleague to review your work and provide feedback. They might catch errors that you initially missed or suggest improvements.
  • When you’re ready to submit your writing sample, carefully include it in your application or email it as an attachment, if that is the requested method. Clearly label the file with your name and the title of the piece so that recipients can easily identify your work.
  • Don’t forget to follow up once you have submitted your writing sample. If you haven’t received a response or feedback within a reasonable amount of time, it’s okay to send a polite reminder. This shows your interest and enthusiasm for the opportunity.
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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I create a standout writing sample for a nonprofit position?

To create a standout writing sample for a nonprofit position, focus on showcasing your passion for the organization’s mission, your understanding of the target audience, and your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. Some tips to consider:

  • Research the organization and its mission deeply
  • Use persuasive language and storytelling techniques
  • Highlight your problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • Address the challenges faced by the nonprofit sector and offer potential solutions


What type of writing sample should I submit for an internship?

For an internship, it’s important to submit a writing sample that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the industry and your ability to learn quickly. Some possible options include:

  • A research paper or article from a relevant class
  • An excerpt from a personal blog or previous internship project
  • A piece about a recent development in the industry

Ensure your sample is well-organized, free of errors, and demonstrates your writing abilities and critical thinking skills.

How long should my writing sample be for different applications?

The length of your writing sample will depend on the specific application requirements and position. As a general rule:

  • Academic applications: 10-20 pages
  • Professional job applications: 2-5 pages
  • Internships: 1-3 pages

Always follow any specific guidelines provided by the institution or company you are applying to. If no length is specified, aim for a concise and focused sample that showcases your abilities effectively.

What are the basic guidelines for creating a professional writing sample?

When creating a professional writing sample, consider these basic guidelines:

  • Choose a topic or prompt relevant to the job or application
  • Follow a clear structure and use headings and subheadings
  • Maintain consistent formatting and use appropriate fonts and margins
  • Edit and proofread your work to eliminate errors and ensure clarity
  • Tailor your sample to the specific company or industry
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