Writing Samples

At times you will be asked to provide writing samples as part of your job application. This is common for journalism or PR positions, or research assistant positions with a think tank or policy journal.

Showcase Your Writing

 If you are a recent graduate, it may be appropriate to submit samples from your time at Princeton. As you gain experience in the field, professional samples may replace them.

Below are some tips to help you prepare your writing samples.

1. Choose samples that demonstrate the type of writing you would do on the job.

Whenever possible, make sure that your samples match the genre of the writing that the position would involve.

  • Journalism: They will ask for “clips”, i.e. actual news articles that have been published, whether in a campus newspaper or any other publication.
  • Research: They will want to see in-depth analysis of policy or other issues.
  • PR: Submit press releases that you have drafted previously. If you don’t have any, you can write a press release for an upcoming event or timely piece of news. In this case, make sure you specify that it has not been submitted to media outlets but is a sample press release.

2. Submit your best writing.

If you are deciding between two samples, and one is better written than the other but your weaker one is topically more relevant, then choose the sample that is better written. The other option is to rewrite the relevant sample to be stronger before you submit it.

If you have questions, you may consult with a career adviser about what you should submit.

3. Provide excerpts if your samples are long.

Most employers will specify how many pages or how many clips they want. If they don’t, then submit 2-5 pages. Writing samples should usually be double-spaced (unless it is a clip). This can be a combination of 1 or more writing samples.

If you want to use writing from a longer piece, provide an excerpt with a notation at the top that tells the employer that it is an excerpt from an x-page piece of writing. Specify the topic, and explain where in the piece this excerpt is from.

4. Polish your writing samples.

Provide clean copies of your writing and revise them as necessary. If you have recently graduated, do not send in papers that have professor’s marks on them.