Reading is not a purely conscious experience. There are subconscious ticks that get checked in the reader’s mind the moment she encounters your words on the page. And they can work in your favor.
Times New Roman 12pt is almost always the way to go, especially with longer essays. It’s easy on the eyes, which is what you want when your essay might be the 25th story someone has read in a given day.
How the story looks on the page is also important. One big block of text isn’t as inviting as smaller chunks. You should also either indent your first line of each paragraph or have a blank line inbetween paragraphs.
For the longer essays (300 words and up), giving your essay a title will immediately make you stand out. A lot of students miss out on this opportunity to make a professional first impression. Think of it as wearing a tie to an interview. But it can be more than that–a title can make your reader curious about what else is coming. And that’s a great thing!
When you pay attention to these seemingly small details, you will have a proverbial leg up before anyone reads a single word of your story.