1. What type of format is standard for writing samples? Do they want to see a title page, abstract, and an outline? Last name in the header in addition to application number (if provided) and page number even if it is technically "wrong" according to the citation method you are using? How did you format your writing sample?
2. Some of the schools I'm applying to have sub-sub-departments within a sub-department within a department. The sub-departments are, of course, specified on the applications through drop-downs. The sub-sub-departments (and smaller) are not. It's pretty clear which track/sub-sub department I intend to work in just by reading through my SOP, but should I be more explicit? In some cases, the distinction between two of the sub-sub-departments is not entirely clear, which is why I am hesitating for some schools, and I'm unsure if these specialty tracks are "technically" decided later when you've already been accepted.
3. Personal history/diversity statements: How casual can these be? I am under the impression these are not truly read by departmental adcoms or really given any weight unless you are Truly Diverse in terms of admissions -- though ofc they may help with funding.
4. If you are applying to your undergrad institution for a PhD in the field you are currently majoring in ... I am unsure how to revise my SOP for this one, to be honest. It feels awkward to write. Any tips for revisions? (To be more specific on this last question: In my other SOPs, I mention I work on a project for a professor here and that it has led me to appreciate blahblahblah, which is present at Other University. Of course, when writing this in for my current school, I would need to tweak this. Yes, it has led me to appreciate said blahblahblah, but should I then say, "If accepted, I fully intend to continue working on said project?" Little things like this.)