How To Format An Essay Properly: Examples Of Formatting

One of the challenges of starting college is getting used to the many rules of academic writing. In school, teachers are much more flexible and aren’t as strict with homework assignments. Often times, students can get by simply by showing effort. In university, however, teachers will want things done their way and on par with the highest standards. Learning the proper essay format can be quite tedious as there are so many styles to use.

Common papers you’ll need to master are argumentative, narrative, comparison, and English essay format. So where should you start in your quest to succeed in your education? You can start here. We’ve put together this how-to guide to ensure you are prepared for any academic assignment and get it done right, the first time.

Definition Of A Perfect Essay Format

Your university will use two categories to direct you on how to write your papers. The first is the citation style. Common examples are APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard and largely depend on the discipline you study. These style guides will instruct you on how to title your papers, font requirements, how to reference resources, how to write an essay outline, among other things. Second is the type of paper. Each paper has a particular goal. Certain papers will need to carry a particular theme or style to support this goal, as well as include specific sections to meet your essay formatting requirements. There are a few parts of the structure, so let’s take a look.

Essay Structure

As a rule, all papers will have an introduction and a conclusion. In the intro of your essay structure format, the goal is to set up the core of your paper so it’s easy to follow. It’s critical to be interesting, yet serious so you don’t devalue your work. Provide information, but do so in a way that encourages the reader to continue on. Most introductions will close with a thesis statement that encompasses the body of your paper.

The body of your paper may differ. Research papers, for instance, will include information related to the methods and results of your work. A standard 500 words essay will simply have three body paragraphs that hit upon a few points to support your thesis. In all essays, the conclusion serves to give a verdict of the body of the paper and provide a few points to go home with.

When plotting out the format of the essay, there are some tricks to have your workflow better. Using lists is a great way to break up long-winded text into scannable information that jumps out to the reader. But before using lists make sure they look professional, such as these suggestions of bullet points in mla format. You can also use lists for setting definitions. Often times your audience may not be familiar with some terms, or if you buy a management essay, you’ll see that professional writers will create definitions section when drawing up contracts. These tips ensure everyone is kept in the loop and mitigates any confusion.

Simple Essay Format Requirements

Getting used to essay formats can take time and patience. We’ve listed out some typical requirements depending on your discipline. The following items are compliant with APA or MLA, two of the most common styles you’ll come across in your homework assignments.

  • Size of paper: The volume of your paper is given in a word count. In business, one page is 500 words whereas, in academia, a page is typically 275 words double spaced.
  • Font type and font size: The suggested [read: required] font for your tasks is a 12-point Times New Roman font. You’ll see the word “suggested” in the many style guides. It is our advice that if your university suggests something, you should follow it.
  • Spacing: APA and MLA both require double spaced text, hence the shorter word count per page. This serves so your professor can mark up your essay layout with ample space.
  • Margins: Both citation styles require 1” margins all around your paper.
  • Header: MLA does not require a particular header but APA uses what is called a running head. This header will contain a shortened title less than 50 characters, and the page number.

The difference between MLA and APA essay format

When students first encounter these styles they often wonder why it makes a difference which guidebook to use. Both formats share many similarities and have a means to cite references, so what’s the point? The key difference in the two is that APA cares about when things happen. You’ll find the APA style is more strict regarding dates. This is because in the social sciences, research can be rendered obsolete. Imagine a study on homosexual relationships from the 19th century for example. This is certainly something you would not want to reference in the modern era. MLA, on the other hand, considers essay formats to be timeless and has a focus on who and where. Much literature is considered timeless and little significance is considered for the era it had been written.

Know how to structure your paper

  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • 0" between paragraphs
  • 1" margin all around
  • double spaced (275 words/page) / single-spaced (550 words/page)
  • 0.5" first line of a paragraph
Proceed to order

PapersOwl editors can also format your paper according to your specific requirements.

Right Structure

How To Format Title Page in Essay

MLA does not mandate a title page and it should not be included unless specified by your instructor. Simply put your name, your teacher’s name, the course, and the date. That’s all there is to it. With APA title pages are required. Your title page will include at the top your running head, proceeded by the words “running head”. It will also include the page number on the right side of the running head with your short title on the left. Then in the dead centre state your name, course, institution, and date.

Different Fonts in Essay - How To Use Them?

When dressing up your font you must be careful to be compliant. We may get in the habit to bold any points we want to reinforce or to use italics to have words standout. According to the APA style guide you should use italics for the titles of work, and never use quotation marks. You should also be careful with bold-faced text and reserve it for your paper’s organizational headings. You may also use italics when using technical words where the meaning of a word may be confused. Using the proper format consistent with other academic work will ensure your text is easy to read, so do not deviate from best practices.

Citing Sources in Essay: How To Format Citations Properly

Depending on your paper you may need to reference a variety of resources. Your text should always identify the content owner whenever possible. Here are some examples of citing sources in APA format:

How to format song titles in an essay?

Songwriter F.M. (Copyright year). Song title [Recorded by F.M. Last (performer’s name/musical group)]. On Album title [Medium of recording]. City, State of label: Record label name.

Turner, T. (1987). Where do we go? [Recorded by Tina Turner]. On Cassette Tape. Los Angelas, California: Do Right Records.

Format of movie titles

Producer, A. (Producer), & Director, A. (Director). (Release Year). Title of motion picture [Motion Picture]. Country of Origin: Studio

Roanoke, J. (Producer), & Mills, A. (Director). (2004). First Strike [Motion Picture]. United States: Miramax

Citing the title of a book in your essay

Last, F. M. (Year Published) Book. City, State: Publisher

Cortez, H. (1967). The Liquidators. New York, NY: Penguin House.

Read more advises about how to write a book title in an essay in essay and examples in our wide article.

Format a poem

Cleveland, J. (1972). To the state of love, or the senses festival. In H. Gardner (Ed.), The metaphysical poets (pp. 218-220). Harmonsworth: Penguin

Hardy, T. (1930). The collected poems of Thomas Hardy (4th ed.). London: Macmillan

Play title format

Playwright last name, First initial. (Year published). Play title. In Editor first initial. Last name (Ed.), Publication Title (Page numbers). Publication City: Publisher.

Miranda, L. (2016). Hamilton: an American musical. In J. McCarter (Ed.), Hamilton: the revolution (pp. 11-18). New York: Grand Central Publishing

How To Format Quotes In An Essay?

How to format quotes is another great resource for your work. When referencing another research you can include direct quotes and cite them properly to give your work more authority. APA and MLA differ in their methods for quotes in an essay. Short quotes in MLA formatting should encapsulate the text with quotation marks indicating the author and page number. With APA, you should not use quotes and italicize the text with a lead-in statement such as Jones stated in 2009, direct quotation for example.

Knowing how to format an essay is a large part of the university experience. Follow the advice in this guide to improve your skills and get better grades. Feel free to use this essay format example as a template when writing future papers. You’ll get started quicker and have more time to fine-tune your work. In the end, if you need a hand, we are here to serve any of your academic needs.

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Prof Miriam holds a Master’s Degree in Education Arts from Stanford University. She is a competent writer with five years experience in online academic writing. Over the years, she has gained enough expertise in fields such as Business, Medicine, Psychology, Engineering, Communication, and Philosophy, among other areas of specialization.


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