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Guide To Research Paper Format – Structure, Styles And More

Writing research papers is a fundamental part of your studies, apart from serving as an avenue to contribute your quota to the general pool of knowledge. It allows you to analyze, interpret, and contextualize independent research conducted to fulfill an academic degree. Unlike academic essays, academic writings, and other forms of academic papers, research papers are usually comprehensive and require top-notch writing skills. Since they are primarily designed to assess your writing and academic research skills, it is best to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the nuances and intricacies of your research topic in a clear, well-structured format.

Here is a comprehensive guide to standard research paper format, structure, and style. 

What is a research paper format?

Research Paper format refers to the reference style of an academic paper or publication. APA, Chicago, MLA, ASA, and Turabian research paper formats can be used. The format to choose majorly depends on the discipline.

Irrespective of the style, it is essential that you use high-quality, 8 ½ X 11 paper. Indenting style depends on the format type, and a table of contents is not required.

Writing research papers can be so strenuous that one may elect to take the buy a research paper route to academic excellence.

Formatting an APA paper

APA stands for the American Psychology Association, format style. Research paper format APA guideline requires writers to use New Times Romans font 12 or Arial font 11 and a double line spacing. Writers are required to set a one each page margin. Every new paragraph must be indented ½ inch. Finally, writers must insert a running head on every page provided they submit the paper for publication.

The title page must contain a page number, paper title, institutional affiliation, instructor's name, and submission date. The key components of the APA style citation include the author's name and publication date in-text and on the reference page. The reference source determines how the reference page must be written. Irrespective of the reference source, the referenced source must be italicized. For online sources, the website link must be stated. For journal and textbook citation, the author's name is written first, publication date in a bracket, source title, and reference page must be included. Most APA paper formats include a cover page, abstract, introduction, background, methodology and result, conclusion, and appendices.

You will mostly be required to use this style if you major in psychology or other social sciences discipline.

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Formatting an MLA paper

Learning how to format a research paper MLA for your project is essential, especially if your paper is centered on literature and language. Created by the Modern Language Association as a check against plagiarism, this format enjoys wide acceptance in the arts and humanities. Differentiating this formatting style from other forms is essential due to its similarities. Mixing them is easier than you can imagine.

MLA research paper format includes:

  • first page page
  • header
  • the works cited page

Generally, writers must use simple, readable fonts, especially Times News Roman font size 12.

Use double line spacing throughout, and stick with 1-inch page margins.

Every new paragraph must be indented with ½ inch. Title capitalization must also be used for every heading.

The first page above the title must contain some key information, including your full name, supervisor's name, course name, and submission date.

Each page contains a page header that comprises the page number and your surname. The in-text citation must be included wherever a source is referenced. MLA formatting style also requires a work cited page that appears at the project's end. This page contains a list of all referenced sources. It features a 0.5-inch hanging indent and must be double spaced. The work cited page differs from the closely related bibliography page. While a bibliography page displays sources consulted to gain in-depth knowledge, the work cited page displays all cited pages.

This explains why the work cited page is usually longer and more comprehensive than the commonly used bibliography page. It is best to consult academic-focused websites for good examples and guidelines on how to write a research paper to follow.

Formatting a Chicago paper

The Chicago formatting standard is unique in its peculiar format. While it also requires a readable font like the Times News Roman and font size 12, it doesn't require a title page. You can either use a larger inch margin or stick with 1-inch margins as obtained in other formatting styles.

Chicago style requires the writer a double line spacing, a page number on either the bottom center or the top right of the page. While the Chicago style doesn't generally require a title page, you can include one.

Writers can use two citation reference styles: footnote citations and bibliography and author-date citation, including a reference style. It is inadvisable to mix the two citation reference styles. Choose one and stick with it to the end.

Like all other formatting styles, the reference citation page must be at the end of the paper. If you are using the Chicago formatting style, you must supply the author and titles, including book, newspaper, or journal article titles. You are also required to include publication details, including the publisher's name, publication date, and publication city. Finally, the URL of online sources and page number must be well stated.

Formatting ASA Research paper

Created by the American Sociological Association, sociological students commonly use this style. The acceptance of scholarly sociology articles published in the ASA journal depends on following the ASA formatting style.

You must write the author's name to cite books, starting with his last name. The year of publication, title, publisher country, and publisher name follow.

Students are required to cite eBooks the same way textbooks are cited. The difference is the date the eBook was retrieved, and the retrieval link must be included. The same thing applies to journal articles. Just that quotation marks must accompany them, followed by the journal issue and the referenced page. A similar rule applies to magazine articles. Students are generally required to use Times News Roman font size 12 with double line spacing throughout the paper. Each page must contain a page number which must appear at the top right corner. The abstract page must not exceed 200 words, while margins should be a minimum of 11/4 inches on each side.

You may want to check this sociology paper outline as an excellent template for your ASA academic paper format. Footnotes and endnotes are essential parts of this formatting style. You must ensure that the footnote contains the entire citation.

Formatting a Turabian Research Paper

Developed by Kate Turabian based on the Chicago formatting style, with which it shares many similarities. It features bibliography citation and notes, also referred to as footnote in the in-text reference. The bibliography citation is reserved for the last page and contains all referenced textbooks, journals, and other referenced sources. While writers are not restricted to a specific font, it follows common sense to choose a legible font. Writers are mandated to maintain a 1-inch margin on all sides. The title page must contain the main title, course, and a submission date at the bottom.

Although initially designed to be used by history students for their academic papers. Other disciplines are steadily co-opting the Turabian. It essentially differs from the Chicago style in its approach to scholarly writing. While the Chicago style focuses on educational books, the Turabian style focuses on academic papers.

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What is the proper research paper setup?

Learning to setup and format a research paper is essential for your academic pursuit. Legibility must be the sole criteria for selecting a font and not aesthetic, even if you are writing papers on graphics design. The outline should enable easy reference, must contain a title page, abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion.

The title page contains your details, including your name, topic, school, and other personal information. Ensure that you keep the title interesting as it determines what to expect in your academic paper. Writing your title page depends on the citation style, as each has its requirements.

The abstract page contains a summary of your research paper. It states your writing objective, its importance, and some of your key findings. The abstract page is usually short. The introduction part comes immediately after the abstract. It is highly recommended that you begin the introduction part with a quote, an engaging hook, or surprising data. A strong introduction separates an average paper from an excellent one. This part is like a window to your research. It gives your supervisor a glimpse of what to expect from your paper. The body is basically the heart of your research. It is where you organize your brilliant ideas, research outcome into sections, subsections, chapters, and pages. This is where you spare no space to drive home your point, logically present your argument with the hope of convincing readers.

The conclusion part is the concluding part of your work. It usually summarizes the whole work and a call to action. It is counterproductive to introduce new arguments, points, or concepts at the conclusion.

You will find this guide on writing a research paper instructive to understand the nitty-gritty of academic writing.


While a well-crafted research paper scores your head and shoulders above your peers, it serves some other importance. It allows readers to fact prove any claim, assertion, or argument in your paper. This is particularly necessary if you are writing a scientific paper where scientific methods of conducting research must strictly adhere. Attribution of sources, whether at the bibliography part or footnote, absolves you of plagiarism and intellectual property infringement with its attendant dire consequences.

One of the goals of academic scholarship is to sharpen attention to details skills. This is best achieved through strict compliance with the formatting mentioned above. You can only rise through the academic ranks and file by the number of publications in reputable journals. No journal worth its onion will accept your paper for publication if they are not well cited.

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