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What is Essay Format and Which One Should You Choose?

Essay format means a set of rules which determine the way you should arrange your paper. These guidelines include the title page, the outline, citations, and conclusions, as well as the basic structure of your essay.

Your teacher or professor may have a favorite format, in which case it is recommended to follow this specific style. Particular essay formats help students to make their essays well-organized and neat. Following precise instructions may be very beneficial when it comes to essay writing and formatting. Also, some educational institutions may require a specific essay format which you should follow.

Basic essay formats include the MLA essay format, the APA essay format, and the Chicago style essay format. A little further in this article, we will talk about each of these formats separately and identify their main features and differences between them.

General Tips and Guidelines for Essay Formatting

Every quality paper should consist of a title page, proper text capitalization, correct structure, citations or notes, a list of works cited, and a hook. Use our detailed guide on proper essay formatting, which is presented below.

Creating a Title Page for Your Essay

  • Use double-spacing instead of single-spacing
  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font (this is universal for MLA, APA and Chicago essay format)
  • Provide the name of your college or school
  • Your essay title should be written a third of the way below the name of your school
  • Put your name, the identification number and the name of your course, your teacher’s name, and the due date towards the bottom of the title page

Structuring the Essay’s First Page

While writing the first page of your essay, follow these simple guidelines:

  • The header must be placed in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch beneath the page’s edge. Follow this rule for each page, except for the works cited page.
  • Write the heading in the top left-hand corner.
  • Place the title of your essay an inch beneath the upper edge of the page, and don’t forget to center it.
  • Write the first paragraph directly below the title.
  • Below you can see what it should look like:

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

All academic works have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. If your essay consists of five paragraphs, two of them will include an introduction and conclusion. The main body of your paper, where you provide arguments and supporting evidence, will take three paragraphs. Writing any type of paper becomes less overwhelming after you learn how to structure a simple five-paragraph essay.

  • Use Times New Roman, 12 fonts
  • Present the main idea of your essay in the introductory statement
  • Main body

    Support your ideas with logical evidence discovered in the process of your research and make smooth transitions from one paragraph to another.

  • Conclusions

    In this part of the essay, you are supposed to assemble all the main points and conclude your paper.

  • Can be used to resolve the problems you presented in your essay.
  • part of the paper should not include new ideas or topics.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are used when you need to cite someone else’s work in your essay to document the original source of the provided information. When doing in-text citations, you should provide the author’s last name and a page number in parentheses.

Works Cited Page

Here you should list all used sources of information in alphabetical order. If a reference occupies more than two lines, indent the second line to the right by one inch, as well as the rest of the lines in the same reference. The author’s last name must be followed by the first name. After this, write the title and provide publishing information.

Now, let’s explore the most popular styles of formatting.

How to Use the MLA Essay Format

The MLA format implies the following guidelines:

Font: Times New Roman, size 12

Spacing: Double. Don’t use extra spaces between paragraphs

Heading: Must be written in the upper left corner. Example:

  • Your name (Peter Parker)
  • Teacher’s name (Catherine Johnson)
  • The name of your course/class
  • Due date (10 May 2020)

Margins: One-inch top and bottom margins, left and right.

Page numbers: Put your last name and page number in a header, which should be present on every page.

Title: Format and center it properly above the first line of your essay. The font and its size should exceed much of the paper itself.

Indentation: Pressing tab will do the job (it should be 1/2 inch).

Align: Align it evenly to the left-hand side.

MLA Essay Format vs. APA Essay Format

Before we explain the APA format in detail, let’s distinguish these two styles of formatting.

Here are their similarities:

  • Spacing, citation, and indentation are the same.
  • You must present all of the user information on the works cited page (or reference page in the APA format)
  • You should use the parenthetical citations for certain quotes or calculations in the main body of your paper.
  • The works cited page or reference page contains citations listed in alphabetical order

There are also several differences:

  • Writers in the humanities usually employ the MLA essay format, while the APA format is mostly for social sciences. The list of sources is called the “works cited page” in the case of the MLA style and “reference page” for the APA format.
  • The works cited page, and the reference page displays the names of the authors differently (in the MLA format: Richardson, William / in the APA format: Richardson W.)
  • In-text citations in case of the MLA format look like this: “Richardson is absolutely sure that provided data is wrong. (9).” The author’s name appears in the sentence, and the page number is placed at the end. In the case of the APA style, it looks like this: “According to Richardson (2018), provided data is wrong.” In this format, you should also include a year.

Now let’s talk about the APA format.

How to Use the APA Essay Format

The APA style is the most popular among different college essay formats, so you will definitely benefit from knowing its requirements. If you use the basic APA format structure, follow similar guidelines as with the MLA style:

  • Font: Times New Roman, size 12
  • Spacing: Double
  • Margins: One inch, all sides
  • Page numbers: At the top left corner of each page, put a header with your paper’s short title (no more than 50 characters, punctuation included). Write a number of the page at the top right corner.
  • Title page: Your essay’s title, the name of the author, institution. The course title or professor’s name and due date may also be required.

It should be noted that some teachers may require slightly different characteristics than the original APA format implies.

What is Chicago Style?

Chicago style essay format is common in academic writing, where you need to focus on the source of origin. Precise citations or footnotes are crucial in this case.

Here is the structure of the Chicago essay format.

  • Title Page
  • In the case of Chicago format spacing of the title page is very important.
  • If your title takes more than one line, use double-spacing.
  • Center your full name in the middle.
  • At the bottom of the page in separate lines, provide the course number, your professor’s name, and the due date. Don’t forget about double-spacing.
  • Margins: One-inch margins, except for the right side.
  • Spacing
  • Double-spacing only.
  • Don’t use extra spaces between paragraphs.
  • Font: Times New Roman (size 12)
  • Page numbers
  • The heading of each page must include your last name and the page number (on the top right)
  • The title page shouldn’t be numbered, and the first page with the text should be 2.
  • Footnotes: The Chicago style essay format requires footnotes on paraphrased and quoted text.
  • Bibliography: In this style, it is similar to MLA. Required information should be provided on a specialized citation page.
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In conclusion, we would like to provide you with some general advice on essay writing.

  1. Choose a good topic, which is researchable and specific
  2. Begin your research as soon as you can – gathering information might take a lot of time
  3. Select specific, reliable sources of information
  4. Create a strong outline and a list of keywords to avoid getting stuck
  5. Ask someone to review your writing and get feedback
  6. Proofread your essay one more time, focusing on small mistakes and punctuation

Good luck!

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