Essay Format Tips from an English Teacher

When you get the task of writing an essay, you need to approach this as responsibly as possible. It’s not enough just to come up with a good concept and deploy your ideas. You also need to format an essay appropriately.

Of course, this part is not as interesting as the brainstorming topic or the creation of motivating sentences. But this is an important part of writing an academic essay. There are some styles for formatting papers, but only 3 of them are the most popular. Each of them has own characteristics and an official guide that describes them.

In this paper, you will find a detailed description of the specifics of each of these styles. We are talking about fonts, about structure, about the front page, quotation marks, headers, line spacing, etc. Other nuances should be taken into account if you want to know how to format an essay.

Why is it Important to Consider the Format

Many students think that the font size and features of the source citation are completely irrelevant. Who cares what format if your text is really good? But style formats were developed for a reason. This is a unique way to standardize what academic papers should look like.

Imagine yourself as a researcher, teacher, or publisher who has to work with dozens of application essays per week. If each paper looks different, the task is much more complicated. Standardization helps you save time and organize your essay in the right way.

What is an Essay Format: Structure

Speaking of structure, there are no specific rules for each of the styles. Students’ papers always consist of a specific essay outline. This introduction is needed to provide basic information to readers, to hook them, to make them interested. This is the main part, which consists of several body paragraphs. And this is the conclusion where you draw conclusions and analyze the results of your work.

Depending on the types of essays, these sections may look different. For example, if you write an argumentative essay, your main part will consist of several arguments. In the narrative essay, each paragraph will be devoted to some ideas, etc.

How to Format an Essay

When your professor instructs you to write an essay, you also receive instructions regarding a specific style. The mentor can provide you with some recommendations or an official guide that contains all the necessary information. If you think this guide is too complicated and boring, take advantage of professional writing or editorial assistance. We are ready to provide you with some basic tips to consider.

How to Create a Title Page

Here is comparative information regarding the three most popular styles:

  • APA. In this case, your title page should be centered. Take care of the double interval. Speaking of content, you need to add the name of your paper, personal data, as well as the name of the high school or other academical institution where you write this paper.
  • Chicago. For this style, the cover page should also be centered. You need to press the Enter button seven times to go down the page. The name of the paper must be in capital letters. After that, you should press Enter again, already eight times. After backing off the required distance, enter your full name. Enter on the next line and type the name of your course. Press Enter again and indicate the date of writing the paper.
  • MLA style has several other requirements. Your headline will not be centered but in the upper left corner. Take care of the double interval. You should indicate your full name, the name of your mentor, the name of the course, the date of writing. Next, make a double space and center the name of your research paper.

Running Header

  • APA. On the title page, you need to indicate “Running head: [PAPER TITLE]”. This phrase will be needed on other pages, only in a slightly different format. Type “TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” and align it on the left side. On the right side, you can align the page number.
  • Chicago. In the upper right corner of each page, you should use the page number. Except for the title page.
  • MLA. In this case, you also use the upper right corner, but not only for the page, but also for the current title, your last name, and page number, for example, "Peterson 3".

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

When it goes about the font, there is one universal option. Of course, it is Times, New Roman. But there are some more options for Chicago and MLA. With Chicago, you can use Palatino or Times, and with MLA essay format, it is possible to choose some easily legible serif font.

APA and MLA have similar requirements about the font-size: 12-point. Texts with Chicago formatting should be no less than 10-point.

There are also some requirements for margins. APA requires at least 1” on all sides. When it goes about MLA, you should choose 1” only. The options are more variable for Chicago, and you can format your text with a left margin 1” to 1.5” as well as on all other sides. Oxford comma is required for Chicago and MLA, but it is not so for APA. Of course, you can use this comma, but only when it needed for clarity.

All paragraphs in all styles should be indented ½ an inch. And don’t forget about double-spacing. In Chicago, it should be double-spaced as well, but there is an exception for block quotations. For the Chicago style, footnotes are preferred. If you decide to use them, the first time you mention the source at the bottom of the page, you should include a full quote. If you refer to this work several times, you will need an abbreviated quote, including the author’s surname and page with the quote you have used. For an MLA formatting style, you need to include the author's last name and the page number. You can also use the last name before the quote and indicate the page number in brackets after it.

In-Text Citation

Quoting is another important part of formatting any paper. Each style has own characteristics about the works cited page.

For example, for APA, you need to indicate the name of the author of the work and the year the book was published (Johnson, 2018). If you use a direct quote, after a year, you also need to add a page number.