An essay is a creative work that allows you to reflect deeply on an idea and put your thoughts on paper. The readability of the text and the perception of the presented information depends on the layout of any written work. That is why it is so important to always pay enough attention to the content and the proper formatting of the essay.
This article will cover the recommendations for the three most commonly used essay formats: MLA, APA, and Chicago, as well as the paper’s formatting in Microsoft Word. We hope the information will be handy!
Why is it important to have an essay-style format?
The essay format is a set of guidelines that define the organization of the components of your paper. The text, title, quotations, and basic outline are included in the guidelines layout.
Style standards were created to regulate the appearance of writing and citation lists. Why is this necessary? Suppose you are a teacher, researcher, or publisher reading hundreds of papers weekly. Suppose the papers were formatted in various ways; in that case, you can lose a lot of time trying to figure out what sources were used, whether a particular piece was a direct quote or paraphrase, and even who the author was. Having essay formatting guidelines to follow makes it easy for everyone. Essay writers can follow a set of rules without deciding which formatting parameters are ideal, and readers do not have to search for the information they are looking for.
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Main essay writing styles
The Modern Language Association created the MLA style, which has become the most common college essay format for students preparing papers for study. It was created to give students and academics in literary and language fields a standardized way to structure their papers. However, it is now used in many disciplines, especially in the humanities.
- Here are the key criteria for MLA essays that one should follow:
- Use 12pt New Times Roman as the font;
- Use double spacing throughout and make sure there are no extra spaces between paragraphs;
- Margins should be one inch on each side of the paper;
- Each page has the author’s last name and page number;
- Write your name, instructor’s name, class, and date in the upper left-hand corner;
- It is necessary to center the title of the essay;
- Use the tab key to add an indentation;
- Place a list of sources on the “References” page.
One of the benefits of writing your papers mentioned for MLA is that all citations are formatted the same, whether or not they come from different sources. This is the only type of essay format that makes citing sources so easy!
The American Psychological Association is abbreviated APA. This style is most often used for research articles, especially in the human behavioral and social sciences. Because the APA style is often used for more research-oriented articles, it has a stricter framework to follow than, say, the MLA style.
Here are some simple instructions in APA format on how to write an essay in APA format:
- Times New Roman 12pt should be used for text style and size;
- Double spacing;
- Include a brief title and page number in the header of each page (top left/top right);
- The title page should include the author’s name, organization, date, and instructor’s name;
- It should include a list of citations on the reference page.
Unlike MLA style, each source type is cited separately in APA essay format. As a result, a reference to a book differs from a reference to a journal article, which is different from a reference to an interview.
The references should start on a new page with the word “References” in the center at the top. Links should be in alphabetical order.
The University of Chicago Press has established the Chicago style (also known as the “Turabian style”), which is the least used of the three major formats in student essay style. It is most often used in historical disciplines. However, many people look to the Chicago Manual of Style for help with problem citations or essay style. Many authors of books also use this approach.
The rules for a Chicago-style paper are as follows:
- Margins should be one inch on each side of the paper;
- Spacing should be doubled everywhere;
- Times New Roman 12pt should use text;
- Include the top of each page, page number, and last name;
- This format also requires footnotes for paraphrased passages;
- A Chicago-style bibliography is very similar to an MLA-style bibliography;
- Arrange the material in alphabetical order on the Bibliography page.
Unlike MLA or APA, the Chicago style usually uses footnotes or endnotes rather than citations in the text or parentheses. A superscript number will appear at the end of a sentence (for a footnote) or the bottom of the page (for an endnote), followed by an abbreviated reference to the source.
Formatting specifics of essays in Microsoft Word
Often educational institutions also have their own requirements for the design of written work in Microsoft Word.
Formatting of structural elements
Before starting any written work, the student creates an outline. The structure of an essay is simple:
- title page;
- main text;
- list of references;
- appendices (optional).
If there are no such requirements, it is desirable to be guided by the essay’s writing style and adhere to the standard rules of registration, like using the font Times New Roman, size 12pt.
Numbering the pages
Rule: Your essay must have automatically assigned page numbers that appear in the upper right-hand corner on all pages except the first page. Use Word’s Header/Footer tool.
For papers in MLA format, put your name and page number in the upper right-hand corner. For documents in APA format, place a short version of your title (instead of your last name) and the page number in the upper right corner.
Subheadings may be used in the essay’s body and are acceptable in bold. Subheadings should be typed with a paragraph interval, with a capital letter, without a period at the end of the subheading, and without using an underline.
References and footnotes
Bibliographic information about the author and the source’s title, the output of the cited monograph is called a bibliographical reference. These are listed in the bibliography. Sometimes this reference is placed at the bottom of the page. In this case, it is a footnote – additional text placed under the main one and separated by a line. Besides, bibliographical references in a footnote may be translations of terms, some notes, etc.
Bibliographical references can be of three types:
An in-text reference contains information about a document that is not included in the text, it is closed in round brackets, but it is rarely used in universities.
Off-text references indicate the sources of quotations with reference to the list of bibliographic references at the end of the essay and are enclosed in brackets — for example, (7, p. 33), where 7 is the serial number of the article in the list, and 33 is the page to which you refer.
The footnote bibliographical reference is taken out at the bottom of the page. For this kind of reference, use the “Insert” box on the toolbar of Word, then “Footnote” and the numbering of the footnote “On each page.”
The work may contain tables, diagrams, drawings, and diagrams. They are inserted in the essay with captions. Figures and tables should be numbered. The title is in the center, the figure is named at the bottom, and the table is at the top.
List of references
The references are printed on a separate page following the established standards of style in which you write the essay.
Writing a great essay involves the correct presentation of the content. Styles and formatting guidelines are created for this reason. Students often create poorly structured text when rushing to complete their projects. This leads to sloppy writing and causes students to lose their grades. This is why you need to know the three popular essay format styles – MLA, APA, and Chicago – and develop essay formatting skills in Microsoft Word – then, it will be much easier to write papers!