3 Standards of an Essay Format: MLA, APA, Chicago Styles

Mastering the right essay format is non-negotiable if you want an effortless time writing your papers. You see, whether you’re in high school or college, your professor will require you to format papers in certain styles. These can be MLA, APA, and Chicago.

The format to follow depends on the type of paper you’re writing or your course. For instance, students pursuing Sociological sciences will often write in American Psychological Association (APA) style. Therefore, it’s crucial to master all these format styles to ensure you knock each paper out of the park.

We’ve provided a comprehensive guide to ensure you start your paper on the right foot.

Grab your computer, and let’s dive right in!

First Things First, What Does Paper Format Mean?

A paper format is a set of guidelines that stipulate how you should arrange your paper. These guidelines typically include rules on how to style your paper from beginning to end. These differences in style are what differentiate one format from another.

Therefore, you need to pay attention to the smallest details in the guidelines to avoid missing the mark. For instance, if the guide stipulates that you should use an 11pt font, don’t ignore the rule and use a larger or smaller font size.

What You Should Know About MLA Format

Now that you know what essay formats are, you’re probably wondering how to recognize different format styles. Don’t fret. The good news is the guidelines available offer a set of rules for each section of your paper. All you have to do is structure each section as directed, and your essay is in line with the requirements.

As we mentioned, MLA is among the popular essay formatting styles. You’ll mostly meet this format in cultural studies, language arts, and other humanities disciplines.

So, how are you supposed to structure an MLA essay?

To craft your paper in MLA, follow these rules:

Stick to the Recommended Font

MLA rules stipulate that you must write each paper in New Times Roman font. The font size must be 12pt.

Follow the Spacing Rules

To achieve a proper essay format in MLA, you should also ensure you have double spaces throughout the paper. What’s more, there shouldn’t be any extra spaces within the essay, especially between paragraphs.

Structure Your Heading Correctly

You should write the heading on the first page. Make sure you include your course name, lecturer’s name, and date.

Number Your Pages as Directed

Write your last name and page number on every page of your essay. These should appear as headers. It’s best to set them as running heads so that you don’t have to write it down every time you get to a new page. Do this immediately you start structuring the essay.

Maintain Proper Margins

Another thing you should pay attention to is your margins. MLA guidelines require students to maintain one-inch margins on the left, right, top, and bottom. Again, set your paper to these margins from the start.

Follow Title Rules

It’s also crucial to style the title as required by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Your title should be above the first line of your essay, and it should be in center alignment. Do not change the font size because the font should be uniform throughout the essay.

Indent in Areas Specified

MLA stipulates that the first line of each paragraph should have a ½- inch indentation. This is easy to achieve. A quick way to do it is to press the tab key in all your first sentences of a paragraph.

Mind Proper Alignment

You should align MLA essays to the left-hand side. As you’re doing this, ensure the entire paper has even alignment from the beginning to the end.

MLA and APA — Is There a Difference?

Essay formats can be confusing, especially if you have no experience writing in any academic style. Most students confuse MLA and APA format due to the similarities that these formatting styles share.

However, they’re not the same. Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between these two academic writing styles.

Similarities

When you start crafting papers in these two styles of writing, you’ll notice several similarities.

These include:

  • Similar indentation, citation, and spacing
  • All the information you include in the essay must be present in the sources you’ve listed on the reference page
  • Parenthetical citations are required in both
  • The sources are listed alphabetically on the reference page

Differences

While these styles of writing share multiple similarities, several things set them apart.

These include:

  • They focus on different disciplines
  • The citation page has a different name in each
  • The name in the original content in works cited is displayed differently for both styles
  • In-text citations are different

What You Should Know About APA Format

Now that you understand each essay format, it will be easier to understand the APA layout. APA is one of the most popular styles of writing in college. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to format this type of essay.

Similar to MLA, there are a set of guidelines you need to ensure your APA paper follows.

These include:

Maintaining a Consistent Font

APA essay layout stipulates that you must write each paper in New Times Roman font. The font size must be 12pt.

Minding Proper Spacing

To structure your essay in APA format, you should also ensure you have double spaces throughout the paper. What’s more, there shouldn’t be any extra spaces within the essay, especially between paragraphs.

Styling the Heading as Required

In this format, the heading goes on the first page of your essay. In this format, you may need to add your school name in addition to the other details mentioned in the other styles.

Following Proper Page Number Rules

Write a short version of your essay title and page number on the top left side of every page. It’s best to set them as running heads to don’t have to write it down every time you get to a new page. You shouldn’t exceed 50 characters with punctuations included.

Maintaining the Right Margins

Another thing you should pay attention to is your margins. APA essay layout guidelines require students to maintain one-inch margins on the left, right, top, and bottom. Again, set your paper to these margins from the start.

NOTE: Some professors may have deviations in APA format than the ones mentioned above. Therefore, it’s essential to find out which guidelines your professor expects you to follow.

What is Chicago Formatting Style?

This essay format is popular in Fine Arts, History, and Business. If you’re pursuing courses in these disciplines, it’s crucial to understand this format of styling your paper. Fortunately, Chicago also has a set of rules you’re required to follow to write your essay.

Follow the essay writing format guidelines below. Note that there are certain similarities between Chicago and MLA format. However, the styles are different.

Structure the Title Page Correctly

The title of your paper should be down the page in regular text. If it’s longer than one line, ensure you’ve double-spaced. Insert your name, instructor’s name, and course number down the page as well.

Use the Right Font

Similar to MLA and APA, the Chicago essay format stipulates that you should use New Times Roman. The font size must be 12pt.

Maintain Proper Spacing

A Chicago format paper should also be double-spaced throughout. Ensure you don’t have any extra spaces between paragraphs.

Keep the Right Margins

A proper essay format in Chicago style should also have one-inch margins on each side. This rule excludes the right side of your paper.

Add Page Numbers Correctly

Add your last name and page number on the top right of each page, excluding the title page. Numbering should begin on the page following the title page (from number 2).

Don’t Forget Footnotes

Each quoted or paraphrased section in your essay should include footnotes. They should be brief and relevant.

The Only Tips You Need to Write an Impressive Academic Paper

Even with the best essay format example, you may find you’re still facing challenges writing your paper. The following tips will help:

  • Choose a topic you love: The more interesting you find your essay topic, the easier it will be to write it;
  • Start early: Having ample time to write your paper will leave enough room for research and proper format checking;
  • Avoid plagiarism: While it’s crucial to cite sources used, avoid copying information directly;
  • Create an outline: A rough draft will make it easier to brainstorm ideas and write your final draft;
  • Proofread: Before you hand in your essay, ensure you’ve followed all format guidelines and that your paper meets requirements.

Now Go

With this guide on formatting your essay, you can write a paper in any popular style.

If you’ve tried and you’re still having difficulties with the format, you can rely on our expert writers for help.

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