A Full Paper Formatting Guide for Students

Academic writing has always been a major stressor for college students. This kind of task often implies working under a tight deadline and carrying out a lot of research. Also, it requires a significant time commitment and solid writing skills to get a high grade. To complicate matters even further, there are also plenty of additional requirements, such as formatting, that make this task even harder to complete.

The biggest problem with formatting academic papers is that there are several different styles, each of which has its own set of rules and guidelines. Keeping all of this in mind isn’t easy. So when students get to this stage of the task, they often feel overwhelmed and helpless.

The easiest way to solve the problem is to hire an expert APA paper writer who will be able to polish your work to perfection and ensure it meets all academic standards. This way, you will be guaranteed to get a high grade while also saving time and effort. However, if you want to master the art of formatting on your own, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to find a complete guide that will help you get on the right track!

General Paper Structure

Proper formatting spans a variety of things, including the correct structure of your work. The good news is that the structure is most often the same for different tasks.

Whether you have to write a research paper, coursework, or essay, you will need to have three core structure elements:

  1. Introduction – This section drives attention and provides a brief outline of the topic and the core background info. It also states your work’s main idea (thesis).
  2. Body – This is the primary and the biggest section of any assignment. It should be broken down into paragraphs, each of which discovers a specific idea/argument relevant to your topic.
  3. Conclusion – The final part of your work should summarize the core points found throughout the piece and emphasize how the given facts, evidence, and findings support the thesis.

These are the basic elements of your text. Additionally, every type of paper might require you to add additional sections, such as a title page, abstract, literature review, methods, results, references, and others. Before you get to writing your paper, be sure to study the provided requirements to know what sections must be included in your work. Then clarify the required style and read our guidelines below to format every style appropriately.

Formatting in APA Style

One of the most common styles is the one of the American Psychological Association. You will likely have to deal with it when writing for different social sciences, such as anthropology, psychology, education, sociology, etc.

The general guidelines for this style include the following:

  • Font: You have to use a standard, readable font. The most common options are Times New Roman (12 pt) or Arial (11 pt).
  • Margins: You should set them to 1 inch on all sides of the page.
  • Spacing: Set to double line.
  • Indent: You need to leave a ½ inch indent for every new paragraph.
  • Additionally: If you are planning to submit your work for publication, it must also have an APA-style running head – an abbreviated version of your title; located in the page header; up to 50 characters with spaces; all-capital; left-aligned.

Formatting in MLA Style

Another commonly used style was introduced by the Modern Language Association. It is primarily applicable to works in humanities disciplines, including cultural studies, language arts, etc.

The general guidelines for this style include

  • Font: Also opt for a readable font. Most commonly, students use 12 pt Times New Roman.
  • Margins: Set to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Spacing: Double line spacing is also preferred.
  • Indent: All new paragraphs must be indented to ½ inch.
  • Additionally: This format requires using title case capitalization style for all headings.

Formatting in Chicago Style

The next style that you might face in college is Chicago. It is also widely known as Turabian. Although initially intended for publishing academic journals and books, this format is now widely used for different papers in business, history, fine arts, and other social and humanities studies.

The general guidelines for this style are

  • Font: Preferably a standard font and size (i.e., Times New Roman 12 pt).
  • Margins: 1 inch or larger margins are acceptable, applied on all sides.
  • Spacing: Apply double-line spacing.
  • Indent: Use a standard ½ inch indent for all new paragraphs.
  • Additionally: When numbering your pages, you can place numbers in the top right or bottom center.

Formatting in Harvard Style

Lastly, along with MLA, APA, and Chicago, Harvard is another widespread style. It’s most often applied to works in humanities, philosophy, and behavioral sciences. However, it can also be used in other disciplines too.

The general guidelines for this style include

  • Font: It is recommended to choose either Arial or Times New Roman, all in 12 pt size.
  • Margins: Set to 1 inch on all sides of the page.
  • Spacing: Set to double line.
  • Indent: All new paragraphs must begin with a 0.5-inch indent.
  • Additionally: The text of the paper should always be aligned to the left, and the title should appear in the center of the first page.

Citations and References

Two more things to keep in mind when formatting your papers are citations and references. When you use external resources to write your works, you must attribute the used information to original sources appropriately.

There are three main types of citations:

  • Parenthetical – The identifying details of the source (i.e., the author, publication date, and page number, if necessary) must appear in parentheses in your text.
  • Numerical – The used information is marked with a number in superscript or brackets within the text and then cited under a relevant number in the reference list.
  • Note – The information is marked with a superscript number or symbol in the text, and the full citation is provided in a footnote or endnote.

Parenthetical citations are the most common ones. They are widely used for MLA, APA, Chicago, and Harvard formats. Alternatively, Chicago can require note citations. Study your teacher’s requirements to define the proper style.

The Bottom Line

Formatting academic papers can seem to be even harder than writing them, especially when you are not well-versed in different styles. Here’s where essay writing services come in handy. Still, you need to check your formatting before submission and luckily, now you have all the information you need to succeed.

Use the information from this article as your guidelines for formatting papers in different styles, and score high grades without a hassle!

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