Formatting An Essay - Tips From an English Teacher

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Formatting An Essay - Tips From an English Teacher

So you're sitting at your desk, ready to produce a great article in English. The catchy title is prepared, the main thoughts are written in the draft - you have to start! Do you want your work to make a good first impression? Sitting down to write articles or essays in English, you should consider some of the formatting nuances inherent in this language. Following the rules described below, you will immediately show that you know English writing culture and have a professional business approach.

Not sure about your paper and don't know how to format it? Please do not worry, and we will help. Yes, text formatting is not fun. Indeed you are interested in making a catchy proposal, writing a plan. Still, we assure you formatting is an essential part of the document, and your assessment will depend on this element. In this article, you will learn about the rules for formatting essays using three different styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago.

We will provide a brief overview of how the article, structure, and links will look for each style. We will also tell you about the most important details for each style. If you are wondering which font you should use for each format, this article is worth looking at. We will also point out the main advantages of formatting and choose the right style to make your essay look brilliant.

What Is An Essay Format?

An essay format is essentially a blueprint for making your text appear structured and logical. The basic format of an essay consists of three parts - introduction, central part, and conclusion. An essay always contains a thesis - the main idea, the position of the author. The thesis can be at the beginning of the essay if the author already has a perspective on the given problem. Two or three arguments must support any thesis. The arguments, in turn, should be illustrated with two or three examples.

Why Is Your Essay Format Important?

Surely you are asking yourself if the font size, citation style affects how your article will look. The answer is obvious. Formatting is essential for essays. Without a well-formed structure, you won't be able to write easy-to-read text. For essays, ease of reading is an important criterion. Many researchers have worked hard to create styles that are standard across all educational institutions. Researchers have developed guidelines on how written papers should look and citation lists for their documents.

Why was it necessary to complicate the learning process by introducing formatting requirements? Put yourself in the shoes of a teacher, professor, researcher who checks dozens of written documents every day. If each writer used a different formatting style, it would be easy to understand which sources were used, whether certain information is direct quotation or paraphrasing. Every teacher wants to see quality work, so you can't do without formatting.

It is also worth noting that thanks to formatting, writers do not need to come up with the style, structure, and tone of the text. One has only to look at the formatting instructions, and you will ensure yourself a successful article. Readers will appreciate your preparation and will not have to look for information that is important to them.

The 3 Popular Essay Formats: Which One To Choose?

There are many styles available today, but we will tell you about the most popular ones. These include MLA, APA, Chicago. If you do not know which one is best for you, then study the information below. Thanks to the overview, you can find the style that is perfect for the article's topic.

MLA Essay Format

The MLA style was developed for the liberal arts students to format documents and cite sources correctly. The Association of Modern Languages developed it. The MLA's academic style is most often used by students of humanitarian colleges and universities in Canada and the USA. Also, students from other countries use the MLA style to write documents such as an essay in English, essay in English literature, comparative analysis, literary criticism, term paper, dissertation.

Today there are seven editions. In March 2009, the style creators published their latest guide, intended for high school students, colleges, university teachers, and their students. Also, the creators of the style, from time to time, publish examples of how to design each section.

For the MLA style, the developers put forward the following rules:

  1. The text must be printed using text set programs. Work should be printed on standard white paper size 8.5 x 11 inches.
  2. Distance between rows must be framed in a double interval. The developers of the MLA style recommend using an easy-to-read font. Such fonts include Times New Roman or Calibri. It is also worth noting that you need to separate the usual font and italics no matter which font you choose. The font size must correspond to 12 points. If you select less, make a big mistake.
  3. When writing a sentence, you must adhere to the correct arrangement of the characters. If you use someone, then there should be a gap after it. When you make a point at the end of the sentence, there should also be a gap.
  4. The width of the fields must be equal to 2.54 cm.
  5. Indentation must be 1.27 cm. To adhere to the correct indentation location, we recommended using the Tab key.
  6. It would help if you numbed the pages in the upper right corner. Sometimes educational envies put forward their own rules for the design of numbering, so specify them.

In the MLA format, the author of the material where the quote is taken must be indicated in a sentence. This technique helps the reader immediately find the material they need, instead of flipping through all the work and opening a list of originators. The source you use in the text must write according to this example: the author and the quote page. You need to write only the author's surname and a page from the material. All the details will be superfluous, and you will violate the design rules. All additional information about the source should indicate in the section entitled "Used literature." The author's name, who wrote the material and quoted him, must be written in curly brackets at the end of the sentence.

APA Essay Format

Psychologists developed the style of APA to write sociological papers. Sociologists have developed this style to make it more convenient to create coursework, research reports, paper analyzes, literary reviews, methodological articles, and essays. Also, using the APA style makes it easier for scientists to study problems and questions in different fields of sciences.

To create an APA-style paper, you must follow the formatting rules:

  1. All text must be printed using a computer that uses different typing programs. At the time of writing, double spacing between lines must be set. The size of the interval must be set from the cover page to the list of sources used.
  2. You can use the font depending on your wishes. There are no special requirements. The American Association of Psychologists made only a recommendation. The recommendation says that the Times New Roman 12 size font is the best read.
  3. In the document, make paragraphs with an indentation of 1.27 cm from the left margin.
  4. The width of all fields must be aligned to a size of 2.54 cm.
  5. On each page, click the header. Put all the numbers on the pages without indents. The "DOCUMENT NAME" must be printed in the footer in the same way without indents, using capital letters.
  6. The header and footer cannot exceed 50 characters, so you must take this element into account when creating a title.

The APA style involves using references in the work of the work every time a source is cited, whether it is a paraphrase, an inside-line quote, or a blockquote. The intra-text link contains information about: the author of the work, the editor, the compiler, the cited source's name, the year of publication, and the page interval. A page interval can not indicate if it is not a quote, but some ideas or links to the work as a whole are expressed.

Chicago Essay Format

The Chicago style of citation determines the peculiarities of preparation and publication of works in formatting and citation. These and other rules are described in the Chicago Style Reference, called the "bible of editors." It was first published in 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. In September 2010, its 16th edition came out. The handbook is updated based on editorial practice and covers everything from American English grammar to document preparation.

This style is used in some social science publications and most essays. The American Anthropological Association's Stylistic Guide and the Organization of American Historians' publishing instructions are based on the Chicago Stylistic Guide. Many small publishers around the world have adopted this style for their publications.

Chicago Style offers a choice of several formats. Within the style, it is allowed to mix ways of citing the source, provided the text is clear and consistent. The manual describes two citation formats:

  1. Notes/bibliography, also known as the liberal arts style. References to sources are provided in page footnotes (or endnotes) or the bibliography.
  2. Author/date, also known as scientific style and social science style. The source's author and date are indicated in brackets in the text and the list of references used.

How To Format An Essay

Regardless of which style you choose, the essay should have some essential elements. Let's take a look at how to form an essay correctly.

How To Create a Title Page

The title page is the "face" of the work, which the inspector pays attention to first of all. To correctly design the essay's title page, you need to adhere to the rules described in the style guide or clarify the teacher's wishes for this element. There are several must-haves for creating a cover page:

  1. At the top of the title, the name of the educational institution for which the essay is being created, as well as its head, is indicated.
  2. Further, the working title is indicated in enormous size - "Essay" and the essay's subject in quotation marks.
  3. On the right, under the topic, the author indicates information about himself and the training leader.
  4. The city and the year of the work performed, separated by a space, are indicated in the center below.

The First Page Of Your Essay

Before you write the text, you must properly structure the first page of the work. To format the first page, follow these steps:

  1. Open a text editor. It can be Word or Google Docs.
  2. In the right corners of an A4 page, place your essay title half an inch below the top of the paper. The headline should be on every page of the paper to always understand what the article is reading about. The title does not need to be placed on the page that contains the list of cited works.
  3. The main heading should be placed in the center.
  4. Then center the essay title an inch below the top of the paper.
  5. Under the heading, write the first paragraph of your essay.

Introduction, Body, And Conclusion

Rarely enough, the introduction is placed on a separate page. Usually, it is immediately followed by the main body, separated by a subheading or indentation. In the introduction, you should analyze the relevance of the chosen topic, outline the purpose of writing an essay, and put forward a hypothesis that needs to be confirmed or refuted. From this page onwards, the work is numbered.

Further, it is necessary to logically and consistently give arguments, revealing the stated topic. It is recommended to actively use various scientists' opinions to provide quotes and situations from life. The quotes used must be enclosed in quotation marks and contain a link to the source indicating the authorship, year of publication, and the page where the quoted phrase is located. Information about the source can be given in parentheses in the text or square brackets, indicating the source's serial number in the references list.

An explanation and an example should accompany each statement. At the end of each section with a statement, there should be a conclusion or final judgment. In the final part, the problem is again voiced, all judgments from the central part are summarized, and a general conclusion is made based on the author's position.

In-Text Citation

Very often, to write an essay, additional sources of information are required. To take information from there and not be convicted of plagiarism, it is necessary to make bibliographic references to the source at the end of the page or the entire essay. Unlike other works, an essay is a work of fiction. Therefore, it uses different types of citation inherent in the essay:

  1. Epigraphs. They are written without quotation marks, and the author is indicated without parentheses.
  2. If the author is written immediately after the quote, then the expression is highlighted in quotation marks, and the author - in parentheses.
  3. If a quote is inserted into the author's proposal, then it is indicated by quotation marks. The author is drawn up in any form.
  4. If the author's words accompany the quote, then according to the rules, punctuation marks inherent indirect speech are put.
  5. If the lines of the poem are quoted, then they are not enclosed in quotes
  6. And finally, if the quote is not complete, then ellipsis should be used instead of missing words.

Section Headings

Essays can contain headings. They can be highlighted in bold. The headings are printed with paragraph indentation and with a capital letter. Do not put a period after the headings.

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Originally published Feb 11, 2021, updated Feb 17, 2021

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