Essay Format Tips from an English Teacher

Following your professor or teacher’s favorite essay format is essential. You may think that having to follow this type of style is silly, but adhering to the most popular styles, such as MLA or APA, helps students keep their papers neat, organized, and free of plagiarism. That is why you must follow these instructions.

What is an Essay Format?

An essay format is a series of guidelines that determine how your paper should be arranged. It covers the title page, basic essay structure, essay outline, conclusion, citations, etc.

How to Format an Essay

When formatting a paper, you need to have a title page, proper essay structure, appropriate text capitalization, correct in-text citations, and works cited page. For a successful paper, you also need to know how to make a hook for an essay. Below we have written a step-by-step guide on how make a proper essay format.

How to Write an Essay MLA Format vs APA Format

As you will learn the basic rules of MLA and APA citations, identifying the required essay format will be quite easy. The trick is to remember the key differences as you focus on both similarities and aspects that set these writing formats apart:

MLA FORMAT

APA FORMAT

Mostly common aspects

  • You must use similar spacing with the indents for every paragraph.
  • Both APA and MLA will have their bibliography pages with citations. MLA will have a Works Cited page.
  • The parenthetical citation system is implemented in both cases when used in-text. (Smith 34).
  • Both citation styles will implement alphabetical listing.
  • APA follows the same structure.
  • APA style will have a References page instead of “Works Cited” at the top of the references page.
  • APA also uses the same system with the addition of the year after the last name and the page number p. formatting. (Smith, 2007, p. 34).
  • The same ABC pattern follows.

Core differences

  • MLA-style essays are common in Humanities.
  • Works Cited Page will implement specific Author formatting that would look like: Bradley, Cooper. "More Parents Speak Against Remote Education".
  • When using in-text citing in MLA, you will have to use the following template: "Jones believes that vaccination contains numerous dangers like blood-clotting. (34)."
  • APA style essays are encountered in Social Sciences.
  • The References page in APA style essays will follow this structure: Cooper, A. (2019). More Parents Speak Against Remote Education.
  • APA in-text citing will follow this pattern: "According to Jones (2019), vaccination contains numerous dangers like blood-clotting."

The style differences in essay format rules between MLA and APA are as seen below:

Essay Format

How to Create a Title Page

APA 7:

Your APA 7 title page should provide the original paper's title, author name(s), author affiliation, university's course number, and relevant name for which the paper is being written. Then you must add your instructor's name, assignment due date, and page number, which must start either from 1 or 0, depending on your formatting.

A typical student’s title page in APA 7 goes as follows:

APA 7 title page

 

NOTE: If you are writing a student paper, it does not include a running head unless your instructor tells you to!

  • Title of an essay must be placed three to four lines down from the top.
  • Major words of your title must be capitalized.
  • If you have two authors, you must use "and" between the names or commas if there are more than two authors.
  • Affiliation part must include the name of the department and your college or university. It must be centered.
  • Course number must be provided exactly as shown on your instructional materials.
  • Instructor's name must follow below in full name.
  • Page number in APA 7 starts from number 1 in the top right corner or zero number below if requested.

Professional publications also have the following:

  • Running Head. It is written in capital letters with the left margin align. The words "Running Head" are not used anymore.
  • Author Note. If you have any author's notes, they are placed below Author's Affiliation. They must be centered with aligning to the left.

 

MLA 9 Format:

If you are asked to create an MLA title page instead of just the header, you must include:

- Your college or university name.

- Original title of your paper. Subtitle (if relevant).

- Your first and last name.

- Your professor's name.

- Class or course name (number).

- Date of the paper's deadline in Day, Month, Year formatting.

 

  • Your lines must be double-spaced and centered.
  • Use Times New Roman font.
  • Size 12 font.
  • The first letter of each word must be capitalized except for "the, and, of".
  • The page number is not included on the title page.

If you are using the typical left top margin header, it follows the same formatting and includes:

- Your first and last name.

- Your teacher's name.

- Class name or course number.

- Due date.

 

What we become in practice is:

 

Tyler J. Andrews

Dr. John McFly

EDU 100

15 Jan. 2021

 

Generate citations and title page for free

The First Page of Your Essay

APA 7 Style Format:

- The first level of text must start as a new paragraph. It must be centered, bold, and use the title case heading format.

- Second level also starts as a new paragraph. It has an indent to the left, be bold and use title case heading.

- Third level is flushed to the left, remains bold but uses italics with the title case heading.

- Fourth level has an indent, bold with the title case that ends with a period. The paragraph’s text goes further on the same line and is approached as a normal paragraph.

- The fifth level goes as the previous one but adds italics.

- If you are writing an academic report or research paper, your Method, Results, and Discussion parts all must use first-level headings.

Some other changes worth mentioning:

  • Running Head part is no longer required if we are dealing with a student's paper.
  • Professional papers use running heads, yet it goes without the "Running Head" prefix.
  • The running head must be written in capital letters.
  • It is also necessary to use Bias-free and gender-neutral language.

MLA 9 style:

- It is recommended to use 12-point Times New Roman font.

- Double-spacing must be used.

- Use 1-inch margins on all sides.

- First line of each paragraph must be indented (use the TAB key).

- If you have quotes that are longer than four lines of text, they must be placed in a block of text half an inch from the left margin.;

- If you have no requirement for the separate title page, use the one from the example provided in the previous section.

Regarding headers, you must always check your paper's case and discuss it with your instructor because the rules at each institution may differ.

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

As a rule, when you are dealing with academic writing in any format, it is crucial to follow the basic rules of Introduction, Body, and Conclusion parts. Be it a dissertation or some reflective journal, it is recommended to use a five-paragraph essay format example. It should include the first paragraph where you introduce your subject and include a thesis statement. It must be followed by three different paragraphs that have three main arguments. The final paragraph (or conclusion) is where you sum things up.

MLA FORMAT

APA 7 FORMAT

  • Font used must be either Times New Roman or Arial, size 12 pt.
  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • The first word in each paragraph must be indented.
  • Use transition words between paragraphs.
  • All your main points must be mentioned again in the Conclusion part.
  • Avoid introducing any new ideas.
  • Use Times New Roman font, point 12.
  • Avoid starting your paper with a direct quote.
  • The title must be centered, bolded, and typed in upper and lower case.
  • The word "Introduction" should not be used.
  • It should be about 2-3 pages in length, depending on your total word count.
  • It is recommended to use one idea per paragraph.
  • Conclusion part should not introduce any new ideas.

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In-Text Citation

Correct in-text citing is an essential part of avoiding plagiarism. When you aim to show your reader that you are either using a direct quote or paraphrase something, you show follow the rules. Here is how it is done in APA 7 and MLA 9 formats:

APA 7:

Here we must use the "author-date" citation method with parentheses. It must be placed right after your quote. If you have a page number, the "p." part is added before your relevant page's number.

APA essay format in-text citation:

"When the brain activity of an autistic child changes, it does not affect the basic cognitive function and reaction to refraction of light" (Matthews, 2009, pp.33-34).

When you use a narrative style, it goes like this:

In his recent study, Dr. Jones observed that many pneumatic pumps in Leiden "worked with the help of Northern Sea wind and related turbines, which made it even more efficient" (2014, p. 62).

MLA 9 Style:

It uses only the last name of the author(s) with the page number:

(Jackson 9).

If there is no author, it uses:

(“NASA”)

When you have two authors in MLA 9:

(Clark and Smith 19).

When you have three or more authors:

(Jolie et al. 34)

Works Cited Page

APA 7:

- Your sources must be listed according to the ABC.

- If your source is longer than two lines of text, the second line must be indented by using the TAB key. All the upcoming lines follow this format as well.

- Use Times New Roman, point 12 font.

- Each citation must go according to your source type.

MLA 9:

- List your references alphabetically.

- Use indents of every line after the first.

- Times New Roman, 12 pt. is recommended.

For example, if you need to cite a journal for your MLA essay format writing, use this template:

Author's Last Name, First Name. Title, Title of the journal in italics, Vol. #, no.#, Publication Date, pp. 101-202.

If you are turning to online databases, a Database in italics or URL must be added.

What is the standard essay format?

APA 7:

  • All page margins must be set to 1 inch.
  • Text must be double-spaced including your headings.
  • First line of every paragraph must be indented 0.5 inches.
  • Use Times New Roman, 12 points, or Arial 11 points.

MLA 9:

  • Your paper must be typed on a standard white 8.5 x 11' paper.
  • Text must be double-spaced.
  • Times New Roman, 12 pt.
  • Margins are set to one inch on all sides.
  • Every first word in a paragraph must be tabbed.
  • Italics are used to indicate titles of longer works.

How do you structure an essay?

Structuring your essay format correctly will always depend on your subject and the type of paper. Starting with an explanatory essay will not work the same way as with a good movie review. The most important is to follow the basic template where you have an introduction with a strong thesis, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It is recommended to start with your strongest argument by addressing each element of your thesis. Use topic sentences to sum things up in conclusion. It is also good to include quotes in your body paragraphs to support your ideas. If you need to include counter-arguments, they must be included right before your conclusion part. It is also necessary to make sure that you include your bibliography part by checking for every entry to be present.

How do you write a good essay?

Some key requirements for writing a good essay (besides having a clear and efficient structure) include ensuring the logical flow of your content and the use of smooth transitions as well as the use of compelling evidence taken from trustworthy sources. A lot depends on how captivating or original your information is, so it is crucial to focus on quality content.

Tips for Writing and Conducting Research

As stated previously, writing is hard, and even professional writers like myself have trouble doing it. Here are a few useful tips that I follow in order to get the most out of my writing.

  • Become an expert on the topic. Do as much reading as you can on your topic so that you know more about it than your instructor. Write down the name of the author and the publishing information of the material you plan to use so that you can quickly insert it into your works cited page.
  • Pre-writing. This is when you brainstorm ideas for your essay. When I do this, I write down every single word and thought that comes to mind for an hour straight - and before I know it, I am writing entire lines of text.
  • Just write. When the American science fiction writer Robert Heinlein was asked what the secret to completing a novel was, he replied, “Just write.” In order to complete your task, you are going to have to sit down and do the work. Discipline yourself to commit a few hours each day to completing your paper, for as long as it takes.
  • Don’t procrastinate. If you have an essay due, do not wait until the last minute to do it; instead, dedicate a few hours every day to doing a little bit of the work. Before you know it, you will be done - probably early - and your work will be superb. If you wait until the last moment to finally do it, the quality of your text will suffer.
  • Check your work. No matter how skilled a writer you are, you are bound to make a few mistakes. I guarantee that you will find more than a few grammar and stylistic mistakes even in this guide. That is why you must check grammar and spelling in your own work.

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Good Luck with Your Project!

I hope that this short guide will be of assistance to you. If you think you need more help than this guide can give, you should contact the customer service agents at EduBirdie. They will get you in touch with writers who can write in all types of formats:

  • College essay format
  • College application essay format
  • Argumentative essay format
  • Short essay format

And they can do much more! Come to our website and discover all of the great benefits that EduBirdie has to offer. No matter what subject you major in, even if you need MBA essay help, we are here to assist you! Getting the right format for an essay has never been easier!

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