Essay Format Tips from an English Teacher

Updated May 2021

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:



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

  • Double-space your page. Do not use single-space.
  • Use 12 font, Times New Roman.
  • Write the name of your institution.
  • A third of the way down the page (beneath the name of your institution), write the title of an essay.
  • Towards the bottom of your paper, write your name, the course name and number, the instructor’s name, and the due date.
  • A sample PDF with a title page is available on this page for your convenience.

Generate citations and title page for free

The First Page of Your Essay

Before you begin writing, you must structure the first page of your paper:

  • Add the header to your essay in the right-hand corner, half an inch below the top edge of the paper. This usually includes your last name and the page number. You must do this for every page of your paper, with the exception of the works cited page.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of your paper, place the heading.
  • Insert and center the title of your essay an inch below the top edge of your paper.
  • Immediately beneath the title, begin writing the first paragraph of your essay.
  • The example below shows what it should look like when you are done:

Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

Every type of academic work, whether it is a short essay or a dissertation, has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. In a five-paragraph essay, both the introduction and the conclusion have one paragraph each, while the other three paragraphs belong to the main body (this is the bulk of the essay where arguments are made and evidence is provided). Once you learn how to write a typical five-paragraph essay consisting of these three sections, writing any paper, no matter how short or long, becomes much easier.

  • Use size 12 font, Times New Roman
  • In your introductory statement, clearly state the main idea of your paper
  • Main body

Support your ideas in a logical, coherent way, by citing evidence you discovered in your research.

Be sure to transition smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.

  • Conclusion

Here is where you wrap up your paper by bringing together all of your main points.

You may also use this as an opportunity to resolve problems you addressed in your essay or to address the implications of your arguments.

Do not introduce any new ideas or topics in your conclusion.

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In-Text Citation

Whenever citing the work of someone else in your paper, you will have to use in-text citation in order to show the reader where you found your information. Follow these examples when doing in-text citation:

Works Cited Page

The works cited page is where you list every source you used in your paper.

  • List your sources in alphabetical order.
  • If your reference takes up more than two lines of text, indent the second line of text to the right by one inch, and all other lines for the same reference after the second.
  • Materials taken from different forms of media (print, web, lecture, etc.) must be formatted differently. Here is an example of how to write a reference from a book with the format guidelines.
  • Write the last name of the author followed by the first name. Place the title and then the publishing information as indicated above.

There are many different ways to write your references because there are now so many different types of media. Consult a style guide in order to find out more. In the meantime, you can look at our essay format examples:

We hope that these essay format examples will help you.

What is the standard essay format?

A standard essay format also includes standard formatting rules for layout:

  • specific page margins (e.g.,1 inch)
  • specific line spacing (e.g., double-spacing) and specific rules about spaces between paragraphs (e.g., no spaces)
  • page headers (containing the author’s last name, a shortened title, etc.)
  • specific fonts (e.g., Times New Roman, size 12)
  • headings and subheadings (headings of different levels usually differ in formatting style and font size)
  • page numbers (typically incorporated in page headers)
  • indentation (usually about 5 spaces = half an inch)

How do you structure an essay?

A straightforward way to structure the essay is to start by stating the thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph. Each subsequent paragraph of the main body then starts with a topic sentence supporting or addressing the thesis of an essay, followed by a few sentences supporting or explaining the topic sentence, and ends with a paragraph-concluding or transitioning sentence. Finally, use the introduction to bring in some context/show the importance of the topic, or capture attention and the conclusion to highlight key points.

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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