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How to format essay. Example MLA, APA essay format

Over the past years, a writing career has grown increasingly popular among people, who’re good at composing creative and well-organized texts. However, the academic writing (essays, research papers, etc.) niche has by now remained pretty challenging, at least for beginners.

The reasoning behind the discrepancy is clear: knowing how to write is just not enough. The point is, doing a college or a scholarship writing project is a bad idea, if you don’t have a clue how to write in essay format or how to format an essay according to APA or MLA guidelines.


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Of course, this doesn’t mean that a newbie has no chance to succeed and work at famous academic writing resources like Edusson.com, for example, some day. In fact, if a person is eager to master the core formatting and style guidelines, their career opportunities in academic, essay writing will definitely improve.

As mentioned above, there are two main formatting and style standards, generally applied to academic papers - MLA and APA styles. In particular, the academic papers within the humanities and liberal arts are usually set to the MLA (Modern Language Association) format and style, whereas the APA (American Psychological Association) formatting is generally used in social science papers.

The brief guide below is what can help you master the basics and learn how to write an essay in MLA format or an APA formatted paper much faster.

The MLA Style and Formatting

Structural Elements

You should write an introduction in which to set a context and provide a brief overview of why the topic was chosen. It ends with a thesis, where you state a point of view you will develop and sustain throughout an essay.

Connection and fluidity are crucial, and each successive paragraph should include:

  • a transition
  • a topic sentence
  • evidence
  • a wrap-up sentence

The conclusion should wrap up the topic of discussion in the essay.

Endnotes (usually, concise) help adding the points that do not match with the rest of ideas.

The Works Cited page includes all sources, cited in the essay.

Paper

An essay should be printed on a computer on the white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.

Font

The legible font type (e.g. Times of Roman) and size (12pt.) are required. Regular and italics font types should contrast.

Spacing

Double-spacing with 1-inch margins on each side of the sheet. Paragraphs begin with half-inch indents (the “Tab” key).

Page headers

Page headers include an author’s name and a page number in the upper-right corner consequently from the first page. Each of them is flush right and should have a one-half inch indent from the top.

The Title page

There is no separate title page (unless requested).

The first page includes an author’s name, and instructor’s name, a course and a date (day, month, then year), listed in the upper-left corner.

A title is centered and capitalized (standard capitalization), with no italicization, underlining or quotation marks. A double-space is required between the title and the first paragraph.

Headings

B- and C-level titles are flush left and differ in the font style.

In-text citations

Add in-text citations after a particular quote and before a period (write an author, then a page number without a comma between).

Example: ...in the crowd (Smith 67).

If there are three or more authors, add the first one and the “et al.”

Example: ...in the crowd (Johns et.al 138).

Shortened or prolonged quotes

Add an ellipsis and the three periods (a space between and after each one is required) for quotes you shorten.

Example: “encourage . . . development”.

Use block quotes, if a quotation is longer, than four lines.

Titles of the published works

Italicize the titles of various published books or other works you mention.

Footnotes

Add a double-spaced footnote (the 12pt Times New Roman font) directly after the referring phrase.

Endnotes

Add endnotes on a separate page after a paper with a centered title “Notes” (the 12pt Times New Roman font) - double-spacing and the one-half inch indent from the left margin are required.

The cited sources

Add the “Works Cited” page after the “Notes”. Capitalize and center its title (the 12pt Times New Roman font).

Double-space each cited work; add a “Print” marker for printed works and a “Web” marker for online sources.

If the author is unknown, put their name in brackets - [].


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The APA Style and Formatting

Structural Elements

There is an Author’s note on the first page that identifies an author’s affiliation, the received financial support (if any) and the contact information.

There are four main structural elements: a Title Page, an Abstract, a Main Body and References.

An Abstract, added before the introduction is a brief essay summary (its purpose and the main points).

The introduction covers the main problem or question that an essay addresses.

An Appendix includes the supplement content that is not directly related to the text.

We should write a conclusion to restate the main question or problem and should suggest a set of areas for further examination and research.

The References page includes all sources, cited in the paper.

Paper

Your work should be printed on a computer on the white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.

Font

The legible font type (e.g. Times of Roman) and size (12pt.) are required. Regular and italics font types should contrast.

Spacing

Double-spacing with 1-inch margins on each side of the sheet. Paragraphs begin with half-inch indents (the “Tab” key).

Page headers

The page headers (“running head”) include:

  • a shortened title of your work (capitalized, 50 characters with spaces or less) flush left;
  • a page number - flush right.

The Title page

There is no separate title page (unless requested).

The first page includes a running head.

A title is centered in the upper half of the page, typed in upper and lower case letters. It should not exceed 12 words (1-2 lines), be bolded, underlined or capitalized.

An author’s full name without titles and the institutional affiliation are listed below the title (double-spacing required).

An Author’s Note is in the lower part of the page and includes four paragraphs:

  1. Complete institutional affiliation.
  2. Changes in institutional affiliation (if any).
  3. Funding sources, acknowledgements.
  4. Contact info.

Abstract

The Abstract is a separate page with a centered title (12 pt. Times New Roman, no extra formatting allowed). The text should include no indents and be 150 - 250 words in length (double-spacing required).

Headings

A-level headings (in upper and lower case) are bolded and centered.

B-level headings are bolded and flush left (standard capitalization required).

C-level headings (in upper and lower case) require a one-half inch indent and are bolded.

In-text citations

In-text citations should include an author’s name, a publication date and a page number, separated with commas.

Example: (Smith, 2006, p.67).

If there are three or more authors, add the first one and the “et al.”

Example: (Johns et.al, 2001).

Appendix

The Appendix should begin at a new page after the References page with the first paragraph flush left, and the other ones - indented.

You should label tables with the referring Appendix letter and a number.

Example: Table A2

If you are adding an Appendix, it is necessary to refer to it in the text.

Example: (See Appendix B for more information on…)

References

Add a list of References at a separate page with a centered title “References” (no capitalization required).

The sources should be alphabetized, double-spacing required.

 


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