Essay format has nothing to do with the actual content of the essay, it is how you organize and present it. Essay format gives the physical look of your essay as the eye scans the pages without reading the words.
MLA Essay Format with Example
APA Essay Format with Example
Chicago Essay Format
Why Is Formatting Important?
It is estimated that essay formatting can account for at least ten percent of your overall grade. This can be the difference between getting an "A" or a "D." Thus, paying close attention to your formatting is a relatively easy way to improve your grade.
Since formatting is often done after all the research and writing is accomplished, many students are too tired to give formatting the proper attention. They may also be rushed for time since this is the last task they do. For these reasons, you may want to start your essay assignment early enough that you can do your formatting on a different day than you actually research and write your essay. You can also enlist professional services like ours to help you format your essay perfectly and perhaps proofread your final draft as well.
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What Formatting Styles Are There?
Most common formatting styles are MLA, APA, Harvard & Chicago. MLA is the most typical one, and if you are unsure how your essay should be formatted, use MLA as the default formatting style.
The essay formatting rules depend only on the formatting standards, as prescribed by MLA, APA or Chicago style guides. Many styles erroneously think that academic (or complexity) level of your paper will influence the overall essay format. This is obviously a myth: if you need to write an MLA style essay, it will look same for high-school, college or university level. The Same statement is also true for APA & Chicago formatting styles.
What Are the Differences in Formatting Styles?
Each formatting style sets its own requirements towards a number of things, including:
- Title pages
- Spacing between lines
- Page numbering
- Font size
- Proofreading etc.
Every formatting style has its respective formatting guide that can be easily purchased as a soft copy or a hard copy. There is, however, a great deal of information on each of these styles that is available online. Here are some useful links:
Numbering Pages and Paragraphs
Always number every page of your essay in consecutive order. Put the number for each page in the upper right-hand corner half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin. It is a good practice to include your last name before each number in case the pages get jumbled up with other essays. An example would be: Smith, 2.
Keep your numbers very simple. Do not put periods after page numbers and do not underline them. Do not put quotations marks around them. Do not use a fancy font or embellish them with graphics of any kind. Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) instead of Roman numerals (I, II, III).
The Importance of Double Spacing and Leaving Wide Margins
Part of the purpose in writing an essay in an academic environment is to obtain constructive feedback from your teacher or professor. This allows you to improve with each re-write and with each subsequent essay you write.
In order to leave enough room for your teacher or professor to leave his or her comments, be sure to double space between each line of text. Be sure to also leave a one-inch wide margin on all sides of the paper.
Spacing Between Words and Sentences
Always leave a single space between each word in a sentence. You should also leave a single space after each comma, semicolon, and colon. Never leave a space in front of the punctuation at the end of a sentence. It is traditional to leave two spaces between sentences. However, it is has become increasingly acceptable to include only one space between sentences. If in doubt, ask your teacher or professor for his or her preference.
Indentation of Paragraphs and Quotes
Traditionally, the first line of a new paragraph was always indented. However, many teachers and professors now prefer that students start new paragraphs flush with the left margin of the paper. For this reason, if your instructor does not offer guidance on this when they give an essay assignment, you may want to ask them what they prefer. Whether you indent or not, be sure to be consistent throughout your entire essay.
If you do indent paragraphs, it is traditional to indent seven spaces or half an inch from the left margin. For quotes, it is traditional to indent ten spaces, or a full inch from the left margin, to set them apart more distinctly than paragraphs.
Spacing Between Paragraphs
Since you are double spacing between lines, it is best to insert four spaces between paragraphs so the eye can more readily distinguish between paragraphs.
How to Handle Titles in Your Essay Format
There should be a formatting distinction made between longer full-length works and shorter works such. Longer works should be underlined. These include books and plays. Shorter works should be placed inside quotation marks. These include newspaper articles, magazine articles, book chapters, essays, and blog posts. When in doubt, use quotation marks or consult the MLA Handbook.
The first letter of each word in a title should be capitalized with three exceptions. First, do not capitalize articles ("a", "an", "the"). Second, do not capitalize prepositions ("on", "of", "in", "over", "under"). Third, do not capitalize conjunctions ("and", "because", "but").
Never Write in All Capitalizations
Capitalization should be used sparingly or it will tend to irritate the reader and detract from your overall points. Although you may be tempted to capitalize every letter in an important headline, resist this temptation and add your emphasis in the words you choose.
Table of Contents Guidelines
Essays are much shorter than books. Therefore, most do not require a table of contents. However, if your essay is lengthy, or your instructor suggests it, you may want to include one.
For most essays, you'll want to include the following sections in your table of contents:
- Works Cited
You can also provide subsections for the body since this is the lengthiest part of your essay. Beside each section and subsection, include a page number, in a simple format, for easy reference.
How to End Your Essay
Many students feel it necessary to embellish the end of their essay with a fancy graphic. This is not necessary and may even annoy your teacher or professor. Simply end your essay with the last period of your last sentence and leave it at that. Similarly, you do not need to write "The End."
Be Sure to Bind Your Essay
You should always bind together all the sheets of paper in your essay because it is quite easy for loose sheets to become scrambled or even lost. If you use a stapler, be sure to staple the upper left corner so the page numbers on the upper right corner still show. The same is true if you use a paper clip. You may also want to take your essay to a business center and have the left edges bound.
Writing a good essay takes practice and patience. Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get an "A" on your first few attempts. If you are not satisfied with your grades, schedule an appointment with your teacher or professor and politely ask them for suggestions on how you can improve. Be sure to ask them about essay format as well as the content of your writing.
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1# Address no more than one point in each paragraph
It is advantageous in a number of ways to address just one distinct point or idea, in each paragraph of your essay.
Doing so orders the content, making it more understandable to the reader.
Breaking down an essay into a logical sequence of concise paragraphs also make the writing task less daunting.
At the same time if the point you wish to make requires a lot text, don’t be afraid of breaking it into separate paragraphs also.
2# Keep paragraphs short
It’s usually best to keep paragraphs short. There is no clear cut off point, but a general guide is around 6 to 7 sentences.
Short paragraphs allow the reader to pause and digest the material more readily than lengthy paragraphs.
If writing for the web, it is advisable to keep paragraphs even shorter, depending upon your audience. A paragraph can be as short as one sentence.
3# The key sentence of a paragraph
A paragraph will typically contain a key sentence. A key sentence introduces the reader to content contained within the paragraph. For this reason, it is usually best for it to be placed at the beginning of the paragraph.
Consider this short paragraph concerning official crime statistics,
‘The validity of official statistics is contested however. How crime is defined, detected and recorded has led many criminologists to argue that they are unsound, and do not represent the true extent of crime in the United Kingdom.’
The key sentence of this paragraph is, ‘The validity of official statistics is contested however.’
It prepares the reader to expect the rest of the paragraph to focus upon how and why some doubt the accuracy of official statistics of crime.
5# The supporting sentences of a paragraph
In a well written essay the key sentence of each paragraph will usually be accompanied by at least one supporting sentence. These supporting sentences should clearly elaborate upon and/or confirm the statement contained within your key sentence.
Consider the second sentence contained in the paragraph concerning official crime statistics:
‘How crime is defined, detected and recorded has led many criminologists to argue that they are unsound, and do not represent the true extent of crime in the United Kingdom.’
This second sentence clearly relates to and corroborates the subject matter and argument contained within the preceding key sentence.
6# The introduction
The introduction of an essay will usually fit in just one paragraph.
It’s function is to indicate the main thrust of the answer to be given and the main subjects covered. It should not start to answer the question at any length and therefore should require just one paragraph.
If your introduction is over say eight sentences in an essay of less than 2500 words you might consider reducing the length.
7# The conclusion
Again the conclusion to an essay will as a rule occupy only one paragraph. For reasons similar to those for your introduction.
Namely, it’s function is to briefly restate the answer given and the subjects covered in the main section of your essay.
8# When to indent a paragraph
The use of indentation is frequently optional in educational establishments within the United Kingdom. A simple line space is used to denote another paragraph.
When indentation is used, one common style involves indenting all paragraphs apart from the first one. Based upon the fact that as indentation has primarily functioned to denote separated paragraphs, the first paragraph in this approach does not require it.
The American method involves indenting all paragraphs.
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