A complete essay format guide

A complete essay format guide

essay format guide title

So, you’ve crafted your essay. Congratulations! The hard part is truly over. Now comes the time to choose the proper essay format. It is no longer about your content, but rather about the way you arrange it. You do it to meet your school’s requirements. In this guide, we will focus on common formatting styles:

  • APA essay format;
  • MLA essay format;
  • Harvard format essay, and
  • Chicago essay format.

So, without further ado, let’s get right to business.

What is an essay format?

An essay format is the structure and the general guidelines of an essay that keep its content organized and well-structured.

The primary purpose of the college essay format is to help the readers follow main ideas behind the content without stumbling upon its structure. It is not a daunting task to deal with. It is a great way to organize your thoughts for the target audience to understand what you were trying to say in the first place.

Moreover, at least 10% of your grade depends on the proper essay format. Thus, it is in your best interests to stick to the guidelines and use correct essay format.

And it is also true in case you want to get into a college of your dream. Half of the success is in proper college application essay format. So, don’t miss your chance!

Educational institutions require different essay formats. Therefore, to get the highest grades, one must know the difference between types of essay formats and follow the guidelines when working on a piece.

In just a bit, you will find out the difference between the APA, Chicago, Harvard, and MLA format for essays.

Types of essay formats

Here are four most common types of essay formats, as we have mentioned above.

types of essay formats

They all have their specifics, and each school has its own requirements. However, MLA remains the top essay format. We don’t say that it’s the best essay writing format. However, it is the most popular one.
And unless you have clear instructions on what essay format to use in your paper, you’d rather opt for an MLA format essay.

The essay format style has nothing to do with the complexity of your paper. The argumentative essay format at your school depends on the preferences of your tutors, not on the academic level of the paper. So, don’t fall victim to this silly idea.

How to format a college essay

Set of requirements for essay formats

To get the highest grade, a student has to know how to format an essay in accordance with these requirements. Here’s an example of how essay formats might differ.

The difference between MLA and APA essay formats

We’ll give more details on each of these essay formats later in the guide, but for now, let’s see what differences one should know about when it comes to these two formats.

  1. The list of works used in the paper is called differently in APA and MLA formats (“References” and “Works cited” respectively). And even though both of them list works used in the essay alphabetically, with MLA, the name of the author is written in full, while with the APA, only the first letter of his name is mentioned following the last name.
  2. In general, APA essay format is mostly used in papers on social studies, while the MLA essay format is typically the top choice for other subjects.
  3. Finally, in case you are adding citations inside the text and mention the author within the quote, MLA essay format requires you to add a number of the page you found the quote on at the end of the sentence while in case of the APA essay format you need to mention the year.
    Here is an APA format essay example with the quote: “Bill Gates (1985) stated that young people would have no problem finding a good job as long as they view computers as tools.”

These might seem like insignificant differences. Yet, when it comes to grading your paper, the tutor will look closely at each of these essay format requirements to see how well you did your homework.

Now that you understand the differences between MLA and APA essay formats let’s go into specifics of each one of them.

How to write an essay in MLA format

The basic guidelines for the MLA essay format are the following:

  1. Font: Times New Roman
  2. Size of the font: 12pt
  3. Margins: 1-inch margin on all the sides of the pape
  4. Header: Each page should have a header that will contain the author’s last name and a page number
  5. Alignment: To the left-hand side
  6. Spacing: Double
  7. Indentation: Yes, at the beginning of each paragraph
  8. Title: The title comes on the first page at the same font size as the rest of the text, only aligned to the center of the page.
  9. Footnotes: Not required

When explaining to you how to start an essay in MLA format, we have to mention that every piece begins with a heading. Place it in the upper right corner, and make sure to include the following facts into it:

  • Your first and last name;
  • Your tutor’s (or professor’s) name;
  • The course you’re taking;
  • Date.

Here is a good MLA essay format example of the headline:

“Mark Snow
Jonathan Brown
Psychology
September 24, 2018.”

If you need more information on the MLA essay format, check our recent guide on this topic.

How to write an essay in APA format

This essay format is also quite common. Its main requirements include but are not limited to:

  1. Font: Times New Roman
  2. Size of the font: 12pt
  3. Margins: 1-inch margin on all the sides of the paper
  4. Header: Each page should have a header that will contain the title of the paper and a page number. Note that in this essay format the title cannot exceed 50 characters.
  5. Alignment: To the left-hand side
  6. Spacing: Double
  7. Indentation: Yes, at the beginning of each paragraph
  8. Title: The title comes on the first page at the same font size as the rest of the text. With it, according to this essay format guidelines, a student must mention his full name and the educational establishment he is currently studying at.
  9. Footnotes: Not required

In this case, the APA essay format example of the cover page will look like this:

“Foreign Language Education: How to Teach English to Adults”
Mark Snow
Yale University”

To find more details on this essay format, please read our complete guide to APA essay format.

Chicago style essay format

Requirements for this essay format include but are not limited to:

  1. Font: Times New Roman (unless your tutor specified a different one)
  2. Font size: 12pt
  3. Margins: 1-inch margins on sides, top, and bottom;
  4. Header: Each page should have a page number at the top right corner and your last name. Don’t put a number on the title page.
  5. Spacing: Double
  6. Indentation: 1/2″ indent for paragraph beginnings
  7. Alignment: To the left-hand side
  8. Footnotes: Required

A title page in case of this essay format starts with a title of your paper placed ¼ page down from the top. Then ½ page down from top comes your full name followed by the course number, the name of the professor and due date at the bottom of the page. You should write each of these points in separate lines with double spacing.

Take a look at this essay format example of a cover page if you need brighter examples to clarify the subject.

Chicago format cover page

Harvard format essay

Last but not least is the Harvard essay format. Here are the requirements for this essay writing format:

  1. Font: Times New Roman or Arial
  2. Font size: 12pt
  3. Margins: 1-inch margins on sides, top, and bottom;
  4. Header: Each page should have a short version of the paper’s title and a page number in the top right corner with exactly five spaces in between them.
  5. Spacing: Double
  6. Alignment: To the left-hand side.

The cover page in the Harvard essay format is very specific.

The title of your essay should be capitalized and written ½ page down. Then you have to go three lines down to place the author of the work (no capitalization here). From there, you have to go four more lines down to mention the class you are taking first and the tutor’s full name in the next line. Finally, this essay format requires you to specify the name of the educational establishment, its location, and the due date in the following lines.

It doesn’t matter what paper you are writing using this essay format. The structure stays the same.
Here is an example of the compare and contrast essay format. Feast your eyes on it:

Harvard format cover page

Essay outline format

Apart from sticking to the requirements of these essay formats, students should also pay close attention to following the essay writing guidelines when it comes to its outline.

Thus, the scholarship essay format, as well as the persuasive essay format, are only considered correct if the text contains all the essential components.

Any essay should have the following structure.

a-grade essay structure

This is the outline of an A-grade essay. Regardless of the essay format, your paper should consist of all these components. So, save them and make sure to use them right!

Over to you

These are four common essay formats every student should know. Use this guide as a cheat sheet whenever needed.

And in case you don’t want to deal with essay formats, you can always trust us with this important task. We are your best choice when it comes to excellent essay writing services and perfect essay format.

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