Learn the Standard Essay Format: MLA, APA, Chicago styles

Don't let incorrect essay format lower your grades! Follow this guide that covers MLA, APA and Chicago styles to get the higher grade you deserve.

Andrew Newman
Updated on

The ability to write an essay is the most crucial part of a student’s education. Nonetheless, it is not only about jotting points. In most cases, institutions assign a specific format for the students to follow; for instance, APA, MLA, and Chicago, which are the most common formatting styles. This blog will discuss the differences between MLA format, the APA format, and Chicago formats. VerifedEssay — essay writing service will help to make a difference!

What is an Essay format: Structure

The structure is vital to all types of essays, be it academic, informative, or certain extended essays. For instance, the IB extended essay has stringent requirements followed by an assigned academic style of writing (mainly MLA, Chicago, or APA).

  • Title page
  • Abstract: Consists of 3 paragraphs, 100 words in each, therefore, summing up to 300 words.
  • Paragraph 1: must incorporate a research question, thesis, and outline of the essay’s significance.
  • Paragraph 2: Primary resources, scope, and limits of research, etc.
  • Paragraph 3: Conclusion that you’ve already reached in your essay.
  • Table of contents (with page numbers)
  • Research question
  • Thesis
  • Introduction
  • Arguments
  • Sub-headings
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix 
  • Works cited (bibliography)
  • Introduction
  • Requires the research question
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography(Works cited)

The above outline format for an extended essay is an incredible example to follow as you write a research essay and maintain a suitable research essay format, specifically if it is based on MLA guidelines. It is worth noting that the student should keep track of their resources to apply them in every step outlined above easily.

How to write an Essay in MLA Format

You must follow a basic set of guidelines and instructions to write an essay in MLA format. Below is a guide on how to write an essay in MLA format step by step.

  • Font: 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Spacing:
  • Double spaced everywhere
  • No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs
  • Heading: The upper left corner of the first page of an essay encompasses the heading.
  • Your name (William Brown)
  • Instructor’s / professor’s name ( Robert Davis)
  • The class (Depends on the course/class)
  • Date ( 8 July 2020)
  • Margins: One-inch margin on the top, bottom, left, and right
  • Page numbers: Put the surname and the page number on each page of the essay as the “header.”
  • Title: The title should be on the first page after the heading. It should be centered and not boldfaced or underlined.
  • Indentation: The indentation should be 1/2 inch. You can do this by pressing tab.
  • Align: Align to the left-hand side, and ensure it is aligned evenly.

It is vital to keep in mind that the essay format of MLA is usually used in humanities, which differs from other forms of academic writing, that we will touch on later.

MLA  vs. APA

Prior to us discussing the APA essay format, it is crucial to compare and contrast the two types of formatting. So, first, let’s discuss the similarities:

  • The formatting styles are similar: spacing, citation indentation.
  • If the information used in the essay originates from another author writer, one must cite the work. In MLA, you cite these works on the works cited page, while in APA, it is the reference page.
  • They both use parenthetical citations within the body of the paper, primarily to show a particular quote or calculation.
  • Citations are arranged in alphabetical order on the works cited/ reference page.

Below are disparities between APA essay format and MLA:

  • MLA style is mainly used in humanities, while APA  style is primarily applied in social sciences. Differences also appear in how both formats name their list of sources in MLA; it is called works cited, while in APA, it is called references.
  • Works cited differ in the way they display the name of the original content (MLA->Yorke, Thom/ APA-> Yorke T).
  • APA and the MLA also vary in the in-text citation. While MLA format requires one to include the page number in the in-text citation, APA requires one to list the year of publication. For example, according to James (2017), students should put some time into their talents, APA format.MLA, According to James (4), a talent can develop into a career choice.

Let’s move on to the APA essay format.

How to Write an Essay in APA Format

It is crucial to be familiar with the APA citation style requirements because it is one of the most common essay formats in college.

  • Font: 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Spacing: Double-space everything
  • Margins: One-inch margins on all sides
  • Page Numbers: Insert a header on the top of each page. Also, add the page number.
  • Title page: The title of the paper, author’s name, institutional affiliation. Additional information may be required, such as course title, instructor name, and date.

Keep in mind that APA requirements might vary from the listed above, depending on your instructor’s requirements.

Chicago Style 

Chicago style is very prominent in historical research. When composing research using multiple sources, Chicago prefers students to use footnotes rather than inserting parenthetical information. This format allows readers to concentrate on the information laid down instead of the publication details of the information.

Chicago Style Essay Format

We will apply a similar structure to the Chicago essay format.

  • Font: Times New Roman is the best choice, size (12pt).
  • Spacing
  • Everything should be double-spaced.
  • No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs.
  • Title page
  • Double-space each line of the title page
  • Down the page should be the title, centered. It should not be longer than one line.
  • Afterward, in the very middle, center your full name
  • In separate double-spaced lines down the page, insert the course ID, instructor’s name, and the date.
  • Margins: Use one-inch margins apart from the right side.
  • Page Numbers 
  • Last name, page number in the heading of each page on the top right 
  • Do not number the title page. The first page of the text should start with 2.
  • Footnotes: If you quote or paraphrase any information, the Chicago format requires you to add a footnote.
  • Bibliography: The bibliography is similar to the works cited of MLA. Acquire the appropriate information and input it into a specialized citation site.

Tips of Writing an Academic Paper

Although there isn’t one suitable way of writing a paper, there are solid guidelines to assist you in sustaining a coherent workflow. We have worked on a standard essay format that you should follow when writing an essay of any kind, be it a research paper, college application essay, informative essay, or research paper. Below is an outline divided into steps for easier access:

Select a Good Topic

Many students struggle with choosing an incredible topic for their essays. If you are worried about reaching your word count, ensure that you select a specific topic that you can entirely explore, therefore reaching it. Another pointer is not being too specific, as it might result in a shortage of information. In addition, being too broad is also not recommended because you can feel overwhelmed due to how broad the information regarding the subject is. In case of some difficulties, consult your instructor for guidance.

 Start a Research as Soon as Possible

Before you begin writing, ensure that you are conversant with the material that you are working with. Discover captivating arguments and counterpoints, trivia, facts, etc. Acquire as much information as possible.

Pick out Specific, Compelling Resources

Once you are conversant with the subject, you should be able to have a basic discussion about the matter. Choose saved, bookmarked, or very informative resources and begin extracting material. This will come in handy at the end of the paper when doing your citations. Be it stash books, websites, articles and have them ready to cite. Look at the possibilities of reducing or expanding your scope of research.

Create an Outline

Having a plan all the time is a good idea. This is the most crucial part of any writing process. A strong essay outline and a specific goal in mind assist a student in having something to refer to when he/she feels stuck anywhere in the paper. Furthermore, the process is guaranteed to be swift since you have direct links from the research you’ve beforehand. In addition, composing a list of keywords can boost your informational scope. Having keywords particular to every section helps one identify its direction and possible information criteria.

Write a Draft

Before writing anything in the body section, ensure that the outline has adequate material to support the statement you decide to explore. You should not limit yourself, be creative with logic and explore the possibilities. Begin with the basic five-paragraph structure, and the content will come with time.

Ask for a Peer Review of Your Academic paper

After completing your paper, you can request your friends, classmates, or relatives to go through your work and give you feedback. Other people’s perspectives can help you notice mistakes you didn’t see.

Final Draft

Prior to submitting your final draft, thoroughly double-check it and pay attention to minor errors like grammar and punctuation. In addition, ensure that what you wrote follows the proper essay structure.

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