Popular Academic Styles and How to Maintain Essay Format

  • Eduhelphub,
  • Aug 20, 2020

Every great gift needs to be wrapped in a presentable, uniform wrapping material; similarly, a good essay or a research paper also requires to be wrapped in presentable formatting before submitting for review. Let us explore the intricacies of formatting an essay through a comprehensive journey.

What Consists of a Good College Essay Format?

After spending gruelling hours deciding on how to write an essay, leading to what would be the suitable essay topic for your assignment, you now need to grasp the details of how to carefully and effectively format an essay for adequately representing your paper.

Unlike the essay format for college application, an essay format for college-level research papers or university level academic paper inherently acts like a double-edged sword that includes both:

  • The basic structure of an Essay and
  • The general Academic style implemented to format the Essay.

Thus, the basic 5-paragraph essay formatting structure including an effective essay introduction, body and conclusion and, on another hand, the particular academic style utilized to format the essay, for example, APA style or MLA style, are two sides of the same coin that is essay formatting

Till now, we have learned what ‘essay format’ broadly means and can encapsulate the two aspects of formatting as under the following:

Frequently Used Essay Structures 

This aspect covers the basic structuring of an essay, irrespective of whether you are constructing a high-school essay format or a college essay format, the 5-paragraph essay format will be consistent, as much as any universal law! It follows a chronology that is constant irrespective of the type of essay, as elucidated here after:

  • The Introduction: The essay introduction should be simple and lucid, it should foretell the concepts and subject matter that the essay is going to deal with, while carefully not giving away too much information, just enough to grab the attention of the readers. It should point out the issues that are going to be overviewed and the sections or chapters that are lined up.
  • The Body: The body of the essay contains the main bulk of information like facts and statistics that would support your central idea. It should be equipped with flawless logic and credible, strong arguments to support your thesis statement. The crux of the whole essay should be contained inside the span of the core body.
  • The Conclusion: This is the section that exhibits the encapsulation of the points posited throughout the essay; it wraps all information in a nutshell and presents it to the readers in a simple, yet impactful manner. No new concept should be introduced in the conclusion of an essay. The essay conclusion is where the writer wins over the readers by cementing his argument or core idea through calculated, careful implications and inferences.
  • Standard Academic Styles: The other aspect, ergo the other side of the coin of formatting lies the aspect of Academic styles which have been standardized by certain universities and Associations to be implemented in the formatting of an essay from font style, font size to determining factors like line spacing, style of headings and even citing references of external sources. Some of these standard styles include the APA format and the MLA format.

What Are The 3 Major Kinds of Academic Styles Used in Formatting an Essay?

As elucidated above, various standardized styles of academic formatting exist that determines variables like style and size of font, headings, spacing, line indentation, in-text or footnote citation and style of referencing external sources.
Three of the most popular and preferred types of academic styles are listed below:

APA Style

The American Psychological Association or The APA has established standardized guidelines formatting an essay, usually used in the sphere of Psychology and Research-based papers, a more specific format, as compared to the other popular MLA style can be witnessed and the usual tenets of APA essay formatting include.

  • Presence of a Title page: which should contain the title of the paper, name of the student, institutional affiliation and it is recommended by the APA that the title of your paper should not ideally exceed 12 words.
  • Start with an Abstract: An abstract is a short, approximately 150-word summary of the ideas and concepts to be discussed in the body of the essay or research paper.
  • Indented paragraphs
  • Running header (in older versions)
  • Double-spaced with 1” margin
  • 12-point, Times New Roman – should be the ideal font size and style.
  • In-text citations contain name of the author and the year of publication of the work.
  • The list of external sources used in aid to completion of the paper is termed as ‘References’ which should be center aligned and bold.
  • References page should contain entries arranged in alphabetical order

Every type of source, be it a journal or a book, is referenced uniquely in APA which can be a little complex for beginners. Here is a guide to the APA style to help you in detail about the nuances of formatting.

Example of in-texting in APA: (Cochran, 2007)
The same source would be referenced on the ‘References’ page as : Cochran, A. (2007). Understanding urban policy: A critical approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

MLA Style

Developed by the Modern Language Association (MLA), it has become the go-to academic style for students of all academic backgrounds due to its sheer simplicity and uniformity. Unlike the APA style, this does not exhibit complex uniqueness in its characteristics. The absence of a title page serves as significant evidence to its accessibility. Previously used by Humanities pupils, the MLA style essay formatting is now one of the most popular and commonly-used formats across disciplines.

Some of Its Major Tenets Are:

  • Absence of a Title Page
  • Contains indented paragraphs; references should be hanging-indented
  • Similar referencing for all kinds of sources (books, journals, etc.)
  • 12 point, Times New Roman should be ideally selected as font size and style
  • Double-spaced with 1” margins
  • Running header indicating last name of the student and page number
  • The in-text citations specify Author’s name and Page number. Commas are excluded from in-text citations.
  • The page with the list of external sources used as references should be headed ‘Works Cited’ in plain, cent re-aligned text.
  • References page should contain entries arranged in alphabetical order

A guide to the MLA format would be useful for gaining deep insights and details about the concerned style.

Example of in-text citation in MLA: (Johnson & Colbert 200).

A typical reference in the Works Cited page looks like:
            Thomas, George. General Management. McGraw-Hill, 2015.
            (Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.)

Title is in ItalicsTitle is underlined
Source page is called ‘References’Source page is called ‘Works Cited’
Last name of Author in referencingFull name of author in referencing
In-text citation consists of author’s name and year of publicationIn-text citations consist of author’s name along with page numbers
Commas are included in in-text citationsCommas are excluded in in-text citations
Used extensively in Social SciencesUsed extensively in Humanities fields

Here Is A Table Simplifying the Differences Between APA And MLA Style Of Formatting

Chicago Style

The Chicago style or the ‘Turabian style’ propagated by the University of Chicago Press is perhaps the most complicated and least-popular example from the list. The manual of style establishes a definitive guideline to be used under such a format. Some of it highlights are:

  • Presence of a separate Title page
  • Paragraphs are mandated to be indented
  • Double-spaced lines are evident along with Times New Roman font.
  • Typical use of footnotes instead of in-text references.
  • Footnotes correspond to numbered references at the bottom of the page
  • List of references used should be a separate page termed as ‘Bibliography’

The intricacies of using footnotes and referencing various kinds of sources according to the Chicago style essay formatting demands an exclusive Chicago style formatting guideline.
A typical Chicago style footnote would look a lot like:

            2Carole Shammas, Marylynn Salmon, and Michel Dahlin, Inheritance in America: From   Colonial Times to the Present (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987), 97.

The same reference in the bibliography page would differ slightly as in:
            Shammas, Carole, Marylynn Salmon, and Michel Dahlin. Inheritance in America: From   Colonial Times to the Present. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987.

Some Other Pointers For Flawless Essay Formatting

It is not sufficient to only format your paper according to the guidelines of academic styles to make a mark with your presentation and organisation skills you will also have to keep a close eye on:

  • Language mistakes such as whether to use American English or British English to write your essay and when. For example, the Harvard style, prescribed by the University of Newcastle, uses British English in essay writing activities while American formats such as APA use American English to write essays or research papers.
  • Proofreading and spellcheck should also be an integral part of editing and formatting your paper.
  • Your paper should be air-tight grammatically with no loophole in language use or syntax.
  • Word-count should also be strictly maintained to accomplish a successful essay-writing venture.

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