Formatting should never be taken for granted when writing an essay. Wrong essay formats can lead to lower grades. Different academic styles guide a writer to correctly format an essay. To avoid straying from academic essay styles and formats, pay attention to some of these guidelines.
The most common academic format is the American Psychological Association (APA). Social science papers typically use this academic format. Generally, APA essays should be typed and double-spaced on a standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″) with one-inch margins on all sides. This style recommends the use of size-12 font and the font styles Times New Roman and Arial. APA also requires a running header at the top left part of the page. The running head is a shortened version of the capitalized title.
APA essays consist of four major sections: the title page, abstract, main body, and references page. The title page contains the author’s name and institutional affiliation. The abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the paper. The main body is usually delineated by using headers and subheads. Finally, the references page is the alphabetical list of all used sources.
The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is used mostly in humanities like language and literature. MLA follows a simple two-part parenthetical citation (Author/s’ name, page number) that are also compiled in the works cited section at the end of the paper. This citation style allows readers to effectively track the used online sources while allowing for easier source retrieval.
An MLA paper uses the same page format conventions as APA. The notable difference is in the running head, which contains the author’s surname and page number at the top right-hand side of the paper.
Turabian is generally considered as a Chicago sub-style. This is because both styles are very similar. One major difference is that Chicago style focuses on providing guidelines for publishing and Turabian focuses on providing guidelines for student papers. While Turabian strictly adheres to footnoting, Chicago style gives writers the option of using footnotes or parenthetical citations. Both essay formatting styles require a bibliography at the end of the paper that lists all used sources.
Oxford is another formatting style that uses footnotes for referencing and is widely used in law papers.
The rules for Harvard style formatting are not as absolute as the previous ones. This style’s guidelines are dependent on the university. Before using this style, be sure to check for any updates or changes.
Some rare essay styles are Vancouver and CBE. These are mostly used for highly technical papers. For instance, Vancouver is a numbered referencing style used in the field of medicine and science. On the other hand, the CBE style is highly encouraged in papers written within the field of natural and applied sciences like physics and chemistry.