How to Write an Essay: Essay Format

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by Will Martins / Updated October 25, 2023

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The ability to write a well-structured, consistent, and coherent paper is one of the most important parts of the student’s educational process. However, at this point, it is inevitable to mention that academic writing is not about the bare presentation of information. Instead, it is a complex process that presupposes a strict structure and essay form that should be met. Utilizing sentence starters for essays can aid in creating compelling and organized academic content, enhancing the overall quality of your writing.

Therefore, even if you manage to create an influential paper with impeccable content, you should still care for the proper format of an essay, as it will influence the academic value of the paper and its overall quality. Exploring insights from paperial reviews can offer additional guidance on balancing content and formatting to enhance the academic integrity of your work.

Is it possible for inexperienced writers to thrive with the undertaking? As I know how complicated it may be to analyze different types of essay formatting styles and single out the most effective ones, I decided to come up with a comprehensive list of the most common formatting styles that will guide learners to the necessary results. Keep reading the article to read decent instructions on how to write a essay format and create a paper that will stand out. 

Check out the key peculiarities of MLA, APA, and Chicago writing styles, emphasizing their similarities and differences. Focus on the formatting styles that seem the most suitable for the type of paper you are working on and relish your chance to succeed. 

An Essay Format: How to Structure the Paper

Before you immerse into the formatting process, you should start with the basics that can predetermine the excellence of the paper. What is an essay? This is the first question that should pop up in your mind if you strive to write a flawless and influential text. According to my personal definition, it is a unit that is used for the presentation of valuable information in the most consistent way. Striving to keep the paper easy to read and comprehend, the writer should pay due attention to both the structure and formatting of the text. 

What is essay format? It is the way the text is organized in an essay. In the vast majority of instances, when people mention essay format, they think of a whole bunch of aspects, including the structure of the paper, title, page numbers, font size, margins, and similar details that can change the way the essays look. 

At this point, it is critical to mention that dealing with writing formats for essays, it is inevitable to pay due attention to the structure of the text, especially if you want to keep the paper academic, influential, and specific. It may surely vary depending on the topic and presented content, but in most cases, a traditional 5-paragraph structure should be preserved. 

Is this the first time you are working on the academic writing assignment? Here are a few elements that should be obligatorily included in the scholarly paper. 

  • The title page contains all the critical information about the writer, course, professor, and actually the essay. 
  • Abstract, which is a quick review of the essay. It should consist of less than 300 words and remain concise and informative.
  • The table of contents should contain detailed information about the structure of the paper and its key paragraphs. 
  • The introduction, body, and conclusion are the three most prominent elements of the paper. The writer should keep them easy to read, relevant, and well-structured. 
  • The reference page consists of a decent list of the works cited in the essay. 

Creating an outline is a great idea for both new and experienced writers, as it will not only guide you through the writing process but will also help you stick to the formatting rules and specifications. 

Three Most Common Essay Formatting Styles

What are the most common formats of writing an essay? When I was first trying to create a comprehensive academic essay, I searched for information and came to the conclusion that there are numerous formatting styles that can be used for academic writing. At the same time, if you want to select the essay writing format that will make your paper consistent and easy to comprehend, you should choose between MLA, APA, and Chicago, which are the most common for college papers. 

Browsing the web, you will detect an array of examples you can analyze and take advantage of. Take your time to single out the most critical aspects that can add to your writing style and make your essay stand out. If you are not ready to do research, just read the information mentioned below. The quick guide will help you get the main idea of the three most common formatting styles. 

MLA Format

The fastest way to understand the peculiarities of the formatting style is by analyzing an essay format example. As MLA remains one of the most typical formats for academic works, it is indispensable to get its specifications before you even dive into the paper writing.

  • Title: Include the information about the writer, the topic of the paper, and the course. Keep the text centered and included above the first line of the essay. 
  • Font: Times New Roman 12 pt may be the best option. 
  • Spacing: The whole paper should be double-spaced. 
  • Margins: 1-inch margin on all sides. 
  • Page numbers: The last name of the student and the page number should be included on the header of every page. 

APA Format

If you choose APA format for writing an essay, you should remember that it is one of the most common college options that has specific requirements and specifications. Make sure you format each essay in compliance with the recommendations.

  • Title page: It should contain information about the topic of the paper, name of the writer, and institutional affiliation. Extra data may be required, but it will be an exception rather than a rule. 
  • Font: Easy to read style, mainly Times New Roman, size 12. 
  • Spacing: Double-spaced lines. 
  • Margins: 1-inch margins on all sides. 
  • Page numbers: A header with the short title of the paper and the page number should be included on the top left side of each page. 
  • Headings: Different levels of heading will have certain criteria, but in general, all of them should be written in bold and title case. 

Chicago Style

When it comes to academic writing, this format is prevalent. The main peculiarity of the formatting style is the ultimate attention to the original papers. Therefore, the student should make maximum effort to properly cite the data sources used in the text. As for the general guidelines, they are as follows.

  • Title page: It is all about spacing. It should contain a regular, double-spaced text. Mention your full name, course number, the name of the instructor, and the current date in separate lines. 
  • Spacing: The whole text should be double-spaced without any extra spaces between lines or paragraphs. 
  • Margins: 1-inch margins are typical for the formatting style apart from the right side. 
  • Font: It should be an easy-to-read font, so writers usually prefer Times New Roman, 12 pt. 
  • Page numbers: The last name of the student and the page number should be included on the top right corner of every page. 
  • Bibliography: It is similar to the MLA style when all the sources used in the text should be gathered in a separate citation list. 

Tips for Writing an Influential Academic Essay

If you have always been convinced that a written paper should just look easy to read, you have been mistaken. An impeccable structure and flawless formatting are the fundamental aspects to be taken into account while working on an academic project. Therefore, if it is your first time working on a challenging essay writing assignment, mind numerous tips and tricks that may help you succeed with the undertaking and advance the quality of your writing to an exceptionally new level. Irrespective of the paper type, the following guidelines will help you sustain a consistent workflow. 

  • Start with a relevant topic
  • Research 
  • Focus on credible sources
  • Come up with a comprehensive outline 
  • Create the first draft
  • Edit and proofread the paper


Proper structure and format of an academic essay is a certain way to facilitate clear communication. Besides, it is a unique way to emphasize a high level of writing competence and professionalism. Proper citation, which is an indispensable part of essay formatting, can help readers detect the supporting sources of the subject and continue the analysis of the topic.

Working on academic assignments, people usually use MLA, APA, and Chicago formatting styles. There are other ways to format the papers, but these ones remain the most common. Their use depends on multiple factors, such as the type of assignment, the field of knowledge, and the requirements of the college instructor.

Even though the MLA and APA formatting styles have much in common, there are critical similarities that should also be taken into account. First of all, MLA is used mainly in humanities, while APA is more common for social sciences. Additionally, there are significant discrepancies when it comes to the in-text citation and reference page.

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