A Full Guide On How To Format An Essay

18 Jul 2023

how to format essay

This guide consists of explicit information on what a standard essay is, what a college paper format is, and different formatting styles and tips on writing an essay. Check them out!

What Exactly Is An Essay Format?

A standard essay format is a formal system of writing which typically features three parts: the introduction, body of the essay, and conclusion.

In a bid to having a perfect essay, while avoiding common mistakes in writing, a correct essay format helps us write as well as organize an essay.

How Does The Essay Structure And Outline Format Look Like?

Atypical essay structure consists of the introductory paragraph, body, and the concluding paragraphs. However, the three main parts of the article are further divided into several parts, namely: the title page, the introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, transitions, the conclusion, and citations.

We give you a step by step guide of how to do essay fast while giving it a perfect essay format.

The Title Page

The title page in an essay layout is near the front of the paper and contains information such as the title of the essay, the author’s name and other details.

The Essay Introduction Paragraph

The introductory paragraph of a standard essay format is usually short. However, everything depends on the size of our writing (some will need a remarkable extension, others will not). It is the essay hook, and its function is to introduce the reader to the topic we will deal with, and if necessary, to epistemologically inform the reader of what has been said about the topic so far.

The Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is presented in the introduction. In a thesis statement essay, we present the idea we seek to realize, clarify, or sustain throughout our essay. Around the thesis statement, the body of the text will be developed. It is, in itself, the seed from which the essay is born. The thesis statement formula is the first part that must be mastered to know how to make an essay.

Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay consists of the main essay paragraphs. It covers most of the text. The first essay paragraph consists of your main idea, and it sets out the arguments that clarify and support our thesis statement. Meanwhile, the closing part of the body paragraph structure can include an evaluation of the illustrations made in the essay body.


Transition words are connective words or phrases used in the body of the essay. Transition sentences offer links to lines of thoughts so it can be readable and have coherence. A transition words essay is aesthetic and suitable for an argumentative essay. Transition examples for essays include: however, moreover, more so, meanwhile, for this reason, consecutively, consequentially, therefore, etc.


The essay conclusion is the end of an essay. It is one of the most important parts in the format for essay writing. On how to start a conclusion, you can recapture the main argumentative lines following the line from the thesis statement and end with your point of view or final resolution of the topic.


Here, if the essay requires references, you will have to insert the source (citations, notes, and references) necessary for your arguments to be solid. However, the format for essay citations is different with respect to the essay style used.

What Are The Most Common Essay Formatting Styles?

We give you a guide on the various essay formatting styles, how to format the font, size, margins, essay heading, page numbers, title, essay cheat sheet, alignment and indentation for three essay styles.

A General Guideline For The APA Format

You should know that when you present written work, and you want to do it under APA standards or references, there are some parameters you must follow to fully comply.

According to APA standards, all written work must conform to the following rules:

  1. The essay should be presented in 8”x11” letter-sized sheets. All margins should be the same
  2. The recommended font type is Times New Roman in size 12. Also, the line spacing throughout the text must be double (except in textual citations that is greater than 40 words that we will see later).
  3. All paragraphs must have a 5-space indentation in the first line (except in the references where the spacing goes in the second line).
  4. Text must always be aligned to the left (except for the cover that has the text centered).

In general terms, these are what the texts must contain, according to APA standards:

  1. The title page contains the title of the document, name(s) of the author(s), date, name of the institution, course, and career.
  2. Summary (Abstract) in which a brief presentation of the entire document is made. It is recommended that it only contain between 250 and 300 words.
  3. Content (body) of the work: There is no limit as to the number of pages or the number of chapters.
  4. References: All the sources cited. This should not be confused with the bibliography in which all the consulted sources are included, even if they have not been cited or referenced in the text.
  5. Footnotes: all those that have been included in the work, there is no limit, but it is recommended to use only those that are essential.
  6. Table index.
  7. Index of figures.
  8. Appendices or annexes.

General Guidelines For The MLA Format

  1. Margin: The margins should be 1″ on all sides.
  2. Font size and type: The source of all text must be 12 pt. Make sure you use a readable font and do not use decorative fonts. It is recommended that the regular font and the italics of the font type differ as well.
  3. Spacing: The entire document must have double space. This includes the title and body of each paragraph. Avoid adding more spaces between the heading and the title of your article, as well as between the title and the body itself. In case of spacing and punctuation, include a space after a period and other punctuation unless your instructor specifies otherwise.
  4. Body of the text: For the body of the text, the first line of each paragraph must be approximately 1.25” from the left margin, which equals between 5 and 7 spaces. It is recommended to use the Tab key to achieve uniformity, instead of pressing the space bar between 5 and 7 times.
  5. Order of the pages and page setup: Place a heading that lists all the pages of your article in the upper right corner of each page, 1.25” from the top and aligned to the right. However, this may vary depending on the specifications of your instructor. Sometimes, it is requested that the headings be typed with your last name first, then the page number with an Arabic number format. This complies with the MLA writing format. It is recommended that you first check with your instructor to make sure you follow their guidelines.

General Guidelines For The Chicago Format

  1. Type of font: It is suggested to choose Times New Roman because it provides greater reading comfort.
  2. Font size: 12 pt is appropriate.
  3. Spacing: Double line spacing must be maintained to facilitate correction, although in the publications, it is modified by 1.5.
  4. Margins:  They are 1.5” centimeters, the default in Word.
  5. Numbering: Applies to the document from the first page and goes in the footer on the right.
  6. Header: Applies to the first page. You should position the heading for essay in the upper left corner, and in this case, it includes the name of the author, the subject, and a delivery date in bold.
  7. Title: It is centered and bold.
  8. Subtitles: They are bold and aligned to the left.
  9. Quotation: In cases of long quotes of three lines or more, a 1” indentation is used for the entire paragraph.
  10. Footnotes:  It is important that all notes are located in the footnotes and they never go to the end. The Times New Roman font should be used in the same way as with the rest of the document, but in this case with a 10 pt  font.
  11. Space between paragraphs: Do not double space between paragraphs, but do it before a subtitle.
  12. Other matters: It is very important that no ornaments, covers, or frames are included.

What Are The Key Differences Between MLA, APA, And Chicago?

While there are a few similarities between all styles, there are striking differences. However, in brief, here are the key differences:

  • In titles, MLA and Chicago formats state that prepositions must be in lower case, irrespective of how long they are.
  • While students studying arts, humanity use Chicago format, students offering literature, theater and film courses go for MLA while APA formats are often used by students in behavioral and social science studies.

Tips For Writing An Essay In Different Formats

Here are some general as well as college application essay tips which you can find useful.

  • Conduct a well-made investigation of the topic.
  • Make a plan for your essay: Organize your ideas. Write the main idea, and write down at least 3 arguments that support your main idea.
  • Review your essay

Essay writing looks like a hectic academic task, but when the essay style or format of an essay is defined and followed, the rest of the task can be straightforward and less strenuous. So, follow these guidelines on how to format an essay and let us know if the information provided herein is helpful.

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