How to format an essay (MLA, APA, Chicago)

What’s an Essay Format? Structure

It doesn’t matter if it is an academic, informative, or a specific extended essays-structure. The extended essay for the IB has strict requirements. It must be written in an academic style (mostly MLA, APA or Chicago).

  • Title Page
  • Abstract: consists of three paragraphs totaling around 300 words with 100 words each.

Paragraph 1 must contain a research question, thesis and an outline of the essay’s significance.

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Paragraph 2: Key resources and research scope, limitations, etc.

Paragraph 3: The conclusion you have reached in your essay.

Table of Contents (with page number)

  • Research question
  • Thesis
  • Introduction
  • Arguments
  • Sub-headings
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix
  • Works cited (bibliography)


It is necessary to ask the research question

  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography (Works Cited)

This outline format for an extended paper is a good example of how to write a research essay. It is also a good example of how to maintain a professional research essay format, especially if it is based upon the MLA guidelines. It is important to keep track of the resources that students have in order to follow each step.

Correct citations are a must for every academic assignment. There are many citation styles available, but MLA and APA are the most preferred and used by professors. Both styles are different and students who don’t adhere to specific guidelines when writing academic papers often get a bad grade. A learner who wants flawless essays should be able to distinguish between MLA or APA. Rules are subject to change frequently.

Plagiarism can occur if you don’t understand APA vs MLA or follow current citation guidelines. This can lead to poor performance and a loss of credibility. Recent research shows that undergraduate students must overcome many problems to achieve good grades. These include insufficient skills to create accurate in-text references and citations, inconsistent citation style citations, and a lack of understanding of citation styles.

How is APA different than MLA? And how can you tell if MLA or APA is the best choice for you? This post is comprehensive and easy to understand.

What are MLA and APA?

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and APA for American Psychological Association. Both styles can be used to format academic papers. Both styles can be used to credit sources cited in writing. They also provide uniform formatting in in-text citations as well as references.

Is MLA or APA more difficult? It all depends on the student’s ability to understand the guidelines and how quickly they can do it. People assume that APA is more technical because it is used in science. What may seem easier to one student might not be the same for another. Understanding MLA vs APA, as well as your instructor and personal preferences, can help you present your paper in the most effective way possible, regardless of the formatting style you prefer.

Who uses APA vs MLA

Students often ask the question, “Should I use MLA? Or APA?” It all depends on the professor and your discipline. MLA is preferred by humanities, while APA is more popular for science courses. It is always a good idea to consult your professor to find out the correct style. Moreover, if your understanding of MLA vs APA formatting is basic, you’ll be able to remain consistent no matter what style you use.

What is the Difference between APA and MLA?

Bot formatting style requires both an in-text citation as well as a list of references. The first difference is that the current APA edition has 7th edition, while MLA has 9th edition. Below are the major differences between APA citation and MLA citation.

Intext Citation

APA uses a comma for direct in-text quotations. This is to separate the author’s name and year from the page number. You don’t need to list the year in MLA. There is no comma between the page number and the name.

  • APA: For instance, (Davis 2019m p.225).
  • MLA: (Davis 225)

In APA format, indirect in-text quotes don’t need to be added. However, in MLA, the page number must be included in parenthesis. In-text citations that include an indirect quote must cite the source. If you’re reading a book written by Aron and you find a quote from Davis in it, MLA rules require that you mention Aron both in-text as well as works cited. According to Davis, for example, only 30% of doctors will refuse to perform euthanasia. in Aron 21).

Two or more Authors

Two authors can use the symbol & in APA to distinguish their names. In MLA the word “and”, however, is used. The word etal is used for three or more authors. Both citation styles can be used. Examples:

  • APA two authors (Davis & Aron 2016, p. 73).

Three or more authors: (Davis et al., 2016, p. 73)

  • MLA two authors: Davis and Aron (73).

Three or more authors: (Davis et al. 73)

Sources at The End of the Paper

Both styles require that all sources mentioned in an essay be listed on a separate page in APA. However, word references can be used in MLA while it’s Work Cited. The order of citations in APA is alphabetic for authors and chronological for works. The order of citations for MLA is alphabetic, and applies to both authors and works.

Formatting Rules

MLA does not require a title page. A running head is not required for an academic paper formatted in APA. If your professor requires a running head, however, it is not necessary. Keep the title to 50 characters in all capital letters and left-aligned.

On every page, the words “Running head” should be followed by a colon. A header for MLA contains the last name and the page number is aligned right. These formatting rules will help students better understand the differences between MLA and APA citations.

  • MLA doesn’t require the use of headings or subheadings. APA, however, requires them.
  • MLA will accept long quotes up to 40 words but must be indented on one tab. If the quote is more than four lines in APA, it should be indented or blocked two tabs.
  • The title page in APA is the first page. It contains the title of your paper, the name and academic institution of the student. You should center the information. However, MLA does not have a title page. Instead, the upper left corner should contain your first and last names, class, name of professor, date, and the year.

The MLA and APA formats are meant to prevent plagiarism. This can lead to a severe penalty, such as being expelled from the institution. If you have any questions about citing properly or want to avoid plagiarism, please contact us. Our experts will create a paper that helps you understand the differences between MLA or APA.

APA Essay Format Basics

Your instructor might have different formatting requirements, but your essay will likely include a title page and an abstract.

Title Page

An title page should be included with your essay in APA format. The title page should contain the title of your paper, as well as your name and school affiliation. Sometimes, your teacher may require additional information, such as course title, instructor name and date.

  • Your paper title should be clear and concise.
  • Titles can be as long as two lines but no more than twelve words.


An abstract is a summary of your paper, which should be placed immediately after the title page. According to APA style, it is not necessary for student papers. Your instructor might request one. Abstract should not exceed 100-200 words. However, this can vary depending on the instructor’s requirements. 1


A reference list should be included with your essay. It should include all the sources cited.

  • You will find the reference section at the end.
  • The author’s last name should be used to list references.
  • References should always be double-spaced


An APA-style essay will have the following text: The introduction, body and conclusion.

  • Your essay should have a minimum of one inch margin on the top, bottom and left sides.
  • Text should be written in Times New Roman 12 font.
  • Double-spaced papers are recommended.
  • Each page should have a page number at the top of the page.
  • Indenting the first word in each paragraph should be one-half inch.

Professional papers, which are not usually student papers, include a running head at top left of every page. The running head, which is often a shorter form of the title and the first few words of the essay, should not exceed 50 characters (including spaces).

How to write an essay in MLA Format

A basic set of guidelines is required to write an MLA essay. This guide will walk you through the steps of our business essay writing services:

Font – 12pt Times New Roman


  • Everywhere, double spacing
  • There should be no spaces between paragraphs.

Heading – Example of the heading at the top of the essay’s first page (upper left corner).

  • Your name (John Smith).
  • Name of the teacher/professor (Margot Robbie).
  • The class (Depends upon course/class).
  • Date (20 April 2017).

Margin: A one-inch margin at the top, bottom and left.

Page numbers: The essay must have a header that includes the last name and page number. It would replace the text.

Title – A proper title format for essays must be used, with the text centered above the first line and using the same font size and fonts as the essay.

Indentation – Just press tab (1/2 in., just in case).

Align : Move to the left and ensure it is perfectly aligned.

Chicago Style

In academic writing, which focuses on the origin of the material, Chicago style is a common usage. For a paper to be successful, it is important to use precise footnotes and citations.

Chicago Style Essay Format

The Chicago essay format can use the same bullet point structure.

Title page

  • Chicago style title pages are all about spacing.
  • The title should be at the bottom of the page, along with regular text. Double-spacing is recommended for any text that exceeds one line.
  • Next, center your full name in the middle.
  • Scroll down to see the course number, instructor name, and date on separate lines.

Margin: Leave a margin of one inch from the right side.


  • Everywhere, double spacing
  • There should be no spaces between paragraphs.

Font – Times New Roman is the best (12pt)

Page Numbers

  • Last name and page number are listed in the header of each page at the top right
  • The title page should not be numbered. Start the first page of your text with a 2.

Footnotes The Chicago format requires footnotes for paraphrased and quoted passages.

Bibliography – The bibliography is very similar with that of MLA. Collect the necessary information and enter it into a specialized site for citations.

Tips for writing an academic paper

While there is no one right way to write a paper, there are guidelines that can be used to maintain a consistent workflow. Be it a college application essay, a research paper, informative essay, etc. You should use a standard format for essays. The following outline is broken down into steps to make it easier for you to access:

Select a good topic

Many students have difficulty choosing the right topic to write about. You should choose a topic that is specific enough to allow you to explore the entire thing and not exceed your word limit, if this is something you are concerned about. This should not be an issue if you have a great topic. However, you should not make it too broad so that there are more resources than what is possible to fit into one document. You won’t find a lack of information if you are too specific. However, you shouldn’t make it too general or you’ll feel overwhelmed. Ask your instructor for assistance with essay writing.

Get started with research as soon as possible

Before you start writing, ensure that you have a good understanding of the information you are working with. You can find compelling arguments, counterpoints, trivia, facts, and so forth. There are many options for information gathering.

Choose specific, relevant resources

Once you are familiar with the topic, you will be able have a conversation about it. Start by selecting resources that you have saved, bookmarked or found very useful and then start to extract information. For the final citations of your paper, you will need to have everything you can find. You can store articles, websites, and books to make it easy to cite. Try to expand or subtract your research scope.

Make an outline

Always have a plan. This is probably the most crucial phase of the entire process. It’s a good idea to have a clear essay outline so that you can refer to it if you get stuck in the middle. You can also use direct links to previous research to make your progress quick. A list of keywords will help increase the informational reach. It should be easier to identify the direction of each section and any informational criteria by using keywords that are specific to it.

Make a draft

Before you start writing anything in the body of an essay, ensure that your outline contains enough information to support the statement you are exploring. You should not be afraid to let your imagination run wild in your paper. You will find the content you desire after you start with a 5 paragraph structure.

Request a peer review of your academic paper

The draft is complete and ready for peer review. Ask your classmate, relative, or specialist to help you. You should get as much feedback as possible and then work on it.

Final Draft

Make sure to go through the draft at least once more before you submit it. Pay attention to small errors like punctuation and grammar. You must ensure that your essay structure is correct before you submit it. Our economic essay writing assistance can help you if you need additional eyes.

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