Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Essay Format - Learn The Basics of Essay Formatting With Examples

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Published on: Dec 29, 2019

Last updated on: Aug 8, 2023

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Every high school student has to write essays now and then. However, writing an essay is not only about narrating information or views on a piece of paper. 

Instead, a good essay follows a proper format according to accepted standards and guidelines. 

Most of the time, your institution or instructor mentions the formatting style that they require. For example, it could be MLA, APA, or Chicago - depending on your field of study. 

Read this blog to learn how you can format your essay in different styles. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember these styles by heart - you’ll get easy tips to help make formatting easier!

Let’s dive in! 

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What is an Essay Format? 

Essay format refers to the organization of your essay on paper. It involves setting up the document in a way that makes it visually appealing and easy to read. 

Following a specific format not only enhances the overall presentation of your essay but also helps convey your ideas effectively. It is also important for research papers and academic assignments to follow a certain format. 

Note: Essay format is different from essay structure. The essay structure is about how you organize information in the introduction, body, and conclusion when writing a paper. 

The essay structure includes elements like the essay outline, thesis statement, topic sentences, and concluding thoughts. Meanwhile, the essay format is concerned with the margins, font size, and page settings.

Elements of an Essay Format 

The formatting guidelines inform you about the layout of the essay and its structure. Here are the key elements of formatting an essay:

  • Title page

The title page contains information such as the title of the paper and the name of its author. In addition, it could also contain the name of the institution, date, instructor, and other details based on the style.

  • Font style and size

The essay should be written in the same font style throughout. The most commonly used styles include Calibri, Arial, or Times New Roman fonts as they are simple, clean, and easily readable. The font size for normal text is usually size 12 pt.

  • Heading styles

Headings should stand out in the paper. Moreover, different levels of headings should be clear just by looking. 

Different formatting styles recommend different ways to achieve this. For instance, central alignment, different font style and font size, or bold and italics. 

  • Margins and Line spacing

Setting appropriate margins ensures that your essay looks well-balanced and visually appealing. 

Standard margins are typically one inch on all sides of the page, but specific requirements may vary. Line spacing, usually double spacing, allows sufficient room between lines. Making your essay easier to read and providing space for annotations or comments.

  • Headers and page numbering

The headers show the page numbers to ensure correct organization of the essay. Depending on the style, they may also contain the title of the paper, the author’s name, or the heading of the current section.

  • Text alignment and paragraph indentation

Keeping a consistent alignment (either left or justified) is the standard practice for essay formatting. This alignment creates a neat and uniform appearance. 

Additionally, some styles recommend indenting the first line of each paragraph by about half an inch. This helps visually separate paragraphs and maintain readability.

  • Citations and references

Citing sources and providing references is crucial to acknowledge the ideas and work of others and to avoid plagiarism. Different formatting styles have specific rules for adding in-text citations and references.

Different formatting styles recommend different settings for the above elements. Read on to learn about the most common formatting styles used in academics.

Common Essay Formatting Styles

The most common formatting styles used throughout various disciplines include the following:

  • APA Format: 

The APA essay format is developed and maintained by the American Psychological Association. It is mostly used in various science and social science disciplines. The latest APA style manual is the 7th edition, updated in October 2019. 

  • MLA Format: 

Another formatting style is MLA, developed by the Modern Language Association. Students from the field of humanities use this style as a standard practice.  

  • Chicago Format: 

Students belonging to the field of business, arts, or history sometimes use this style. This formatting style was first used in 1906, and it has been updated several times since. 

Apart from these, there are a number of other referencing and formatting styles. This includes Harvard, IEEE, APSA, ASA, and AMA. Some institutions or instructors may also develop custom formatting styles, but most of the time they follow one of the standard ones.

Essay Formatting Guidelines According to MLA Style

What is the MLA format for an Essay?

If you want to create an MLA format essay, then you should follow the below-mentioned formatting criteria.

  • Keep the font size to 12pt. 
  • Double line spacing should be followed in the whole text. There shouldn’t be extra space between the paragraphs.
  • The margin size will remain 1 inch. 
  • The header should be placed on each page. It will consist of the author’s last name and the page number. 
  • There is no title page. The instructor’s name, grade, and date are mentioned in the upper left corner of the first page. 
  • The title or the main heading of the essay should be centrally aligned. 
  • The first line of paragraphs should be indented half-inch. The paper should be left-aligned.
  • The references of the essay should be mentioned in a separate section at the end. The references section is titled the “Works Cited” page.

Here is what an essay in MLA format looks like:

Essay Formatting Guidelines According to APA Style

According to the APA format, the paper should be formatted according to the following guidelines:

  • Times New Roman and 12pt will be the font style and size of the text. 
  • Follow double-line spacing. 
  • 1-inch margins. 
  • The header will also be placed on every page. The page number appears in the right corner, while the left corner will have shortened version of the topic of the essay. 
  • The title page in APA formatting includes the author’s name, institution name, instructor’s name, and the date. 
  • First line of paragraphs should be indented half-inch. The paper should be left-aligned.
  • The citations are added at the end in the ‘References’ page.

Check out this example below:

Essay Formatting Guidelines According to Chicago Style

An easy key to format your paper according to the Chicago style is the set of guidelines mentioned below:

  • It will follow the standard margin size of one inch. 
  • The text will also have the same double-spacing.
  • The text’s font size will be 12pt and style will be Times New Roman. 
  • Every page will have a header. The header will have the current page number.
  • If there is any paraphrased text or quoted information, this formatting style requires you to reference it in the footnotes of every page. 
  • At the end of the essay will be the bibliography section. All the references should be listed in alphabetical order in this section. 

Essay Format Examples

Here are some examples of the formatting of some of the most common types of essays. Reading these examples will show you what formatting looks like in practice.

Tips for Formatting Your Essay Easily 

Remembering all the details of the style recommended by your professor is not easy. Then how can you ensure that your formatting is perfect before submitting your paper?

Here are a few tips:

  • Use Formatting and Citation Tools:

It’s just impossible to know all the correct citation formats. Fortunately, you don’t have to! There are several citation tools and reference management programs that can generate accurate citations and references in a chosen format.

  • Follow a Formatting Checklist:

Create a checklist of formatting guidelines specific to your essay style (e.g., APA, MLA) and refer to it during the formatting process. It would make it easier to check for consistent margins, font style, headings, and other elements of formatting while proofreading. 

  • Proofread for Formatting Errors:

Take the time to carefully proofread your essay specifically for formatting errors. Such as inconsistent font styles or sizes, inconsistent spacing, or improperly formatted citations.

Also check for proper alignment, paragraph indentation, and accurate page numbering.

  • Seek Feedback:

Ask a classmate, friend, or instructor to review your essay specifically for formatting. A fresh pair of eyes can often spot formatting issues that you may have missed. Incorporate their feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve the overall formatting of your essay.

  • Use Formatting Templates:

Explore pre-designed essay templates available in word processing software or online resources. These templates often come with pre-set formatting styles that you can customize to meet your specific requirements.

To Wrap Up,

Formatting your essay correctly is important for academic writing. It shows that a student has followed the standards of writing set by the academic community. Moreover, correct formatting is essential for getting your paper published or accepted by your professor.

With the guidelines, examples, and tips provided above, you are sure to complete the formatting stage with ease.

However, if you don’t have the time to review your formatting and require more help, then don’t worry! is here for you. We offer a ‘do my essay’ service that will provide you quality essays at affordable rates. So place your order now.

Cathy A.


Cathy A., Literature, Marketing

Cathy has been a trusted source of high-quality writing for more than five years. With her in-depth knowledge of mass communication from her Master's degree, she always produces work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about their craft.

Cathy has been a trusted source of high-quality writing for more than five years. With her in-depth knowledge of mass communication from her Master's degree, she always produces work that meets the needs of her clients. In fact, they often leave her 5-star reviews for being an outstanding writer who is very passionate about their craft.

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