Learn the Standard Essay Format: MLA, APA, Chicago Styles
Being able to write an essay is a vital part of any student's education. However, it's not just about linearly listing ideas. A lot of institutions will require a certain format that your paper must follow; prime examples would be one of a basic essay format like MLA, the APA, and the Chicago formats. This article will explain the differences between the MLA format, the APA format, and the Chicago format. The application of these could range from high school to college essays, and they stand as the standard of college essay formatting. EssayPro — dissertation services , that will help to make a difference!
What is an Essay Format: Structure
Be it an academic, informative or a specific extended essay - structure is essential. For example, the IB extended essay has very strict requirements that are followed by an assigned academic style of writing (primarily MLA, APA, or Chicago):
- Abstract: comprised of 3 paragraphs, totaling about 300 words, with 100 words in each.
- ~ Paragraph 1: must include a research question, thesis, and outline of the essay’s importance.
- ~ Paragraph 2: Key resources, scope and limits of research, etc.
- ~ Paragraph 3: Conclusion that you’ve already reached in your essay.
- Table of Contents (with page numbers)
- ~ Research question
- ~ Introduction
- ~ Arguments
- ~ Sub-headings
- ~ Conclusion
- ~ Works cited (bibliography)
- ~ The research question is required
- Bibliography (Works Cited)
This outline format for an extended essay is a great example to follow when writing a research essay, and sustaining a proper research essay format - especially if it is based on the MLA guidelines. It is vital to remember that the student must keep track of their resources to apply them to each step outlined above easily. And check out some tips on how to write an essay introduction .
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How to Write an Essay in MLA Format
To write an essay in MLA format, one must follow a basic set of guidelines and instructions. This is a step by step from our business essay writing service
- Font : 12pt Times New Roman
- ~ Double spaced everywhere
- ~ No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs
- Heading : Example of the heading on the first page of the essay (upper left corner)
- ~ Your name (John Smith)
- ~ Teacher’s / Professor’s name (Margot Robbie)
- ~ The class (Depends on course/class)
- ~ Date (20 April 2017)
- Margins : One-inch margin on the top, bottom, left and right.
- Page Numbers : Last name and page number must be put on every page of the essay as a “header”. Otherwise, it would go in place of the text.
- Title : There needs to be a proper essay title format, centered and above the first line of the essay of the same font and size as the essay itself.
- Indentation : Just press tab (1/2 inch, just in case)
- Align : Align to the left-hand side, and make sure it is aligned evenly.
It’s important to remember that the essay format of MLA is usually used in humanities, which differs from other types of academic writing that we’ll go into detail later. For now, feast your eyes upon an MLA format essay example:
Essay in MLA Format Example
Mla format digital technology and health, mla vs. apa.
Before we move on to the APA essay format, it is important to distinguish the two types of formatting. Let’s go through the similarities first:
- The formatting styles are similar: spacing, citation, indentation.
- All of the information that is used within the essay must be present within the works cited page (in APA, that’s called a reference page)
- Both use the parenthetical citations within the body of the paper, usually to show a certain quote or calculation.
- Citations are listed alphabetically on the works cited / reference page.
What you need to know about the differences is not extensive, thankfully:
- MLA style is mostly used in humanities, while APA style is focused more on social sciences. The list of sources has a different name (works cited - MLA / references - APA)
- Works cited differ on the way they display the name of the original content (MLA -> Yorke, Thom / APA -> Yorke T.)
- When using an in-text citation, and the author’s name is listed within the sentence, place the page number found at the end: “Yorke believes that Creep was Radiohead’s worst song. (4).” APA, on the other hand, requires that a year is to be inserted: “According to Yorke (2013), Creep was a mess.”
Alright, let’s carry over to the APA style specifics.
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How to write an essay in apa format.
The APA scheme is one of the most common college essay formats, so being familiar with its requirements is crucial. In a basic APA format structure, we can apply a similar list of guidelines as we did in the MLA section:
- Spacing : Double-space that bad boy.
- Margins : One Inch margins on all sides.
- Page Numbers : Insert a header at the top left of every page that includes a shortened title of your essay, below 50 characters including punctuation. Slap a number in there too (top right corner).
- Title Page : Title of the paper, author’s name, institutional affiliation. Additional information may be required, such as course title, instructor name and date.
- Headings: All headings should be written in bold and titlecase. Different heading levels have different additional criteria to apply.
You can also ask us to write or rewrite essay in APA format if you find it difficult or don't have time.
Note that some teachers and professors may request deviations from some of the characteristics that the APA format originally requires, such as those listed above.
Note that some teachers and professors maybe have deviations to some of the characteristics that the APA format originally requires, such as those listed above.
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Essay in APA Format Example
Apa format chronobiology, chicago style.
The usage of Chicago style is prevalent in academic writing that focuses on the source of origin. This means that precise citations and footnotes are key to a successful paper.
Chicago Style Essay Format
The same bullet point structure can be applied to the Chicago essay format.
- ~ Chicago style title page is all about spacing.
- ~ Down the page should be the title, with regular text. If longer than one line, double-spaced.
- ~ Next, in the very middle, center your full name.
- ~ Down the page - course number, instructor’s name and the date in separate double-spaced lines.
- Margins : Use one-inch margins apart from the right side.
- ~ Double spaced everywhere.
- ~ No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs.
- Font : Times New Roman is the best choice (12pt)
- Page Numbers
- ~ Last name, page number in the heading of every page on the top right
- ~ Do not number the title page. The first page of the text should start with a 2.
- Footnotes : The Chicago format requires footnotes on paraphrased or quoted passages.
- Bibliography : The bibliography is very similar to that of MLA. Gather the proper information and input it into a specialized citation site.
Tips for Writing an Academic Paper
There isn’t one proper way of writing a paper, but there are solid guidelines to sustain a consistent workflow. Be it a college application essay, a research paper, informative essay, etc. There is a standard essay format that you should follow. For easier access, the following outline will be divided into steps:
Choose a Good Topic
A lot of students struggle with picking a good topic for their essays. The topic you choose should be specific enough so you can explore it in its entirety and hit your word limit if that’s a variable you worry about. With a good topic that should not be a problem. On the other hand, it should not be so broad that some resources would outweigh the information you could squeeze into one paper. Don’t be too specific, or you will find that there is a shortage of information, but don’t be too broad or you will feel overwhelmed. Don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for help with your essay writing.
Start Research as Soon as Possible
Before you even begin writing, make sure that you are acquainted with the information that you are working with. Find compelling arguments and counterpoints, trivia, facts, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to gathering information.
Pick out Specific, Compelling Resources
When you feel acquainted with the subject, you should be able to have a basic conversation on the matter. Pick out resources that have been bookmarked, saved or are very informative and start extracting information. You will need all you can get to put into the citations at the end of your paper. Stash books, websites, articles and have them ready to cite. See if you can subtract or expand your scope of research.
Create an Outline
Always have a plan. This might be the most important phase of the process. If you have a strong essay outline and you have a particular goal in mind, it’ll be easy to refer to it when you might get stuck somewhere in the middle of the paper. And since you have direct links from the research you’ve done beforehand, the progress is guaranteed to be swift. Having a list of keywords, if applicable, will surely boost the informational scope. With keywords specific to the subject matter of each section, it should be much easier to identify its direction and possible informational criteria.
Write a Draft
Before you jot anything down into the body of your essay, make sure that the outline has enough information to back up whatever statement you choose to explore. Do not be afraid of letting creativity into your paper (within reason, of course) and explore the possibilities. Start with a standard 5 paragraph structure, and the content will come with time.
Ask for a Peer Review of Your Academic Paper
Before you know it, the draft is done, and it’s ready to be sent out for peer review. Ask a classmate, a relative or even a specialist if they are willing to contribute. Get as much feedback as you possibly can and work on it.
Before handing in the final draft, go over it at least one more time, focusing on smaller mistakes like grammar and punctuation. Make sure that what you wrote follows proper essay structure. Learn more about argumentative essay structure on our blog. If you need a second pair of eyes, get help from our service.
Read also our movie review example and try to determine the format in which it is written.
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Essay Writing Guide
Essay Format: A Basic Guide With Examples
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Published on: Sep 24, 2017
Last updated on: Dec 30, 2023
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Are you having trouble making your essay look just right? Lots of students find formatting tricky, so you're not alone.
This guide is here to help you figure out how to format your essay. We've got examples of essays in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles to make it easier for you to learn.
So, keep reading – we've got you covered!
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What is an Essay Format?
An essay format refers to a set of guidelines that decides how the elements of your paper should be arranged. No matter what type of essay you’re writing, formatting is an essential step in the essay writing process.
The format guidelines cover the essay structure, title, citations, and the basic outline of the essay.
When formatting a paper, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to. These include the structure of an essay, title page, works cited page, and citation styles .
Here is a basic essay format template:
How To Format Essay in MLA Style
Formatting an essay in MLA style is a common requirement in many academic settings, particularly in the humanities.
MLA provides guidelines for various aspects of your essay, from font and margins to citations and bibliography. Here’s an essay format MLA you can use as a reference:
MLA Essay Format Template
- Title Page: MLA does not typically require a separate title page. Instead, place your title at the top of the first page, centered, and do not use bold, italics, or underline for the title. Below the title, include your name, the instructor's name, the course name and number, and the due date, each on a separate line, left-aligned.
- Header and Page Numbers: Create a header with your last name and page number in the upper right corner of every page, half an inch from the top, and flush with the right margin. For example: Smith 1.
- Margins and Spacing: Set all margins to 1 inch, and use double-spacing throughout the essay.
- Font and Size: Use a legible font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12.
- Indentation: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches, which can be done automatically using the "Tab" key.
- Paragraphs: Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks within sentences.
- Title: Place the title of your essay (centered) at the top of the first page. Do not use bold, italics, or underlining for the title. Capitalize major words.
- Citations: MLA uses in-text citations to acknowledge sources. When quoting or paraphrasing, include the author's last name and the page number (e.g., Smith 45).
- Works Cited Page: At the end of your essay, include a separate page titled "Works Cited." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific MLA citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).
Sample MLA Essay
How to Format Essay in APA
Formatting an essay in APA style is commonly used in the social sciences and psychology.
APA provides a set of guidelines for various elements of your essay, including formatting, citations, and references. Here’s how to format essay in apa:
APA Essay Format Template
- Title Page: The title page in APA includes: Title of the Essay (centered, bold, and in title case) Your Name (centered) Institutional Affiliation (centered) Running head: [Shortened Title] (flush left, in uppercase) Page Number (flush right)
- Header and Page Numbers: Create a header with the title of your essay in all capital letters, followed by a colon and a shortened version of the title (up to 50 characters), in the upper left corner of every page. The page number should be in the upper right corner.
- Font and Size: Use a clear and readable font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12.
- Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches. Use a hanging indent for references on the reference page.
- Citations: Use in-text citations to acknowledge sources. Include the author's last name and the publication year (e.g., Smith, 2023) when quoting or paraphrasing.
- Title: Use bold and title case for the title of your essay on the title page. On subsequent pages, use a shortened version of the title (in uppercase) as the header.
- References Page: At the end of your essay, create a separate page titled "References." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific APA citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).
Sample APA Essay
How to Format Essay in Chicago Style
Formatting an essay in Chicago style, often used in history and some other humanities disciplines, requires specific guidelines for citations and formatting. Here are the guidelines to format your essay in Chicago style:
Chicago Essay Format Template
- Title Page: The title page in Chicago style includes: Title of the Essay (centered, in headline-style capitalization) Your Name (centered) Course Name and Number (centered) Instructor's Name (centered) Date (centered)
- Margins and Spacing: Set all margins to 1 inch. Use double-spacing throughout the essay.
- Page Numbers: Number pages in the upper right corner of each page, beginning with the first page of the main text (usually page 1). Page numbers should be in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
- Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches. Use a block paragraph style with no extra space between paragraphs.
- Citations: In Chicago style, you have two citation options: footnotes and endnotes. In your text, place a superscript number (e.g., ^1) at the end of the sentence containing the cited information. Corresponding footnotes or endnotes should provide full citation details.
- Title: Use headline-style capitalization for the title of your essay (e.g., "The History of Ancient Civilizations").
- Bibliography: At the end of your essay, include a separate page titled "Bibliography." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific Chicago citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).
Sample Chicago Essay
Formatting In-Text Citations: APA, MLA, and Chicago Styles
An in-text citation is a brief reference within the body of your essay or research paper that indicates the source of information you have incorporated into your writing.
Each of the formatting style have a unique way for adding in-text citations:
In APA style, remember to include the author's last name, the publication date, and the page number (if applicable) within parentheses.
Example: "The impact of climate change on biodiversity is a growing concern (Smith, 2020, p. 27)."
In MLA style, provide the author's last name and the page number without any punctuation between them.
Example: "The impact of climate change on biodiversity is a growing concern (Jones 42)."
Chicago Style Format
The Chicago Manual of Style offers two distinct options for in-text citations:
- Author-Date Style: In this approach, you place your citations within parentheses directly within the text. This style involves citing the author's last name and the publication date within the body of your text. Example: (Smith 2021) or "According to Smith (2021),..."
- Notes and Bibliography Style: This style utilizes numbered footnotes or endnotes to provide citations. Instead of placing citations within the text, you include a superscript number at the end of the relevant sentence, which corresponds to a full citation located in a footnote at the bottom of the page (or endnotes at the end of the document). Example: Johnson argues that "the data is unconvincing."¹ Nevertheless, Smith contends that the study makes "a compelling case" for this plan of action.²
Each of these Chicago citation styles has its unique advantages and is chosen based on the requirements of the assignment or the preferences of the writer.
How to Determine What Format to Follow
Selecting the appropriate citation format for your academic writing is essential to ensure that your work meets the expected standards. To make an informed decision, consider the following factors:
Subject and Discipline
- APA Style: Primarily used in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and education. It is also common in business and nursing disciplines.
- MLA Style: Commonly employed in humanities disciplines, including literature, languages, and cultural studies. It's widely used for papers related to literature and the arts.
- Chicago Style: Used in history, some social sciences, and certain humanities disciplines. Chicago offers both author-date and notes and bibliography styles, making it versatile for various subjects.
Always adhere to your professor's specific instructions regarding citation style and writing convention . Professors may have preferences or requirements based on the nature of the course or assignment.
For instance, an English professor might prefer MLA for literary analysis, while a psychology professor may opt for APA to encourage familiarity with research norms. However, when formatting styles are not specified by the instructor, you can follow whatever is appropriate for your subject.
Your educational institution may have established guidelines or standards for citation formats.
Check your institution's style guide or consult with academic advisors to ensure compliance with their specific requirements.
By considering the subject matter, your professor's preferences, and your institution's guidelines, you can confidently choose the appropriate citation style to enhance the clarity and professionalism of your academic writing.
Now that you've gained a solid understanding of the basics for three major formatting styles, you're well-prepared to tackle your essay formatting with confidence.
Whether you're crafting an essay, a research paper, or any academic document, these formatting principles will help you present your ideas professionally.
If you find yourself in a time crunch, our expert writers are here to help you tackle your academic challenges in no time.
With our essay writing service , you get reliable help with any type of assignment, even with tight deadlines. Our writers are sure to deliver you 100% original papers that meet your requirements.
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How to Write a Long Essay, Term Paper or Research Paper
How To Format a Long Essay
A long essay is an essay longer than 3 pages. This varies with the level of education. Some college instructors will view a five-page essay as short and others as average.
The phrase ‘long essay’ can be used to refer to the number of words, the number of pages, and sometimes the number of paragraphs. Most instructors usually clarify how long essays should be before issuing them.
What Is A Long Essay In Research?
A long essay in research is a ten-page or more essay that analyses, interprets, and compares researched ideas to the ideas of the writer.
Research papers are usually longer than academic essays. They are usually more detailed and test writing and scholarly research skills.
How to Write Long Essays
Most students complain that it is overwhelming to write long essays. The stress that comes with writing long essays contributes to many students wanting to put them off. Tackling long essays can become easy by following the following steps:
1. Pick a Topic
When granted the freedom to choose a topic, pick a broad and specific one. It is easy to find and write about a broad topic.
Topics with scarce research material generate little content and are not suitable for long essays.
One may likely end up getting stranded halfway into the essay with nothing more to write about on a topic. For example, the effects of Racism in America in the 2000s is a broader topic than the effects of racism in America in 2004.
2. Start your Research
Researching on a long essay can take hours and days. Thorough research is important in the formulation of a thesis. It makes it easy to determine the sources that are more important and valuable to your topic. The more sources you get the better and longer your essay will be.
3. Write a Thesis
The thesis statement is crucial because its shapes your entire essay. The thesis statement you formulate should be specific.
It should outline the main argument that you will try making in the essay. Use the thesis to explain why the question you want to answer is important.
In long essays, thesis statements should appear at the end of the first paragraph or on the second paragraph.
4. Finish your Research
With the thesis statement already established, continue doing research. The research should focus on the points that support the thesis statement you have come up with.
Any point that does not align with the thesis statement is not meant for your essay. All the sources you use for research should help develop your thesis statement. The sources should be credible and authentic to strongly support the thesis.
5. Make an Outline
An outline helps you organize thoughts and plan how you will write your essay. Without outlines, you are likely to get lost in the middle of your essay.
With an outline, writing is easy and fast with an organized flow of ideas. The more detailed your outline is the more ease you will have when writing the essay.
6. Write the Essay
Start writing your essay. Keep your head down and avoid distraction. Read through your writing to make sure that your ideas flow and paragraphs connect.
7. Proofread and Edit
You should read your paper out loud when proofreading.
This helps you notice any grammatical, punctuation, or paraphrasing errors in your essay.
You can choose to edit the errors as you read or write them down and correct them once you are done proofreading.
How to Balance your Points in a Long Essay
Formulate a thesis.
To balance your points in an essay you first need a thesis statement. A thesis statement will set the tone of how your points will be balanced.
With the thesis, you will be able to understand your essay better. This in turn helps you balance your points.
Write the introduction paragraph
Introduce your essay in the best way possible. Make it clear what you will talk about in your essay. Do not use fancy language that the reader will find hard to understand. At the end of the introduction paragraph write the thesis statement.
These are paragraphs that make up the body of your essay. They explain all points in your essay. Each point should be represented in its paragraph.
The first sentence of each paragraph is the topic sentence that states the point you will talk about. Explain the points exhaustively as the paragraph progresses.
The conclusion summarizes everything you have talked about in the essay. If readers happen to read the conclusion only they should grasp everything about your essay.
If writing a conclusion is hard, you can use your thesis statement as the conclusion because it also presents what your essay is all about.
Tips on How to Format a Long Essay
Instructors give long essays to their students to test their writing skills. An example of such a long task is writing a 4000-word essay that can take someone quite some time. The standard essay format is introduction, body, and conclusion.
The format for long essays includes two introduction paragraphs, 3 ideas in the body with each idea presented in four paragraphs, and a conclusion. This gives the writer the chance to achieve the given length.
How to Make an Essay Long the Smart Way
Essays can be made long in the following way:
1. Expanding descriptions
Descriptions are very important, especially in descriptive essays.
Even if you have defined them you can add more information to make them more detailed.
2. Enhancing transitions
Transitions not only enable the reader to smoothly navigate through your points but also add length to your essay.
Additionally, great transitions make your essay better and are signs of a great writer.
This is different for short essays. Read more on how to write short essays to know why long transitions may not be included.
3. Expanding paragraphs
Go through your essay and find points that are not explained clearly and explain them clearly.
You can’t know everything about a topic. There will be always relevant information to add to the points of your essay. You can explain the basics if you did not do so and define important terms as well.
4. Adding the Introduction
No rule states that introductions should be short. They should be detailed because they tell the reader what to expect and set the tone for your essay. If you rushed over the introduction revise it and add more ideas to make it detailed and catchier.
5. Make sure that you have Included Everything
Revisit your outline and check whether you have included all the points you wanted to in the essay. If not, add them. Sometimes you may rush when writing the essay and forget to include all the points you intended to.
6. Checking the Assignment Again
Reading the assignment again can help you think of new ideas to include in your essay. This is because you may not have exhausted everything on the topic and reading the assignment again can open up your mind to a new thinking dimension. Also, you may have missed something in the instructions that you should add to the essay.
7. Add Quotations
Quotations help show the reader that you understand what you are writing about. You can bring in two quotes from famous writers to support your arguments. Always remember to cite and reference them to avoid plagiarism.
8. Asking a Friend what is Missing
After doing all of the above and still not achieving the length you want, ask a friend to read your essay. They will help you identify what is missing and unclear in your work. It is not easy receiving constructive criticism in your work but that is one way to make it better.
When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.
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How to Write a Long Essay
How to Write a One Page Essay
Writing an essay as part of a school assignment or a project can be a very tedious task, especially if that essay needs to be long. Even the most confident writers may have no trouble writing a few pages for an assignment but may find it challenging to extend that word count as much as possible. If you're assigned a long essay for one of your classes, there's no reason to worry. With some useful tips at your disposal, you can stretch that essay out without making it sound repetitive or boring the reader with an influx of irrelevant information.
What Is a Long Essay?
A long essay is any essay that tends to be longer than three pages or 3,000 words or more. Of course, the definition of a long essay will differ from one classroom to another, depending on the age and level of the students. And even if you're a college student, you may have some professors who consider a five-page essay to be the average, while another teacher considers five pages to be too much. Therefore, it's important to check with your teacher, though they'll usually clarify this when giving the assignment.
Sometimes, the term "long" applies to how many pages, and sometimes it applies to how many paragraphs or words need to be in the essay. Again, this all depends on your teacher, your school's requirements and the nature of the assignment. Either way, hearing your teacher say that you must write a long essay for your next assignment can certainly cause a lot of stress. The good news is that writing a long essay can be much easier than writing a short essay, especially if you're given some meaningful advice.
Why Would You Be Required to Write a Long Essay?
There are many reasons why teachers would assign a long essay to their students. First of all, writing a long essay is an opportunity for a student to really put his or her writing skills to the test. By the time students get to college, they already have an idea as to how to write a decent paper, but perhaps it's within limits. College professors need to make sure that students are able to write well, because eventually, these students may need to write a thesis or dissertation, and there really is no longer essay than that.
So even though you may think of writing a long essay as a torturous assignment, it's actually a great opportunity to practice a very specific skill that will definitely come in handy in other areas of your life. And, if you build up the right mindset for yourself, writing that long essay shouldn't be any more difficult than any other assignment you've been required to complete.
What Is the Standard Essay Format?
There's a standard essay format understood by most English students around the world. This is how essay writing can be taught in a universal way so that students are successful at writing essays no matter where they're studying. A standard essay format typically includes an introduction, three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Of course, the older a student gets and the more experience they have in school, their essays will gradually get longer and will need to require more detail and features (for instance, citing sources) in order to meet the requirements set by the teacher.
When you need to write a long essay, you can and should still base your writing off of this standard essay format. The only difference is that instead of having three body paragraphs, you're going to have a lot more in order to reach the word count or page requirement that you need to meet. This isn't as hard as it sounds. Instead of squeezing your main idea into one paragraph, try to add more examples and details to make it longer. Also, try to think of other key points that support your essay's theme that might not be so obvious at first.
Start Ahead of Time
The best way to relieve the stress that comes with having to write a long essay is to start ahead of time. Too many college students (and high school students) wait until the last possible minute to write an essay. Though some students may certainly be able to get away with this, it'll be a lot harder when it comes to writing a longer essay. Therefore, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment. It may work better for some people to do a little bit each day until they reach their goal. For instance, if you're required to write 3,000 words for your long essay, then you may feel better writing just 500 words a day over a couple of days instead of trying to bang it all out at once.
How to Write a 3,000 Word Essay in a Day
Some students rather get the hard work out of the way, instead of letting it drag out over a week. Writing a long essay of 3,000 words can be done in a day if you just put your mind to it. Do the following:
- Don't schedule any other appointments or assignments for the day.
- Put away any potential distractions, like your phone or the TV.
- Stay off of social media.
- Work somewhere quiet, like the library or a calm cafe.
- Take breaks every few paragraphs.
- Set a timer for ten minutes and try to work the entire time without stopping.
Create Your Essay Structure
Once you've decided whether or not you're going to write the essay over a couple of days or in just one day, it's time to start writing the actual essay. Like with any writing assignment, the first thing you should do is create an outline and organize your overall essay structure. If you need to write around five pages, which makes sense for a long essay, then you should make an outline that will support that. Take a look at an essay format example to get an idea of how yours should be:
- Introduction (more than two paragraphs)
- A starter question (something for the reader to consider)
- Body "paragraph/idea" one (four paragraphs on average)
- Body "paragraph/idea" two (four paragraphs on average]
- Body "paragraph/idea" three (four paragraphs on average)
- A conclusion
If you're wondering how on earth you're going to create a body section that's four paragraphs long, try to think of one main idea and three examples that tie together with it. For instance, if your long essay is an argumentative piece about "The Importance of Waiting Until You're Financially Stable to Have Children" you can think of at least four key reasons why:
- You won't have to struggle to pay for their needs.
- You can give them more opportunities.
- You can travel as a family.
- You can put away money for their college tuition.
For the first idea, you can talk about this point in very general terms. Then, you can write three more paragraphs underneath that, with each paragraph discussing a specific example. The second paragraph, for example, can be about paying for things like diapers, clothes, formula, etc., and how much each item costs. The second example can be about paying for things when the child gets a little older, like their food, their school supplies, etc. Lastly, the third example (and the fourth paragraph in this section) can discuss paying for things that the child will need as a teenager, such as more clothes, sports uniforms, dental work, etc.
Did You Answer All the Questions?
After you feel like you've exhausted all examples, but you're still under word count or page count, go back and make sure you've answered all the questions. These questions may have been questions in the rubric or the writing prompt that your teacher provided, or they may be questions that you've thought of on your own. In fact, when you start thinking of what to write about, you should brainstorm some questions that a reader may want to find the answer to about the topic, and you should try to answer these throughout your essay. Creating more potential questions can help you reach your word count faster.
Can You Change Words?
If you're close to reaching your word count but you're still not quite there, then go back and see if you can change any of the language in your essay to make it longer. For example, if you have a lot of contractions in your paper (can't, won't, isn't, they're) go back and make them two words instead of contractions, and do this throughout the entire essay. This is a great solution because it won't take away from the readership of your essay, and while this won't extend the word count too much, it will definitely help a bit.
Think of Additional Details You Can Add
In addition to changing contractions, you can also think of other details you can add to elongate your essay. There are always more examples you can add or more information you can research that will not only resonate with the reader but increase your overall word count or page count.
For example, if you're talking about how parents who decide to have children once they're financially stable will have the opportunity to put more money toward their child's tuition, then you can go back and add plenty of detail supporting this argument. Did you give an example of how much tuition costs? Did you add details about what parents can do with the money if their children decide not to go to college? What about the different types of college funds that exist? These are all details you can add that will increase the length of your essay, while also adding value.
However, when you do this, keep in mind that you want to be very careful not to add too much "fluff." Fluff is when you add information or details that simply aren't valuable to the writing itself. It makes the reader (who in most cases is your teacher and the one grading the assignment) want to skim over your piece, and this can lead to him or her giving you a lower grade.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Last but not least, in order to write a long essay, you must have the capacity to edit your work. Editing not only helps to ensure your paper is long enough, reads well, and is free from grammatical errors, but it will also give you an opportunity to add in more information here and there. To edit, you should always read out loud to yourself, and take a break from your work, so you can revisit it with a fresh pair of eyes. You can easily check if you've reached the length requirements by clicking on "word count" or counting the number of pages yourself, though your document will reveal this as you scroll down.
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Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.
The Secret(s) to Getting Through Long Papers
By Sophie, a Writing Center Coach
It’s the beginning of the semester—meaning, as a graduate student, it’s time for me to get back into the groove of planning and writing long papers. For me, the hardest part of approaching a paper is coming up with a topic that will stay interesting to me throughout the research and writing process. A good example of this is from the end of last semester, when I found myself dreading the final paper for my archives class. We covered so many interesting topics in the class, it was hard to decide which one to choose.
In my experience, a bad topic can make the writing process feel infinitely longer and more stressful. As I thought about my archives paper, I worried about finding something that I could focus on for 12 pages. So many of the topics in my class felt interwoven, and I was afraid it would be hard to pick out one thread. If I try to start a long paper without planning, I’ll end up staring at the same sentence or paragraph for hours, trying to figure out what I could possibly say next.
So, when I finally had to commit to a topic, I decided to break down the process into a few fun steps. Dividing it up helped take away some of my worries and made the process easier because I only had to do one step at a time. Here’s how I got started:
1) Create a real brainstorming session
First, I decided to meet up with a few of my friends who were also in the class. We went to a coffee shop we all like, and we brought our notes and readings from the class. None of us had a concrete idea about what to write; we just wanted to throw some possibilities out to see how other people would react to them.
We started by talking about some of the things we found funny or interesting in previous class discussions. As we talked, we found natural points of disagreement and interest. I took notes about points that stuck out to me. At the end of the conversation, I had a document full of questions and arguments that I wanted to explore further.
My friends also thought of topics, but they arrived at their ideas in different ways. One of my friends kept coming back to a short paper she had already written, and by talking about it, she discovered that she had much more to say. Another friend talked about something that he felt was conspicuously missing from our class discussions, so he decided that this paper would be a good opportunity to learn more.
All three of us came out of the session with inspiration and initial feedback. This step reminded me of the value of talking through my ideas, especially since my peers could push me to think more deeply about particular questions. Plus, connecting with my classmates through discussion helped me get excited about writing.
Alternatively, I know that, for some people, meeting with friends isn’t always effective; there are also other ways to brainstorm. Sometimes, it helps to talk to someone who doesn’t know about the class or topic—like a Writing Center coach ! For others, the note-taking part could be like having a conversation with yourself, which might be all you need. The Writing and Learning Centers also have some great tools for brainstorming if you prefer to work independently.
2) Conduct some initial research
Once I had the beginnings of an idea, I decided to look for sources that could help me narrow my topic. The first place I go to find scholarly articles is the UNC Libraries’ page with “Resource Tools.” At this phase, I like to do keyword searches with Articles+. When you open the advanced search options, you can limit your results to be really specific by choosing a discipline, language, date the material was published, and whether the source needs to be scholarly/peer reviewed. In this case, I used “AND” to limit my results to articles with all of my desired keywords, like: “Sexual material” AND “Archives.” There’s another great article that explains the logic behind this kind of search, which uses Boolean logic.
After I’ve combed through relevant results for one search, I’ll usually adjust my keywords to see if anything new pops up. I’ll also see if the best articles (the ones that feel most related to my topic) have been cited by anyone else and whether those articles have something to offer me. I also repeat this process with Google Scholar and with the “E-research by Discipline” option, which will lead me to specific databases for my field.
In this case, I used the Information and Library Science option, which took me to the best databases for journals in my discipline. Searching within a discipline allows me to think more carefully about my keywords; I might not have to include “archives,” or “libraries,” for example, because many of the articles are already about archives.
As I’m going along, I like to save any articles that I find in Zotero, a citation manager that I downloaded from the library’s website. Within Zotero, I make a folder for the assignment (“Final Paper”), and it automatically saves all the information I need to quickly go back to the article if I need it. (Note: I first learned about using Zotero from a helpful university librarian, so if you’re new to citation managers, it might be helpful to have a librarian give you a tutorial. You can also read another blog article on using Zotero .)
At the end of this process, I usually have a file full of “maybe” sources that I could come back to later. This helps give me an idea of what people have already said about this topic and where I might be able to add to the conversation.
3) Meet with your professor
After I came up with an idea and did some preliminary research, I thought it would be a good idea to check in with my professor during office hours. Since my professor is an expert in the field, I knew she would have a better sense of the context surrounding my research question.
(Note: Sometimes I like to go to office hours before I do any research; getting some expertise at the beginning can make the search process even faster. In this case, my professor encouraged us to find what we could before checking in with her.)
Before the meeting, I read through the abstracts of the sources I had already found in my preliminary research (those were saved in my Zotero library). Based on those, I wrote down some questions that I had about the topic. I met with my professor for about 15 minutes, and in that time, I pitched my question and told her what I had already found. She was able to direct me to some additional books and cases to look at, and I wrote those down to research later.
My professor also encouraged me to post my topic in our class’ Sakai forum. She created a discussion page specifically for final topic ideas so that my other classmates could provide feedback. Often, she said, students with similar topics will find sources that are helpful to each other, so the forum is a good place to share resources. I left the meeting with a strong sense of direction of what I needed to begin the actual writing.
After going through these steps, I felt like I had a good idea of what I wanted to write about and some evidence that could support my argument. Still, because it was such a long paper, I felt like I needed help to get started on the outline and the actual writing process. So, I decided to make a Writing Center Appointment to get my ideas in order and to make a plan for finishing the paper on time. Again, since I’m a person who likes to talk through my ideas, it was helpful to hear another person’s reaction to my topic so far. It also gave me a self-imposed deadline to complete these initial steps.
Breaking down the first few steps of writing my research paper helped me think of it as a list of small tasks to check off instead of one giant, frustrating project. It felt good to accomplish little things that I knew would add up to finishing the whole thing. This process also led me to a topic that really excited and engaged me, so when it was time to do the final step (the actual writing), I was happy to get started.
This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach , a peer tutor , or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here .
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LONG ESSAY FORMAT
Lesson 8 in a one-term course of academic writing. The course aims at providing students with basic instruction in essay writing, with a special emphasis on literary critical essays. The students are guided through all the stages involved in the process of writing, ranging from choosing the topic to compiling a bibliography. The course deals with a logical structure of the essay, its unity and coherence, with using secondary sources as well as with the issue of plagiarism. Other topics include the suitable language and style and formal requirements in academic writing.
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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts
MLA General Format
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MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.
Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material produced by other writers.
If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook (9th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries. It is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this page for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA Style.
The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA Style is covered in part four of the MLA Style Manual . Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA Style :
- Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
- Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
- Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
- Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
- Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
- Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
- Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.
- If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).
Formatting the First Page of Your Paper
- Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested or the paper is assigned as a group project. In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor.
- In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
- Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
- Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text. For example: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
- Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
- Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit the last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)
Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:
The First Page of an MLA Paper
Writers sometimes use section headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.
MLA recommends that when dividing an essay into sections you number those sections with an Arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.
MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing , 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.
If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.
Sample Section Headings
The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.
Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left
Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left
Level 3 Heading: centered, bold
Level 4 Heading: centered, italics
Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left
Generate accurate MLA citations for free
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MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template
Published on December 11, 2019 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on January 17, 2024 by Jack Caulfield.
The MLA Handbook provides guidelines for creating MLA citations and formatting academic papers. This quick guide will help you set up your MLA format paper in no time.
Start by applying these MLA format guidelines to your document:
- Times New Roman 12
- 1″ page margins
- Double line spacing
- ½” indent for new paragraphs
- Title case capitalization for headings
Download Word template Open Google Docs template
(To use the Google Docs template, copy the file to your Drive by clicking on ‘file’ > ‘Make a copy’)
Table of contents
How to set up mla format in google docs, header and title, running head, works cited page, creating mla style citations, headings and subheadings, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about mla format.
The header in MLA format is left-aligned on the first page of your paper. It includes
- Your full name
- Your instructor’s or supervisor’s name
- The course name or number
- The due date of the assignment
After the MLA header, press ENTER once and type your paper title. Center the title and don’t forget to apply title-case capitalization. Read our article on writing strong titles that are informative, striking and appropriate.
For a paper with multiple authors, it’s better to use a separate title page instead.
At the top of every page, including the first page, you need to include your last name and the page number. This is called the “running head.” Follow these steps to set up the MLA running head in your Word or Google Docs document:
- Double-click at the top of a page
- Type your last name
- Insert automatic page numbering
- Align the content to the right
The running head should look like this:
The Works Cited list is included on a separate page at the end of your paper. You list all the sources you referenced in your paper in alphabetical order. Don’t include sources that weren’t cited in the paper, except potentially in an MLA annotated bibliography assignment.
Place the title “Works Cited” in the center at the top of the page. After the title, press ENTER once and insert your MLA references.
If a reference entry is longer than one line, each line after the first should be indented ½ inch (called a hanging indent ). All entries are double spaced, just like the rest of the text.
Generate accurate MLA citations with Scribbr
Prefer to cite your sources manually? Use the interactive example below to see what the Works Cited entry and MLA in-text citation look like for different source types.
Headings and subheadings are not mandatory, but they can help you organize and structure your paper, especially in longer assignments.
MLA has only a few formatting requirements for headings. They should
- Be written in title case
- Be left-aligned
- Not end in a period
We recommend keeping the font and size the same as the body text and applying title case capitalization. In general, boldface indicates greater prominence, while italics are appropriate for subordinate headings.
Tip: Both Google Docs and Microsoft Word allow you to create heading levels that help you to keep your headings consistent.
Tables and other illustrations (referred to as “figures”) should be placed as close to the relevant part of text as possible. MLA also provides guidelines for presenting them.
MLA format for tables
Tables are labeled and numbered, along with a descriptive title. The label and title are placed above the table on separate lines; the label and number appear in bold.
A caption providing information about the source appears below the table; you don’t need one if the table is your own work.
Below this, any explanatory notes appear, marked on the relevant part of the table with a superscript letter. The first line of each note is indented; your word processor should apply this formatting automatically.
Just like in the rest of the paper, the text is double spaced and you should use title case capitalization for the title (but not for the caption or notes).
MLA format for figures
Figures (any image included in your paper that isn’t a table) are also labeled and numbered, but here, this is integrated into the caption below the image. The caption in this case is also centered.
The label “Figure” is abbreviated to “Fig.” and followed by the figure number and a period. The rest of the caption gives either full source information, or (as in the example here) just basic descriptive information about the image (author, title, publication year).
Source information in table and figure captions
If the caption of your table or figure includes full source information and that source is not otherwise cited in the text, you don’t need to include it in your Works Cited list.
Give full source information in a caption in the same format as you would in the Works Cited list, but without inverting the author name (i.e. John Smith, not Smith, John).
MLA recommends using 12-point Times New Roman , since it’s easy to read and installed on every computer. Other standard fonts such as Arial or Georgia are also acceptable. If in doubt, check with your supervisor which font you should be using.
The main guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style are as follows:
- Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman
- Set 1 inch page margins
- Apply double line spacing
- Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page
- Center the paper’s title
- Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
- Use title case capitalization for headings
- Cite your sources with MLA in-text citations
- List all sources cited on a Works Cited page at the end
The fastest and most accurate way to create MLA citations is by using Scribbr’s MLA Citation Generator .
Search by book title, page URL, or journal DOI to automatically generate flawless citations, or cite manually using the simple citation forms.
The MLA Handbook is currently in its 9th edition , published in 2021.
This quick guide to MLA style explains the latest guidelines for citing sources and formatting papers according to MLA.
Usually, no title page is needed in an MLA paper . A header is generally included at the top of the first page instead. The exceptions are when:
- Your instructor requires one, or
- Your paper is a group project
In those cases, you should use a title page instead of a header, listing the same information but on a separate page.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Streefkerk, R. (2024, January 17). MLA Format | Complete Guidelines & Free Template. Scribbr. Retrieved February 24, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/mla/formatting/
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