September 17th, 2021

The Essay Format – MLA, APA & Chicago Guidelines-Complete

The Essay Format – MLA, APA & Chicago Guidelines-Complete

Your school performance has to be evaluated regularly through continuous assessment tests, major examination, or even take-away assignments. One key pillar for testing a student’s knowledge is essay writing. Whenever you are assigned an essay, your lecturer or professor will give you a specific essay format to use.

This is the guideline that determines how you arrange the paper including the title page, body essay structure, the outline, conclusion and your citations. It is extremely important and failing to adhere to the requirements of the format as requested by your teacher can lead to a low a grade. There three common styles used as an academic paper format are APA, MLA and Chicago.

What Is A Standard Essay Format?


Every academic paper format must include an introduction at the top. It must be catchy to engage the reader, which keeps them reading to the end. The best way to impress your lecturer is to include a hook such as a question, an analogy or a quote. However, to sustain the reader’s attention, include some rich background information regarding your topic. You can do this without going deep into your points because you will do this in the body paragraphs. It helps you be more specific leading to a specific thesis statement that summarizes your essay in a single sentence.  

Thesis Statement

A research paper format is incomplete without a thesis statement. It is a sentence or a short paragraph stating the primary goal of the essay that shapes the road map of the paper. The statement becomes the main point that you support with various ideas.


The body consists of main points that present what your thesis says. You must elaborate each in one paragraph without mixing them. Make sure you have enough and well-researched information to support the point. Also include examples and experiences that suit your assignment.


Nothing lowers the quality of an essay like poor transition from paragraph to the other. All your points must connect smoothly and help the paper flow as you take your reader from topic to the other. Choose the transition words carefully including first, in addition and next among many others that bring all your points together giving the essay excellent cohesion.


The conclusion part marks the end of your argumentative essay format. It takes the reader back to the whole essay briefly allowing them to have a final thought or closure to the topic. It may offer a conclusive solution or leave the reader open for research. Also, in this part, you can include your opinion, but never introduce no pints that are not in the essay paper.


Every essay paper incorporates research and therefore, you have to give credit to all sources with the use of in-text citations. However, it should be based on the format of your essay, which can be APA, MLA or Chicago among many other academic paper formats.

College Essay Format- Chicago, APA and MLA Formats

Education institutes require every student to write a proper essay using recommended formats. The common ones are MLA, APA, and Chicago formats. Each of these essay writing formats has well-structured steps that must be adhered to. Here is a deeper discussion on these standard essay formats.

MLA Format

MLA has basic instructions on how to write it on default word document without changing the margins. Read on for steps on how to write mla format essay.

First Page

This page must have your full name, tutor’s name, the course name, registration number, and the current date. Make sure that the details are capturing correctly, especially your name or registration number. It is the signature essay format outline for an MLA paper.


You should have the same header on every page except the first one that has your details whether it’s a narrative essay format or a persuasive essay format. Word document will enable you to do this by clicking on the insert, selecting page number, and choosing pain 3. Your second name and page number should appear on every page in the header.


Work with a normal Word page.


You should use the font Roman 12.


An amateur essay writer is likely to be tempted to design the titles in their essays. But it’s a mistake; avoid this and simply capitalize on the title and place it at the center.

Text Alignment

You should left-align the text.


MLA informational essay format should be double spaced. Under paragraph Spacing, you should select 2.0.


Every paragraph must be indented with one tap on the tab button.


You should have your works cited page on a different page. So, open a new page to give credit to your research sources.

APA Style Format

APA style is common in many college essays. An apa style essay comprises of three sections: Title Page, Essay Body, and the Reference List. There is also a fourth section, The Abstract, which the instructor may or may not ask you to add.


Apa essay format is flexible with font choices. You can use one that you use throughout the document. The font size should be 12. For footnotes, the right size is 10, but you can choose 8 to 14 for tables and figures.


The text margin should be one inch all around. You can adjust it through the Page Layout.


The text should have a double-spaced according to apa citation owl Purdue, just like MLA.

Title Page

Here is a list of things that you find in an apa sample paper

  • Add the page number on the top right side of the title page.
  • Double-space, the text, align it to the center and make it bold.
  • All the keywords should be capitalized
  • You are allowed to break the title into two lines if it is too long
  • Your name
  • Course name
  • Lecturer’s name
  • Current date
  • Indicate all the names of co-authors who have contributed in the essay


The course instructor may ask you to add an abstract in the essay format apa. This should be on the page after the Title Page. It should not exceed 250 words and aligned at the center. The whole text should be in one paragraph that is not indented.


This is the page where you list any sources of information that you have used in the  APA expository essay format.

Section Headings

APA style format has various sections, and you are allowed to organize the content in headings and subheadings, in subsequence that allows you to use the First Level Heading for the Heading. The others follow in sequential sub-headings as follows.

  • First Level Heading (Bold, Centered)
  • Second Level Heading (Bold, Left Aligned)Third Level Heading (Bold Italic, Left Aligned)
  • Fourth Level Heading (Bold, Indented, Ending with a Period).
  • Fifth Level Heading (Bold Italic, Indented, Ending with a Period).

APA essay format makes it easy to arrange your subheadings without using complicated numbers. These levels also help you create a logical flow if the content.

Chicago Style

Academic writers featuring original sources of information use the chicago style paper. The essay writer must be accurate with the citation and the footnotes. This style also allows you to use bullet points.

Title Page

The title of the paper should be double spaced. Your name should be at the center of the page and below the page, indicate the lecturer’s name and the date.


According to Purdue Chicago style paper example, you must adjust the margins by one inch. However, you should not alter the right side margin.


The whole paper should have double space with no additional between the paragraphs.


This format recommends font Times Roman 12.

Page numbers

Your last name should appear alongside the page number except for the title page at the top right of every page.


Chicago style paper requires the writer to include footnotes explaining the quoted passages.


This is the page for all the citations.

General Essay Writing Tips

Writing an essay is not for the faint-hearted, but once you learn the simple rules that apply to various essay format outline styles, you can deliver an excellent paper.

Learn the Topic

Writing about a topic that you understand is quite easy and interesting. Take time to research; grasp what your course instructor requires from you to write a quality essay.

Create a Draft

You can have a notebook where you can write down some points before you embark on the essay’s final copy. This helps you to organize your thoughts and create content as you research.

Begin writing

Do not procrastinate. Start writing your college essay format without waiting for the deadline to push you. Commit yourself to write the paper and follow the format to the book.

Check Your Work

You should ensure that you have proofread your work before you submit to avoid spellings and grammatical errors. Fact-check and list the sources accurately according to the required essay format.

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