How To Format An Essay In Different Styles

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Are you writing an essay and unsure of how to write it in different styles? Essays are a significant part of any academic curriculum. Hence, whether you are a school, college, or university student, you will have to write essays at some point. 

But an essay isn’t merely listing down information on a particular topic. Instead, it is a whole piece of knowledge on a specific topic written after following certain guidelines.

When you get assigned to write an essay, you have to use the correct essay format. Then only can you get full credit for your paper. After all the hard work of researching and collecting the content for your essay, also consider adding a proper format. 

Formatting an essay is a crucial part of essay writing. Different institutes require different essay formats that an essay should follow. Some of the basic essay formats include MLA, APA, Chicago formats, etc. 

Formatting an essay may seem complicated. But, if you do it correctly, then it’s not that tough. You can check the format guidelines based on the required guideline. Then prepare the headline, and body and add references as well.

This article will help you know about essay format, structure, and how you can write it in different styles, including APA, MLA, and Chicago styles. We will also differentiate three essay format styles.

What Does An Essay Format Mean?

When writing an essay, you have to follow specific guidelines that decide how to arrange your paper. A set of such guidelines are called an essay format. 

It incorporates every aspect that you have to comply with, including the essay title, structure, basic outlines, and the essay’s citations. There are several essay formats, and you have to structure your essay well to have the best results.

Let’s discuss how you can structure your essay correctly.

How To Create An Essay Structure?

Maintaining a proper essay format and structure may seem to be a difficult task. But, you can do it if you know the correct way of implementing the different types of essay formats. You can also get professional tips on how to structure your essay. 

Structuring an essay is essential no matter what format you would use. It’s crucial for any essay – informative, academic, or extended essay. 

The following points may help you structure your essay for any format such as MLA, APA, or Chicago.

  • The title: Here, you have to write the title of your essay.
  • Abstract: In the abstract, you have to write in short about the essay. You can add the thesis, and research questions and highlight the essay’s importance. Also, add the scopes and limits of your research and critical resources. You can then conclude the abstract in a small paragraph.
  • Table of contents: You can make a content table where you will add everything that will be added in the essay along with the page numbers.
  • Introduction: When writing an essay, the readers must know what you are about to say. You can do this by providing an overview of your paper in the form of an introduction. You can add the main points, the research question, and what you would be talking about in the introduction. Make sure that it’s captivating for the readers. Check out the blog How To Write an Essay Introduction.
  • Body: The number of paragraphs in the body depends on how long you want your essay. In this part, you have to explain every aspect of your topic in detail. But, don’t forget the main point of the subject and the answer to the research question as it may make your readers less interested. 
  • Conclusion: You can write the conclusion as the summary of your essay topic. Here, you have to highlight the main points and only cover what you have already registered. You shouldn’t add any new points or ideas. Just restate the points that you have already mentioned in the essay. 
  • Bibliography: In the bibliography, you have to cite all the references. It’s crucial to give evidence of your research through different sources. 

Why Is Essay Format Important?

Implementing the correct essay format in your essay is highly beneficial. It is essential for several reasons. Some of the reasons for the importance of formatting an essay include:

  • It adds a professional and formal look to your essay paper.
  • It makes writing an essay easier since you already know what guidelines you have to follow.
  • It adds more value to your essay since it makes your essay look better.
  • It helps to add credibility to your essay.
  • It makes understanding your essay more precise and increases the readability as well.
  • It makes reading easier and quicker for your readers, which can arouse interest in their minds.
  • If you are preparing an essay for school or college, adding a format makes it easier for the instructors to check your essay.

Now, let’s discuss the three essay-style formats, namely MLA, APA, and Chicago, one by one. 

How To Write In MLA Format

The MLA style format is a document format style that the Modern Language Association designed. Initially, it was used by researchers and students in language and literature as it standardized the way of formatting papers. 

But nowadays, this style is widely in use in different disciplines. Institutes and colleges prefer this essay-style format since it has simple rules that students can follow easily. It doesn’t even require a separate title page. You can directly add a heading on the upper left side of the paper.

MLA style is more effortless than the APA and Chicago styles since it doesn’t have specific essay writing requirements. You only need to add the introduction, body, and conclusion in a standard essay format.

What’s more, in MLA essay style, you can structure all your references in the same way, whether it’s for a newspaper, book, or magazine. It makes citation easier.

When writing in MLA style, there are specific guides that you have to follow. Such guides include:

  • Font: The font of your essay paper should be 12pt Times New Roman.
  • Spacing: You should ensure that the page is double-spaced and no extra spaces occur, especially between the paragraphs.
  • Heading: You should include the heading of your essay on the first page in the upper left corner. There you can write your name, teacher’s name, class/course, and date.
  • Margins: Also, ensure that you put a one-inch margin on all the sides of the paper.
  • Page numbers: You should add the page number and last name on every essay page as a “header.”
  • Title: You should add a proper essay title centered and above the essay’s first line, bearing the same font and size as the essay.
  • Alignment: You have to align the contents to the left-hand side evenly.

Not only for essays, but you can use MLA style for other humanities-related academic writing as well. Let’s jump to the APA essay-style format.

How To Write In APA Format

The APA style format is a document format that stands for American Psychological Association. Usually, researchers or students use this formatting style for their research papers. 

It is used mainly in social sciences (such as economics, archaeology, etc.) and behavioral sciences (such as neuroscience, psychology, etc.). 

Compared to MLA, the APA style has a more specific guide and format since it mainly uses research-focused papers. It is pretty commonly used by colleges as an essay format as well. Hence, you have to be familiar with its guidelines. 

An essay having an APA style format starts with a title page that incorporates the title of your essay (in capital letters), your name, and the institutional affiliation or name of your institute. If you aim to follow the APA style correctly, then one thing is that you shouldn’t make the title of your essay, not more than 12 words.

Once you have written the title, you must write an abstract that sums up your entire research in a single paragraph. It should have the topic you have researched, methods, analysis, research questions, and a conclusion to show your research’s significance. 

A little tip here is to write the abstract after writing the essay. It will help you with an idea of the entire essay to sum it up.

After the abstract, you can write the main essay. When following the APA style, make sure that your essay paper is concise, short, direct, and to the point. You shouldn’t unnecessarily expand any point.

Compared to MLA style, APA style doesn’t use the same rules for referencing different resources. Here, you have to use different referencing rules for different sources ( for example, different for newspapers, journals, and books).

Check out some essential guidelines to follow for the APA essay style format:

  • Font: The font of your essay in an APA format should be 12pt Times New Roman.
  • Spacing: You have to double-space your essay.
  • Page numbers: You have to add a header at the upper left of each page, including a short version of your essay title (below 50 characters) along with the page number.
  • Title Page: APA style format also requires a title page to add the essay’s title, your name, the institute’s name, or institute affiliation. You can also add additional information such as the date, instructor’s name, and course title.

How To Write In Chicago Style

Chicago style is a paper format developed by the University of Chicago Press and is also referred to as the “Turabian style.” Compared to APA and MLA essay styles, the Chicago style is the least-used one. 

It is quite a comprehensive essay writing style that comes with rules for everything. This style is usually used in history-related fields, and several book authors also use it. 

The Chicago-style essay format also starts with a title page like the APA-style format. It comes with unique guidelines for writing an essay which we will discuss later. After the title page, you may add an abstract if it’s a research paper. 

Once done, you can add the entire essay itself. In Chicago style, the essay can have any structure either APA (having different sections) or MLA (Having an introduction, body, and conclusion). It depends on your essay’s type. 

Compared to APA or MLA styles, the Chicago style format doesn’t have parenthetical or in-text citations. Instead, it uses endnotes or footnotes. You should place the superscript number at the end of the sentences as the footnote. 

For an endnote, you have to put the superscript at the end of the page and an abbreviated source reference at the page’s end. 

Then you will have to add all the references orderly based on the footnotes and endnotes at your essay’s end. Let’s get to some essential guidelines for the Chicago style format:

  • Font: The best option for fonts in Chicago style would be 12pt Times New Roman.
  • Margin: Here, you should use at least one-inch margins on all sides (but don’t exceed the margins of more than 1.5 inches).
  • Spacing: Make it double-spaced, and don’t add extra spaces anywhere.
  • Page numbers: At the top of all pages, add page numbers in the heading. Don’t add page numbers on the title page.
  • Title page: There are certain things to consider when writing the title page in Chicago format. It includes:
    • It would help if you focused on spacing in a Chicago-style format.
    • You should add the title down the page as regular text. Make it double-spaced if longer than one line.
    • Then, in the middle of the page, add your full name.
    • At the end of the page, add the course number, instructor’s name, and date. Each should be written in separate double-spaced lines.
  • Footnotes: If you have added quoted or paraphrased points in your essay, you should add footnotes per the Chicago guidelines.
  • Bibliography: The bibliography rules in Chicago style are similar to MLA. Just get the information and start citing.

Now that we know the crucial guidelines and write an essay based on MLA, APA, and Chicago formats, we can discuss their differences.

MLA vs. APA vs. Chicago

All three essay format styles APA, MLA, and Chicago, are different from each other. The differences between these three most common formats are:


  • APA style requires Times New Roman.
  • MLA style requires either Times New Roman or different serif font that’s easily legible.
  • Chicago style required either Times New Roman, Palatino, or Times.

Font Size:

  • Font Size: APA requires a 12 pt font size.
  • MLA also requires a 12 pt font size.
  • Chicago needs a font size that isn’t less than 10 pt.

Header/Title page rules:

  • APA style includes a title page that must be centered, double-spaced, and include your name, paper title, and institute name.
  • Spacing on the title page is crucial in Chicago style, where the words have to be centered, and there should be double spacing between lines.
  • MLA style doesn’t have a title page. It has a header on the upper left-hand side of the first page of your essay. You must write your name, instructor’s name, class, and date there. Then add a double space and the essay’s title.

In-Text Citations:

  • In APA style format, the citation includes the author’s last name and the year of publication like- (last name), 2021. You can also add the page number if it’s specific for ex- (Author’s last name, 2021, p. 61).
  • In Chicago styles, you would have to add footnotes. You can use total citations on the page’s bottom and add abbreviation citations like – Author’s last name, and the page number. Otherwise, it’s the same as APA having the author’s last name and publication year.
  • In MLA style, you can add the author’s name and the page number as the citation. For example, (Author’s last name, p 61).


  • APA style requires at least 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Chicago style requires 1-inch to 1.5-inch margins on all sides.
  • MLA style requires 1-inch margins on all sides.


  • When adding direct quotes (40 or more words) in APA style format, ensure that it’s in a block format.
  • When adding direct quotes in Chicago style, your texts should be in block format to exceed 100 words or five lines.
  • When adding direct quotes in MLA style format, your texts should be in block format if it exceeds four lines.


  • Both APA and MLA style formats require double spacing.
  • Chicago-style essay format also requires double-spacing except for the block quotations.
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Writing an essay following a specific essay format makes your paper more readable and understandable. Moreover, it also standardizes the quality of your writing. Thus, you should follow the guidelines for the different essay formats to ensure writing the best essay.

The three most common essay formats include APA, MLA, and Chicago. Each of these essay formats has guidelines that you should follow. If you know those guidelines, you can efficiently structure your essay and outline it as per those guidelines. 

Thus, get to know which essay format you should write in first and then check the guidelines for that style. You can then write your essay without any hassle and get incredible results.

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