Essay Format Variety and Appropriate Examples

What is an essay format? Why is it needed? Well, can you imagine someone stealing your painting, poem, or another piece of art? How about pretending that they have done something instead of you? It would be such a pity, and that is why famous authors and scientists protect their ideas and work with the rights reserved. Probably, you saw those tiny copyright signs in the lower left corner many times, didn't you. An essay style helps avoid plagiarism, and it proves your research skills at your finest. Moreover, it makes it simpler for the reader to follow the logical flow of the narrative.

Essay Outline Format Features

In fact, an outline format for an essay is applicable and depends on the preferred writing style. While the MLA format dictates basically the form ( an intro, the main body, and the reference list), the majority of other formats is superimposed with additional layers such as::

  1. Title or cover page
  2. Abstract
  3. Table of contents
  4. Introduction
  5. Methodology
  6. Results & discussion
  7. Conclusion
  8. Bibliography
  9. Appendices
  10. Acknowledgment
  11. Glossary

Still, MLA format for an essay is typical of the essayistic scenarios while APA, CSE, and other formatting styles are used for research papers, reports, term papers, and dissertations. Below you find a compendium designed to help your research paper achieve greater impact, especially in academic circles, be it the college or university level.

How to Format an Essay According to the Type

First of all, you should look at your brief. Typically, your teacher will underline the essay format you should work with. If no indication of the best method is given, look for the answer in our serif guide. If you write an essay for your English composition class, you will be better off with all sorts of MLA formatting. Students in psychology classes almost always use APA while those who attend computer science classes say that they tutors insist on using IEEE format. You may have never heard of some of the formats, yet the general rules are similar:

  • Make the text readable (choose a professional font i.e., Times New Roman and size 10-12 pt.);
  • Put headings at the top of all pages (the content varies from format to format);
  • In most cases, make the text double-spaced;
  • Do not use any other font colors except for black color;
  • Provide either direct or indirect in-text citations from the credible, up-to-date sources;
  • Provide the full references for the cited sources so that your readers can easily access them for more information.

College Essay Format: Choose the Right One

Depending on the field of study or a specific subject, select the most suitable essay format for a college assignment. We have listed below the most popular citation formats so that you may gain a general idea about different styles in use.

MLA Format Essay

A format offered by the MLA which stays for Modern Language Association is the simplest one, and it was the first one introduced to the studentship. MLA is meant for classes in humanities, basically English composition and literature. In MLA essay format, all you need is a header, in-text citations, and the reference list. There is no need for a title page or other special features. Take a look at the general guidelines:

  • The font size is 12;
  • The preferred fonts are Times New Roman or Arial;
  • All text double-spaced;
  • Single-Inch margins on all sides;
  • Italics for the titles of long works.

In MLA, you may have multiple sections. For the first-level heading, make it bold. This second one is in italics. The third one is in bold again while the fourth level is in italics again. The fifth and the last level of heading is underlined. In in-text citation, mention the author's last name and number of page.

  • In-text example:
    Wine is believed to be the only type of alcohol that is not harmful to health (Irons et al. 13).
  • Reference list example:
    Irons, Roman. "Detecting Bad and Good on the Market of Alcohol Beverages." Pittsburg Press 8 Nov. 2011:12-16. Print.

APA Essay Format

Enough of MPA, over to APA. The American Psychological Association decided to make the lives of students "simpler" by introducing its own citation format. The basic requirements for the APA format essay are reminiscent of MLA with a few differences though. For example, instead of your last name, you should provide a shortened title of your paper (if it is too long) on the top of each new page in the heading. Moreover, unlike in MLA style where an essay is made of an introduction, body, and conclusion without any additional elements (except for the reference list when third-party sources are used), in APA, you should additionally include a title page and an abstract. The main body is the same, and the reference list turns into the Bibliography section.

On the title page, you should place the work's full title, your name and last name, and the name of your educational institution.

  • In-text example:
    The influence of Afro-American music on the modern hard rock and heavy metal cannot be doubted (Adams, 2012, p. 13).
  • Reference list example:
    Adams, S. (2012). A Chain of Inspiration: Contemporary Music Theories. 11(2-3), 12-16.

ACS Essay Format

An ACS essay format was proposed by the American Chemical Society. It is recommended for the reports in chemistry and microbiology. In contrast to the styles listed above, the required size of the font is 10, and there is no need to double-space the text even though the preferred fonts are Times New Roman and Arial. In addition to the main body, title page, abstract, and references, this type of format also requires the experiment details/theoretical analysis section, results, discussion, and acknowledgments.

Use numerical order instead of the alphabetical in your references (it is how your citations appear in the text). Check whether the chosen sources are current and related to your study. Use web sources sparingly.

  • In-text example:
    Dwayne [4] mentioned that oscillation in the observed reactions was reported earlier.
  • Reference list example:
    Dwayne, N. O. Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter & Change, 6th ed.; McGraw-Hill: Boston, 2016.

AMA Essay Format

As the response to the APA style, the American Medical Association has suggested its own citation format — the AMA essay format. The objective of this endeavor is to help students submit their ideas on a consistent basis, and make the structure of the work clear. The last edition of AMA guidelines was released 2017. The principal elements of the APA are in-text citations (direct & indirect) and references. Very much like in other formatting styles, the primary purpose of any quote in AMA is to prove with reasons the stance set forth in the main part as well as in the thesis.

A student will have to add a number in superscript next to the citation in the AMA format essay, and only Arabic numerals are accepted outlined in the chronological order. That helps the readership to detect the cited source inside the text easily. The complete reference list should, therefore, correspond to the number of citation.

In a bibliography, it is important to mention the author's last name as well as the first and middle initial without punctuation. If you have more than one writer, use a comma between the authors' names. Also, you should use capitals in the first words and abbreviations in all headings. As for the issue numbers, if you make a reference to a journal add them in parentheses next to the volume number.

  • In-text example:
    Historical evidence proves the medical power of marijuana when it comes to treating some mental diseases.1
  • Reference list example:
    Pharmacological and Therapeutic Usage of Marijuana in Treating Various Diseases, 2012, 45, 1043-1049, Loner, M.N.; Clumbers, W. A.; Pertwee, R.G.

ASA Essay Format

You can't please everyone. Hence people studying sociology should cite their documents properly using ASA citation format. The American Sociological Association suggested this style of formatting long ago; for clarification: it is based on the APA essay writing format. These styles use parenthetical references, and unlike MLA format were the bibliography list is called Works Cited, in ASA format essay, the references list is referred to by References. The main focus of the ASA format is the publication date. It should be placed after the author's last name. Both APA and ASA styles require a title page. The general formatting rules look as follows:

  1. Margins of 1 1/4 inches both up and down, and left and right;
  2. In the text we use the font Times New Roman, 12pt double-spaced;
  3. Tables, figures, footnotes, and endnotes (numbered sequentially) are welcome.

Footnotes are an integral part of this citation format. They are placed on the same page as the work being underlined. Endnotes, on the contrary, should be placed toward the end of the paper to follow the bibliography list. Footnotes could be used to explain ambiguous terms while endnotes may stand for the images and other visual elements used in the text.

In your essay formatted in compliance with ASA requirements, the focus of the in-text citation is to mention the author's last name and the date of publication. The references list should be formatted with a full space between lines and a hanging indent. Capitalize prepositions, articles, and conjunctions are not allowed.

  • In-text example:
    When the medieval literature and music were at their peak (Hugo 2011)…
  • Reference list example:
    Hugo, Jude. 2011. The Rise & Fall of the Medieval Art: Penguin Books Kindle Version. Retrieved February 18, 2013. {link}

IEEE Essay Format

What is an IEEE essay format and when is it used? If you have inquired into IT, you will likely have to format your scholarly works according to the IEEE standards. Proposed by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (a.k.a. IEEE) this formatting style is used in computer science and engineering disciplines. Like other styles of formatting, this one has in-text citations and references. Each time you cite a passage, you should name the source as the authority for a statement or an opinion (number the short quotes in square brackets). The reference list should be placed on so-called Works Cited or Bibliography page.

In IEEE, the reference list is made up of the following elements:

  • Author's last name and initials;
  • The complete title of the cited work;
  • Place of publication;
  • Publication date.

Instead of adding any of these details in in-text citation, add a bracketed number like [1]. Thus, each reference on the last page must begin with the number in a bracket in chronological order: [1], [2], [3], etc.

  • In-text example:
    "This hypothesis was originally introduced back in 1966 by William Browser [3]."
  • Reference list example:
    [3] T. Gibson. (2009, Oct.) Optimal partition of HDD drive on Mac OS X. Dept. Elect. Eng., Technion. Haifa, Israel. [Online] Available: [full link to the source]

CSE Essay Format

CSE stands for the Council of Science Editors (a.k.a. the Council of Biology Editors). There are three basic guidelines within this standard. The reference list is placed toward the end of the essay, the quotes appear within the main body of the work — not so different, in fact.

If you use the citation-name approach in your CSE format essay, please remember that the sources should appear in alphabetical order, sequentially, with regard to the author's last name. These numbers stand for corresponding sources consecutively numbered in the references, in descending order. Such a list is typically called Works Cited — when it comes to the CSE formatting style, which is used to create an annotated bibliography in the numerical order. As such, numbers 1, 2, and 3 relate to the first, second, and third source that you have used in your assignment.

  • In-text example:
    The company was launched in 1966 by the Spanish Science Foundation with a mission to find the specific cure for this type of cancer, in 2015.2,3
  • In-text example (name-year):
    The company was launched in 1966 by the Spanish Science Foundation with a mission to find the specific cure for this type of cancer (Fordham 2015).
  • Reference list example:
    Fordham M. 2015. Developing a successful business plan for scientific foundations. Crop Sci. 41(2): 377-88.

Bluebook Format

If you take courses in law (e.g., Business Law or Political Science), sooner or later you may face the need to cite your papers using BlueBook format. Except for the students studying in law schools, the legal faculty is willing to use this style to cite various documents in business correspondence. The Harvard Law Review Association, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal are responsible for establishing and updating this style.

A case citation, which is the most popular one, includes the case's title, the published sources where it can be noticed, a parenthetical to define a court and jurisdiction, date of the decision, and the case's background (development). The final format also depends on whether the case is decided or is still work in process. You should follow the most recent version of The Bluebook guide, Edition 19 to cite your work correctly.

  • In-text example:
    Jameson v. Manson, 558 S.W.3d 703 (Tenn. 2005).

CBE Format

The Council of Biology Editors has developed CBE format to meet best the challenge of citing and referencing sources in bioscience and some other related disciplines. The newest description of this citation format you can find in its 6th revision. According to this, references to sources quoted in the research paper should be listed and entitled "References." Sometimes, the phrase "Cited References" is used as a heading for the very last page where the reference list is located. "Additional Reading" ("Bibliography") is the section where you should add sources not cited within the document itself, but still used indirectly to prove with reasons.

As far as modern electronic resources and updated styles of today are available, CBE citation format can be considered more or less "dead."

  • Reference list example:
    Mixer N, Wilson K, Harrison E. Complete wetting from polymer mixtures. Science 1993 Oct 13;258(5085):1085-9.

AP Essay Format

Now, let's define the purpose of an AP style essay and other assignments. The AP formatting style is often considered by many as a separate type of citation format. In fact, an AP stays for the Advanced Placement. Therefore, usually, writing an essay format AP is used to help collegers properly format their essay assignments for their AP exams. You can drop this branch altogether, and we recommend using MLA instead.

Chicago Style Essay and Turabian Essay Format

Chicago and Turabian citation formats are very similar, they both the same formatting guidelines and general rules, but there are some distinctive features as well. Chicago Manual of Style lets you easily create book citations and build your bibliography. The basic guidelines are as follows:

  1. A single-inch margin both up and down, and left and right of the page;
  2. Double-spaced text left aligned;
  3. Indent of 1,5 inch for every paragraph.

According to this style, you should use serial commas located between the following to the last item in a list of more than 3 items and the conjunction "and." For example, "We listened to music, played football, and ate some pizza." You should also use italics when needed, capitalize the proper nouns, and highlight the titles of sources with the help of headline style capitalization.

You should adhere to the author-date system when using the Chicago essay format along with the; parenthetical references you should mention the author's last name and don't forget about the publication date. You may either title your bibliography "Reference List" or "Works Cited."

  • In-text example:
    More people die from anorexia than obesity (Whitehead 2015)
  • Reference list example:
    Whitehead, Jerry. 2015. The Future of American Teens. New York: Doubleday-Penguin Random House LLC.

More about Turabian style essay preparation and formatting of Chicago papers you can learn by reading our extensive articles on each of these styles and their requirements. Go to the corresponding page and be fully prepared to format your essay like a professional

Harvard Essay Format

Harvard essay format should be used in the papers written for Harvard, and it makes sense. This citation format is a system developed by this university to incorporate the quotations of other authors and researchers to validate student's findings without breaking any laws associated with intellectual property. In most cases, students use this style to cite works in social sciences, political science, humanities, and behavioral sciences.

Harvard citation format is part of the parenthetical type of referencing system meaning it has 2 major building blocks:

In-text citations include the writer's surname and publication date. They appear in brackets each time a new source pops up on your radar.

A reference page that contains all of the used sources in alphabetical order is a must.

It allows for allocating each source easily and finding it on the web to continue the study. In fact, the reader should be able to detect the original source by the author's name and the publication date.

It should be noted that, while adopting this style in your paper, you should add a quotation, facts, or another type of data taken from a third-party source along with the author's surname and publication year within the brackets.

  • In-text example:
    We cannot ignore various theories of other researchers in the field of political science when it comes to the data processing method of cognition… (Levian and Schtolz, 2016).
  • Reference list example:
    Levian, H., and Schtolz, D. (2016) Latest discoveries in political science. 4th edn. Maidenhead: Harvard University Press.

Vancouver Style

Chances are, you may think of Vancouver as another Canadian city. It may give you a hint that Vancouver style citation is one of the requirements in the Canadian colleges and universities. It is a numbered referencing format explicitly developed for the papers in medicine and science. It was offered by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors.

Using this style, you should apply Arabic numerals when creating citations and references sequentially in numerical order. The list that contains Bibliographic sources is called References. Abbreviate journal titles are done after the NLM Catalog. Do not include sources that you simply read while conducting your research — you should list only those that have actually administered to your text.

  • In-text example:
    The theory was first put forward in 1987.1
  • Reference list example:
    Reno J. Tough cases and consequences of regular smoking. Am J Sports Med [Internet]. 2013 Nov [cited 2014 Jul 20];42(13):1654-9. Available from: {full link}

Oxford Style

Oxford is a renowned UK university highly acclaimed for is merits in the past and present. It comes as no surprise there is Oxford its citation format. As you may guess, it is required of Oxonians to use exactly this formatting style, which is a citation system per se also known as the documentary-note style. This format comprises the following elements: footnotes and endnotes, an obligatory reference list placed on a separate page after the conclusion, etc.

To create footnotes in Oxford writing style, a student has to define a reference by inserting a superscript number directly (according to the source material). Add a footnote citation at the bottom of the page numbered as the in-text citation. Make sure the note identifies appear chronologically in numerical sequence.

In the reference list you should add the following details about each source:

  • Full name of the original author;
  • Title of the source;
  • Date of publication;
  • Publisher;
  • Place of publication.

It should be noted that only the sources that have helped you compose the paper are worth adding to the Bibliography.

  • In-text example:
    The Earth is round, but our hero aimed to prove the opposite.1
  • Footnote example:
    1 Michelle Williams, The Man Who Trusted Nothing (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
  • Reference list example:
    Williams, Michelle The Man Who Trusted Nothing (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

Proper Essay Format Help

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