How to Format a College Essay

For the student to be able to correctly cite the sources used in the paper, he or she should know what citation format is required by their professor. In general, there are four main college essay formats. The most frequently used one is an American Psychological Association style, also known as APA. Next comes MLA – the method of citation created by the Modern Language Association. The next two quoting methods are the styles of Harvard and MHRA (the Modern Humanities Research Association).

As a rule, the formatting style is specified in the instructions for each assignment. Otherwise, the student needs to ask the professor about the referencing system to be used. Reputable universities and colleges post respective guides and instructions on their websites. Also, you can visit a writing center to get detailed explanations.

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There are printed manuals such as the MHRA Style Book published by this association or an APA Publication Manual (the latest, 7th edition is already available). These are thick books with detailed instructions regarding every aspect of referencing. Thus, to save your time, our custom writers and editors have described the main elements of each style in this article. Also, you may contact our company for help. With our formatting services, you will never lose grades because of mistakes in references or incorrect page margins.

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Types of Writing Format of Academic Essays

APA Essay Format

This format uses a parenthetical style where the references in an essay’s body are placed in brackets with the following details: the surname of the author, publication date, and the page number(s). Please note that you need to provide page numbers for direct quotes only. In an APA-style bibliography, items are listed in alphabetic order according to the last name of the author. The following details should be included in each entry, in the order shown: the surname of the author, the first initial of the author’s first name, the publication date (in brackets), the book title, and the publisher’s name. There is no need to indicate the place of publication according to the 7th edition of APA. Titles of large works (books, journals) should be italicized. Close attention should be paid to the entry’s punctuation because this is all part and parcel of the system.

MLA Style

This style also uses parenthesis where the references in the body text are placed in brackets and linked to full bibliography citations in a separate section at the end of an essay. The bracketed reference within the essay’s text should only contain the author’s last name and the page number(s) being referred to e.g. (Smith, 24). if there is a need to quote two works or more by one author, then a short version of the book title should be included to show which work is being referenced. With an MLA style bibliography, items should be listed in alphabetic order according to the surname of the author. Each bibliography entry should include, in the order shown, the full name of the author, the book title, publication place, publisher’s name, and date of publication. Remember: the place of publication is only indicated if the work was published before 1900. Close attention should be paid to how punctuation is used in the entry because this is also an integral part of the MLA essay format.

Harvard Style

The Harvard style uses parenthesis too. To apply the proper essay format according to the Harvard system, bracketed references in the body text should include the surname of the author and the publication date. The bibliography page should be titled ‘References,’ and the list of citations should be written in alphabetic order according to the surname of the author. Otherwise, the sources are referenced according to the same principle as the APA style.

MHRA Style 

Of all the academic essay formats described here, the MHRA style is the only one where information about the author and the source is not indicated in brackets in the body of the paper. Rather, references in this system are denoted by superscript numbers e.g.¹ where the references relate to a series of notes at either the bottom of the page (footnotes) or in a separate section at the end of the essay. The notes contain full details about the article or book being referred to.  

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