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Some Things to Know When Formatting an Essay


Essays are probably one of the most common tasks given to students at every stage of education. By gradually moving from 5-paragraph essays to college research papers, students develop the writing skills that are necessary for successful careers in the future. Since an essay is a scholarly piece of writing, it has to conform to a set of requirements in terms of form and contents.

When formatting your essay, you should:

  • Remember that a traditional structure is a must.
  • No matter whether you have to write an essay about your family or about the effects of DNA mutations on brain stem cells, you should include three traditional elements into it. These are an introduction, main body and conclusion. These structural elements make the work seem logical and consistent.

    It is also necessary to use a variety of linking elements to join the paragraphs together.

  • Format your paper according to the requirements of a certain academic formatting style.
  • You have to follow either APA or MLA format standards when setting the style of your essay. They mostly coincide, and require 12pt Times New Roman font and double spaces between the lines. It is very easy to find guides for formatting the paper according to MLA and APA standards online, with samples to view and follow.

    It is rather useful to spend some time setting up the style in your word processor, and save the changes to use when writing other essays.

  • Proofread your essay using a hard copy.
  • It is advisable to change the form of the paper in order to find formatting mistakes, which are difficult to see on a computer screen.

  • Check one issue at a time.
  • Do not try to check the format, spelling, punctuation, and style simultaneously. You are sure to miss some mistakes because of attention deficit. When first checking the format, concentrate only on the font, spaces, and alignment so you don’t miss anything.

  • Save the changes you make in different files.
  • It is rather sensible to have at least two saved files to be on the safe side in case something happens to one of them. Do not forget to name the files so you don’t mix them up later.

Remembering these tips will save you a lot of time and help you concentrate on the topic of the essay, rather than its format. Moreover, if you set the style beforehand in your word processor, you will not have to waste time in the future.