Writing an essay that your professor will grade with an A+ is not a piece of cake. It takes lots of time and hard work to research the topic thoroughly, map the content of your paper, and then write it. But, let’s face it – the content isn’t the only thing that affects the final grade. Apart from it, your professor expects your paper to be formatted well. And that might be even more challenging.- Formatting Your Essay
Identifying the right format for your paper and following all the rules is not as easy as it sounds. The truth is that different professors and schools might have other requirements. And, let’s not forget that there are quite a few style manuals that also dictate varying requirements. Yet, there are still some universal things that every student needs to know about formatting their essays. In this article, we are going to tell you about these things.
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Reading the Instructions Is Not Optional
If you decide to deal with your paper on your own, the second thing you need to know about proper essay formatting is that all the answers you are looking for can be found in the instructions provided by your professor. As a rule, every assignment you receive is accompanied by clear instructions and guidelines. And reading them is not an option but a MUST.
Many students don’t fully realize this. But, the truth is that every successful college writing venture starts with reading and understanding the assignment. So, first of all, it will help you comprehend what exactly you should do in your project. And secondly, it will provide you with important technical details, such as formatting requirements.
So, make it a rule to carefully read the assignment before you even start writing your paper. And, if anything is unclear, be sure to discuss it with your professor. In fact, communicating with your professor is vital for academic success. So, even when you’ve completed your paper, asking your teacher for feedback on its content or organization can be a good idea.
When you think about essay formatting, the first things that pop up in your mind are such basics as font, font size, margins, etc. These are the basic elements that can either make your paper deserve a high grade or ruin everything.
And there are general requirements applicable to these essentials:
- Font: Times New Roman, Arial, and similar standard fonts;
- Font size: 12pt
- Spacing: Double
- Margins: One inch on all sides
- Page Numbers: In a header; placed to the left
These are the basic, generally-accepted requirements that apply to academic papers. However, please note that some of these can vary for different style guides. And your professor’s preferences can influence this too. So, if you want to get high grades, be sure to check these details with your professor.
Title Page Matters
A title (or cover) page is the very first page included in pretty much every paper. It always consists of the most important info about you and your work, such as:
- Your name;
- College name;
- Course details;
- Deadline date.
Many students don’t recognize its importance, which is a big mistake. The truth is that this page is one of the most essential elements of every essay. So, it really matters.
The core goal of the title page is to specify your paper’s details. But, at the same time, since it is the first page the reader sees, it is also meant to grab their attention and make them want to read the whole thing. Thus, this is one more thing about formatting that you must know about – title pages do matter and have to be organized carefully, following all provided instructions.
Structure Remains Unchanged
As you should already know, the structure of your essay plays a huge role in its overall formatting. However, while formatting guidelines may change depending on the specific style manual that your work needs to follow, the structure of an essay always remains unchanged.
The standard structure is made of three basic elements – an introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction opens with an attention-grabbing hook, then provides background info for your topic, and closes with a strong thesis statement. The body can consist of three and more paragraphs (depending on the overall word count), each focusing on one specific idea and consisting of a topic sentence, evidence, and transition.
And then, there is the conclusion that wraps up the entire work, restates the thesis, and leaves the reader with some food for thought. If you want to have a flawless essay that is formatted right, you should follow these simple structure guidelines.
You Should Always Check Text Capitalization
Text capitalization might look like a very tiny and insignificant detail. However, it also plays a huge role in formatting. So, the next thing you should know and always keep in mind is that checking text capitalization is a must.
Where should you start? First of all, you have to check the capitalization of your title page and titles. You can use online tools like Capitalize My Title to make sure that everything is capitalized properly. Then, you should also ensure that all new sentences in your paper begin with a capital letter. And lastly, you should check your text for names and other proper nouns that must be capitalized as well.
By identifying and fixing capitalization mistakes, you can significantly improve the overall formatting of your essay and, thus, make it worth the highest grade.
In-Text Citations and Works Cited (Bibliography) Page
Finally, the two last (yet most important) formatting elements that are inherent in every essay are in-text citations and work cited or bibliography page. When writing an academic paper, you will have to cite external sources when providing examples, evidence, etc. All these citations must be organized appropriately in your text and on a work cited page.
To do this right, carefully read the guidelines from the style manual that you have to follow (e.g., MLA, APA, or another) and carefully follow them when creating citations.
So, these are the top seven things you need to know in terms of proper formatting. Be sure to keep them in mind when writing your next paper, and you will be able to meet your professor’s expectations and get a high grade!