Essay Writing Formats


There are basically five formats that the student may be required to use for his/her essay assignment. Those five formats are: APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard and AMA. The two formats that are most used in the college forum of essay writing are the APA (American Psychological Association) and the MLA (Modern Language Association).

The APA, or the American Psychological Association, is often used in papers that are sociological, psychological or science, or math in origin. This paper should have a title page with the full title towards the middle of the page, double space-then the name of the professor, double space then the name of the university or college, double space then the date. The paper includes a “Running head” throughout the paper. It is best to place this running head, or a shorter version of the title of the paper, at the top left of the header. The pages should be numbered, including the title page, consecutively and placed at the top right hand side of the paper. In longer papers in the APA format, an “abstract” of about 150 words should be placed before the introduction. This abstract usually summarizes what the paper is going to be about, but does not include the thesis statement.

The MLA, or the Modern Language Association, should also be numbered consecutively at the top right hand side of the paper. MLA papers are usually papers within the humanities, such as English, history, literature, etc. There is usually no separate title page, unless required by the instructor. The student’s name is placed at the top left corner of the paper, single spaced then the name of the professor or instructor; single spaced then the name of the course-single spaced then the date. Double space and then place the title of the paper in the middle of the paper. Both MLA and APA papers should be double spaced, unless requested by the instructor to use another type of spacing.

The Chicago/Turabian and Harvard papers are somewhat similar in origin. These papers are more formal papers and require a more formal format. They usually use footnotes or endnotes for their citations. The title pages are also similar. The title page should be constructed as follows:

THE TITLE SHOULD BE PLACED ABOUT 1/3 DOWN THE PAGE AND HAVE ALL CAPS.

About three to four lines past the title the author of the paper’s name should be placed in normal upper and lower case
One line below the author’s name, if the student has an ID #, it should be placed there.

About ¾ down the paper the name of the instructor, name of course, name of university or college and the date should be placed with just single spaces between each.

The Chicago/Turabian and the Harvard should have an “abstract” and an introduction,body with numbered headings and sub-headings, conclusion and bibliography. These papers are usually formal research papers and should be handled in a stricter format than the APA or the MLA.

            The AMA, or American Medical Association, papers should be used only in nursing or medical papers. All citations should be superscripts and they should be numbered consecutively. These numbered citations will be placed at the end of the paper. If the same citation is used twice, the writer does not use “ibid” but uses the same number again. The bibliography will be in numbered order, not alphabetical. These papers are rare but a thorough knowledge of the AMA formula from the AMA format requirements should be strictly followed..