College writing is not only about expressing one’s opinion but also about submitting it into the academically accepted format. This is what many students find especially hard. Educators, in contrast, seem to focus on formatting and referencing, claiming that this is what makes this writing college-level.
We have asked professional writers, “how do you format a college essay?” in order to get a better understanding of the specifics of the process. The article below contains their answers in the form of a useful guide that will surely help students deal with college papers faster and easier.
Pay Attention to Margins
Do not think that you can choose whatever margins you want. Their size affects the word count and the overall look of the paper. Most of the formatting styles require students to leave one inch at the top and bottom and on both sides empty.
Format Your Text
The way you submit your text also matters. Usually, the requirements state that students should use Times New Roman font of a standard size (12 points). This font is believed to be the most appropriate for academic papers. However, there can be some variations.
Writers all agree that the use of bold or italics should be directly specified in the paper requirements. Otherwise, such an attempt to highlight what is important can cost a student some chunk of the grade. However, you can use italic to make titles of books, movies, and artworks more noticed.
Every new paragraph is usually indented by half an inch from the left margin. The same rule applies to direct quotations that start with a new line. Do not forget that every punctuation mark requires one space.
Make Your Heading Central
The heading of your text should be placed in the middle of the line. This rule applies to any reference style you choose. As for the subheadings, it is better to check the instructions of APA, MLA, and Chicago formatting styles to make sure you do it right.
When it comes to title pages, it should also contain a heading placed in the middle. The rest of the requirements concerning students’ names, dates, classes, etc. should be referenced in accordance with the respective formatting requirements.
Add Page Numbers and Running Heads
Different formatting styles require a different approach to running heads and page numbers. Yet, for most of them, such attributes are important.
Both numbers and running heads should be placed up in the header. There is no other place for them on the page. Some teachers can make their own adjustments to these requirements.
Make Correct References and Add the List Itself
Referencing is as important as writing when it comes to almost every kind of academic paper. Education institutions are now gravely concerned about any incidents of plagiarism. Thus, educators strive to make sure students learn how to reference borrowed ideas.
You must reference the sources you use both in-text and on a separate list at the end of your paper. Never forget about adding this page. Also, try to reference it as close to the requirements as possible.
Images and Figures, Tables and Diagrams
Every illustration, figure, table, or similar object should be properly formatted as well. Never leave it without a note about what it stands for, a certain number, and the title.
Any visual material that is not created by you should be properly referenced as well. It is indeed an intellectual property of other people that you use to illustrate your ideas.
Abstracts, Appendixes, and Attached Documents
For large college papers, these add-ons are pretty common. Thus, you should know how to properly format these pages or files so that they would look attached to your writing.
Most importantly, make sure you referenced all the information that you add as the materials. If you do, try to adjust the external files for them to look synchronized with the rest of the paper. That includes font, margins, and other parameters.
As for abstracts, you should not repeat the same sentences that you used in the rest of the paper. Make a 150-word summary of the whole paper to give general ideas about your work to those who will read it. Format it as you did with the rest of the text.
Your writing success depends on the quality and depth of your ideas, as well as on your ability to format them properly. They can be brilliant, but if you fail to ensure consistency and a college-level look for your paper, you will not be getting a high grade.
Thus, it is critically important that you learn to reference and format your writing on short essays before you get to writing long ones. Spare a little bit more of your time to become a formatting guru and get rid of this problem once and for all. If you don’t, formatting issues will track your down for your entire academic career.