Research Paper Format


To complete a research paper of a high quality a lot of aspects should be considered and a lot of specific instructions should be followed. For example, you have to choose your topic carefully, to process the appropriate amount of sources, to provide your paper with a right structure and so on. But now we want to emphasize the importance of a proper formatting of your research paper.

Usually the research paper is done in MLA format, but sometimes APA and Chicago/Turabian may be used as well.

MLA Research Paper Format

Every format style may have deviations from the standard but still remains the appropriate one. In this article we offer you the guidelines of using the most common MLA paper format described in MLA Handbook for Writing of Research Papers. Below the basic rules of formatting the document are stated.

1)  It’s reasonable to start with the paper. Your paper should be twenty-pound, 81/2- by 11-inch and of a white color.

2)  Margins. You should put 1-inch margins all over your paper - on the both sides, top and bottom. The only exception is page numbers, which we will examine in more details later. Each paragraph should be put half an inch from the margin.

3)  All the spacing throughout the MLA research paper should be double.

4)  MLA style does not require title pages. At the left top corner of your first page type your name, the name of your professor, the course name and the date - each item on a separate line (with double spacing). Then you should write a title. It shouldn’t be bold or underlined, simply use capital letters to write the principal words of it. The title may be in a question form or contain an exclamation mark.

5)  Each page of your paper should have a page header, consisting of a page number and your last name. It should look like «Smith 1» on the first page of your research paper. Make sure that the page number is one-half inch from the top and one inch from the right side of the sheet.

6)  If you add different tables into you paper, make sure you name it  «Table 1», «Table 2» and so on. If you want to attach any other materials such as images, charts or anything else you should label them «Figure 1», «Figure 2», etc.

7)  If you wonder how to bind your printed research paper, MLA guide does not have any strict rules on this matter. It is agreed though, that if the binders are convenient and simply it is the best variant. So, in general, it is up to you to decide what to do with your completed paper after you have printed it.

However, if you have any special instructions stated by your professor you shouldn't follow all of the above mentioned requirements. This is only an example you may use to format your paper.

Other Research Paper Formats

In case if you need another style of formatting, you should know the main differences between MLA format and the others (APA and Chicago/Turabian):

-  APA and Chicago/Turabian require the title page in contrast to MLA;

-  Chicago/Turabian style should contain footnotes;

-  Each of the styles has a completely different way of arranging the list of references.

There are a lot of other distinguishing features of each paper format, so you have to be attentive and careful applying one of them to your paper.

Be Attentive to the Whole Work

In fact, it is necessary to choose the right format for your research paper and to apply it correctly, but there are more important issues like the contents and sensical burden of your paper. In other words, who will be interested in a well-formatted document which does not contain any sense, logics and interesting thoughts of the author? Thus the main focus should be put on the writing itself. Only after the whole work is done, revised and proofread, one is to start formatting.