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Tips for Completing a Stellar MLA, Chicago or APA Format Paper

Academic papers follow different formatting and citation guidelines. In some cases, your instructor will specify what style to use. In other cases, you may be given the task of deciding which approach to use. Even then, there will be specific requirements pertaining to your department or discipline. For most students, accurately citing sources and using the appropriate format can be challenging, especially since the guidelines keep changing. If you find the many styles confusing, don’t panic. This article outlines some useful tips for formatting and citing sources according to MLA, APA, and Chicago styles.

Some General Writing Tips to Consider

Notwithstanding the formatting and citation requirements, there are specific tips that could help you improve your writing. Remember, there is no silver bullet approach to writing a good paper. However, there are tricks you can use, irrespective of the assignment type.

Start by choosing a good topic. It is a good idea to ensure that your title is manageable and informative. You should also pick something that you find interesting. This will ensure that you easily hit the word limit and find good sources.

Start the research process as soon as possible. Procrastination is one of the main reasons why students perform dismally in their projects. Don’t leave the writing to the last minute.

In addition, follow these instructions:

  • Choose relevant and up-to-date sources to support your arguments;
  • Write from an outline;
  • Use the proper format and citation;
  • Edit and proofread your work before submitting.

What Is an Essay Format and Is It Necessary?

Each type of academic writing follows a specific format, and with good reason. It serves to make sure that your ideas are organized in a coherent and flowing manner, and that ethical considerations are met. In this respect, a format of an essay implies a series of guidelines that determine how a particular paper ought to be organized. It covers such issues as the title page, the basic structure to follow, the appropriate outline, and the citation style.

The most common thing that comes to mind when formatting is mentioned is citation, which implies the strategy of giving credit to authors whose intellectual and creative works have been used to support ideas in a text. It also allows readers to locate particular sources in case they want to conduct their own research or verify the information in your paper. Typically, citation should include the details of the author, as well as the journal title, the publishing company, the digital object identifier, and the date of publication. Of course, the way this information is ordered will depend on the style indicated by your instructor.

Why Do Students Need to Adhere to Formatting Requirements?

As you may soon find out, formatting is so important that instructors can take a point or two off when you don’t adhere to the requirements. Whether you are using the APA or the Chicago format, it serves several functions, including:

  • Demonstrating that you are capable of following instructions;
  • Providing consistency in terms of the organization of ideas;
  • Improving discipline and adherence to standards;
  • Allowing students to focus on content.

You may also need the knowledge of formatting later in your career. For instance, to thrive in your field, you will need to carry our research and report findings. Journals typically reject submissions that fail to adhere to their standards. Formatting will also be important when applying for grants. In sum, students need to learn to follow instructions, offer consistency, and focus on delivering error-free content. Formatting is, undoubtedly, critical.

How Can One Choose a Formatting Style?

There are many styles for formatting papers and citing sources, the most notable of which are the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the Chicago Style. The decision of which approach to use will depend on, among other factors, the academic discipline involved, as well as the particular requirements set out in the assignment prompt.

Remember, there are many academic disciplines, each with varying expectations on how to organize ideas and citation details. The MLA, Chicago, and the APA styles all require the same set of information, although the ordering of the information varies. This is mostly because different disciplines emphasize various elements of sources. Differences also emerge in the numbering of pages, and in-text citations.

What are the MLA and the APA Formatting Styles?

The APA and MLA styles are referred to as ‘in-text’ formats since they require the inclusion of author details directly within the document. The information is organized parenthetically, without interfering with the flow of the text. It is important to make sure that all the in-text citations correlated to the listing of references at the end of the document. However, unlike the MLA format essay which has a ‘Works Cited’ page for the listing of bibliographic information, the APA style prefers the use ‘References’ as a title for this section.

In terms of use, the MLA style is preferred for humanities research, which mostly highlights how one piece of writing affects the other. As such, you will be required to indicate the page number from which you obtained your information, alongside the author details. The other formatting requirements include:

  • Using a clear font such as 12pt Times New Roman;
  • Double spacing throughout the text;
  • One inch margins all round;
  • Even alignment to the left.

The MLA and the APA styles are similar in various aspects, including such formatting elements as spacing, parenthetical citation, and indentation. In both approaches, the sources consulted to support arguments within the text must be accurately listed at the end of the document. For the APA essay format, this list is labeled as ‘references.’ However, there are some significant differences between the two. For instance, while the MLA style is preferred for humanities, while the APA approach is ideal for social sciences.

An alternative to the parenthetical approaches is the use of footnotes, in which citation information is detailed at the bottom of the paper. The Chicago style is particularly popular in historical research. Formatting rules apply as is the case with APA and MLA approaches. Please note that there are some instances when you will be asked to include discursive footnotes alongside your parenthetical citations in the APA style. Check with your instructor about the specific requirements.

Formatting Using the Chicago Notes and Bibliography System

As previously noted, the Chicago system uses footnotes or endnotes, which should then correspond with the information listed in the bibliography. The notes also offer students a way to elaborate or comment on ideas. Whether you use an endnote or a footnote, a superscript number should correspond to a note.

Common elements include:

  • Names of authors;
  • Titles of the sources;
  • Publication details;
  • Proper punctuation.

Where Can Students Get Help with an MLA Format Paper?

With all these formatting and citation requirements, it is understandable if you feel overwhelmed and confused. We need to reiterate that while good writing is a skill that anyone can learn, this requires much time and practice. The good news is that students can now easily get assistance.

The first place to consider when looking for assistance with the formatting of your paper is methodology. There are templates that can guide you as you format your work. Microsoft Word, for instance, includes font and layout setting templates that writers can use to standardize their writing.

Students can also get formatting help by reading through the various style guidelines available online. Here, a style guide implies a set of standards for the design and writing of documents, either for a specific publication or department or for general use. Using the APA 6th edition formatting guideline, offers uniformity in style within a document, and across multiple documents. However, the guides are often regularly updated, and keeping up with the latest adjustments can be challenging.

When to Consider Writing and Formatting Assistance

While it is noble to try to complete all your projects on your own, there are times when you should consider professional writing assistance. Our experts attached to top writing services have had time to perfect their skills and will guarantee accurately formatted work. Such writers also understand how to find and use authoritative sources, meaning that you end up with a high-quality paper. The citations will be seamlessly integrated into the document without interfering with the flow of the argument.

Go Ahead! Rely on Us for a Top-Notch Paper

We have been at the helm of the writing industry for more than five years, offering reliable research, formatting, citation, and editing assistance to students from different parts of the world. Whether you need an APA, Chicago, or MLA formatted paper, we have your back. Do not wait — order well-written paper now.

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