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How to Format a Research Paper in a Proper Way

If you are writing a research paper you may be required to format it. Learning how to format papers can be difficult especially if you have never formatted research papers before and are unsure of what format to use. The “proper” way to format a research paper is contingent upon what type of paper you are writing and what type of format you have been assigned.

When you write a research paper you will generally have the same pieces. These pieces include:

  • Title page
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • References

Research papers as a general rule--especially research papers for experiments--will have the following components:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review (if applicable)
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix (if applicable)

When you write your essay you will be assigned a particular format which you must use to format the paper and create your citations. If you are not assigned a format in your directions then you should inquire as to which one you are meant to use for your paper. The most common formats are:

  • MLA
  • APA
  • Harvard
  • Chicago

The difference between these formats is barely noticeable.

For example: Chicago style format has footnotes for each source that are listed at the bottom of that page whereas the other three styles have a parenthetical citation in the text.

APA requires an abstract while the other formats do not.

APA also has a cover page requirement the same as Harvard and Chicago but not the same as MLA.

In MLA the final list at the end of your paper with all of your sources is called the “works cited”, APA calls it the “reference page”. Chicago calls it the “notes”.

For Chicago the page numbers should be listed in the center of the page at the bottom. For APA they are listed at the top of the page on the right hand corner and the page number includes the first few words of your title. For MLA the page number comes at the top right hand corner of the page as well but instead of the first few words of your title sitting ahead of it you should place your last name there.

These are all subtle differences but they can mean all the difference for your grade.

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