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Academic Writing Tips: What Is The Format Of A Research Paper?

Formatting a research paper depends on for what discipline your work is written. There are two major formatting styles: MLA and APA. The following will provide basic academic tips for writing a research paper in each of these two popular styles:

MLA Basics

  • Standard size page (8.5” x 11”), with 1” margins all the way around.
  • 12-pt easy to read font such as Times New Roman.
  • Spacing should be double spaced throughout, including the captions and bibliography entries Paragraph indentation should be 1.5” or five spaces using the space bar.
  • Put the page number in the upper right hand margin on every page, exactly 1.5” from the top, flushed right with you last followed by the number.
  • If your professor requests a separate title page, include this information on the first page flushed left upper corner, double spaced including your name, professor’s name, course name or number, and finally the date.
  • Beneath this information center the title using regular caps with no underline. If your professor does not require a separate page you do the previous and start the report immediately below the title.
  • Section headings are not required in MLA, but check with your professor to be sure.

APA Basics

  • Standard size page (8.5” x 11”), with 1” margins all the way around. 12-pt easy to read font such as Times New Roman or Courier. If your research paper contains figures use a sans serif font like Calibri or Arial.
  • Spacing should be double spaced throughout.
  • Paragraph indentation should be between five or seven spaces using the space bar.
  • Put the page number in the upper right hand margin on every page (except pages with only figures), exactly 1.5” from the top, flushed right with two or three words from the work’s title.
  • APA style will always require a separate title page using the following rules: on the line immediately below the page number type the words “RUNNING HEAD” in all uppercase, flushed left. Below this, center the following on separate lines using both upper and lower case: your paper title, your name, the name of your institution.
  • Section headings are usually required in APA style research papers and follow these rules: top level are centered to indicate a new section, using both the upper and lower case; second level ones are flushed left, usually italicized and also use both the upper and lower case.

What Is Research Paper?

A strong research paper is one that adheres to standard rules as used in the discipline or subject. Such a paper is written using the right vocabulary and mode of presentation. It also presents cohesion of ideas from the title to the introduction, body and conclusion.

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