How To Format A Research Paper

How To Format A Research Paper

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Depending on the discipline that you undertake, your research papers must adopt a specific specialized method of documentation. Humanities, for example, use the technique called Modern Language Association is commonly known as MLA in their documentation. Social sciences such as psychology, on the other hand, use a method called American Psychological Association which can also be referred to as APA.

In this article, we will introduce to you both of the methods and show you how to implicate them in your research papers. Always keep in mind that as much as you will benefit from knowing the two techniques, ask your instructor which method is preferred when you are given an assignment. We will now begin with the APA style, and how it is used in the organization of your research paper.

The APA Style

This style is regarded to be among the best when it comes to scientific writing and what`s more is that it’s straight forward. This is because it mainly entails highlighting the ideas that are to be presented and not the manner they are to be given. To bring clearness into one’s communication, the APA style focuses on the editing elements such as the:

  • Construction of headings

  • Selection of tables

  • How to present your statistics.

  • How you cite your references

  • How to punctuate and abbreviate your work.

The Guidelines for General Formatting in a College Research Paper

In this chapter, you are needed to give a convention for citing and formatting. There are significant components that must be mentioned in your research paper if you are to use the APA style.

They are:

  1. A title page.

  2. An abstract

  3. A body that has headings, in-text citations, subheadings to organize the content.

  4. Pages that have references.

Note that all these components must be mentioned in one document and not different reports.

  1. The Title Page

  • The title of the paper must be included.

  • The author’s name.

  • The institution where the author has been associated with.

  • The header at the top page and it must be in capital letters.

Together with the headers, you can use the title text on the left side of the page and the number of the page, at the right side for an organization.

  1. Abstract

This is a summary of your findings in a college research paper. Note that it is not a must for an abstract to be in every paper, but it should be used when the research paper requires a hypothesis. An abstract that can be considered to be good should include words of about 100 to 150 words, all written in an impersonal and objective style. As you write your abstract, summarize your findings together with the research question in a few sentences.

Dependent on your field of study, a person may sometimes write research papers to give extensive research like your experiment. In your abstract, provide a summary of your research question together with the observations. Finally, indicate how your inquiry relates to the field of study.

  1. Margins, Headings and Paginations

The APA style also has some requirements such as the addressing of specific concerns like the margins within the body of a paper. Here are some of the guidelines that are useful when it comes to the case of formatting:

  1. The bottom side margins should be set at one inch.

  2. Use traditional formats throughout the whole paper, and they include New Times Roman and Arial. They should be in a font size of about 10-12.

  3. Always use the double-spaced text throughout the whole document.

  4. Section and subsection headings use formats that are different, depending on the level of information that you are to present.

  5. The page numbers should appear on the right-hand corner of the page.

  1. The Headings in a Research Paper

The APA style has section headings that are to be organized in such a way that it is easy for the reader to follow what the writer is thinking, in addition to being conversant with the major topics that are being covered. Dependent on the issues and subtopics that are being included, the major sections that are to be divided into subsections are to use a different heading style. This is to ensure that there is an indication of the different levels of information.

The following head styles are listed from the one of greatest importance to the one of least concern:

  1. The section headings are centered in a boldface type with the essential words, capitalized in the heading;

  2. Subsection headings require title case, boldfaced and left-aligned.

  3. The third level uses the indented left aligned boldface style. Headings use capital letters typically in the first word, and they end in a period.

  4. In the fourth level, the same style is used just like in the previous level, but in the case of headings, they are italicized and not boldfaced.

  5. The fifth level, the same style used in the previous levels is part of it, but the only difference is that the headings can be italicized but not boldfaced.

5. Citations

Whenever a quote or a paraphrased material is stated, ensure that it is cited. The primary motives of doing this are to give others credit for the ideas which you have borrowed, and also to provide a platform for the reader to follow up and learn more concerning the topic. The in-text citations are to give information that is primarily about your source. For every source that is cited, you will include entries that are longer in the section for references and provide information that is detailed.

In-text citations should have the name of the author, the year when the source was published and finally the page where the source was mentioned. All of these points have been included in the following research paper example:

Epstein (2010) states that, “Junk food cannot be in the same category as drugs when it comes to addiction,” (pg137).

As you can see in this example of research paper, the writer has named the author as he introduces the point. Next, he states the year the article had been published and finally at the end, he has mentioned the page where the source is.

Another way can be to: introduce the author, the title of the source, the date of publication, the number of the page at the end of a sentence. As long as the essential information has been included, one can choose whichever way that works in their favor in that particular sentence or source.

  1. References

A reference page with in-text citations is used with the primary motive of avoiding plagiarism. The reference page follows the texts of a paper and the items listed, are done so in a systematic manner. Remember as you are writing an APA research paper to begin the first line of a reference at the left margin.

All the lines for a reference should be indented one and a half inch, and this can be known as outdent. All in all, this guidelines on APA style can aid you while writing a college research paper.

MLA Style

Here are some of the basic facts that you need to know about the MLA style:

  1. Include double space in your work especially in your notes, quotations and the list of the tasks to be cited.

  2. Unless instructed otherwise, use one-inch spaces in the top, bottom, left, and right.

  3. Use citations to give an acknowledgment for the direct and indirect quotations.

  4. Underline or even italicize the titles of books, pamphlets, and plays.

  5. The number of the page should be indicated at the right-hand corner of the page.

  6. While quoting in your college research paper, remember to use the present tense. The past tense can be used only when the source being quoted is in the past tense or when reporting events that are historical.

A research paper example MLA that covers all these points can be:

Winkelman has stated in the book called, The Diary of A Madman that, “Never was I ignorant” (293).

The purpose of Winkelman in the novel was to show how human beings are imperfect. The author named Moore created Winkelman to serve as a pen name and a medium for the writer to express his or her own opinions.”

  1. Avoid plagiarism

The question is what is piracy? This is the borrowing of other people’s ideas without even revealing the source. Plagiarism can bring failure to one’s course or even dismissal from the college be it your work was plagiarized unintendedly or deliberately.

  1. To avoid this, as a writer you must acknowledge your sources and in the case of direct quotations, always cite them. Paraphrasing another person’s idea is by simply rephrasing the words of another person and not rearranging them. Instead, use a style of your language to acknowledge the source and finally state the pages where you obtained your citations.

    A person can also be wondering why the MLA style should be used. Here are some of the reasons why the method should be used.

    1. To benefit from the authenticity and integrity of your work.

    2. To show how conversant you are. When it comes to the presenting of work, your work may be like that of a professional and displayed correctly.

    3. To ease the burden of the reader by enabling them to locate the information as it was discussed in the essay.

    4. To help a writer to show their prowess skills in writing.

    5. To give credit where it is supposed to be and avoiding any.

    1. The title format

    You may use this as a chance to make an excellent first impression of which, second chances are scarce. If your title is formatted correctly, and the information is appropriately placed in the required form and format, this will show the reader that you serious with your work.

    The title block contributes to the making of your work to be authentic and precise. Your writing represents you in person when you are absent. When it comes to writing a research paper, it would be best to know how to format a title block page in the style of MLA and ask your examiner if it is included as part of the task.


    In writing a good research paper, it can be a difficult task to keep it straight especially when it comes to proper source documentation. The guidelines that have been stated above have the following advantages.

    First of all, it signals to your readers that you take your work seriously and secondly, is that you give respect to people by giving them credit for their work. With this, your work can be equated to going for a job interview with a well-tailored suit.

    We hope this guide has been of great assistance to you in your efforts to become a competent writer. We would advise you to get an apa research paper example to clearly see how to do your research paper.

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