Which Research Paper Format Should I Use?

Before you even begin to research your paper, it is essential to know the format you are expected to use. If you do it right, formatting points can easily help boost the grade on your research project. The first step is knowing which style of formatting to use- here’s what you can do to figure it out.

  1. Step 1: Ask for Your Instructor’s Preference
  2. In most cases, instructors will tell you what style of writing they prefer. The reason one specific style is chosen is consistency. When students all use the same style, the professor can fairly judge each student’s work. Even when your teacher does not give you a preference, however, you can use the following steps to choose the format for your research paper.

  3. Step 2: Know the Common Style Types
  4. The best paper writer will know the most common styles of paper writing, as well as some of the basic guidelines for each. The two styles of writing often preferred for well-researched papers are APA and MLA. American Psychological Association style are commonly used for professional research papers, while Modern Language Association style is less strict and most common for academic writing. Occasionally, Chicago style may be requested- this uses footnotes at the bottom of each page to display reference information.

  5. Step 3: Know What Each Type is For
  6. Each style of writing is appropriate for certain fields, especially once you move on to graduate and undergraduate studies. For example, a research paper on the social sciences, such as one in fields like economics, business, law, political science, education, or anthropology is common to APA style. Studies of humanities like music, religion, linguistics, philosophy, and literature are common to MLA style. Finally, Chicago style is often used for humanities, history, and arts.

  7. Step 4: Research the Important Guidelines
  8. Once you know which style to use, you need to know what is specific to each style. Some major differences in the three most common styles include how information is cited, how the title page is formatted, whether footnotes are used, and how to format the reference page. Refer to a manual or authoritative source to learn what the specifications are for your chosen style.

  9. Step 5: Make a Checklist
  10. When you find yourself ready to ‘write my research paper’, you should make a checklist of important guidelines. This will help ensure you meet the requirements of your chosen writing style. Write down specifications like margin size, style of the citations and reference page, and font size. As you format the final draft of your paper and create the title and reference pages, look at each item on the checklist and cross it off as you meet the requirements.

Now that you know what each style of formatting entails, you can earn easy style points on your next paper. The key to successful research writing is knowing is expected before you get started. Always follow your instructor’s preferred style of writing and if in doubt, use this guide to help decide which style is most appropriate.