Choosing A Proper Term Paper Format: Basic Hints

A formatting style is a specific approach to how your academic paper will look like. It defines what structure, spacing, and fonts should be used in your work. However, the most important task of any writing format is to help you cite the sources properly. Therefore, most of the formatting rules explain how to properly represent in-text citations and references of your paper. It is vital that you know what format to follow and do it consistently.

There are two formats that are commonly recommended to be used in academic writing. These are MLA format (developed by the Modern Language Association) and APA format (suggested by the American Psychological Association.) The following hints will help you choose a proper formatting style for your term paper:

Check the requirements of your course.

As a rule, you are not supposed to guess. Read a writing assignment. Your teacher should have indicated what specific format you need to follow. Information about the required formatting style can also be found on the course syllabus. If it is, it means that all your research papers in this course should meet the criteria of one and the same format. If you cannot get the course syllabus, just ask if your teacher has any preference. At worst, you will be required to choose a format on your own.

Pay attention to your area of specialization.

The choice of a formatting style depends on what your field of study is. If you should write your term paper in English or the humanities (arts, philosophy, religion, etc.), use MLA format. However, if your area of interest is social or behavioral studies (education, business, psychology, etc.), you should definitely apply APA format.

Consider the type of research you do.

MLA format is usually used in the research papers that compare and contrast, narrate, illustrate, interpret, show cause and effect relations, analyze, etc. However, if you review the literature on the topic of your interest, do original research, use specific methods, and have some findings to share, consider using APA format.

Both MLA and APA formatting styles are based on rather complicated rules, and at some point, every student wonders why on earth they have been created. Believe it or not, these universal formats are developed to make the writing process easier. They help organize academic papers of different levels and represent your ideas effectively, and the universal citation rules make it easier for every researcher to find the same sources in a vast pool of information.


Never wait until the last minute to get started

Some research papers can take weeks to complete, so if your deadline is some time away you need to make use of your time now. You can use an outline to help you break up the work into smaller tasks. You can spread the work over time and make it easier on yourself. Some elements of the paper may take longer than others, but using your time wisely will help you make a difference.