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Writing Essays for Dummies: Basic Format Requirements

Essay writing doesn’t come easy for everyone. And if you have trouble writing essays you may just be looking to find the simple and basic way to format it properly. Before you work on developing great writing elements you should learn how to formatting works, so here’s the quick and basic way to properly format a standard essay:

  • Fonts, size, and line spacing. Using the MLA formatting guide for standard essays you should use a clear font like Times New Roman, set to 12-pt and typed in double-space. There should be no extra spacing anywhere in your essay (not even paragraphs). Don’t try to fill spaces by expanding text or using a larger font. Your teacher’s will see right through this and will lower your grade.
  • Margins and page numbers. Margins should be set a standard 1-inch all the way around, unless specifically required by your professor to have a larger margin on either the left or right side. The reason he or she might require a different margin is because they need more space to write comments and provide feedback, which may be true of early English Composition and Writing classes.
  • Titles and headings. Essays should always include a title and in this standard form it should appear on the first page just above the start of your essay. The title should also be typed in the same font as the rest of your essay, with no underlining, no quotation marks, no bold and no italics. Your paper’s heading should include your name, your instructor’s name, your class information, and the date flushed left at the top of the essay before the title.
  • Indentations and alignment. The start of every paragraph should be indented at least five spaces or a ½ inch space. You can get the right indentation amount in most word processors by pressing the TAB button. The text of your entire essay should be aligned left, not justified.
  • In text citations. Your essay assignment may require you to include citations of works consulted. For instance, using a quotation or an idea that isn’t yours will need to be properly cited. To do this you add the citation and add the author’s name and page number from the work you have referenced within parentheses before the end of the sentence. Additionally, you add a works cited page at the end of the essay which includes all of the citation information for your reference.
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