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How to Format an Essay

04 March 2023

Essay Format: Does it Really Matter?

Essays have a precise format for a specific purpose. By following a set format, your professor can easily find the information he or she needs, such as:

  • Your name
  • The class you’re in
  • The date of the assignment
  • The title of your essay

Formatting also allows essays to look professional in their presentation. And while specific professors may have unique formatting requirements, Humanities essays follow MLA format. It’s not overly complicated, but there are a few things to keep in mind. At Mrs. Writer, we love helping students, so we’ve put together a simple article that you can use for formatting reference. So let’s dive in and take a quick look at how to format an essay using MLA. 

Essay Formatting: An Overview

When it comes to formatting an essay, there are essentially EIGHT criteria that must be followed. As a quick reference, let’s take a look at this table. 

RULE REQUIREMENT #1 REQUIREMENT #2
HEADING Upper left corner of first page Your name, professor’s name, class name, date
TITLE Under the heading on the first page Centered
MARGINS One inch Top, bottom, left and right
INDENTATIONS Half an inch First line of every paragraph
ALIGN LEFT Lined up at left margin NOT lined up at right margin
PAGE NUMBERS Upper right corner of every page Your last name AND the page number
FONT 12-point size Times New Roman
SPACING Double-spaced No extra spacing ANYWHERE

If you follow these rules, you won’t lose any marks for silly formatting mistakes. Now let’s take a look at each rule in a little more detail so you can better understand them. 

Header

Your headline provides all the information your reader needs in one convenient location. Because of this, the following details, in the following sequence, MUST be included in your header. It must also be double-spaced and come before your introduction paragraph. 

  • Your name, first and last
  • Your professor’s name
  • The name of your class
  • The date you are handing the essay in

Example

  1. Mary Markshell
  2. Ms. Kira Campbell
  3. ENG 101
  4. 28 January 2020

Font, Spacing, Indentations

There are SO many pretty fonts available. We get it. But our goal at Mrs. Writer is to help you get great grades, so your essay needs to use Times New Roman and it needs to be in 12-point. Why? It’s all about readability. 12 point Times New Roman is:

  • The easiest font to read
  • The standard size for college writing 
  • The right size: not too small, not too big

Furthermore, the ENTIRE essay must be double-spaced. Why? It allows room for comments and it’s the easiest to read. Following this rule means:

  • No single spacing ANYWHERE
  • Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs
  • Don’t forget to double space the heading, too

And, the beginning of every paragraph must be indented half an inch. Why? This indenting allows the reader to go visually to the next section of the essay, making your reasoning clear and understandable.

The Title

The title must appear BELOW the heading (double-spaced) and should be centered. The start of each word must be capitalized, except for small words like:

  • The 
  • At
  • In
  • Of
  • As

With a properly-formatted title, other academics will have to trouble understanding how to cite an essay written by you. Here is an example of a properly formatted title:

  • Mary Markshell
  • Ms. Kira Campbell
  • ENG 101
  • 28 January 2020

Dramatic Irony as a Plot Device in Shakespearean Plays

William Shakespeare is well-known for his many plays and poems, as well as his innumerable literary devices and unsurpassed vocabulary. His plays have rich plots, full of unexpected twists….

Page Numbers

If the essay accidentally gets separated or shuffled around, it can be put back together using the page numbers. Furthermore, including your name along with the page number ensures that your essay will never get mixed up with someone else’s. The page number MUST appear:

  • In the upper right corner of every page
  • Include your last name and the page number
  • Be present on the first page, too

Margins and Align Left

Lastly, there needs to be ONE INCH margins set for your essay. These margins need to be set for every page at:

  • The bottom
  • The top
  • The left
  • The right

And the entire essay needs to be aligned left, but NOT right. So DO NOT ‘justify’ the paper in your word tab because this will align both sides. 

At Mrs. Writer, our writers know how to format essays, so when you use our services, you don’t have to worry about formatting because it’s included in the service, including our “write my essay for me” help for students. However, all students should have a basic understanding of essay formatting, and we hope this article will act as a handy reference for you in the future. 

How to Format an Essay FAQs

What if I don’t follow the proper formatting structure for my essay?

We really don’t recommend that. You could lose marks or be asked to revise your paper. It’s best to follow the formatting rules to ensure you get the best grade you can on your next essay.

Are these just the MLA text essay guidelines in Canada?

Great question! No, they are not. Any students studying the humanities should follow the MLA style rules. No matter what nation you're in, they are the same.

Is my title the same as my thesis?

No. The major point of your essay is your thesis, while your title should be much shorter and should give the reader a quick summary of what the essay’s about. 

Can someone just write my college essay for me?

Yes. Mrs. Writer provides all kinds of services for students, from formatting an already written paper, to writing a paper from scratch.

Andrew Preston
Author:

As a knowledgeable writer in the fields of health, biology, and psychology, I ensure the delivery of top-notch articles that have been instrumental in the success of many students.

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