What Are the Main Styles of Formal Research Paper Format?

There are several styles of formal research paper formats that you may encounter in your studies. Each style is chosen by the college or the professor to ensure that everyone’s paper is graded solely on the content of their work. Before you have a set style, everyone could format their paper any way they wanted. Some individuals were great at presenting a high quality looking paper that may have lacked in the quality content area. Then others would write a beautiful paper that had exceptional content but was lacking in the formatting department. In this case, these two papers could have received the same grade. Academic papers are not designed to look pretty or flashy. They are designed to present a thesis and proof of that thesis.

When everyone is required to write in the same format, all of the papers look the same and the paper can be judged on the content alone. This is how it should be. Several styles have emerged and are used by different colleges.

American Psychological Association or APA

The American Psychological Association came up with a formal research paper format that is probably used the most. Some of the major formatting requirements include the use of Times New Roman as a font type, 12 as a font size, and double spacing. The margins should be exactly one inch on all sides as well. Each paragraph should be indented. The citation of sources is very specific with this style. There are many different types of resources, so it is best to check the manual for specific citation guidance. This format style includes the need for a title page and reference page completely separate from the text.

Modern Language Association or MLA

This format is another commonly used format. This format does not require the use of a separate title page. Instead all of the pertinent information is to be listed in the upper left hand corner right above the actual content of the paper. The title should be centered at the top of the text. The author’s name and page number should be in the right hand portion of the header. This style does have specific guidelines for citing sources as well so a manual should be accessed to get the right information for your source.

These two styles are very common in scholarly works and have proven to work effectively in making sure that the papers are being graded on their content.