Choosing the Suitable Research Paper Format

When your research paper assignment is given, you will have some choices to make about the format of your paper. Your teacher will give you some rules and guidelines, but you will have to make some format decision.


The odds are very great that your teacher will indicate whether you use should use MLA or APA. Once your teacher dictates this style, make sure you know all the style rules. Try not to mix up the different rules.

Graphs, Photos, and Charts

You should find out if your teacher will allow graphs, photos, and charts. Some teachers will not want this, but a science teacher may require them. Ask the teacher if the instructions are not stated on the assignment handout. Putting graphs, photos, and charts in a paper when they are not allowed will mean a deduction of points.


It is very rare, if ever, that a teacher allows first or second voice in a paper, but ask the teacher. Then follow the instructions that he or she gives concerning the voice that should be used in the paper.

Amount of Paragraphs

Ask your teacher if a certain amount of paragraphs or pages are required for this assignment. Once you are made aware of the requirement, make sure to follow it. A paper that is too short may lose points. Often your paragraph and page amount are contingent on how many main points you have in your thesis. Ask the teacher if you are not sure about the points needed.

Font and Font Size

Most instructors will want you to use a size 12 fonts with a basic font style such as Arial or Times New Roman. Do not write your paper in calligraphy or script, the teacher needs to be able to read it clearly.

Sources and Citations

Find out how many sources are required and how many in-text citations. Never have less that the amount that is required, or you will lose some points on your final score.

You will find that most teachers will distribute a very comprehensive packet with rules, dates, format requirements, and source rules. If you get the packet, and all of these topics are not covered, make sure you inquire with your teacher about the desired formatting. You could lose points if you do not follow the exact formats that your teacher wants for the research paper.