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essay format on microsoft word

Write great papers

Write great papers with microsoft word.

You may already use Microsoft Word to write papers, but you can also use for many other tasks, such as collecting research, co-writing with other students, recording notes on-the-fly, and even building a better bibliography!

Explore new ways to use Microsoft Word below.

Getting started

Let’s get started by opening Microsoft Word and choosing a template to create a new document. You can either:

Select Blank document to create a document from scratch.

Select a structured template.

Select Take a tour for Word tips.

Word new doc templates

Next, let’s look at creating and formatting copy. You can do so by clicking onto the page and beginning to type your content. The status bar at the bottom of the document shows your current page number and how many words you've typed, in case you’re trying to stay maintain a specific word count.

Word ribbon format text options

To format text and change how it looks, select the text and select an option on the Home tab: Bold, Italic, Bullets, Numbering , etc.

To add pictures, shapes, or other media, simply navigate to the Insert tab, then select any of the options to add media to your document.

Word automatically saves your content as you work, so you don’t have to stress about losing your progress if you forget to press  Save .

Here are some of the advanced tools you can try out while using Microsoft Word.

Type with your voice

Have you ever wanted to speak, not write, your ideas? Believe it or not, there’s a button for that! All you have to do is navigate to the Home tab, select the Dictate button, and start talking to “type” with your voice. You’ll know Dictate is listening when the red recording icon appears.

Tips for using Dictate

Speak clearly and conversationally.

Add punctuation by pausing or saying the name of the punctuation mark.

If you make a mistake, all you have to do is go back and re-type your text.

Dictate button in Word

Finding and citing sources

Get a head start on collecting sources and ideas for a big paper by searching key words in  Researcher in the References tab of your document.

Researcher button in Word

Researcher uses Bing to search the web and deliver high-quality research sources to the side of your page. Search for people, places, or ideas and then sort by journal articles and websites. Add a source to your page by selecting the plus sign.

As you write, Researcher saves a record of your searches. Just select My Research to see the complete list.

Keep track of all your sources by using Word's built-in bibliography maker. Simply navigate to the References tab.

First, choose the style you want your citations to be in. In this example, we’ve selected APA style.

Select Insert Citation and Add New Source .

In the next window, choose what kind of work you’re citing—an article, book, etc.—and fill in the required details. Then select  OK to cite your source.

Keep writing. At the ends of sentences that need sources, select Insert Citation to keep adding new sources, or pick one you already entered from the list.

Point to Insert Citation, and choose Add New Source

As you write, Word will keep track of all the citations you’ve entered. When you’re finished, select Bibliography and choose a format style. Your bibliography will appear at the end of your paper, just like that.

Make things look nice

Make your report or project look extra professional in the Design tab! Browse different themes, colors, fonts, and borders to create work you're proud of!

Illustrate a concept with a chart or a model by navigating to the  Insert tab and choosing  SmartArt . In this example, we chose Cycle and filled in text from the writing process to make a simple graphic. Choose other graphic types to represent hierarchies, flow charts, and more.

Example of a chart you can make

To insert a 3D model, select  Insert > 3D Models to choose from a library of illustrated dioramas from different course subjects and 3D shapes.

Invite someone to write with you

If you’re working on a group project, you can work on a document at the same time without emailing the file back and forth. Select Share at the top of your page and create a link you can send to other students.

Now, everybody can open the same file and work together.

Keep learning

Check out more Microsoft Word training and support

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Tips for Formatting an Essay in Microsoft Word: Fonts and More

  • Brian D. Taylor
  • Categories : Help with writing assignments paragraphs, essays, outlines & more
  • Tags : Homework help & study guides

Tips for Formatting an Essay in Microsoft Word: Fonts and More

Why is Formatting Important?

Formatting refers to the arrangement of text on a document. There are many ways to format different types of documents. The focus of this guide will be formatting for essays.

In general, you will want your documents to look neat and professional. Special attention to formatting will ensure that your essays make a great first impression. In fact, some teachers will mark your paper down if you do not format correctly, or follow specific guidelines the teacher has requested (such as double spacing.)

Typography is a term that was first used when referring to how letters were chosen and set for printing on a press. In today’s age of word processors, it now refers to font selection and formatting. Pay careful attention to how you use typography in your essay. Font selection is of key importance. When you are writing an essay for a school assignment, you should make sure your font looks neat and professional. Remember, your essay will have to be read at some point, so you should make sure it can be read easily.

Fonts to Choose

Serif fonts assist with readability. A serif font has little lines on the end of the character. The lines help the eye move from letter to letter more easily. Some examples of standard serif fonts in Microsoft Word are Times New Roman, Courier New, and Book Antiqua. You should use a serif font for the majority of your essay. Be careful, though. Some serif fonts, still would not be acceptable. For instance, serif font styles such as Goudy Stout or Engravers MT would not look professional as the text of your essay because they are big and bulky. Choose carefully.

Sans serif fonts do not have the little lines at the end of the letters. Some examples of sans serif fonts are Arial, Calibri, and Comic Sans. Usually, sans serif fonts work well in short sections of text such as headings or titles. It is best not to use a sans serif font as the bulk of your essay. Furthermore, while I suggested Comic Sans as an example for a sans serif font, its use is typically frowned upon as it does not present a professional quality.

Another aspect of typography is the size of your font. Fonts are measured in points. A one point font is 1/72 of an inch. A 72 point font would measure one inch. Normally, you should choose 10 to 12 point font for all parts of your essay. Font sizes smaller than ten points become difficult to see and read. Font sizes larger than twelve point are difficult to read as well, and they make your teacher think that you’re just trying to use more space.

Bolding & Italicizing

At times, you may need to use bold, italics, or underlining. Bold is best used only in the title of your essay, if at all. Italics and underlining are typically used when you need to emphasize text or if you are referring to a title of another work.

To format your fonts in Microsoft Word, first select the text you wish to format. From there, you have a few options. You can format directly with the formatting toolbar which, by default, appears at the top of the window. You can also use the Format Font Window, which will give you more options. To get there, right click with the mouse and choose “Font” from the menu that appears. The Format Font Window looks like the image to the left (click on the image for a larger view). The selected text will appear in the preview pane. As you format the text, you can see how your text will look in the preview pane. When you have completed formatting your text, click OK to return to your document.

Spacing refers to the amount of space between lines of text. Typically, teachers ask for double spaced text for most assignments. The extra space between each line gives them room for comments and corrections. The extra space also makes the text easier to read. Always double check your teacher’s spacing policy, though. Sometimes a teacher will require a certain page total for your writing, while expecting single spaced lines. Double spacing will cut the length of your essay in half which will cause you to lose points. Always be sure to double check what the teacher wants.

Typically, headings are single spaced. There’s not much reason to have extra space between lines of your heading, so do not use it unless you’ve been directed otherwise. If you are using a quote of four lines or larger, it requires special formatting. Typically, this should be single spaced, as well.

You can also space at the paragraph level. This type of spacing appears before or after a paragraph.

Paragraph Format

To control spacing in Microsoft Word, select the text, then right click. Choose “Paragraph.” This will open the Format Paragraph Window. It should look like the image to the left (click on the image for a larger view). In the Spacing section, you’ll see two fields: one for Before and one for After. These allow you to space paragraphs apart, either before the paragraph or after. The spacing is measured in points, similar to fonts.

To the right, you can space at the line level. To double space your essay, choose Double from the drop down menu. Similarly, choose Single to single space. There are some other choices for more precise line spacing, but typically double and single will do for most school essays.

Indentation

Indentation refers to spacing from the left or right of the page. For most of the paragraphs in your essay, you will need to indent the first line. A good standard is a .5" first line indent. The tab key is usually set to tab over .5", but it is good practice to use the Format Paragraph Window to ensure that your indentations are correct.

Paragraph Format

To set a .5" first line indent for all paragraphs, select your text, then right click. Choose “Paragraph.” This will bring up the Format Paragraph Window. In the Indentation section, choose First Line from the drop down menu labeled Special. This will activate a first line indent for your text. Now choose the measurement for the indent. Again, .5" is a good standard to follow.

There are other times when you may need to pay attention to indentation. Let’s say you have a research paper that requires a bibliography or works cited page. The hanging indent option can come in handy and many works cited entries require one. A hanging indent is like the opposite of a first line indent; it indents everything but the first line. You set up a hanging indent in the same way you do a first line indent, only choose Hanging from the drop down menu in the Format Paragraph Window.

Lenghty Quotes

Finally, if you are quoting material of four or more lines, you will need to separate the text from the rest of the paragraph and indent both sides. To do this, go to the Format Paragraph Window. Choose the text to be indented and choose the measurement of indent for both left and right sides. Usually, you will want 1" on each side of quoted material. A sample image is attached to show how this should appear on the page.

Working with Images

Sometimes, a teacher will allow the use of images in an essay. Be sure to check with the teacher before adding images as some teachers frown upon their use. Even if the images are allowed, be sure to use them wisely and sparingly. Typically, less is more when it comes to using pictures in essay writing. Teachers want you to create pictures with your words instead!

Format Picture

To insert an image you can copy and paste it into the document, or you can use the insert image function. Once the image is placed into the document, it can be formatted. Begin with the layout of the photo. Right click the image and choose Format Picture. Click on the Layout tab at the top of the window. Here you have several options. In line with Text will cause your image to act as text. This option may cause your text to behave in unexpected ways. This option will almost always create large gaps of space in your essay and is best avoided. The Square or Tight options will cause the text to wrap around your image, thus eliminating the problem of the gaps. One of these two options is best.

Next, you will need to choose the alignment of the image. This appears near the bottom of the Layout tab. Choose which side of the page you wish the image to appear and click OK to see your results. If you change your mind about the alignment of the image, you can now click and drag the image to where you would like it. Since you’ve chosen the Square or Tight text alignment option, the text will simply wrap around the image wherever you place it. Be sure that when placing the image, the text remains in a neat and professional arrangement.

Good luck on your essay! If you have any additional Microsoft Word tips to share post them in the comments.

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How to Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word

essay format on microsoft word

A popular formatting style for academic documents is the MLA format. Here’s how to use MLA formatting in Microsoft Word.

The Modern Language Association , or MLA, allows formatting guidelines for professional and academic papers—it’s uniform and easy to use. If you have an essay to write, educators could require it to be written using the MLA format.

However, specific criteria must be met to have a properly formatted MLA paper. The process involves setting correct margins, using the right font, double-spacing the body’s content, and other essential rules. If you haven’t written a document in this format before, here’s how to use the MLA format in Microsoft Word.

How to Use an MLA Formatted Document Template in Word

To most straightforward way to set up an essay in MLA format is to use one of Microsoft’s templates.

To use an MLA format template, do the following:

  • Open a new blank Microsoft Word  document.

use mla format in Microsoft Word

  • A generic MLA formatted essay paper will appear, and you can type in the data you need for your article.

MLA format Template

  • The process is as easy as going through the document and adding your own data. For example, if you copy and paste a quote, remember to change the font to Times New Roman and set its size to 12 .

use mla format in microsoft word

  • With MLA format, the entire document needs to be double-spaced. If you need to correct a sentence or two, highlight the sentences, right-click to pull up the formatting box.

spacing use mla format in Microsoft Word

How to Manually Set Up MLA Formatting from Scratch in Word

You can also set up the MLA format manually. To set up MLA Format in Word, do the following:

correct MLA Font

  • Double-click the top of the document to bring up the Header area and type your full name.

align right

  • Type your last name in the Header area and a single space.

 plain header and footer

  • Double-click an empty area of the document to exit the Header area and type your full name. Ensure the Paragraph is set to Alight Left and enter the info shown in the template above—name, teacher name, course, date, etc.

use mla format in microsoft word

  • Now, before typing the body of your text, set the Paragraph section to Align Left .

use mla format in microsoft word

Also, remember that when you’ve finished your essay, you need to insert citations for an excellent grade.

Using MLA Format in Microsoft Word

The steps above will help you set up MLA formatting in a Microsoft Word document.

It’s worth noting that some professors may put their own spin on the MLA format, so make sure you speak to them before starting your essay. You might need to make some adjustments to the template formatting to get the style right in your document.

You can do other exciting things with Microsoft Word, like transcribing audio files or seeing the word count in a Word document . It’s also worth noting that you can insert custom headers and footers or insert a block quote in Microsoft Word .

Derrick Fuentes

March 12, 2023 at 10:24 pm

Thank you veryb much for writing this article this saved my ass.

January 30, 2024 at 9:13 pm

Thank you very much for this article! My instructor asked to write all assignments in MLA format, with the textbook explaining the ins and outs of the format, all of course but how to practically use MLA in Microsoft Word! Hence I am very appreciative of this short article :-)

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How to Set Up and Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization that provides guidelines for professional and academic writers. Many universities, employers, and professional agencies now require writers to conform to the MLA style since it’s easy to use and consistent.

In this article, we’ll cover how you can use the MLA format in Microsoft Word.

How to Set Up and Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word image

The MLA Format Requirements

Here are the basic MLA guidelines:

  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Use a legible font like Times New Roman
  • Use 12 size font
  • Use double-spacing throughout the entire document
  • Use indentation for the beginning of each paragraph
  • Include a header that displays your surname and page numbers on the top right-hand side
  • The first page should include your name, paper information and date
  • The title of your paper should be centered on the first page
  • The end of the paper should include a Works Cited page with MLA citations

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word

Here’s how you can organize your Word document so that it conforms to the MLA guidelines. We’ll cover each requirement in turn, so start at the top and work your way down.

1. Set the Margins

To set 1-inch margins:

  • Click on the Layout tab (in older versions of Word this will be Page Layout ).

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image

  • Select Margins then click Custom Margins .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 2

  • For the Top , Bottom , Right and Left margins, type 1 and press Enter .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 3

  • Select OK .

2. Set the Font and Font Size

To change the font:

  • Select the Home tab.

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 4

  • Click the font drop-down menu and select the Times New Roman font (or a similar font like Calibri).
  • Click the font size drop-down menu and select 12 .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 5

3. Set Double Line Spacing

To set double-spacing:

  • Select the spacing drop-down menu . This icon looks like blue up and down arrows beside four horizontal lines. Click 2 .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 6

4. Set the Indentation

To set paragraph indentation:

  • Right-click the document and select Paragraph .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 7

  • Make sure the Indents and Spacing tab is selected.
  • Click the drop-down menu beneath Special and select First line . Then, click the field beneath By and type 1 cm .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 8

Alternatively, you can press the tab key before starting each new paragraph.

5. Set the Header

To set your header:

  • Click the Insert tab.

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 9

  • In the Header & Footer section, select Header and click Blank (the top option).

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 10

  • In the header, type your name and press the spacebar once.
  • Click the Home tab.
  • Select Align Text Right in the Paragraph section.

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 11

6. Set the Page Number

To set page numbers:

  • Using your cursor, click in the header after your name.
  • Select the Header and Footer tab.

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 12

  • Select Page Number , click Current Position and select Plain Number .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 13

7. Include Key Information on the First Page

Now that your formatting is set up, it’s time to include the required information on the first page of your document.

This should be one to four lines with your full name and other key information such as your course name, course number, instructor’s name, and date (written in a day, month, year format).

After the date, click the Enter key, type your document or research paper’s title and center the text by pressing Align Text Center in the Home tab.

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 14

8. Format the Works Cited Page

If you include citations in your document, these also need to conform to the MLA handbook. The list should be:

  • Titled with “Works Cited” at the top of page
  • In alphabetical order
  • Left-justified
  • Double-spaced
  • Indented with a hanging indent

To include a hanging indent, select your citation list, right-click your document and select Paragraph . In the Indentation section, select the drop-down box underneath Special , select Hanging , and click OK .

How to Set Up the MLA Format in Word image 15

Time to Get Writing

Now that you’ve formatted your MLA paper correctly, it’s finally time to get writing. With this formatting guide, you’ll have no trouble passing the MLA requirements. Just make sure to double-check your document before you submit it!

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Jake Harfield is an Australian freelance writer whose passion is finding out how different technologies work. He has written for several online publications, focusing on explaining what he has learned to help others with their tech problems. He’s an avid hiker and birder, and in his spare time you’ll find him in the Aussie bush listening to the birdsong. Read Jake's Full Bio

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essay format on microsoft word

essay format on microsoft word

Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > How to Write a College Essay from Start to Finish

How to Write a College Essay from Start to Finish

No matter if you’re approaching your first essay in a 101-level class or you’re a little further into your undergraduate career, crafting a college essay that gets you the grade you’re looking for is no easy feat. Use this guide on how to write the college essay—and, first, how to format it—to help pave the way toward an easier A on your next assignment.

A student viewing images on AsusTransformerMiniT102.

Formatting the College Essay: Know Your Style Guide

To know the correct way to format your college essay, you will first need to know which style guide your field or course requires. More often than not, a college essay follows one of these three guides:

  • Modern Language Association (MLA): Perhaps the best-known of these academic guidelines, the MLA format is widely used in research papers written at both the high school and college level. Once scholars begin specializing in specific fields, however, MLA format ends up being the preferred format for writing in the humanities—areas of study like literature, philosophy, history, and anthropology.
  • American Psychological Association (APA): APA style, which differs from MLA in some small but noticeable ways, is the preferred format of most research conducted in social sciences like medicine, sociology, and psychology. Though it’s less often used in high school essays, it’s something you will likely see at some point in during your days in college.
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS): Although rare in college, some classes might require you to use the Chicago Manual of Style. This extensive style guide offers guidance on a massive range of style and formatting questions, from the grammatical to the purely typographical. While it’s more commonly used to institute uniform style within non-academic writing found in magazines, advertising, and more, you still might encounter it in the college classroom.

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Each of these style guides has its own standards for formatting essays and their citations. Once you know which guide your professor or field prefers you to use in your essay, you can consult resources available at your college’s library or writing center, or online, from somewhere like the Purdue Online Writing Lab , to ensure your work is formatted correctly.

Where to Begin: Tips for Starting—and Finishing—the College Essay

It might be hard to know where to start with an essay, especially one with an intimidating page count. Break down the whole process into something that’s a little more manageable with these end-to-end tips for college essay writing.

Read the Assignment

The most important place to start with your essay is always the prompt or assignment that you’ve been given. Each assignment will vary in its specificity: some college essays are quite open-ended, challenging you to explore your own interests and ideas within a broader sphere of thought; others are very precise, asking you to present an argument and evidence in response to one or more concrete questions.

Familiarizing yourself with the task that’s ahead of you will not only help you find inspiration for your upcoming writing sessions but it will also help you understand straight away whether or not you need to consult your teacher or another resource about any questions you might have.

Find Some Direction

Once you have clarified just what the assignment entails, take some time to consider how you want to approach your essay. Before you sit down to write, it’s useful to first have a brainstorm. Consider your topic, along with any research you have already conducted on it, and try to develop your own take or angle. While you might change your mind as you research and write, it can helpful at this early stage to develop a hypothesis or working thesis that your research and writing will ultimately attempt to prove.

Do Your Research

Armed with this unique angle or working thesis, it’s time to hit the books. Some college essays may require that you cite a minimum number of primary and secondary sources. Regardless of whether there is a minimum number or not, though, you will want to search for authoritative sources that support and strengthen your own analysis. Explore sources online and at your school library, taking notes on each, and compile your research in one place that will be easy to access and reference once you begin writing later.

Create an Outline for Your College Essay

As you’re doing your research, you’ll likely start getting some new ideas for the direction and shape of your essay. Save yourself some work later on by organizing your research into an outline that follows the same structure that your final essay will take. Each college essay typically sticks to the following structure:

  • Introduction: Every essay should begin by situating its readers. Use an opening hook to grab their attention, then provide them with the wider context that your essay is working within. Summarize the ideas that your essay will explore and end your introduction with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement, usually just one sentence long, provides a summary of your essay’s main point and describes to readers the point that your writing will attempt to prove.
  • Essay Body: The body of your essay, which is where the bulk of your writing will be done, serves to present evidence in support of your thesis statement. This is where you display and cite all of that research you have done and lay out an analysis of your topic.
  • Conclusion: The ending of your essay should close things out by restating your thesis statement and summarizing the points you have presented in support of this argument. It should also explore the implications or importance of the argument you have presented. In short, you should conclude your essay by not only recapping the writing that came before, but also answering the question, “So, now what?”
  • Works Cited or References Page: The text of your essay will be followed by a list of the works you have cited within your essay. Be sure to follow the (sometimes stringent) citation format dictated by your style guide here. Luckily, online citation generators like EasyBib , Scribbr , or Citation Machine can help make this process a little easier.

Get Writing

By creating an outline for your essay as you research, you should be able to approach the writing of your piece with a solid skeleton or scaffolding in place, such that the writing process is mostly a matter of filling in the gaps around your research and fleshing things out with further detail. Still, as you write, you might identify areas of your essay that require further research or inquiry. For this reason, writing the body of your essay first, before an introduction or conclusion, can often be the easiest approach. Bring all of your ideas to the body of your essay, and then craft your introduction and conclusion to reflect everything that you’ve discussed within your essay.

Once you have a completed draft of your essay, take some time to revise. Using an intelligent writing assistant like Microsoft Editor can save you some time by catching typos, grammar errors, and unclear sentences as you’re writing.

Of course, you’ll also want to take some time to consider the contents of your essay more broadly and identify any places where your argument or evidence might be weaker than others. If your deadline isn’t looming right around the corner, it can be helpful to step away from your writing for a little while. After a break, you can come back to the page with a fresh set of eyes, making it that much easier to finish writing a paper that makes the grade.

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How to Use Microsoft Word Effectively for Essay Writing

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Microsoft Word for Essay Writing

Using the traditional pen and paper to draft your essay has not completely gone out of style. However, if you want to effectively write, proofread and format your essay all at the same time, you need a sophisticated approach that would allow you to do all these in due time to succeed in professional essay writing from scratch.

It doesn’t matter how you feel about the Microsoft Word program but it is a word processing tool that you can’t do without in your profession. You get to use it daily as you go about your work.

Learning the basic aspect of using the program is quite not difficult. Most of us get to use the word processing program after learning the basics without taking out time to learn the more important features the program has.

To most people, that aspect is not necessary once they can type, search and replace words and make use of the format margins. I am guilty of that myself. I didn’t take out time to learn more than the basics before joining the tool.

I found out in my continuous use of Microsoft Word over the years that the program has some tricks that help to save time. If you are an impatient writer like me that wants to get each job done in the soonest possible time, you should learn about these alternative tools in the program. You will save a lot of time doing so.

Features How to Use Microsoft Word Effectively for Writing

  • Track Changes . This feature comes in handy when I want to edit my work or give constructive criticism of another person’s work. The changes you make on the document appear on a highlight and that includes changes in format and deletions. The TRACK CHANGES option can be seen in the REVIEW tab and with it, the texts you edit are highlighted in red color.
  • Document Map . The use of headings gives you an overview of the entire structure of the document when you use the special feature called DOCUMENT MAP. This feature makes it easy for you to skip through long documents and also to get the full picture of the storyline.
  • Headings and Styles . When you make the necessary changes of marking section and chapter titles with the heading, it will make it easy for you to format the heading for the document in a single place. I use NORMAL for the body of the document and HEADING1 for the chapter titles.
  • Headers and Footers . On the old typewriter, the typist has to manually include the page number and author name. This has been upgraded to a word progressing tool. You can add that information just once using the HEADER and it automatically appears on all pages.
  • Comments . This can also be seen in the REVIEW column. With this feature, you can include margin notes into your document. This feature can be used for plenty of functions by a writer. For instance, you can use it to include reminders for some editing work you need to do in the future. You can also use it to create reminders on ideas you wish to develop later on in your document.
  • Table of Contents . Most documents don’t need a table of content but when a document requires it, it can be stressful to manually create one. Not just the creation aspect, you have to go through the stress of updating it anytime you add more information to your document. The headings feature and TABLE OF CONTENTS work together. That is the Table of contents creates a table of headings and includes the page number where the heading can be found.
  • Views . Microsoft Word provides you with different view options. With this option, you can get an overview of your overall manuscript in different ways.
  • Compare Documents . Making edits manually in an older version of a manuscript can be a pain in the ass. This feature provides a highlight to pronounce the difference between the two documents. With this feature, you can go through the document at a later date and pick the better version.
  • Full Screen . If you wish to focus on your writing without worrying about different tabs and editing buttons, the full-screen option comes in handy to minimize distraction.
  • View Side by Side . With this feature, you can open up and review two documents at the same time without having to close one first.
  • Integration with Endnote . If you are working on a nonfiction project, you will need to include a lot of references in your work. The endnote feature enables you to keep track of your references in a neat way.
  • Full Page . This feature enables you to view your work as a full document. This is not the best mode for reading, but it allows you to check your documents for formatting errors and blank pages.

You can effectively use Microsoft Word for your professional essay writing if you consistently practice with the software and look for new tips every day. Microsoft Word is easy-to-use software but you don’t want to stop at the mediocre level. There are other things you could do with your software as outlined in this educational piece.

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HOW TO – Format papers in standard academic format (using Microsoft Word)

This guide explains how to format your documents in Microsoft Word so that they follow the standard rules for formatting academic papers as described in most MLA and APA style books for undergraduate writing. These rules apply to most of the papers you will submit in your college classes, but in some cases your professors will want you to follow specific guidelines that may differ from those below. Always clarify with your professor which set of guidelines he or she wants you to follow before you submit a paper.

Using standard formatting for academic papers shows that you understand the customs of the university community and therefore helps to boost your own credibility. Using unusual or highly distinctive formatting, on the other hand, suggests that your previous schooling did not adequately prepare you for university work. Consider the impact of unusual formatting: not only does it call attention to your paper in a way that might not be positive, professors might also see it as a sign that you’re trying to artificially inflate page length.

Note: These instructions apply to all versions of Word for Mac and for the 2003 version of Word for Windows. I haven’t yet updated them to include instructions for the 2007 version of Word for Windows, but the tools should nevertheless be easy to find if you look around on the toolbar at the top.

  • 2 DOCUMENT MARGINS
  • 3 INDENTATION
  • 5 ALIGNMENT
  • 6.1 Heading
  • 6.3 Sample First Page
  • 7 PAGE NUMBERS
  • 8.1 Document Spacing
  • 8.2 Paragraph Spacing
  • 9 CREATE NEW PAGE
  • 10 BLOCKED QUOTATIONS
  • 11 RESOURCES

DOCUMENT MARGINS

Rule : Papers submitted for review or grading should have 1” margins all around. This should be the default for Word, but if your default setting is to have left and right margins of 1.25”, change your default. Page length requirements are based on 1” margins.

Instructions : Go to the Format menu, drag down to Document, change the margins, and the click on the Default button and accept the change to the Normal template. Make sure you leave the gutter set to 0” or you’ll mess up your document formatting.

INDENTATION

Rule : The first line of each paragraph should be automatically indented.

Instructions : This should be the default for Word, but if not, you might want to change your Normal style, as described above. To change the indentation format for a document, choose Select All from the Edit menu. Then go to the Format menu, drag down to Paragraph, look under the “Special” drop-down menu in the Indentation section, and select “First Line.” This setting automatically indents the first line of a new paragraph so that you don’t have to do it manually.

Rule : College papers should be in a standard academic font: either Times New Roman or Cambria, in 12pt size. (If you submit a paper in another font, I will change it on the file I download.)

Instructions : Times New Roman or Cambria 12pt should be the default for Word, but if yours is different then change your default. Go to the Format menu, drag down to Style, make sure “Normal” is selected from the list of styles, and click “modify.” Choose the correct font and size from the Formatting menu. Click “OK” to make the change to your default settings.

Rule : The text of your paper should be left aligned, NOT justified, as justified text is hard to read if it hasn’t been professionally typeset. The default in Word is left alignment, so don’t change it.

FIRST PAGE FORMAT

Rule : In the upper left corner of the first page of your document, type your name, the date, the course number and section (or topic), and the version of the paper (such as Paper 1 Second Draft), each on a separate line. Be sure to change the date and paper version when you submit revisions and final versions. See the sample below.

DO NOT use the “headers” feature from the header/footer menu to create this full heading as that will make it appear on every page, which is not customary in academic writing. Also do NOT use a title page unless the assignment specifically asks for one.

Rule : Skip a line after the heading and center an original title that conveys the topic of your paper. Do not use underlining or italics in the heading (unless you’re referring to the title of a book or periodical). Do not use bold text or ALL CAPS.

Sample First Page

Page numbers.

Rule : All papers should have automatically inserted page numbers that show in the upper right corner on all pages except the first. Do not insert these page numbers by hand. Instead, use Word’s Header/Footer tool.

For documents following MLA format, put your last name and page number in the upper right corner. For documents following APA format, put a short version of your title (instead of your last name) and the page number in the upper right corner.

Instructions : Go to the View menu and choose “Header and Footer.” You’ll see a header box appear at the top and a footer box at the bottom. Click in the header box, type your last name (or title), make it align to the right, and then select Page Numbers from the Insert menu.

When you’re finished, click on the “Close” tab under the Header view. Each page of your document should now display a page number at the upper right that updates automatically when you make changes to the document. It will appear as grayed out text unless you active the Header and Footer tool to make changes.

To change the setting so that page numbers do not display on the first page, go to the Format men, drag down to Document, and click on the Layout button. Then check the box next to “Different First Page.” Click OK. If necessary, remove the header that appears on the first page and insert a header on the second page, which will automatically appear on all subsequent pages as well.

Document Spacing

Rule : The entire paper should be double-spaced, including the heading and bibliography.

Instructions : Choose “Select All” from the Edit menu, go to the Format menu and drag down to Paragraph, and choose “double” from the “line spacing” menu in the Spacing section. Or you can use these keyboard shortcuts. On a Mac, use Cmd-A to select all and Cmd-2 to double-space. On a PC, use Ctrl-A to select all and Ctrl-2 to double space.

Paragraph Spacing

Rule : Papers should have no extra spacing after paragraphs. This should be the default for Word, but if your default setting is to have 10pt spacing after paragraphs, change your default.

Instructions : Go to the Format menu, drag down to Style, make sure “Normal” is selected from the list of styles, and click “modify.” In the lower left corner, select the dropdown menu that starts with “Format” and drag down to Paragraph. In the paragraph settings menu that pops up, change the settings for Spacing After to 0pt.

CREATE NEW PAGE

Instead of using a lot of returns before starting your bibliography, create a new page for it following these instructions.

Go to the Insert menu, drag down to Break, and then drag over to Page Break.

BLOCKED QUOTATIONS

Rule : If a quotation will exceed four lines within a paragraph, you should separate it out by blocking and indenting it. As with any quotation, a blocked quotation should be clearly introduced by the sentence that leads up to it and it should also be properly cited, but the rules for blocked quotations are somewhat different. The blocking take the place of quotation marks, and unlike in a regular in-paragraph quotation, the parenthetical citation goes outside of the final period instead of inside of it (given that the blocked quote might contain several sentences.)

Instructions : Type the quotation in its own paragraph, without quotation marks, and remove the indent from the first line. Type the source in parentheses after the last period of the last sentence. With your cursor, select the quotation, from the first word to the end of the parenthetical citation, and click the Increase Indent button from the Paragraph Formatting menu.

  • MLA Formatting Guidelines for College Papers
  • APA Formatting Guidelines for College Papers
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How to Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2022

This reference guide explains how to format your academic documents in Microsoft Word 2022, giving you the fundamental rules for formatting your academic papers as described in most guidelines, such as MLA and APA styles. The rules discussed in this guide apply to most of the academic papers you will submit as college assignments or articles for journals.

essay format on microsoft word

This reference guide provides some tips to format academic papers in Microsoft Word. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

Document Margins of Microsoft Word

Indentation of microsoft word documents, how to set font settings for academic papers in microsoft word, how to change the default font of your academic paper, how to format page numbers for academic papers, document spacing of academic papers in microsoft word, how to format paragraph spacing for academic papers, how to create a new page or insert a page break in microsoft word.

This reference guide will explain how to format your academic documents in Microsoft Word 2022, giving you the fundamental rules for formatting your academic papers as described in most guidelines, such as MLA and APA styles. The rules discussed in this guide apply to most of the academic papers you will submit as college assignments or articles for journals; however, keep in mind that some of your professors may want you to follow specific standards that may differ from the rules here. Adopting standard formatting for your academic papers indicates that you comprehend the rules of your college and therefore helps to improve your own credibility.

These rules and instructions can be applied to all versions of Microsoft Word for Mac and Windows. The tools, however, cannot be found at the same place on the toolbar at the top of your document.

Microsoft Word documents generally come with the default setting for margins. Check your default setting if it is to have different left and right margin. If so, change the default setting. Suppose that the paper you need to submit for review or grading should have 3.0 cm margins all around.

Here are the instructions you should follow:

Go to the Format menu at the top, scroll down to Document , change the margins, click on the Default button, and accept the change to the Normal template.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Make sure you leave the gutter set to 0 cm; otherwise, your document formatting will be messed up. 

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Then, make your selection.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Suppose that you want t he first line of each paragraph to be automatically indented. Here are the instructions to follow:

To change the indentation format for an academic paper in Microsoft Word, choose Select All from the Edit   menu, or press the combinations of ⌘ A .

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Then go to the Format menu, select Paragraph from the drop-down menu (or press the key combinations of ⌥⌘M ).

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Indents and Spacing menu will be selected automatically.  Under this menu, go to the Special drop-down menu and select First line . This setting automatically indents the first line of the new paragraph of your academic paper so that you do not have to set it manually each time.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Guidelines may adopt different font settings for academic papers. For instance, a variety of fonts are permitted in APA Style papers. Font options in APA Style include sans serif fonts, such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, or 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode, serif fonts, such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, or normal (10-point) Computer Modern (the default font for LaTeX).

To change it, go to the Format menu, select Style under the drop-down menu.  

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Make sure Normal is selected from the list of styles, and click Modify . Choose your preferred font and size from the Formatting menu.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Click OK to make the change to your default settings. You may name it as you wish.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Changing the default font in any template means that the newly set font will be used in every new document that is based on that template. For instance, the default font for new blank documents is based on the Normal   template. First, open the template or a document based on the template whose default settings you wish to change. Go to the  Format  menu at the top of the screen, click the  Font tab (or press the key combinations of ⌥⌘D ) .

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Make any changes that you want, and then click  Default .

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

You will have two options here: You can set the default font to the selected option for This document only or A ll documents based on the Normal template . Then click OK .

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

All documents should have automatically inserted page numbers shown in the upper right corner on all pages except the first page. Do not insert these page numbers manually. Use the  Header/Footer tool of Microsoft Word instead. 

Go to the View menu and choose Header and Footer.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

A header box will appear at the top and a footer box at the bottom. Click in the header box; you can type your last name or the title of your document, and make it align to the right or left as you wish.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Then, select Page Numbers from the Insert menu. 

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

If you want to show the number on the first page of your document, check the box next to Show number on first page . Set your Position and Alignment as you wish.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

For advanced options, click Format , and set other settings, such as your number format, chat numbers, page numbering, etc.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

When you are finished with the settings, click on the Close tab under the Header view. Each page of your document should now display a page number in the upper right corner that updates automatically when you make changes to your document. It will appear as grayed-out text unless you activate the Header and Footer   tool to make changes.

If you want to change the setting so that page numbers do not display on the first page of your document, click on Document under the Format drop-down menu and click on the Layout menu.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Under this menu, check the box next to Different First Page , and click OK . If required, remove the header that appears on the first page, and insert a header on the second page. This will automatically appear on all subsequent pages.

Choose Select All from the Edit menu. Select Paragraph under the Format drop-down menu. Choose your desired spacing from the Line spacing menu under the Spacing section. Alternatively, you can use keyboard shortcuts.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

Select the Style from the Format drop-down menu. Make sure that Normal is selected from the list of styles, and click Modify . In the lower-left corner, select the Paragraph under the Format drop-down menu.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

In the Paragraph settings menu that pops up, change the settings for After to 0 pt under the Spacing menu.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

If you wish to create a new page, instead of using numerous returns before starting your bibliography, go to the Insert menu at the top of the screen. Select Page Break under the Break drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can press ⌘+Enter to insert a page break.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

If you need help with formatting your academic papers, contact us!

Best Edit & Proof expert editors aim to provide your manuscripts with proper scholarly and academic tone and style. They will significantly improve the chances of having your research manuscript accepted for publishing. They provide subject-area proofreading and editing services in several fields categorized under various disciplines. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, we will help you find the right tone and style for your manuscript.

If you need our subject-area editors to format your manuscripts, giving you the fundamental rules for formatting your manuscripts as described in your guidelines, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian styles, then contact us. At Best Edit & Proof, our proofreaders and editors edit  every type of academic paper . We have a user-friendly website and a simplified ordering process. 

If you would like our subject-area editors and language experts to work on your project for the improvement of its academic tone and style, then please visit the  order page.  It is easy! It takes only a few minutes to submit your paper and complete the process. Click  here   to see how it works.

We have flat-rate pricing based on our type of service (editing or proofreading), word count, and turnaround time. Enter your word count or copy and paste your document into our  pricing calculator   to get an instant quote.

Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2020

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essay format on microsoft word

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APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples

Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on January 17, 2024.

The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides guidelines for clear communication , citing sources , and formatting documents. This article focuses on paper formatting.

Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr

Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines:

  • Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Double-space all text, including headings.
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches.
  • Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).
  • Include a page number on every page.

APA format (7th edition)

Let an expert format your paper

Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:

  • Margins, line spacing, and indentation
  • Font and headings
  • Running head and page numbering

essay format on microsoft word

Table of contents

How to set up apa format (with template), apa alphabetization guidelines, apa format template [free download], page header, headings and subheadings, reference page, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about apa format.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).

Why set up APA format from scratch if you can download Scribbr’s template for free?

Student papers and professional papers have slightly different guidelines regarding the title page, abstract, and running head. Our template is available in Word and Google Docs format for both versions.

  • Student paper: Word | Google Docs
  • Professional paper: Word | Google Docs

In an APA Style paper, every page has a page header. For student papers, the page header usually consists of just a page number in the page’s top-right corner. For professional papers intended for publication, it also includes a running head .

A running head is simply the paper’s title in all capital letters. It is left-aligned and can be up to 50 characters in length. Longer titles are abbreviated .

APA running head (7th edition)

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essay format on microsoft word

APA headings have five possible levels. Heading level 1 is used for main sections such as “ Methods ” or “ Results ”. Heading levels 2 to 5 are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently.

Want to know how many heading levels you should use, when to use which heading level, and how to set up heading styles in Word or Google Docs? Then check out our in-depth article on APA headings .

APA headings (7th edition)

The title page is the first page of an APA Style paper. There are different guidelines for student and professional papers.

Both versions include the paper title and author’s name and affiliation. The student version includes the course number and name, instructor name, and due date of the assignment. The professional version includes an author note and running head .

For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page .

APA title page - student version (7th edition)

The abstract is a 150–250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it’s rare to include one in student papers (except for longer texts like theses and dissertations).

The abstract is placed on a separate page after the title page . At the top of the page, write the section label “Abstract” (bold and centered). The contents of the abstract appear directly under the label. Unlike regular paragraphs, the first line is not indented. Abstracts are usually written as a single paragraph without headings or blank lines.

Directly below the abstract, you may list three to five relevant keywords . On a new line, write the label “Keywords:” (italicized and indented), followed by the keywords in lowercase letters, separated by commas.

APA abstract (7th edition)

APA Style does not provide guidelines for formatting the table of contents . It’s also not a required paper element in either professional or student papers. If your instructor wants you to include a table of contents, it’s best to follow the general guidelines.

Place the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction. Write the section label “Contents” at the top (bold and centered), press “Enter” once, and list the important headings with corresponding page numbers.

The APA reference page is placed after the main body of your paper but before any appendices . Here you list all sources that you’ve cited in your paper (through APA in-text citations ). APA provides guidelines for formatting the references as well as the page itself.

Creating APA Style references

Play around with the Scribbr Citation Example Generator below to learn about the APA reference format of the most common source types or generate APA citations for free with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator .

Formatting the reference page

Write the section label “References” at the top of a new page (bold and centered). Place the reference entries directly under the label in alphabetical order.

Finally, apply a hanging indent , meaning the first line of each reference is left-aligned, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches.

APA reference page (7th edition)

Tables and figures are presented in a similar format. They’re preceded by a number and title and followed by explanatory notes (if necessary).

Use bold styling for the word “Table” or “Figure” and the number, and place the title on a separate line directly below it (in italics and title case). Try to keep tables clean; don’t use any vertical lines, use as few horizontal lines as possible, and keep row and column labels concise.

Keep the design of figures as simple as possible. Include labels and a legend if needed, and only use color when necessary (not to make it look more appealing).

Check out our in-depth article about table and figure notes to learn when to use notes and how to format them.

APA table (7th edition)

The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s free APA format template for student papers or professional papers.

Alternatively, you can watch Scribbr’s 5-minute step-by-step tutorial or check out our APA format guide with examples.

APA Style papers should be written in a font that is legible and widely accessible. For example:

  • Times New Roman (12pt.)
  • Arial (11pt.)
  • Calibri (11pt.)
  • Georgia (11pt.)

The same font and font size is used throughout the document, including the running head , page numbers, headings , and the reference page . Text in footnotes and figure images may be smaller and use single line spacing.

You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .

Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .

Yes, page numbers are included on all pages, including the title page , table of contents , and reference page . Page numbers should be right-aligned in the page header.

To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click ‘Insert’ and then ‘Page number’.

APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.

Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Streefkerk, R. (2024, January 17). APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved June 30, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/format/

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American Psychological Association

Sample Papers

This page contains sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style. The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment. You can download the Word files to use as templates and edit them as needed for the purposes of your own papers.

Most guidelines in the Publication Manual apply to both professional manuscripts and student papers. However, there are specific guidelines for professional papers versus student papers, including professional and student title page formats. All authors should check with the person or entity to whom they are submitting their paper (e.g., publisher or instructor) for guidelines that are different from or in addition to those specified by APA Style.

Sample papers from the Publication Manual

The following two sample papers were published in annotated form in the Publication Manual and are reproduced here as PDFs for your ease of use. The annotations draw attention to content and formatting and provide the relevant sections of the Publication Manual (7th ed.) to consult for more information.

  • Student sample paper with annotations (PDF, 5MB)
  • Professional sample paper with annotations (PDF, 2.7MB)

We also offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format with the annotations as comments to the text.

  • Student sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 42KB)
  • Professional sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 103KB)

Finally, we offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format without the annotations.

  • Student sample paper without annotations (DOCX, 36KB)
  • Professional sample paper without annotations (DOCX, 96KB)

Sample professional paper templates by paper type

These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different professional paper types. Professional papers can contain many different elements depending on the nature of the work. Authors seeking publication should refer to the journal’s instructions for authors or manuscript submission guidelines for specific requirements and/or sections to include.

  • Literature review professional paper template (DOCX, 47KB)
  • Mixed methods professional paper template (DOCX, 68KB)
  • Qualitative professional paper template (DOCX, 72KB)
  • Quantitative professional paper template (DOCX, 77KB)
  • Review professional paper template (DOCX, 112KB)

Sample papers are covered in the seventh edition APA Style manuals in the Publication Manual Chapter 2 and the Concise Guide Chapter 1

essay format on microsoft word

Related handouts

  • Heading Levels Template: Student Paper (PDF, 257KB)
  • Heading Levels Template: Professional Paper (PDF, 213KB)

Other instructional aids

  • Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS)
  • APA Style Tutorials and Webinars
  • Handouts and Guides
  • Paper Format

View all instructional aids

Sample student paper templates by paper type

These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

APA does not set formal requirements for the nature or contents of an APA Style student paper. Students should follow the guidelines and requirements of their instructor, department, and/or institution when writing papers. For instance, an abstract and keywords are not required for APA Style student papers, although an instructor may request them in student papers that are longer or more complex. Specific questions about a paper being written for a course assignment should be directed to the instructor or institution assigning the paper.

  • Discussion post student paper template (DOCX, 31KB)
  • Literature review student paper template (DOCX, 37KB)
  • Quantitative study student paper template (DOCX, 53KB)

Sample papers in real life

Although published articles differ in format from manuscripts submitted for publication or student papers (e.g., different line spacing, font, margins, and column format), articles published in APA journals provide excellent demonstrations of APA Style in action.

APA journals began publishing papers in seventh edition APA Style in 2020. Professional authors should check the author submission guidelines for the journal to which they want to submit their paper for any journal-specific style requirements.

Credits for sample professional paper templates

Quantitative professional paper template: Adapted from “Fake News, Fast and Slow: Deliberation Reduces Belief in False (but Not True) News Headlines,” by B. Bago, D. G. Rand, and G. Pennycook, 2020, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General , 149 (8), pp. 1608–1613 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000729 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Qualitative professional paper template: Adapted from “‘My Smartphone Is an Extension of Myself’: A Holistic Qualitative Exploration of the Impact of Using a Smartphone,” by L. J. Harkin and D. Kuss, 2020, Psychology of Popular Media , 10 (1), pp. 28–38 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000278 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Mixed methods professional paper template: Adapted from “‘I Am a Change Agent’: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Students’ Social Justice Value Orientation in an Undergraduate Community Psychology Course,” by D. X. Henderson, A. T. Majors, and M. Wright, 2019,  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology , 7 (1), 68–80. ( https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000171 ). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

Literature review professional paper template: Adapted from “Rethinking Emotions in the Context of Infants’ Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Interest and Positive Emotions,” by S. I. Hammond and J. K. Drummond, 2019, Developmental Psychology , 55 (9), pp. 1882–1888 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000685 ). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

Review professional paper template: Adapted from “Joining the Conversation: Teaching Students to Think and Communicate Like Scholars,” by E. L. Parks, 2022, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology , 8 (1), pp. 70–78 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000193 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Credits for sample student paper templates

These papers came from real students who gave their permission to have them edited and posted by APA.

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  • How to Format an Essay with Microsoft Word

How To Format An Essay With Microsoft Word

Follow these steps to put a smile on your instructor’s face – and more importantly, to correctly format your essay.

  • Click on the Microsoft Word icon on the computer screen
  • After Microsoft Word loads, click on Format at the top of the screen and then on Paragraph
  • In the Paragraph box, click inverted triangle next to Line Spacing and then click on Double from the drop down menu
  • Click on “View” at top of screen and then click on “Header and Footer”
  • You should now be in the “Header” box. Hold down the “Ctrl” button (on bottom of keyboard near the space bar), and press down the letter “R” once. The cursor should now be at the right hand side of the Header box
  • Type in your last name (ex. Doe) and press the space-bar once
  • In the blue and gray “Header and Footer” box, click on the white page icon (the one with the single pound sign: ex. # ) on the extreme left
  • Click on the “Close” button. You should now see your last name and the numeral 1 in a light gray in the upper right hand corner of your document (ex. Doe 1).
  • Wipe the sweat off your brow
  • Type in you first and last name (ex. Jane Doe) and press the “Enter” key
  • Type your Instructor’s name (ex. Dr. Bordelon) and press the “Enter” key
  • Type your course name, number, and section (ex. English 021-06) and press the “Enter” key
  • type in your full name and essay # (example: Emily Dickinson Essay #1)
  • press the “Enter” key
  • Shout “Yahoo!” really loud
  • Click on “Insert” at top of the screen and then on “Date and Time”
  • Click on the date in the month, day, year format (ex. July 15, 1999) and press the “Enter” key
  • type in you title (Ex: How to Set Up MLA Format in Microsoft Word) and
  • press the “Enter” key . (Note: do not bold or underline your title and do not put it in quotation marks)
  • Press the “Back Space” key once and then the “Tab” key
  • Begin typing your paper in MLA college essay format.

**Before ending your work session, remember to save back up copy to A:drive or flash drive.**

  • After Microsoft Word loads, click on “Format” at the top of the screen and then on “Paragraph”
  • In the “Paragraph” box, click inverted triangle next to “Line Spacing” and then click on “Double” from the drop down menu
  • Type short title of essay and press the space-bar once
  • Press enter until the center of the page, hold down the ctrl key and press E once: then type in your title
  • Press enter twice and type first and last name (ex. Jane Doe)
  • Go down to end and type your course name, number, and section (ex. English 021-06) and press the “Enter” key, type professor’s name, enter, and the date.
  • Almost there . . . . Hold down the “Ctrl” key and press the “Enter” key. You should be on a new page. Hold down Ctrl and press letter “E” once.” Type title
  • Begin typing your paper in APA college essay format.
  • Scroll or page down to the end of your last paragraph
  • Hold down the “Ctrl” key (on bottom of keyboard near the space bar) and press the “Enter” key once
  • You’ve just created a “hard page break” that will keep your Works Cited page separate from the rest of your essay.
  • hold down the “Ctrl” key (on bottom of keyboard near the space bar);
  • press the letter “E” once (The cursor should now be at the middle of your screen);
  • type “Works Cited” if using MLA citation or “References” if using APA (Note: do not bold or underline it); and
  • Press the “Back Space” key once and begin adding your entries in  alphabetical order .

Need Additional Assistance?

Visit occ’s writing center.

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Question: How do I format my student paper in APA style (7th edition) Using Word?

  • 11 Circulation Policy
  • 11 General information
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  • 43 Technology

Answered By: Norma Drepaul Last Updated: Sep 29, 2021     Views: 33218

APA guidelines call for the font to be accessible to all users, so check with your professor for their preferences.   APA changed their recommendations and added additional font options: 11 point Calibri, Arial or Georgia, or 12 point Times New Roman

  • Open a new blank document in Microsoft Word, then from the Home menu, click on the Font diagonal arrow
  • Select  Times New Roman  from the Font menu
  • Select  12  from the Size menu
  • Click on  Set As Default
  • Click  OK  on the pop-up box

illustration of step one

Line-spacing

Set up your entire document to ​double-line spacing, and make sure that you do not add lines before or after headings or between paragraphs.

  • From the Home tab, bring down the Paragraph menu by clicking on the diagonal arrow
  • Make sure that Spacing Before and After is set to 0 pt
  • Check the box for “Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style”
  • Select Double from the Line spacing menu
  • Click on Set As Default
  • Click OK on the pop-up box

illustration of step one

​Make sure that the margins are set to one inch all around:

  • Go to the Layout tab
  • Click on Margins
  • Select or make sure that Normal (Top, Bottom, Left, Right) is set to 1”

illustration of setting up margins

Page numbers

The APA 7th edition now provides specific guidelines for student papers. Student papers do not require a running head, and only require a  page number in your document's header.  The page number must be on every page, and it needs to be on the top, right corner.

  • Go to the  Insert  tab
  • Click on  Page Number
  • Click on  Top of Page
  • Select  Plain Number 3  (aligns to the right)
  • Click on  Close Header and Footer  to continue setting up your document.

illustration of steps one through four

The APA 7th edition now provides specific guidelines for the title page on a student paper.  A student paper title page should include the following elements: title of your essay, your name, course number and name, instructor name, and assignment due date. Students should follow the guidelines from their instructors or institution when determining which title page format is most appropriate to use. For more details on setting up the title page see:  APA: Student title page .

No longer required for students papers, unless it is requested by the instructor:

  • no running head
  • no author note
  • no abstract

After you set the font, line spacing, page header, and you have closed the Header (as indicated above): 

  • Go to the Home tab, and on your keyboard, press the enter key three times
  • Click the B for Bold button on the toolbar (to turn on the bold font tool)
  • Click on the Center alignment button
  • Note* Titles should be no more than 12 words and must be clear, concise, and summarize the main idea of your paper.
  • Click on B for Bold button again (to turn off the bold font tool)
  • Press enter twice
  • Type your first and last name, press enter
  • Type the college name followed by any other requirements from your professor, these could be the professor’s name, course name, date, etc  
  • After you complete all the required elements for your title page, you will need to break the page to move on to the second page.  You can do this by using your keyboard and pressing the control and enter keys at the same time, or you can use the features in Word going to the Insert tab
  • Click on Page Break

illustration of step one

Second Page

After you have entered all the elements from the title page and inserted a page break, you can then set up the second page.  APA does not require student papers to include an abstract, so check with your instructor for specific instructions.  

On the first line of your second page you will enter the title of your essay in bold and center-aligned: 

  • From the home tab, make sure that the Center alignment button is still selected, if it is not, go ahead and click on the it
  • Click on Bold to activate the bold font feature
  • Make sure that this title matches the title from your title page
  • Make sure that it is centered and in bold
  • Press enter
  • Click on the Left align button to align the rest of your essay on the left side
  • Click on Bold to turn off the bold font feature
  • Be sure to indent all the paragraphs in your essay
  • If you need to use headings and subheadings, be sure to follow the instructions from your professor, or see APA Headings and Seriation from Purdue OWL .

illustration of steps two to six

Reference Page

After your essay, the last section is the "References" list. This is where you list all your sources alphabetically and follow strict APA citation guidelines. APA calls for double line spacing and requires hanging indentation. A hanging indent is where the first line of an entry extends out to the left margin, and the rest of the entry is indented.

To set up your References list:

  • Place a page break after your essay, if necessary, to start your references list on a new page
  • In bold, and centered, type: References (Bolding the "References" label is new in the APA 7th edition)
  • Press enter to move the cursor to the next line
  • From the Home tab, align the text to the left by clicking on the Left align button, and turn off the bold font option by clicking on the Bold button. 
  • Click on the down arrow in the Paragraph group
  • Under the Indentation section, select Hanging from the Special menu
  • Make sure that line spacing is still set to double, that you are not adding spaces before or after paragraphs
  • Start typing your citation entries following APA guidelines. Notice that all entries are in alphabetical order and that each has hanging indents. Not sure about the format? Contact your professor or librarian.

For examples and instructions on how to cite your sources in APA style, see:  https://libguides.lasc.edu/lasc_library/citations 

illustration of steps two to four

Links & Files

  • What's New in the 7th Edition
  • APA Style Blog
  • OWL Purdue - APA Style
  • APA Sample Papers

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How to Format Your Essay in APA Style Using Microsoft Word 2021

by Mel Beasley | Jan 6, 2022 | Academic Writing

Information is taken from the American Psychological Association, 7th Edition, latest version, 2022.

Here’s your guide to setting up your APA essay in Microsoft Word. Keep in mind that there are a few changes to APA style found in the 7th edition. Here’s what you should know:

Changes in APA, 7th Edition, Latest Version:

  • Running heads are no longer required. If you choose to use one, it only has to include the page number and abbreviated version of your title.
  • Use one space after a period unless instructed otherwise.
  • The first in-text citation of a work by more than two authors may list only the first author, followed by “et al,” without any further explanation.
  • The term “they” is now acceptable for singular usage.

Reference Changes Include:

  • “Retrieved from” is no longer required before URLs unless a retrieval date is needed.
  • A website’s name is included (unless it’s the same as an author), and webpage titles are italicized.
  • Book references no longer need the publisher’s location.

Format Your Essay in APA Style Using Microsoft Word

This guide will show you exactly how to format your essay properly in APA style using Microsoft Word. This guide only covers the basics of formatting such as margins, spacing, etc., so please see our other resources for further APA formatting guidelines.

1. Set the Page Number

APA style papers require that you have a title page. You should also have page numbers in the top right of every page. Follow these instructions to set up your title page and page numbers.

How to Set the Page Number

  • Open a blank document in Microsoft Word and select INSERT .
  • Select PAGE NUMBER .
  • Select TOP OF PAGE .
  • Select PLAIN NUMBER 3 .
  • Using your mouse, double click anywhere on the document to hold the page number in place.

2. Set the Font Style, Size, and Spacing

  • From the HOME tab, set your font to Times New Roman size 12 .
  • Select the paragraph settings icon to open the menu.
  • Set your body text as double spaced .

Note that you can also change the spacing this way:

3. Set Margins

According to APA style, your margins should be 1 inch all the way around.

  • Navigate to LAYOUT .
  • Select MARGINS .
  • Choose the NORMAL option in the dropdown.

3. How to Set Your Title Page

  • Center your title page information.
  • Hit ENTER at least 3 times so your title info displays slightly toward the middle of the page.
  • Type the title of your essay in Bold, but keep the size at 12.
  • Hit ENTER twice before typing the next lines.
  • You should enter your first and last name.
  • Type your university’s name.
  • Type your course code.
  • Enter your instructor’s name.
  • Enter the date. For example: January 1, 2022 .

After you’ve finished your title page information, go ahead and hit ENTER until you’ve reached page two. This is where you can begin typing your essay. Hopefully this helps you out!

Mel Beasley

Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont .

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College Application Essay Format Rules

essay format on microsoft word

The college application essay has become the most important part of applying to college. In this article, we will go over the  best college essay format for getting into top schools, including how to structure the elements of a college admissions essay: margins, font, paragraphs, spacing, headers, and organization. 

We will focus on commonly asked questions about the best college essay structure. Finally, we will go over essay formatting tips and examples.

Table of Contents

  • General college essay formatting rules
  • How to format a college admissions essay
  • Sections of a college admissions essay
  • College application essay format examples

General College Essay Format Rules

Before talking about how to format your college admission essays, we need to talk about general college essay formatting rules.

Pay attention to word count

It has been well-established that the most important rule of college application essays is to  not go over the specific Application Essay word limit .  The word limit for the Common Application essay is typically 500-650 words.

Not only may it be impossible to go over the word count (in the case of the  Common Application essay , which uses text fields), but admissions officers often use software that will throw out any essay that breaks this rule. Following directions is a key indicator of being a successful student. 

Refocusing on the essay prompt and eliminating unnecessary adverbs, filler words, and prepositional phrases will help improve your essay.

On the other hand, it is advisable to use almost every available word. The college essay application field is very competitive, so leaving extra words on the table puts you at a disadvantage. Include an example or anecdote near the end of your essay to meet the total word count.

Do not write a wall of text: use paragraphs

Here is a brutal truth:  College admissions counselors only read the application essays that help them make a decision .  Otherwise, they will not read the essay at all. The problem is that you do not know whether the rest of your application (transcripts, academic record, awards, etc.) will be competitive enough to get you accepted.

A very simple writing rule for your application essay (and for essay editing of any type) is to  make your writing readable by adding line breaks and separate paragraphs.

Line breaks do not count toward word count, so they are a very easy way to organize your essay structure, ideas, and topics. Remember, college counselors, if you’re lucky, will spend 30 sec to 1 minute reading your essay. Give them every opportunity to understand your writing.

Do not include an essay title 

Unless specifically required, do not use a title for your personal statement or essay. This is a waste of your word limit and is redundant since the essay prompt itself serves as the title.

Never use overly casual, colloquial, or text message-based formatting like this: 

THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT!. #collegeapplication #collegeessay.

Under no circumstances should you use emojis, all caps, symbols, hashtags, or slang in a college essay. Although technology, texting, and social media are continuing to transform how we use modern language (what a great topic for a college application essay!), admissions officers will view the use of these casual formatting elements as immature and inappropriate for such an important document.

How To Format A College Application Essay

There are many  tips for writing college admissions essays . How you upload your college application essay depends on whether you will be cutting and pasting your essay into a text box in an online application form or attaching a formatted document.

Save and upload your college essay in the proper format

Check the application instructions if you’re not sure what you need to do. Currently, the Common Application requires you to copy and paste your essay into a text box.

There are three main formats when it comes to submitting your college essay or personal statement:

If submitting your application essay in a text box

For the Common Application, there is no need to attach a document since there is a dedicated input field. You still want to write your essay in a word processor or Google doc. Just make sure once you copy-paste your essay into the text box that your line breaks (paragraphs), indents, and formatting is retained. 

  • Formatting like  bold , underline, and  italics  are often lost when copy-pasting into a text box.
  • Double-check that you are under the word limit.  Word counts may be different within the text box .
  • Make sure that paragraphs and spacing are maintained;  text input fields often undo indents and double-spacing .
  • If possible, make sure the font is standardized.  Text input boxes usually allow just one font . 

If submitting your application essay as a document

When attaching a document, you must do more than just double-check the format of your admissions essay. You need to be proactive and make sure the structure is logical and will be attractive to readers.

Microsoft Word (.DOC) format

If you are submitting your application essay as a file upload, then you will likely submit a .doc or .docx file. The downside is that MS Word files are editable, and there are sometimes conflicts between different MS Word versions (2010 vs 2016 vs Office365). The upside is that Word can be opened by almost any text program.

This is a safe choice if maintaining the  visual  elements of your essay is important. Saving your essay as a PDF prevents any formatting issues that come with Microsoft Word, since older versions are sometimes incompatible with the newer formatting. 

Although PDF viewing programs are commonly available, many older readers and Internet users (who will be your admissions officers) may not be ready to view PDFs.

  • Use 1-inch margins . This is the default setting for Microsoft Word. However, students from Asia using programs like Hangul Word Processor will need to double-check.
  • Use a standard serif font.  These include Times New Roman, Courier, and Garamond. A serif font adds professionalism to your essay.
  • Use standard 12-font size. 
  • Use 1.5- or double-spacing.  Your application essay should be readable. Double spaces are not an issue as the essay should already fit on one page.
  • Add a Header  with your First Name, Last Name, university, and other required information.
  • Clearly   separate your paragraphs.  By default, just press ‘ENTER’ twice.

Sections Of A College Admissions Essay

University admissions protocols usually allow you to choose the format and style of your writing. Despite this, the general format of “Introduction-Body-Conclusion” is the most common structure. This is a common format you can use and adjust to your specific writing style.

College Application Essay Introduction

Typically, your first paragraph should introduce you or the topic that you will discuss. You must have a killer opener if you want the admissions committees to pay attention. 

Essays that use rhetorical tools, factual statements, dialog, etc. are encouraged. There is room to be creative since many application essays specifically focus on past learning experiences.

College Application Essay Body

Clearly answering the essay prompt is the most important part of the essay body. Keep reading over the prompt and making sure everything in the body supports it. 

Since personal statement essays are designed to show you are as a person and student, the essay body is also where you talk about your experiences and identity.

Make sure you include the following life experiences and how they relate to the essay prompt. Be sure to double-check that they relate back to the essay prompt. A college admissions essay is NOT an autobiography:

Personal challenges

  • How did you overcome them?
  • How or how much do past challenges define your current outlook or worldview? 
  • What did you learn about yourself when you failed?

Personal achievements and successes

  • What people helped you along the way?
  • What did you learn about the nature of success

Lessons learned

  • In general, did your experiences inform your choice of university or major?

Personal beliefs

  • Politics, philosophy, and religion may be included here, but be careful when discussing sensitive personal or political topics. 
  • Academic goals
  • Personal goals
  • Professional goals
  • How will attending the university help you achieve these goals?

College Application Essay Conclusion

The conclusion section is a call to action directly aimed at the admissions officers. You must demonstrate why you are a great fit for the university, which means you should refer to specific programs, majors, or professors that guided or inspired you. 

In this “why this school” part of the essay, you can also explain why the university is a great fit for  your  goals. Be straightforward and truthful, but express your interest in the school boldly.

common app essay format, essay sections 1

College Application Essay Format Examples

Here are several formatting examples of successful college admission essays, along with comments from the essay editor.

Note: Actual sample essays edited by  Wordvice professional editors .  Personal info has been redacted for privacy. This is not a college essay template.

College Admission Essay Example 1

This essay asks the student to write about how normal life experiences can have huge effects on personal growth:

Common App Essay Prompt: Thoughtful Rides

The Florida turnpike is a very redundant and plain expressway; we do not have the scenic luxury of mountains, forests, or even deserts stretching endlessly into the distance. Instead, we are blessed with repetitive fields of grazing cows and countless billboards advertising local businesses. I have been subjected to these monotonous views three times a week, driving two hours every other day to Sunrise and back to my house in Miami, Florida—all to practice for my competitive soccer team in hopes of receiving a scholarship to play soccer at the next level. 

The Introduction sets up a clear, visceral memory and communicates a key extracurricular activity. 

When I first began these mini road trips, I would jam out to my country playlist and sing along with my favorite artists, and the trek would seem relatively short. However, after listening to “Beautiful Crazy” by Luke Combs for the 48th time in a week, the song became as repetitive as the landscape I was driving through. Changing genres did not help much either; everything I played seemed to morph into the same brain-numbing sound.  Eventually, I decided to do what many peers in my generation fail to do: turn off the distractions, enjoy the silence, and immerse myself in my own thoughts. In the end, this seemingly simple decision led to a lot of personal growth and tranquility in my life. 

The first part of the Body connects the student’s past experience with the essay prompt: personal growth and challenging assumptions.

Although I did not fully realize it at the time, these rides were the perfect opportunity to reflect on myself and the people around me. I quickly began noticing the different personalities surrounding me in the flow of traffic, and this simple act of noticing reminded me that I was not the only human on this planet that mattered. I was just as unimportant as the woman sitting in the car next to mine. Conversely, I also came to appreciate how a gesture as simple as letting another driver merge into your lane can impact a stranger’s day. Maybe the other driver is late for a work interview or rushing to the hospital because their newborn is running a high fever and by allowing them to advance in the row of cars, you made their day just a little less stressful. I realized that if I could improve someone else’s day from my car,  I could definitely be a kinder person and take other people’s situations into consideration—because you never know if someone is having one of the worst days of their lives and their interaction with you could provide the motivation they need to keep going on . 

This part uses two examples to support the writer’s answer to the essay prompt. It ends the paragraph with a clear statement.

Realizing I was not the only being in the universe that mattered was not the only insight I attained during these drives. Over and over, I asked myself why I had chosen to change soccer clubs, leaving Pinecrest, the team I had played on for 8 years with my best friends and that was only a 10-minute drive from my house, to play for a completely unfamiliar team that required significantly more travel.  Eventually, I came to understand that I truly enjoy challenging myself and pushing past complacency . One of my main goals in life is to play and experience college soccer—that, and to eventually pursue a career as a doctor. Ultimately, leaving my comfort zone in Pinecrest, where mediocrity was celebrated, to join a team in Sunrise, where championships were expected and college offers were abundant, was a very positive decision in my life. 

This part clearly tells how the experience shaped the writer as a person. The student’s personality can be directly attributed to this memory. It also importantly states personal and academic goals.

Even if I do not end up playing college soccer, I know now that I will never back down from any challenge in my life; I am committed to pushing myself past my comfort zone. These car rides have given me insight into how strong I truly am and how much impact I can have on other people’s lives. 

The Conclusion restates the overall lesson learned.

College Admission Essay Example 2

The next essay asks the reader to use leadership roles or extracurricular activities and describe the experience, contribution, and what the student learned about themselves.

As I release the air from the blood-pressure monitor’s valve, I carefully track the gauge, listening for the faint “lub-dub” of  Winnie’s heart. Checking off the “hypertensive” box on his medical chart when reading 150/95, I then escort Winnie to the blood sugar station. This was the typical procedure of a volunteer at the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic. Our traveling medical clinic operated at night, visiting various Connecticut farms to provide healthcare for migrant workers. Filling out charts, taking blood pressure, and recording BMI were all standard procedures, but the relationships I built with farmers such as Winnie impacted me the most.

This Introduction is very impactful. It highlights the student’s professional expertise as a healthcare worker and her impact on marginalized communities. It also is written in the present tense to add impact.

While the clinic was canceled this year due to COVID-19, I still wanted to do something for them. During a PPE-drive meeting this July, Winnie recounted his family history. I noticed his eyebrows furrow with anxiety as he spoke about his family’s safety in Tierra Blanca, Mexico. I realized that Winnie lacked substantial information about his hometown, and fear-mongering headlines did nothing to assuage his fears. After days of searching, I discovered that his hometown, Guanajuato, reported fewer cases of COVID-19 in comparison with surrounding towns. I then created a color-coded map of his town, showing rates across the different districts. Winnie’s eyes softened, marveling at the map I made for him this August. I didn’t need to explain what he saw: Guanajuato, his home state, was pale yellow, the color I chose to mark the lowest level of cases. By making this map, I didn’t intend to give him new hope; I wanted to show him where hope was.

The student continues to tell the powerful story of one of her patients. This humbles and empowers the student, motivating her in the next paragraph.

This interaction fueled my commitment to search for hope in my journey of becoming a public health official. Working in public health policy, I hope to tackle complex world problems, such as economic and social barriers to healthcare and find creative methods of improving outcomes in queer and Latinx communities. I want to study the present and potential future intervention strategies in minority communities for addressing language barriers to information including language on posters and gendered language, and for instituting social and support services for community youth. These stepping stones will hopefully prepare me for conducting professional research for the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement. I aspire to be an active proponent of healthcare access and equity for marginalized groups, including queer communities. I first learned about the importance of recognizing minority identities in healthcare through my bisexual sister, Sophie, and her nonbinary friend, Gilligan. During discussions with her friends, I realized the importance of validating diverse gender expressions in all facets of my life.

Here, the past experience is directly connected to future academic and professional goals, which themselves are motivated by a desire to increase access among communities as well as personal family experiences. This is a strong case for why personal identity is so important.

My experiences with Winnie and my sister have empowered me to be creative, thoughtful, and brave while challenging the assumptions currently embedded in the “visual vocabulary” of both the art and science fields. I envision myself deconstructing hegemonic ideas of masculinity and femininity and surmounting the limitations of traditional perceptions of male and female bodies as it relates to existing healthcare practices. Through these subtle changes, I aim to make a large impact.

The Conclusion positions the student as an impactful leader and visionary. This is a powerful case for the admissions board to consider.

If you want to read more college admissions essay examples, check out our articles about  successful college personal statements  and the  2021-2022 Common App prompts and example essays .

Wordvice offers a full suite of proofreading and editing services . If you are a student applying to college and are having trouble with the best college admissions essay format, check out our application essay editing services  (including personal statement editing ) and find out  how much online proofreading costs . 

Finally, don’t forget to receive common app essay editing and professional admissions editing for any other admissions documents for college, university, and post-doctoral programs.

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On the search for college templates ? We can help you with that. We have here an array of essay templates for you to choose from. For some, essay writing can be a stressful endeavor, but that should not be the case. Writing is a positive and professional way of channeling your deepest thoughts and sentiments.

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Relevance of Essay Templates

  • As a marketing strategy in the business world . Behind every successful and famous product is a great writer. Advertisers also used essays as a tool for making quality content in their ads, particularly on websites.
  • As an academic requirement . Inevitably, a student will not encounter essay writing in school regardless of the level. From your elementary to your college years, essays are mostly required by your professors as a partial requirement for the fulfillment of your course or program .
  • As a means of career elevation . For those institutions that are sponsoring great minds and letting them proceed with their post-graduate courses, essays are usually one of the requirements before a scholarship grant is given. Part of the evaluation process is the quality of your writing, which will give them an idea of your degree of expertise.

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  • Argumentative essay . This type of essay requires you to present and explain your stand on a certain issue. This is tricky because you’re not just arguing for the argument’s sake but is also a requirement to provide substantial evidence.
  • Descriptive essay . Here, you are required to layout and write about the salient characteristics and dynamics of a certain issue, person, or event, depending on the topic. This will channel your capability to express your observations in an organized manner.
  • Narrative essay . This refers to the ones that tell a story whether fictional or based on real-life events.

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How to Write an Essay in MLA Format | For Students

Starting from when I entered high school, the importance of submitting assignments in a particular format became a top priority. I quickly realized the significance of adhering to these guidelines, as they remained essential throughout my academic journey. You never know when the need for proper formatting will arise. At first, it may seem overwhelming, but in this simple guide, I'll show you how to write an essay in MLA format [For Students].

When is MLA format used?

MLA format is created by the Modern Language Association which is a standardized way to format academic papers and cite sources. It’s mainly used for subjects in the humanities, like literature, philosophy, and the arts. Unlike APA or Chicago formats, which are used for social sciences and history, MLA puts a strong emphasis on the authorship of sources.

Most students will need to use MLA format at some point, especially in humanities courses. It’s essential for essays, research papers, and other assignments in these subjects.

General Guidelines/ Rules of MLA Formatting

The first step to learning how to write an essay in MLA format for students is to get familiar with the general guidelines. It's all about following the rules to get your paper formatted in the MLA style:

Margins and Font:

Set 1-inch margins on all sides.

Choose a readable font such as Times New Roman, 12-point size.

Double-space the entire document, including block quotes (quotes longer than four lines), notes, and the works cited page.

Paragraph Indentation:

Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches (press Tab key once).

Punctuation:

Utilize standard punctuation marks and maintain consistency with punctuation, italics, and quotation marks throughout your paper.

Quotations:

Use double quotation marks (" ") for direct quotes.

For quotes longer than four lines, format as a block quote: start on a new line, indent 0.5 inches from the left margin (without quotation marks), and keep double-spacing.

Here is an essay MLA format template for your reference:

How to Set up MLA Format Essay [Step-by-Step]

So we have seen the general guidelines in the above example and also saw an essay MLA format example/sample showing what our final MLA format will look like. However, going through guidelines is not enough when you're learning how to write an essay in MLA format in Word or PDF format. You need a professional writing software that not only provides the tools but also allows you to use them easily.

Therefore, I will be using WPS Writer as my partner in writing an essay in MLA format, and I would recommend students to download WPS Writer from their website so that you can easily follow this guide. And yes, it is completely free. So let's begin formatting an essay to MLA format in WPS Writer:

1. Page Margins

So the first step is to ensure that our page margins are set to 1 inch on every side. Setting the margins first would help you avoid any formatting errors if you do this at a later stage. To set page margins in WPS Writer:

Step 1: Open WPS Writer and visit the “Page Layout” tab in the toolbar.

Step 2: Find the Page Margin options on the far left of the Page Layout ribbon.

Step 3: Set all the margin fields—top, bottom, left, and right—to 1 inch.

2. Line Spacing

Next, we need to ensure that the line spacing is set to double spacing . This helps improve readability and ensures your paper meets MLA formatting standards. To set double line spacing in WPS Writer:

Step 1: In WPS Writer, go to the “Home” tab in the toolbar.

Step 2: Find and click the “Line Spacing” option in the Home ribbon.

Step 3: In the Line Spacing drop-down, click on More.

Step 4: The Paragraph window will pop up. Visit the Spacing section and in the Line Spacing field, select “Double”.

Step 5: After that, click on OK to exit the Paragraph window.

Note: We can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + 2 to quickly change the line spacing to double.

3. Header- In the Upper-Left Corner

After setting the page settings, let's move on to the content of the essay, starting with the header in the following order:

Student's Name

Professor's Name

Course and Course Code

Due Date in the format DD Month, Year

Step 1: Follow the order to enter the header into your essay.

Step 2: To make the Header left aligned, visit the Home tab and then click on the “Align Text Left” icon.

Step 3: After entering the header, make sure the Font is set to "Times New Roman" in the Fonts field in the Home ribbon.

Step 4: After the font, the font size should also be set to "12." Therefore, make the change in the "Font Size" field in the Home ribbon.

4. Last Name & Page Numbers- In the Upper-Right Corner

MLA Format requires a running header that includes your last name along with the page number on the top right corner of every page. Let's see how we can create our running header for the MLA Format:

Step 1: Double-click on the Header area to open the Header/Footer in WPS Writer.

Step 2: Now type your last name and set its alignment to right by clicking on the “Align Text Right” icon in the Home ribbon.

Step 3: To add the page number, click on the "Page Number" option in the Header/Footer ribbon and select the "Header right" option to insert a page number in the right corner.

Once the running header has been added, it is important to set the font size of the running header to 12 and the font to "Times New Roman".

Step 4: Simply select your running header and click on the Home tab.

Step 5: In the Home tab, change the Font to "Times New Roman" in the Fonts field.

Step 6: To change the font size, in the Home ribbon, enter "12" in the Font size field.

The last setting for the running header is to set the header margin to "0.5 inches":

Step 7: Head over to the Header/Footer tab.

Step 8: In the Header/Footer ribbon, enter "0.5 in" in the “Header Height” field to set the header margin to 0.5 inches.

5. Title of Essay- On the Line Below the Date

After the header and running header, let's begin our essay with the title of our essay. Remember the rules:

The title should be center aligned.

The title should not be bolded, italicized, or placed in quotation marks unless it includes the title of a source (e.g., a book or movie title).

Step 1: Insert the title right below the header and visit the Home tab.

Step 2: In the Home ribbon, click on the “Center” icon to center align the title.

6. Headings and Subheadings- Into Sections

Headings and subheadings are important as they give reference to the reader. There are no hard and fast rules for their formatting, except that they need to be center aligned. You can set the font style to bold to help the reader distinguish them.

Step 1: Enter your heading below the title of the essay and visit the Home tab.

Step 2: In the Home ribbon, click on “Center” to align the heading to the center.

Step 3: To change the font style to bold, in the Home ribbon, click on the “Bold” icon right below the font field.

7. In-text Citation

In MLA format, in-text citations use parenthetical references to indicate quotes or ideas from another author. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do in-text citations:

Step 1: When you quote or paraphrase from a source, use the author's last name and the page number where the information is found.

Step 2:  After the quote or paraphrase, place the citation in parentheses. The citation should include the author's last name followed by the page number without a comma between them.

Step 3: The parenthetical citation should be placed before the period at the end of the sentence.

8. Works Cited Page

Finally, you will need to cite all the sources you took assistance from in writing your paper. Follow the following steps to understand how to cite your work in MLA format.

Step 1: Use a page break to start a fresh new page with the title "Works Cited." The heading "Works Cited" will follow similar heading guidelines as before.

Step 2: Double-space all entries and do not add extra spaces between entries.

Step 3: Use a hanging indent for each entry. The first line of each citation is flush with the left margin, and subsequent lines are indented by 0.5 inches simply using the “Tab” key..

Step 4: List entries in alphabetical order by the author's last name. If a work has no author, alphabetize it by the first significant word in the title.

Step 5: Format your sources as mentioned below for respective source medium:

Books Format: Author's Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Year of Publication.

Articles in Journals Format: Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Title of Journal, vol. number, no. number, Year, pages.

Websites Format: Author's Last Name, First Name (if available). "Title of Webpage." Title of Website, Publisher, Date of Publication, URL.

Bonus Tips: How to Convert Word to PDF without losing Format

Once you finish writing your essay, the next challenge is converting it from Microsoft Word to PDF without losing formatting. This can be frustrating because sometimes the formatting doesn't stay the same.

To avoid this issue, use WPS Office . It offers strong PDF features and keeps APA and MLA formatting intact. On the other hand, Microsoft Word 365, though widely used, may occasionally struggle to keep formatting consistent when converting to PDF. It's important to choose tools that prioritize preserving the look and structure of your academic work.

Here is how you can use WPS PDF to convert your essay documents to PDF without compromising on the quality:

Step 1: On WPS Writer, click on the Menu button on the top left corner of the screen.

Step 2: Now simply click on the “Export to PDF” option in the Menu.

Step 3: The Export to PDF window will open. Here, you can alter a few settings such as the output path. After going through the settings, simply click on Export to PDF to save the essay document as a PDF.

FAQs about writing an essay in MLA format

1. how to cite an image in mla.

To cite an image in MLA style, you need to format the citation based on where the image was viewed. For online images, the citation should follow this structure:

MLA format:

Creator’s last name, First name. “Image Title” or Description of the image. Website Name in italics, Day Month Year, URL.

MLA Works Cited entry:

Smith, Jamie. “Vintage Cars.” Travel With Us, 15 Mar. 2023, www.travelwithus.com/vintage-cars.

MLA in-text citation:

(Smith) Note: If you discover an image through a search engine such as Google, ensure that you credit and link to the website that hosts the image, rather than the search engine.

2. Do I need to include a title page in my MLA essay?

In most instances, an MLA-formatted essay does not necessitate a separate title page unless instructed otherwise by your instructor. Instead, begin your essay with a header and center the title on the subsequent line.

3. How to Cite a Website in MLA?

To cite a website in MLA style, you should include the author’s name (if known), the title of the page in quotation marks, the name of the website in italics, the publication date, and the URL without "https://". If the identity of the author is not known, start with the title of the page. If the publication date is unavailable or if there's a possibility of content modifications, include an access date at the end.

Author’s last name, First name. “Title of Page.” Website Name, Day Month Year, URL.

Adams, John. "Explore with us." Random Discoveries, 15 Sept. 2023, www.randomdiscoveries.com/explore-with-us.

Write Your Essays in Comfort With WPS Office

It’s so easy! The great thing about MLA format is that it’s not vastly different from APA and Chicago formats. There are only a few distinctions, and once you learn how to write an essay in MLA format [For Students], everything will become much easier for your academic life. Also, WPS Office is an incredibly handy tool for students. Not only can you format comfortably, but it’s also designed to be student-friendly, avoiding complex procedures. Simple yet advanced, and best of all, free. Get WPS Office today and write essays with ease and comfort!

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COMMENTS

  1. Use an APA or MLA template to start a paper online

    Choose an APA template or MLA template, or other college-related template and open it in Word for the web to make it yours. You'll be on the Templates for Word page. In the list of categories, click College Tools. As you work on the paper, you'll probably want to rename it and edit the header with a running head of your own.

  2. Writing an Essay in MLA Format

    Every MLA-format essay must include the following: One-inch margins. Double-spaced text. Easy-to-read font (typically Times New Roman) in size 12. New paragraphs indented 0.5 inches. Italicized media titles (books, magazines, etc.), no underlining. Page numbers in the header 0.5 inches from the top of the page. Oxford comma.

  3. Write great papers with Microsoft Word

    As you write, Word will keep track of all the citations you've entered. When you're finished, select Bibliography and choose a format style. Your bibliography will appear at the end of your paper, just like that. Make things look nice. Make your report or project look extra professional in the Design tab! Browse different themes, colors ...

  4. APA Formatting for Microsoft Word

    Within a Microsoft Word document: 1. Click on the INSERT tab at the top of the page. 2. Click on the "Page Number" tool to open a menu of options. 3. Select "Top of Page" and "Plain Number 3" options. 4. Double click outside of the top margin of your paper to get back to the text area of your document.

  5. Microsoft Word: How to Set Up an MLA Format Essay (2017)

    A tutorial on how to set up an MLA format essay (8th edition, 2017) in Microsoft Word 2016.Learn how to make MLA format citations: https://owl.english.purdue...

  6. Tips for Formatting an Essay in Microsoft Word: Fonts and More

    To control spacing in Microsoft Word, select the text, then right click. Choose "Paragraph.". This will open the Format Paragraph Window. It should look like the image to the left (click on the image for a larger view). In the Spacing section, you'll see two fields: one for Before and one for After.

  7. How to Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word

    To use an MLA format template, do the following: Open a new blank Microsoft Word document. Click File from the ribbon. Type MLA format and click the MLA Style Paper template in the Search field. A ...

  8. How to Set Up and Use MLA Format in Microsoft Word

    Click on the Layout tab (in older versions of Word this will be Page Layout ). Select Margins then click Custom Margins. For the Top, Bottom, Right and Left margins, type 1 and press Enter. Select OK. 2. Set the Font and Font Size. To change the font: Select the Home tab.

  9. How to Write a College Essay: Starting, Outlining, & More

    Introduction: Every essay should begin by situating its readers. Use an opening hook to grab their attention, then provide them with the wider context that your essay is working within. Summarize the ideas that your essay will explore and end your introduction with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement, usually just one sentence long ...

  10. PDF Student Paper Setup Guide, APA Style 7th Edition

    Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5 in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. Page numbers: Put a page number in the top right corner of every page, including the title page or cover page, which is page 1. Student papers do not require a running head on any page.

  11. How to Use Microsoft Word Effectively for Essay Writing

    Microsoft Word for Essay Writing. Using the traditional pen and paper to draft your essay has not completely gone out of style. However, if you want to effectively write, proofread and format your essay all at the same time, you need a sophisticated approach that would allow you to do all these in due time to succeed in professional essay writing from scratch.

  12. PDF How to Create an MLA Essay Template in Microsoft Word on a PC

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  13. HOW TO

    Instructions: Go to the Format menu, drag down to Style, make sure "Normal" is selected from the list of styles, and click "modify.". In the lower left corner, select the dropdown menu that starts with "Format" and drag down to Paragraph. In the paragraph settings menu that pops up, change the settings for Spacing After to 0pt.

  14. How to Format Academic Papers in Microsoft Word 2022

    Here are the instructions to follow: To change the indentation format for an academic paper in Microsoft Word, choose Select All from the Edit menu, or press the combinations of ⌘ A. Then go to the Format menu, select Paragraph from the drop-down menu (or press the key combinations of ⌥⌘M).

  15. APA format for academic papers and essays

    Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).

  16. PDF How to Create an APA Essay Template in Microsoft Word on a PC

    It will save you several minutes of formatting time whenever you need to write an APA-style essay. All you will need to get started is some basic knowledge of Microsoft Word and a computer that runs the Windows operating system and has Microsoft Word 2007 or later installed. Getting Started 1. On your PC, find and open Microsoft Word.

  17. Sample papers

    Student sample paper with annotations (PDF, 5MB) Professional sample paper with annotations (PDF, 2.7MB) We also offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format with the annotations as comments to the text. Student sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 42KB) Professional sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 103KB)

  18. Microsoft Word College Essay Format

    APA Format. Click on the Microsoft Word icon on the computer screen. After Microsoft Word loads, click on "Format" at the top of the screen and then on "Paragraph". In the "Paragraph" box, click inverted triangle next to "Line Spacing" and then click on "Double" from the drop down menu. Click on "View" at top of screen ...

  19. How do I format my student paper in APA style (7th edition) Using Word

    In bold, and centered, type: References. (Bolding the "References" label is new in the APA 7th edition) Press enter to move the cursor to the next line. From the Home tab, align the text to the left by clicking on the Left align button, and turn off the bold font option by clicking on the Bold button. Click on the down arrow in the Paragraph group.

  20. How to Format Your Essay in APA Style Using Microsoft Word 2021

    Open a blank document in Microsoft Word and select INSERT. Select PAGE NUMBER. Select TOP OF PAGE. Select PLAIN NUMBER 3. Using your mouse, double click anywhere on the document to hold the page number in place. 2. Set the Font Style, Size, and Spacing. From the HOME tab, set your font to Times New Roman size 12.

  21. College Application Essay Format Rules

    Microsoft Word (.DOC) format If you are submitting your application essay as a file upload, then you will likely submit a .doc or .docx file. The downside is that MS Word files are editable, and there are sometimes conflicts between different MS Word versions (2010 vs 2016 vs Office365).

  22. Free report templates

    Paper and report design and layout templates. Pen perfect looking papers and reports every time when you start your assignment with a customizable design and layout template. Whether you want your paper to pop off the page or you need your report to represent your data in the best light, you'll find the right template for your next paper.

  23. Microsoft Word Essay Template

    19+ Best Microsoft Word Essay Templates. On the search for college templates? We can help you with that. ... Free Microsoft Word MLA Format Argumentative Essay. plato.acadiau.ca. Details. File Format. Doc; Docx; Size: 7 kB Download Now. Microsoft Word Introduction Expository Essay Template.

  24. How to Write an Essay in MLA Format

    Bonus Tips: How to Convert Word to PDF without losing Format. Once you finish writing your essay, the next challenge is converting it from Microsoft Word to PDF without losing formatting. This can be frustrating because sometimes the formatting doesn't stay the same.

  25. How to add Grammarly to Microsoft Office on Windows

    To use Grammarly in Microsoft Office, install Grammarly for Windows by following these steps: Download Grammarly for Windows. Double-click the downloaded file and follow the prompts to complete the installation. In Microsoft Word, Grammarly for Windows will show a list view of suggestions and will let you filter suggestions by category: