Essay format styles


"Ethics, copyright laws, and courtesy to readers require authors to identify the sources of direct quotations and of any facts or opinions not generally known or easily checked."

-- Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press), p. 594

Every time you use someone else's thoughts or ideas for your academic writing, you should refer to the original author. Even if you are not quoting from the work, but the acquired knowledge from reading the source has contributed to your paper, you should acknowledge the author. When you document sources, you provide citations within your paper connecting appropriate passages to pertinent resources quoted. You can do it either through in-text parenthetic notes, footnotes, or endnotes. Besides, make sure you placed reference list (bibliography) at the end of your writing.

The citation format you apply will depend on the citation style you choose.

In our guide we will consider the four major styles for academic writing in the humanities, social sciences, and some scientific disciplines:

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) Style, recommended for literature, arts, and humanities, etc.
  • APA Style (the American Psychological Association) is required in most papers on psychology and other social sciences.
  • Turabian and Chicago Style is used in history as well as other disciplines.
  • Harvard Style

As a rule your professor assigns you the format of the paper you should write, otherwise ask your instructor about any special formatting details.

For more details on each of the styles, see a separate section of our guide.

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