Practical Tips On How To Use The Correct Format For Your Research Paper

Writing a research paper is an incredible amount of work. After writing, there is a final step: formatting. Today’s word processing programs make formatting much easier, but you still need to maintain attention to detail. These are standard guidelines for formatting, but note that they are superseded by specific assignment requirements from your teacher or professor. Also pay attention to MLA and APA guidelines, depending on your field.

Title Page

A title page is only necessary if your professor requests it, and he will probably provide you with a layout. If not, the traditional layout includes your name, teacher’s name, course code and date, along with the title. This information should all be in title case. If no title page is required, this information will go at the top of your first page and be double-spaced and left-aligned. The title will go two spaces after and will be left-aligned.

Page Numbering

The title page should never be numbered. Page numbers are located ½” down from the top right-hand corner of the page. Numbering first page of the paper is optional; word processing allows you to suppress page one.

Margins and paper

Your research paper should have 1” margins on each side. This creates a professional, clean look and gives your professor a place for comments. You should use quality white 8 ½ X 11” paper and only write or print on one side.

Spacing, paragraphs, and font

Your assignment should be double-spaced using a standard size 12 font, typically in Times New Roman or Arial. Your research paper is not the place to show your creative flair with funky fonts. Each new paragraph should be indented ½” from the left margin. If your assignment requires that you start each paragraph without an indent, that is appropriate, but you will need to quadruple space between paragraphs to show where a new one starts.

Punctuation and titles

Only include one space after punctuation such as commas, periods, colons and semicolons. The standard for spacing after a period used to be two spaces due to typewriter character spacing issues. You can still use two spaces, but the MLA standard is now one space. When formatting titles in your work, titles of longer works are underlined. Titles of shorter works are placed inside quotation marks. The title itself is formatted using title case, so all words are capitalized except for conjunctions, articles or prepositions.

Final preparation

When your assignment is complete, attach the pages using a staple or paperclip. Unless requested by your professor, do not use a folder or binder.

After completing all of the hard work of writing a research paper, you want to hand in a professional-looking assignment. First impressions are very important, after all. And with a few simple steps, you can turn in a finished product that you can be proud of.