10 Solid Tips on How to Format a College Paper

Formatting a research paper properly is crucial to ensuring a great score for your essay. Unfortunately, many students struggle with writing a paper for college, owing to the limited amount of time at their disposal and unfamiliarity with various aspects of formatting academic papers. 

Read on for tips to format your essay, ensuring a neat document that adheres to various guidelines without much struggle. 

How to format a college paper

  1. Revisit your paper’s guidelines

The key to proper formatting is to revisit the guidelines of the paper and note the elements to prioritize in your editing stage. For this, pay attention to the referencing style, the prescribed spacing, and other general document settings.

If none are provided, you should settle for a standard double-spaced paper with 1-inch margins and a standard font type, size 12. Ideally, jot these guidelines on a piece of paper for guidance and easy revision as you edit your work.

  1. Record sources as you go

Referencing is a key component of the college writing format. Besides in-text citations, your works cited section may differ depending on the referencing style you settle for. Ideally, clarify your referencing style and record your sources with all necessary information for your format. 

You could consider checking a college paper format guide for your selected style, to overcome common issues which could compromise your overall score. 

  1. Draft your outline

An outline is a crucial element in writing a college research paper. Besides keeping you on track with your arguments, the outline also helps you clarify various headings within your work. 

After clarifying the structure of your research, you can easily style each header for a college paper, reducing confusion for your readers. 

  1. Break your paper into sections 

Chunking your paper proves to be of great benefit for formatting your essays. For instance, I can easily identify the structural and formatting issues as a write my college paper when looking at one portion compared to when dealing with the total paper. 

This approach is great as it reduces the amount of information to peruse, helping you focus on elements such as headings, quotes, margins, and citations. 

  1. Keep it simple

Although you may feel inclined to go overboard with language and styling, academic papers should retain a professional look and be easy to read. As such, refrain from using jargon and fancy fonts that could prove challenging to read.

We recommend that you use Calibri or Times New Roman fonts, size 12 with a double-spacing, allowing for easy reading. 

  1. Pay time to your abstract

The abstract often presents a major issue for students learning how to write a paper in college. This section highlights the crux of your paper and therefore bears much importance to readers gauging how your work connects to their needs. 

As such, take time to edit your abstract into a succinct paragraph highlighting the research gap, your objectives, and your methodology.

  1. Countercheck in-text citations and your reference list

Before submitting your paper, countercheck each in-text citation within your paper with entries in your references list. This diagnosis will allow you to account for each source used, avoiding omissions that could result in plagiarism. 

Alternatively, use a referencing app such as Bibme to track all your sources and have a reference list styled to your preferred style generated for easy integration into your paper.

  1. Set up general document settings

Before starting on your essay, set up the general document settings and apply your settings to the entire paper. This allows you to avoid confusion in the latter stages and also to achieve uniformity throughout your paper. 

You could also set the settings as the default for every document, making it easy to edit parts of your paper that have been created as separate documents. 

  1. Add a page header

Unless you are formatting your paper in MLA, a page header is crucial for your essay. When starting on your essay, style your page header and include all the details needed for the section. 

Getting the easy parts out of the way will make it easier for you down the line, allowing you to focus on other components. 

  1. Recheck quotes on your paper

Poorly structured quotes may result in unintentional plagiarism, exposing you to harsh consequences. Check all your quotes before submitting your paper to ensure proper editing according to your referencing style.