To successfully meet your academic writing requirements, it is advisable to learn the regulations that apply to the various essay formats. When your instructor allocates a writing assignment to you, s/he may provide specific instructions on the format or you may be give a free hand to select your own preferred format style. The variety of formats that you may be asked to follow are numerous. But essentially, you should adhere to the rules and guidelines of the format you choose or are allocated.



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Following an Essay Format

It is only by thoroughly understanding the characteristics of a particular essay format that will enable you to rigorously follow that format through the duration of your essay. Unless you have been instructed to use an essay format that is new to you, it is a good idea, if possible, to stick to a format that you have used before. It is generally accepted that certain formats apply to specific subjects. As an example, the MLA (Modern Language Association) format is commonly applied to assignments in the fields of humanitarian studies, art and literature while the APA (American Psychological Association) format is often used for assignments on social sciences. The Harvard style is another popular format. What can we learn by examining these three popular styles more closely?

The style applied to written text provides a basis to judge its quality. However, it is the essay format that provides the basic structure to give a text added clarity and allure.

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Fundamental Essay Formats Commonly Applied to Academic Writing

A good starting point would be to examine how the various formatting styles apply in relation to the writing of academic papers, with a particular view to essay writing. It would seem that, irrespective of the essay's subject, any form of resource can be applied to the main formatting styles. References can be sourced through books, magazines, newspapers, websites, journals, CDs and DVDs. While examining the different styles used in essay formatting, and to simplify our process, let us focus our discussion on the prescribed techniques for writing citation pages.

The Harvard style requires the author's name, the title of the publication, the year of publication and some detail on the place of publication. For the latter, the city name is appropriate as an entry in the bibliography.

The main characteristic of the APA (American Psychological Association) style is the manner in which the paper is written. The name or title of the document is placed in the header with the page number following it. Bearing a similarity to Harvard, the details already described are required as bibliography entries. This is a popular style for analytical and scientific style essays.

The MLA (Modern Language Association) style requires similar bibliography entries as the Harvard and APA formats. But it differs from the APA style insofar as the writer's surname is placed in the header followed by the page number. It is worth noting that you may be required to leave some space before the title to allow for entry of your name, your instructor's name, your subject name and details relating to dates. There are some online resources that give more essay guidance on this.


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