Research Paper Format

February 01, 2022

Learn More About Research Paper Format With Our Guide!

Academic writing is difficult by itself, and things become even more complicated when students remember about research paper format. What is it? Where can they find a template and how easy is it to follow it? They can always choose to pay for a research paper and get experts to do everything, but sometimes it is useful to know how to format your work yourself. Our guide will share relevant examples that will help you form a clear picture of what an ideal paper should look like.

Common College Papers Format: Four Styles

There are numerous academic styles professors want their students to follow. We aren’t going to discuss and explain them all since it would take hundreds of pages. Instead, let’s make a brief overview of four most popular formats that each college and university requires. These are MLA, APA, Chicago, and Harvard. Each has a standard layout, but they also have unique rules that make them different from one another. 

The main nuance of MLA paper writing format is that it requires mentioning pages every time you quote from a source. You have to include the name of the author along with page number where you found interesting info.  APA needs author’s name and the date of publication. Chicago differs from every style because it has a unique system with footnotes: it might seem complex at first, but with a good template, you won’t face many problems. Harvard has US and UK versions. What makes it stand out is its odd punctuation, so be extra careful and watch out for it.

Standard Research Paper Template for Students of All Levels

Remember us talking about many styles having the same elements? We’ll discuss them here. They might look tough to remember right away, but as soon as you do, you’ll see how easy it is to format papers.

  • Title page. MLA papers don’t have a title page; others do. In the first case, you can start writing your text right on the first page after giving it an appropriate title. In the second instance, you can include similar details for all styles. Mention your last name, date of submission (optional), title of an essay, your subject/college /name of your professor. Here’s an example of APA title page:

Plato's “Meno”

Student’s First Name, Middle Initial(s), Last Name
Institutional Affiliation
Course Number and Name
Instructor's Name and Title

Assignment Due Date

  • Margin size. Typical research paper formatting demands the use of 1 inch margins from all sides. This is 2.5 in centimeters, and students should include margins like this for left, right, top, and bottom sides of their page. This makes the page look better visually. 
  • Font. This is another aspect that academic styles have in common, though many students like to break it. They come up with their own rules by using overly large fonts, including bright colors for paragraphs, etc. Standard font for all papers is Times New Roman 12 pt. Sometimes colleges might ask for Calibri, but professors would clarify this in advance. If they haven’t, feel confident to use TNR 12, you won’t make a mistake.  
  • Running head. APA is the only style that used to have a running head. The updated version canceled this rule, so now students shouldn’t worry about including it. Or they can simply find an APA research paper for sale service to help them.
  • Layout of body and paragraphs. Layout of research paper is always similar. Most papers should have an introduction, thesis, at least one body paragraph, and conclusion. Introduction and conclusion cannot exceed more than 10% of your word count. Thesis must be the last sentence of introduction — it expresses the main point of your work. Never use phrases like “This paper is going to” because it’s a huge mistake. This is an example of good thesis: it is a pure argumentative claim that requires further proof. Thesis:  Movies based on books often frustrate fans because their directors change crucial aspects of the narrative, such as plot arcs, physical appearance of characters, and their backstories. Each body paragraph has to explore every element of the thesis. These paragraphs shouldn’t have more than 200 words in them. At the same time, no section can be shorter than 3 sentences. 
  • Headings. Research paper headers have many similarities across various formatting styles. They mark the importance of a section & help separate different topics you explore in the same paper. Here is how they should look in MLA format. Check the APA or Harvard sample for a similar structure.

Formatted, unnumbered:
Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left
Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left
Level 3 Heading: centered, bold
Level 4 Heading: centered, italics
Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

  • Reference page. The common element of format of research papers is the reference page. They all have one because college is a place where students investigate multiple topics and create their reports. They need to document their findings, and everything they say must be supported with evidence from credible sources. The list of such sources is at the end. Its formatting might differ from style to style, but the essence is the same. Students should indicate writers’ last & sometimes first names, date of source’s publication, its title, and details like name of the collection or journal. This is a sample of how a reference list could look in APA.


Avery, O., & Katers, S. (2020), Review of nursing strategies. PLoS! One, 10(3)
Lorens, 8. G. (2021). Understanding culture in medicine. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Mannie, G. D. (2018). English association of nurses: evidence for practice (3rd ed.). CILO Publishing

If something is still unclear, continue researching it by looking at specific style example. Any problems? We are always nearby. Contact us and say, “Could you write my research paper for me?”, and we’ll start our work immediately. Our team doesn’t simply craft essays, we could simply format it, too — just say a word.

How to Format a Research Paper Citations and Reference List

Now is time to give you proper examples of citation systems and elaborate on works cited lists. These rules are simple. Pick a style you need and look at how you should use it when citing books.


In-text citations. Have a look at this example sentence in MLA: “Only 23% of people reported experiencing negative post-effects from consuming shrooms (Lesson 28).”    

The claim comes first, and the sentence ends with the author's name + page number. No comma is separating them. If you use the name in the sentence, then include only the page number in the brackets. It’ll look like this: “Lesson states that only 23% of people reported experiencing negative post-effects from consuming shrooms (28).”    

Works cited. Lesson, James. Atypical Treatment of Disorders. Penguin, 2018.

Mention complete first & last names of a writer; put title in italic and start each word with a capital letter. End with publisher as well as date.


In-text citations. Research paper example in APA should be like this: “To this day, though, no evidence points at an intruder breaking into the house of Jannie Roberts (Clarens, 2020).”    

You’d need the author's name and publishing date separated by a comma. Page number isn’t necessary unless you are using a direct quote. For listing a writer in a sentence, do the following: “According to Clarens (2020), no evidence points at an intruder breaking into the house of Jannie Roberts.”    

Reference list. Clarens, V. (2020). Unsolved crimes in MN. Yale University Press.

No need for the first name, use only the last one. Put a date right after that, italicize title, but don’t use capital letters for all words in it. Publisher is put at the end.


In-text citations. Research paper format example: “These people died in 1333, and their remains have been found five centuries later.” Number 1 indicates a corresponding footnote. It’ll be right in the lower part of the same page. Add complete info to it. “1. Karen Lewis, Times of War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 3.”    

We have number of the footnote, first and last name with no comma, book title in italics, complete publishing info and page number. Follow the same structure.

Reference list. Lewis, Karen. Times of War. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015

It looks different from a footnote, which is what makes Chicago very complicated. Students worried about getting it right could drop us a line with request, “Please proofread my essay and correct its formatting,” and our writers would gladly do it.

Harvard: US research paper setup

In-text citations. Format books in Harvard similar to this: “The second part of the movie was canceled because ratings dropped by more than 15% (Ellins 2010).”    

Last name of book’s author + date would be enough here. Commas shouldn’t be present. 

Reference list. Ellins, TE 2010, Movies that failed: box office information, McGraw Hill, London.

We did warn you about odd punctuation. No fears, though! Look for more Harvard research paper samples or use our model for your essay.

Rely on Guides and Do Paper Formatting Accurately

Treat formatting like a scientific guideline. There is a template and a sample: follow them and there won’t be any issues! If you feel like you need personal assistance, chat with our operators. Tell them, “Write my assignment for me” and give details. We could create an essay from scratch, proofread it, or offer you sample research papers — whatever you need, we have it!