Basic Information on Academic Papers Formatting

MLA and APA are two the most frequently used academic styles in different educational establishments. However, the students may be given a task of formatting their papers using specific guidelines. In this case, you should read and follow the given directions thoroughly. The following article will provide information on the basic formatting styles: MLA and APA, while formatting the paper in Microsoft Word program. It will help you avoid general mistakes and improve formatting skills.

Academic standards require from students to follow certain rules. If you fail to do it, you may face some difficulties while submitting your assignment. Do not even dream that such mistakes will be left unnoticed by your professor. Believing that you do everything right and knowing it for sure are two different things. In order to avoid problems with your paper, it is not enough to present excellent information. Formatting is a thing that also matters. Those students who are aware of correct formatting of different academic styles have higher chances of getting high grades for their work. Do you have any doubts about your skills of formatting? You can simply order formatting services at


Here are the things that have to be considered while formatting:

  • Margins

1” margins on all sides are a must for those academic paper that are submitted for grading. Nowadays, using of MS words makes the life of students much easier. You do not have to invent the bicycle by making up some methods connected to how set the margin. All you have to do is to set it as a default setting and change it only if it is required by the professor. 

The easy steps to change the settings include choosing “Format” section, then choosing “Document”, changing the margins and clicking Default tab. Remember this consequence in case you will need to change the settings in the future.

  • Indents

Make sure every first line of a new paragraph is indented automatically.

This setting can also be changed any time you need it. However, to set it as a default follow the simple consequence: Go  to “Edit”, click “Select All”, choose “Format” section and move on to “Paragraph”, go to “Indentation” category and choose “Special” drop-down unit, click “First Line”. In such way, indentation will be done automatically, which will spare you much time in cases when you have to do it manually.

  • Fonts

Two general font that is usually used for formatting academic papers is Times New Roman, 12 pt. However, Cambria and some other fonts can be used if required.

It is easy to change the font before you start the work. However, if you use it most of time, it will also be a good idea to set it as a default font. Look for “Style” category in “Format” menu. After that in list of styles choose “Normal” option and click “modify”. Use “Formatting” section to choose the font and the size you need and press “Ok” to save your settings. In case you will need to change the font for some other work, you can repeat the above-mentioned actions and change your settings.

  • Alignments

Remember that your paper should be left-aligned only. It is the best option for academic paper as it makes reading its content easier. Make sure you do not violate this rule while working on your assignment.

Formatting of a Title Page

  • Heading

Make sure to create a title page only in case when it is required. For this reason, you should follow the instruction provided by the professor carefully. However, if it is required, use you name and page number in MLA and running head with the title of paper in APA. Moreover, use your name, professor’s name, date of submission and course name in MLA format on your title page and the paper title, your name and the name of your institution in APA.

The two writing style differ a little in regard to title page formatting. For this reason, make sure you do not use one style instead of the other one while writing.

  • Title

Interesting and catching title that clearly reflects the topic of your paper should be written on the title page of the paper. In both styles, it should be place in the center of the page under the heading. Note that headings do not require any underlining or capitalizing. Regardless of your desire to make your paper as fancy as possible, do not do it to avoid penalties.

  • Page Numbers

The page numbers are inserted in the upper right corner of the paper. In order not to do it manually, use “Header/Footer” section.

Dealing with APA, do not forget to insert paper title with the page numbers. On the contrary, use your name in MLA format close to the page number in the upper right corner (instead of paper title).

“Header/Footer” section on MS Word will help you to add page numbers fast. As the name suggests, header is responsible for the upper part of the paper, while footer is at its bottom part.

In MLA, choose “Header and Footer”, click “View” menu, select upper box and insert your name. Use right alignment and go to “Insert” section where you will find “Page Number” option and click “Close”. After that, page numbers will appear on every page of your paper. They will appear automatically every time you add pages, so you will not have to do it manually.

When the “Header/Footer” section is active it will be black. Grey color means that the section is inactive.

There are also instances when the page number has to be removed from the first page of your paper. In such case, you will have to choose “Format” menu, go to “Document” section and press “Layout”. After that, you will see “Different First Page” line and the box next to it, which will have to be clicked.

Similarly, you can also delete the header, which will no longer be represented on the first page. However, if you insert it on the second page, it will appear on the following pages as well.



Spacing in Document

Double spacing is usually applied to the academic papers, the text in them, as well as to bibliography page.

To do it, you will have to do the following in MS Word: Select “Edit” section, choose “Select All”, move on to “Format”, choose “Paragraph” and the double spacing in the section with the same name. If you are an advanced user, you can use some keyboard combinations. Some of them are:

  • Cmd-2 for double spacing or Cmd+A for Mac;
  • Ctrl-2 o=is also for double spacing for PC users.
  • Ctrl-A helps to select all paper.

Spacing between Paragraphs

There is no need to make additional spacing between the paragraphs. However, in cases when you are required to change the spacing between the paragraphs, you can change the setting in the following way:

“Format” – “Styles” – “Normal” and press “modify”. After it is done, click the menu in the lower corner. Go to the “Paragraph” section and change the setting regarding setting in a pop-up menu. In such way you will be able to change spacing any time you need without any problems.

After your paper has been completed, you will have to take care about one more thing: your bibliography page. In order to do it, follow the guideline below:

Go to “Insert” menu, select “Break” option and press “Page Break”. Here you go. Get your paper completed!

Blocked Quotes

Quotations are an essential part of any paper. However, quotation also require specific rules to follow in order not to be considered as plagiarism. Quotes that are longer than four lines are considered to be block quotes and should be separated by indents and blocks. In case of block quotes, you will not need to use quotation marks. They will be replaced by blocking. Please also note that parenthetical citation goes outside of the final period. Considering the length of block quotes, they can include more than one sentence. 

We can take the writing burden OFF your shoulder