Research Paper Format

Updated: Mar 20, 2015

Format sets the look and the overall tone of your paper.

Every school or university has their individual requirements for the research paper format. Following research paper formatting requirements is critical for a number of reasons. First, proper formatting structures your thoughts and arranges your findings. A paper is therefore coherent and flows nicely, making its argument clear and understandable. Secondly, it makes the paper very presentable and solid looking. Your research paper will look nice, catching attention of its readers. Thirdly, since almost every university or college has unique requirements, your research paper format will be speak the paper as belonging to a specific school. And finally, your following university format guidelines will reveal your ability to apply your formatting skills (yes, formatting is quite a lengthy process and it sometimes requires a great deal of effort!). Format of your research paper inevitably makes part of the overall result you get for this paper - it shows how attentive you are in following your requirements. One trick that some instructors use is they don't explicitly mention how a research paper should be formatted, - they want to test your attention and critical thinking skills. In this case students should do their best with obtaining research paper formatting requirements: you can check your previous papers, which already got marked, you can look up this information over the Internet, you can contact one of your fellow students, or even your professor (it's always a good strategy to make sure you get reliable information).


Research paper formatting mainly refers to how your research paper is arranged in terms of use of paper, margins, use of fonts, spaces, use of bold or italics, quoting systems and many other things. We will try to cover these factors in a very detailed manner for your convenience.

Size of paper: by default students are supposed to use white, 8 ½ inch by 11inches paper. Text should be printed on one side only.

Text: paper should be typed or printed. Most of requirements will say 'typed or printed', but it's obvious they want it printed on a printer, preferably a laser one.

Margins: one inch margins are to be used from all sides.

Spacing: double spacing is preferable because it leaves room for comments and makes the paper readable. With one inch margins and double spacing about 10 typed sentences will fit on a page. A one space interval should be used between words.


Page numbers: page numbers should be put consecutively on every page, excluding the title page. Make sure you place your page numbers in one place throughout the paper (e.g. if it's upper right-hand corner, put the number in the same place throughout the entire paper). Page numbers should be put in Arabic numerals, no extra signs or symbols are needed.

Indentation: the beginning of each paragraph should have a one inch indentation. This makes it easy to identify the beginning of a new idea.

Justification: left-justify is preferable for your paper. Centering the text of the paper may also be acceptable, however never right-justify the paper unless specified by your school.

Quoting: quoting is a tricky subject. Since there are so many formatting styles you will want to make sure you know requirements of your school. Generally, though, UK and Australia universities will require Harvard quoting style, while US schools are more likely to request MLA or APA style.


A nice rule of thumb is to gather all requirements prior to writing a research paper - that way you will be well equipped for writing such a paper way before your writing starts. Such technique will spare you lots of time and effort. If you are not sure your formatting is done correctly, please feel free to order a proofreading service from our writing professionals and they will be happy to polish the paper for you. Here, at www.privatewriting.com we are available 24/7 to help you! PrivateWriting.com is the service you can trust.

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