What is the best format for college research paper?

Writing a research paper is not a very easy task. It requires a lot of time and energy, looking for sources and pieces of evidence that will back up your research paper. One thing you need to put in mind is that creating an outline will help you immensely. It will make your thoughts organized and a template for all the paper. An overview is just a skeletal of the final paper and will guide you for the entire paper.Specific attention is brought on how the format of the paper is. In this article, we are going to discuss the best format for your research paper.

What is a research paper?

A research paper is just an extension of an essay that needs an explanation of what you have learned after exploring the topic deeply. All the sources you have used, such as books, websites, interviews, are added in the paper. All the ideas, opinions, and knowledge are all yours, and you own them.

Best format for your research paper

The research paper should include three-part; an introduction, body, and conclusion.


The introduction is one of the hard things to write on. The introduction only takes 10% of the overall paper word count. In the introduction, you are required to give an overview of the topic and the background information. A thesis statement is also added in the introduction. The thesis should be very strong to make readers interested in reading the rest of the work. State your main idea in the introduction.


The body includes facts and other statistics that will back up the thesis statement. Use the majority of the transition sentences at the end. The character count should comprise of at least three sentences and not more than 200 words. Write as many paragraphs as you want, but they should be relevant to the topic.


A conclusion includes a summary of the research paper. You should stick to the summary of the paper and try to bring new ideas, facts, or any other thing in the conclusion. The conclusion ensures the facts support the thesis statement.

Writing a research paper has plenty of things involved rather than just throwing words and citations everywhere in the paper and hoping that everything will be great. If you want to get the best grade in the research paper, you need to do extensive research; the sources and all statics should be credible. The paper should also be well-formatted according to the instructions provided. Their exists numerous formatting styles, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. The following steps will ensure you write a professional paper that will see you get an excellent grade in your paper.

Formatting a research paper

  • Paper. The type of paper you use is an essential element. It is recommended to use a neat, high quality 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. The paper should only be white and on one side.
  • Margins. The margins used as also an incredible aspect of your research paper. The margins of a research paper should be 1″/ 2.5 cm at the top, bottom, left and right sides of each page. 1″ is equivalent to 10 typed spaces. However, the page numbers should be placed at 1/2″ at the top upper-right hand corner, pushed to the right margin.
  • Title page. A title page is not necessarily crucial to a research paper when using an MLA format unless you include it by your teacher. Follow the instructions provided if you want the paper to be in APA, MLA, Chicago, and many other formats. A title page comprises of:
  1. The paper’s title;
  2. The name of the author;
  3. The name of the institution;
  4. Header;
  5. Professor’s name;
  6. Date;
  7. Course code.

The paper’s title should not be put into quotation marks, underlined, or a period in the end. People’s names and keywords should be written in the capital letter and preposition or conjunction to be written in the small letters. The acronyms should also be written in capital letters such as CIA. If the acronym you are using is not well known to the people, write the full meaning. Do not ever try to explain the title on the title page.

  • Numbering Page and Paragraphs. The pages should be numbered consecutively in the whole essay in the right-hand corner, pushed against a margin and 1/2″ from the top. Never add any fancy things on the page numbers and should be written in the Arabic form. Never underline the page number put it into brackets or adds hyphens to it and does not add a period at the end of it. When submitting your research paper, it is advisable to number as follows [1] for the first paragraph as you continued down to the last paragraph.
  • Spacing. The research paper should be double spaced, whether it is printed, typed, or handwritten. It should be double spaced between the lines. Leave one space after a comma, full stop, semicolons, and other punctuation marks.
  • Indentation. Your research paper should be indented with a 1″ from the left margin. Use the tab key for this purpose instead of pressing the space bar five times. Indentation helps a reader to see where a new paragraph has started from.
  • Right justify and automatic hyphens. Never format your hyphens or right justify when using word instead left justify the essay and type hyphens by yourself where applicable
  • Titles of books, magazines, newspapers should be underlined. Underline the titles of books, newspapers when you use them in the research paper. The shorter works should be put into quotation marks.
  • Do not write the whole paper in capital letters. This is a mistake that no one can ever do, but let us just highlight it. No one will like the work written in capital letters, and the main aim of the paper is to communicate.
  • Table of contents. An able content should be added to the research paper. The table of content helps to indicate the page numbers where each section starts. Since a research paper is long, it will be necessary for you to add the table of contents.


Writing a research paper is different from an essay. Research papers are very long and include intense research on a specific topic. In this article, we have discussed the format of the research paper that will help you write your research.

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