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Basic Essay Styles and Formats

July 15, 2015 - Posted to Study

Content essay styles   formats

The Great Essay – It’s a Matter of Styles and Formats

Essay writing is a combination of science and art, and those two aspects, when applied correctly, will result in a final piece of writing that will result in a great grade – and who doesn’t want a great grade? So let’s take a look at what style and format mean in relation to producing an essay.

The Basic Essay

From middle school on, you were taught that all essays must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The college essay format is no different when you are writing all types of essays except narratives. They are a bit different because you will be telling a story. So, here is a basic review for you of the format of an essay that will meet the expectations of any professor for any course.

  1. The Introduction: To write a solid introduction, you ask yourself three questions:
  1. What am I going to be talking about? This is the “what” and it is also known as your topic.
  2. How am I going to be talking about this? This is the “how” part, and you need to briefly introduce the points you plan to cover. So, if you are writing a persuasive essay on the amount of money in politics, you may state that you will be speaking to PAC’s, Lobbyists, and campaign costs – three points.
  3. Why am I talking about this? If you can’t answer “why,” then the topic is not a good one for you. Choose another. The answer to this question becomes your thesis. And, in the case of money in politics, your thesis may be that the role of money in politics today threatens our democracy. There. You have a thesis.
  1. The Body: Each point that you described in your introduction will be covered in a paragraph, and you will need to do the following:
  1. Introduce the point with a topic sentence
  2. Give evidence or supporting detail to “prove” your point
  3. Show how the point relates to your thesis.
  1. The Conclusion: You must do two, maybe three things here:
  1. Restate your thesis in a different way
  2. Explain how you have “proved” it
  3. Add a call to action or a recommendation if warranted.

Now, an extra note about that introduction, and this speaks to style very importantly. No one wants to read an opening sentence, like, “There is a lot of money in politics today, and it costs huge amounts to run a national campaign.” (Not very snappy). Instead, get a number. How much did Romney and Obama each spend on their campaigns in 2012? There’s your shocking opener!

The Other Factor in Good Essay Writing – the Format Style

Professors can be pretty picky! And most all of them will have a specific essay writing format requirement that has nothing to do with the structure of your content. It has everything to do with your physical presentation of that piece of writing.

Essay formats can be a bit tricky. Your professor may as for APA or MLA style, or may have his/her own variation of these two. In some less common situations, a professor may ask for Chicago, Turabian, or even Harvard style. In any case, you need to understand that formats are important to these people or they wouldn’t require them. They will determine the following:

  1. A separate title page or not, as well as what is to be included in that title.
  2. Margins: Different style have different top, bottom, and side margins, so be certain that you know those dimensions.
  3. Justification: Some styles require left justification; some do not. Be certain you know this
  4. Pagination: page numbers at top centered, bottom center, top left? Put them in the right place, please! And know any “quirks.” For example, in MLA style you will need to put your last name in the upper left-hand corner followed by the page number.
  5. In-text citations: Each format style has a unique way to do this.
  6. End-of-text citations: Bibliographical entries will need to follow the requirements of the specific style too.

If you do not have a style guide, get one, or use one of many Internet resources that will provide you with the details of every format style on the planet.

Too Much?

You may be feeling overwhelmed by either the creation of your essay or following all of the details of a specific format style. In that case, you can get quality help from the pros at

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