Essay Writing Guide
Essay Writing Formats

Essay Writing Formats

Essay Writing Formats

Table of contents

What Is Essay Format?

An essay format refers to how you organize text in your essay to meet set requirements by an educator or an institution of learning. The essay writing format makes your paper more appealing and legible for anyone that gains access to it. The structure allows the reader to access the different parts of your essay efficiently. Through the format, any reader could easily tell whether you are a good writer. Formatting your essay will mean you end up with a good structure starting from the introduction, to the body and later the conclusion. Your introduction needs to be clear and concise to create an excellent first impression. The body of your essay needs to have well-thought arguments that support the main idea of each paragraph and further the thesis statement of your essays. Lastly, your conclusion needs to leave a lasting impression by giving a light touch to every part covered in your essay. 

Formatting makes your paper more appealing and legible for anyone that gains access to it.

Essay formats infographic

Essay Formatting Example

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Types of Essays & Writing Formats

There are multiple types of essays and formats you may come across in the course of your learning. Each essay type subscribes to a certain format with more guidance on what is required of your paper coming from your instructor.

Essay Types

  • Expository essays
    You need to know how to tackle this type of essay before you learn about other kinds of essays. An expository essay is what many refer to as an explanatory essay. The essay type seeks to describe a phenomenon. A writer is required to study a given subject, understand and come up with an interesting piece about it. Being an academic essay you might think of using APA, Harvard or MLA formatting styles to format, cite and reference your work. 
  • Persuasive essay
    The purpose of this essay is usually to convince the reader to support your specific point of view. Just like in an expository essay, you will need to study the subject adequately but take a stand on a certain issue. What follows is to come up with well thought out arguments that can stand the face of criticism. The most appropriate way to format your essay is the MLA format
  • Comparison and Contrast Essay
    Here there are two or more ideas, which the writer needs to explore and draw similarities and differences between them. To pull this off, you need to be able to critically analyze both ideas and come up with concrete items both ideas have in common or the things that make the ideas different from each other. Here, no referencing is required, given that the differences and similarities can never be the same for every student. You are open to choose a standard essay format for your essay. 
    Describe what two ideas or realities have in common and what makes them distinct. Usually, no scholarly research and references are needed. Therefore, the citation is not necessary.
  • Cause and Effect Essay
    This is quite straightforward. You need to establish the reason why something happened and the result of what happened. This is not the essay where you rely a lot on your perspective but on facts about your phenomenon. In the essay, there is no use of the first person "I.” The idea of the essay is to be as more authoritative and reliable as possible. Use the sources that are more credible, and that will earn your essay validity. You can subscribe to APA and MLA formats depends on what your instructors ask of you. 
  • Research Essay
    For research essays, it is simple. You need to study a subject, analyze it, and focus on a narrow aspect of a given part of the subject. The aim is to be objective and find enough material to support the stand you have taken on that given issue. The proper essay format for this type of essay is an APA or an MLA formatting style. 

Essay Writing Formats

Some of the types of writing formats are above. If you are interested in knowing more about below are some essay formats.

  • AMA is the American Medical Association. The essay format is common in medical research and academic paper writing.
  • APA is the American Psychological Association is common to many students today and has almost been the standard for academic writing.
  • ASA is the American Sociological Association meant for those working and studying sociology
  • Annotated bibliography this format is common in MLA and APA. The Annotated bibliography is a referencing format that composes of a list of sources used in doing a given academic paper. The style takes different forms depending on the essay paper for a respective paper done. 
  • Chicago Style is an American English writing style. The style is done as notes and bibliography system or an author-date system.
  • Harvard Style is an in-text and reference-list essay format. It is commonly used by university students today
  • IEEE Citation Format is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) style. The style is common in writing technical papers in engineering and computer science, among others. 
  • MLA Style is also the Modern Language Association style. MLA is simple and shares a lot in common with APA style.

Formatting an Essay

Above we have covered the various types of essays and the formats they might follow in handling them. Before formatting, you might need to know the broad category of essays you need to adhere to whether informal or formal. The informal one is quite conversational and allows for expression from airing opinion, persuading or informing. Here you do not need a style to format your essay like the ones above (formal essays). 

For this reason, we get to talk about how to format an essay on a typical basis as below. Usually, a standard essay format means you have an introduction, a body and a conclusion. 

The Introduction

Here, you need to inform the reader about the subject of your essay. You can start by mention how you have organized your paper. There needs to be a thesis statement and a brief supporting it. A thesis should be the last statement of your introductory paragraph. Moreover, it should state the idea you plan to prove in your essay. 


The body is made of paragraphs that come after the introductory paragraph. Each paragraph needs to possess one main idea with supporting arguments in the preceding statements in your paragraph. There needs to be supporting evidence for the main points, such as quotes and examples. The last bit should connect the paragraph to the main argument of your essay. 


Here, you need to restate the contents of your essay. Do a review of the main points of your essay to remind the reader. This leaves the reader with a lasting impression of your essay. 

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