As a college or university student, it’s likely you’ll need to write papers as part of your degree program. This may be daunting, especially if writing isn’t your forte and/or you’re not sure how to properly format your paper. Following is a guide that could help you master the requirements. What is a College Paper Format? Put simply, college research paper format is often a required order and structure for college papers to ensure they are clear and easy to read. It differs from the high school paper format as the format for college papers is designed to be more professional than that of typical high school papers. Why is it Important to Format Your College Paper? There are several reasons why you need to pay close attention to your college paper format. One reason is that it may impact your scores. Even a well-written paper may not receive a good grade if it is not properly formatted. This could not only impact your course grade but also your scholarships if the scholarships you have received require you to maintain a minimum grade point average. Even more importantly, knowing how to properly format professional papers is an important skill that may serve you well after graduation. You may be required to write up professional papers in your line of work; knowing how to properly format your writing could help you communicate well with business partners, potential clients, overseers, and co-workers. Getting to Know the Three Main Formats for College Papers: APA, MLA, and CMS There are three main college paper formats. These are APA, MLA, and CMS. The APA format was originally designed by the American Psychological Association (hence its name). When the American Psychological Association started publishing journals in the early 1920s, it devised a writer’s guide to ensure all published content was clear and free from bias in language. This writing style is typically used not only in college and university but also in scientific journals and school textbooks. The American Psychological Association regularly updates its guidelines to help writers use accurate yet inoffensive terms when discussing topics such as sexual orientation, disability, gender, and socioeconomic status. The MLA college paper format was created by the Modern Language Association, the leading association for scholars of language and literature in the United States. The standards for this writing style were first released in 1951 and are regularly updated to take technological developments and inclusivity standards into account. The MLA format deals primarily with source documentation in scholarly writing, and it is used not only by college and university students but also by commercial presses, academic presses, and journals. The Chicago Manual of Style was first drawn up by the University of Chicago Press in 1906. Seventeen editions later, it still covers grammar rules, citation styles, document preparation, and formatting. The book is regarded as one of the most respected style guides in the United States. How to Format an APA Paper The main rules for a college APA format paper are: Use a standard font. Suitable options include Times New Roman, Calibri, Verdana, and Arial. Set one-inch page margins.Use double-line spacing.Indent each new paragraph by half an inch.Center the information on the title page. This information includes the title of the paper, author, author affiliation, course, instructor, and due date.Insert a running head on every page if you are submitting the document for publication. Students typically don’t need to use running heads for their papers unless the professor asks them to do so.Use title case capitalization for headings. Use author-date in-text citations.Create a reference page at the end. Page numbers should be in the top right corner of the paper. Your paper would look something like this: Title of the Paper Author’s name Affiliation of Author Name of course paper is being written for Professor teaching the course Due date for submitting paper Title One First paragraph of paper Second paragraph of paper How to Format an MLA Paper The main rules for how to format an MLA paper are: List key information before you start your paper. This information includes your full name, professor’s name, course name or number and the due date of your assignment. Center all titles.Use title case capitalization for all headings.Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial.Double line spacing.Indent each new paragraph by half an inch.Use in-text citations when referring to a source in your text.Create a Works Cited page at the end of your paper listing all the sources you used, including the ones with in-text citations.Page numbers should be in the top right corner of the paper. The author’s surname should precede each page number. This is what the first page of an MLA paper would look like: Sample Author Sample Professor Course Name Due Date Title of the Paper First paragraph of the paper Second paragraph of the paper How to Format a Chicago Style Paper Here are the rules for how to format a Chicago Style Paper: Use a standard font.Margins should one inch or larger.Use double line spacing.Each new paragraph should be intended by half an inch.Page numbers should be in the top right corner or bottom center.Do not use headings or subheadings.The title page is optional, unless your professor specifically asks you to create one. If you create a title page, the title of the paper should be centered, bold, and written in title case, followed by the subtitle, which is also written in title case. It should appear near about eight lines underneath the page number. Add another eight spaces or so before listing your name, student number, course, course number, and due date. There are two ways to provide citations for your paper. You could either use author-date citations and provide a reference list at the end, or use footnote citations and provide a bibliography at the end. Pick only one style for use with any given paper. Here is a sample Chicago Paper for your reference Title of the Paper Subtitle of the Paper Author’s name Author’s Student Number: (provide number here) Course Name Course Number: (provide number here) Due Date First paragraph of your paper. Second paragraph of your paper. Mastering college paper format takes time. Allow yourself plenty of time to complete assignments to ensure you can not only provide accurate, well-written content but also format your content in accordance with the course requirements. The time and hard work you invest in your course papers will pay off by helping you earn your degree and boosting your odds of success in your chosen career path.