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       When tasked with writing essays for a class, students are more than likely going to have to utilize a variety of other sources and not just their own ideas. It is extremely important that when a student opts to utilize information for a certain source, they need to acknowledge the author of that source. Even if you do not directly quote the source, which may be a book or article, it is still material that assisted in writing your essay, and therefore you need to recognize where you received that information from via a citation. When you are tasked with documenting all sources used in an essay, you are providing references throughout the essay recognizing that certain parts of the paper are not your own idea but someone else’s. There are a number of techniques you can use to record this important information, including endnotes, footnotes, or in-text notes that show up in parenthesis in body paragraphs. At the end of the essay, you must also document all the sources used – this is known as the bibliography.

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       There are a number of different essay format styles used for citation purposes. Often times, the decision of which of the essay format styles students need to use is up to the discretion of the teacher or professor. However, there are four main essay format stylesrequested by teachers and professors:

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  • MLA – or Modern Language Association – is a citation style most commonly used when writing papers for art, literature, or other humanitarian courses
  • APA – or American Psychology Association – is a citation style most commonly used when writing papers for sociology, psychology, and other social science courses
  • Both Chicago and Turabian essay format styles are commonly used when writing papers for history courses

       Here are a few tips when it comes time to format the essay:

  • Use one-inch standard margins at the top and bottom of your essay and 1.25 inch margins along the left and right of the essay
  • Standard essay format calls for double spaced text as it provides essential room for the reader to make comments or circle items
  • Unless you are given other information, the text for an essay needs to be aligned to the left. If you are writing an essay by hand, keep a straight edge rules close by to ensure vertical alignments are at an angle of 90 degrees
  • Utilize standard font styles and sizes, such as Times New Roman at font size 12
  • Do not print an essay on both sides of the paper – stick to one side only
  • Use standard 8.5 inches x 11 inches paper
  • Indent all first lines of paragraphs by five spaces or by simply hitting the “tab” button

       When it comes to page numbers, the title page does not have to be numbered. Therefore, the first page after the title page will be labeled as “page 1.” Wherever you choose to put the first number on the first page, make sure it is in the same location of all consecutive pages.  Only use numbers when numbering pages. Do not write “Page 1” or “Pg. 1.” If you are using the MLA formatting style, it dictates that the page number must be preceded by the last name of the writer – I.E.: “Smith 1.” MLA style also dictates that the number needs to be placed in the upper corner on the right side of the paper.

       When doing the works cited page, all information retrieved from outside sources needs to be included. The way you list the source depends on what kind of source it is. Different sources, such as articles, books, and interviews, need to be cited in different formats. The citation style is also dependent on the essay format style used.

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