Created: 08 Sep 2015 at 08:30 AM

What Is the Difference Within College Paper Format and Why?

College paper formattingCollege paper formatting entails a number of peculiarities that not all students comprehend. Most of freshmen do not even understand the real value and meaning of paper formats. The generally established formats exist to make students shape their ideas in a certain way, so that the paper would reflect a clear and precise organization with explicit information on the topic. However, the core of paper format usage is attributed to the upholding of intellectual property laws in terms of in-text citations. Different formats reflect versatile citation peculiarities so as to avoid plagiarism, which seems to remain as one of the most topical issues related to academic fraud. Every college paper format strives to interpret the way how writer wants to reflect the general paper presentation, which incorporates the technical aspect as well (setting margins, running heads, organizing bibliography, etc). Thus, acknowledging the key details of college paper formats can help one to forget about “fighting a long war” with formatting of college papers.

Different formats: Headache for students

The main difference between college paper formats

The main difference between college paper formats is in the choice of citation styles. Many instructors do not oblige students to work with different citation styles that elaborate on small and insignificant (at the first sight) details. However, regardless of the choice of college paper format, the whole idea behind it is to make students follow certain academic writing rules and conceive that academic honesty matters. College paper formats were introduced to prove that not only content, but paper organization must be clear to the reader. Students of all academic levels encounter the following citation/formatting styles in their writing tasks:

  • APA (American Psychological Association). The distinctive feature or the hallmark of this style is the usage of neutral vocabulary and a specific referencing system, which is easily comprehensible for college students. APA requires the title page with the running head, double spaced interval, Times New Roman, 12-point font, etc. The reference list must be placed right after the text and include all names that were mentioned in in-text citations (in both direct quotes and paraphrased sentences).
  • MLA (Modern Language Association). The same double spaced interval, Times New Roman font are required. However, this formatting style is well-known for the simplicity of presenting information. No cover page is required. No running heads or abstracts. In-text citations must contain the exact page numbers, in comparison to APA style, which requires them only in direct quotes.
  • Chicago style. Students desperately claim that it is the “worst style ever” because one can spend more time on formatting than on the actual writing of the college paper. Formatting of papers in Chicago style is one of the biggest challenges because one has to pay attention to the sophisticated referencing system through the usage of footnotes and endnotes. This style obliges the writer to use a note each time he/she intends to include an outside idea, be it a paraphrased sentence or direct quote.
  • Harvard style. This citation style makes a special focus on the referencing system, proving that every statement student takes from outside sources must be properly cited. Providing the authoritative claims must comply with the generally established rules. This paper format is also called “author/date” system of referencing since all in-text citations must be comprised of the author and exact date when the source was published.
  • Turabian style. It is a less frequently used style known as “documentary note” since writer has to pay proper attention to footnotes placed at the end of the page. Specific formatting features are also seen, especially in bibliography. Usually this paper format is assigned to students majoring in the arts and history. Turabian style presumes including a footnote for every direct quote and paraphrased idea, so that any incidents of plagiarism would be avoided.
  • Oxford style. Just like in the previously mentioned paper format, this style is also referred to as “documentary style” because it is famous for its note citation system. Oxford style attracts the same attention to proper referencing that appears at the bottom of the page. Reference list must include all utilized readings for paper writing. This style makes a special focus on in-text citations that should include a single page for quotes (e.g. p.45) rather than a couple of pages (p.45-48).
  • CBE (Council of Biology Editors). The usage of this citation style is mostly seen among students majoring in biology. However, most of universities believe it is be outdated and ask to refer to CSE (Council of Science Editors). The main distinctive feature of this style is the ability to include both “References” section and “Additional Reading,” where one could use sources that were not included in in-text citations, but were utilized in the research as for the general comprehension of topic.
  • ASA (American Sociological Association). Just like in APA style, the cover page and abstract are required. The basic citation rules comply with other college paper formats (Times New Roman, 12 pt font; 1-inch margins, etc). The usage of subheadings is highly appreciated.

Check how to format the paper according to MLA style at:

How to format the paper according to MLA

Different Disciplines – Other Formats

Modern academic writing

As you can see, numerous college paper formats are being used by various education institutions. Modern academic writing is deeply preoccupied with formatting peculiarities, which exist to make academic writing formal and precise. College paper format plays a pivotal role in modern writing and nowadays instructors apply strict rules and penalties for overlooking basic formatting requirements. The peculiarity of college paper formats is linked to the discipline or area of specialization. For instance, biology students are often required to use CSE formatting style; law students - Harvard formatting style. At the same time, one should not forget about one of the common issues that students encounter. Instructors and professors adore changing the typical format structures, provoking headachy feelings when one has to reconsider the already existent formatting styles and apply different changes to their research projects. Therefore, be it a student of high school, college, or university, one has to understand that college paper format is not only the way one sets margins and organizes the bibliography page, but also the ability to handle the general formatting requirements and a specific referencing system. All such rules related to the college paper format help to avoid plagiarism issues, when one gives full credit to the source where information was borrowed during the initial step of conducting a research.

Do not feel the difference? Keep practicing!

Do not feel the difference? Keep practicing!

As you can see, modern education utilizes different paper formats such as APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, Turabian, etc. In every writing task, students are expected to follow all formatting rules that go hand in hand with paper organization and proper referencing so as to avoid plagiarism and any related consequences. The choice of citation style depends on the discipline one majors in as well as professor’s preferences. Though there is a significant difference between college paper formats, it is pretty easy to learn and practice referencing in academic writing that helps papers to look organized and properly structured.

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