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How to format a coursework assignments? detailed guidelines for apa, mla, cmos format styles

Posted By Admin @ 03/03/23

One of the challenges faced by students in coursework writing is “How to format a college Coursework assignment”. Formatting can be tough at times as there are different ways and styles of formatting and style demands a different way of putting things in order. For that reason, we are here to help with “How to format a college Coursework assignment”. It is a requirement of colleges and universities to set your assignment according to a particular style like APA, MLA, CMOS, and Harvard. These are the basic styles prescribed by universities for the formatting of academic papers. Formatting in a different style is not an easy task because it requires a complete understanding of all the guidelines and ways of following them. Each style has different ways of formatting of title paper, abstract, main body, and references. In all of them, referencing is the most important part as the real problem lies here with regard to the author’s name whether first or second, and date and year of publication followed by the title of the journal and article. Each style is designed for a specific purpose or to highlight a specific part like the name of an author or the year. However, the basic purpose of all the styles is to give credit to the author of the source material and to save the author from entitlement to plagiarized content. There are different guidelines available for these styles which are being updated from time to time and now we have different editions of these styles.

Formatting Style

 Formatting style is a formal way or standardized approach to format the paper. It helps your paper to be set in a standard way and you can recognize it by just looking at the title page about the style of formatting. The basic styles are

1. APA (The American Psychological Association Style)

2. CMOS ( The Chicago Manual of Style)

3. MLA (The Modern Language Association Style)

In all of these styles, the name of the author or text and year are placed according to the style to make the academic paper stand out as it gives a composed and formal look to academic writing.

1. APA

APA is also known by the name the American Psychological Association Style. APA is most frequently used by colleges and universities for the formatting of academic papers done by students. There are many editions of APA. The current and latest edition of APA is the 7th edition which came out in the year 2019. And for now, it is the latest edition.

General Guidelines

The general guidelines of APA include that the paper should be typed and double-spaced. A paper should be typed on the standard paper size of 8.5”x 11” along with a margin of 1 inch on all four sides of the paper. APA also includes a running head also known as a page header on every page of the paper. The running head is the short title of your paper on the top left corner of the paper. It also includes the page number on every page. For the student paper, the only page number is the requirement but for the professional paper, both the page number and running head are the requirements. For the insertion of the page number and running head, go to the insert option and insert the page number in the right corner and the Running head in the left corner in capital words. Running head is the short form of the title and the limit of the running head is fifty characters including spaces and punctuation, this limit cannot be crossed.

Font Style and Font Number

There are no strict rules and regulations regarding the selection of font number and type. However, according to 8th edition manual guidelines, the font number and style should be consistent trough put the paper. The selection of the font and number also depends upon the instructor but it is generally advised that fonts should be used that are easily available to all users. As mentioned earlier that there are no specific instructions on the selection of font but in the manual, there is some recommendation that includes Times new roman 12, Calibri 11, Computer modern 10, and Arial 11.

Different Sections of Paper

The basic essay paper has consisted of four major sections that include the Title page, Abstract, Body, and References.

Title Page:

The title page of the APA paper includes the author’s name, and the name of the college or university if it is a student paper including the course name, instructor's name along with the due date of the paper. If it is a professional paper then it also includes the note from the author but in a student paper, there is no such compulsion. A title should be in the center of the paper in both upper and lower cases and should be in bold. The title should be double-spaced throughout the paper and it should not contain any abbreviations or short forms. After this, comes the name of the author, and credentials are not included in that like MS, P.HD, or Dr. Under that comes to the name of the college and they all should be aligned in the center.


The abstract starts from the next blank page. There should be a running head over the top left corner of the page. The abstract should be written in bold without italicizing, underlining, or putting in quotation marks. An abstract is a brief and concise summary of the research paper. The first line of the abstract should not be indented and it should contain all the necessary information about the research like the hypothesis, experiment, and participants. The abstract should be double-spaced, and a single paragraph not be more than 250 words. You can also include keywords if you want your work to be found easily in the database. For the keywords, type keywords in italics and then indent them.

Citation in APA

Citation is one important step as it tells about the source of your data. For the in-text citation comes the last name of the author followed by the year of publication e.g. (Smith, 2020). In APA, the referencing style is like this

Author’s name. Edited date. Title of the source. Name of cite. Web address.


CMOS is a style of formatting the paper also known as The Chicago Manual of Style. This style of formatting is used by various authors for the documentation and formatting of essays and manuscripts. There are two basic documentation styles in CMOS that are Notes-Bibliography System and the other is Author date system. Notes Bibliography System is used by those who work in the field of history, literature, and arts. On the other hand, Author-Date System is used by those working in the field of social sciences or technology. Both of these systems convey the same information to the readers, however, they only differ on the basis of the formatting of sources.

Notes and Bibliography System

This system is used by those writers or students who belong to the field of humanities to give readers a clear view of their sources through the use of footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography. If this system is used properly, it makes the work authentic through proper citations and a list of sources. This system of formatting and citation helps the author from the accusation of plagiarism which is faced by many writers for not properly citation of sources.


In this system, a writer is supposed to include a note every time he or she quotes something either direct or indirect quote. The writer should give proper reference to that in the footnotes. Footnotes are added at the end of every page and they tell about the source of the material. However, endnotes are added at the end of each chapter or the end of the essay or dissertation. No matter what the case is, a superscript number is added with the bibliographic entry of that source at the reference.

According to the latest edition of CMOS, if you cite the same source more than twice, then you can shortlist that source as per the guidelines of CMOS. The other thing is that although it is not suggested by CMOS to use the same source twice if there is the case then you can simply write “Ibid,” with the note. It comes from the Latin word ibidem which means “in the same place”.


In this system, the bibliography is the list of all works as cited in the paper in alphabetical order. This list is not just the list of cited works but it also contains irrelevant sources that are being recommended for further reading. This bibliographic list comes before the index. All entries in this list are placed alphabetically according to the last name of the author.

3. MLA

MLA is also known as the Modern Association of Language Style. This style is adopted by those writers and students show belong to the field of humanities which includes: English language and literature, a study of literary criticism, world languages, and literature, and the study of comparative literature. In MLA, the page should be double-spaced, followed by a margin of one inch on all sides. The font style and font number should be Times new roman 12. MLA is used to cite the sources of the data. The latest edition of MLA is the 9th edition which is being used by writers and students for the citation of the source.


In MLA, the citation is done with the use of parenthesis. In this method, all the information is put in parentheses before the endpoint. However, there are some exceptional cases in which it is being done in the middle of the sentence. The information in the brackets depends upon two things: the medium of the source and the entry of the source in the works cited list. The information in the parentheses should be following the information in the works cited list.

In MLA, there is the style known as author page style that is being used in in-text-citation. This style focus on the last name of the author and the page number from which the quotation or paragraph has been taken should be included in the text along with the complete information in the list of works cited. According to the guidelines of MLA, the name of the author can appear in the text or the parenthesis but the page number should always be in the parenthesis. One example can be:

Keats said while describing the definition of poetry, “If poetry does not come like the leaves on the trees, it had better not come” (150).

Romantic Poetry is explained as, “If poetry does not come like the leaves on the trees, it had better not come” (Keats 150).

Keats investigated the importance and role of creativity in the creation of poetry (150).

In all the above examples, (150) gives the source to the readers that information that is there is located on page 150. No matter, what the style of formatting is. There is a code of rules and regulations for proper citation that needs to be followed in every case. The above-mentioned styles and their code of conduct are for different types of writing and coursework. This allows the writer to better explain all of the sources and saves him or her from plagiarism. It also allows readers to look for the sources by themselves and clear all misconceptions by reading the reading of the source. Once, you get to know all about the guidelines of MLA, you can apply it to any form of writing, mostly because it is used for research papers and articles. Both professional writers and students use this method of formatting. All three MLA, APA, and CMOS are the basic formatting styles that are used all across the world in the field of academia and professional writing and allowing the writers and readers to write and read in a systemized or structured manner.

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