How To Choose The Right Format For A High School Research Paper

If you want to know how to choose the right format for a high school research paper, you need to consider the following:

  1. Look at the assignment details. This should list explicitly what format is required of you. The most common out there include APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. Many of reserved for specific fields or subjects. For example: MLA is often for English or literature based courses while APA is often reserved for science or social science. Check your assignment details first to see if they are listed there.
  2. Look over your syllabus. Your teacher may not have included what they expect from you in the assignment details because they posted it in the syllabus. Teachers who require the same formats throughout the entire year will often post the information on the syllabus and expect students to follow it regularly.
  3. Talk to your teacher. If you still don’t know what you should use, ask your teacher. In some cases they may leave that to your discretion and allow you to pick whichever of the formats you are most comfortable with, especially if it is the start of a school year or semester.

If you have this opportunity, you should note that typically, research based writing is more scientific in nature. It often requires you to conduct a literature review, present your findings, and explain how to came to those findings. As such, the most appropriate formatting method for this situation will more often than not be APA. However, if you are more comfortable with another style and have the freedom to select that style, feel free to do it.

Almost all styles have the same components, but they are simply different in terms of how the reference material is cited both inside of the text and at the end, and how the title page and numbering is set up. For example: APA format requires information such as your name, title, and university in the center and middle of the first page with a running head at the top. Chicago requires your title at the top, no running head, and your name and university at the very bottom. MLA requires a last name and page number for the in text citations while APA requires a last name and year of publication. Chicago requires footnotes that are listed at the end of each page.

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