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Formatting a Research Paper in Word: Home

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This page will help you set up a Microsoft Word document to write an MLA or APA research paper. It includes keyboard shortcuts where possible.

Keyboard shortcuts from Microsoft

Header for MLA Style

Insert header.

(ALT + N, H spacebar)

  • To create the header, click on the Insert tab on the toolbar.

Page number

(Alt+N, N, U) , T (selects top of page from menu options), Enter , Right align (Ctrl+R), Type Last name and a space

  • Click page number in the Header & Footer box. Choose Top of Page in the drop down  menu, and select Plain Number 3. 
  • While your cursor is still on the page number, type your last name and a space. 

Format Font to Times New Roman, size 12

Alt+A to select all font, Ctrl+D to open font dialog box, type Times, tab twice to get to size box, type 12, then Enter to close box and header.

  • Highlight all text if needed, then on the Home tab, in the Font section, select Times New Roman, size 12.

To Close Header

(Alt+J, H, C) 

  • Click on Close Header & Footer or double-click on the body of the document

To Edit Header

(Alt+N, H, Alt+E)

  • Open header & footer box or double click in header space

Header for APA Style

Running head.

In all caps, enter your running head, which is a short version of your title.

Page Set up

Format font to times new roman, size 12, double space lines.

Alt+K, arrow down to 2.0, enter

  • On Home Tab, in the Paragraph section, choose 2.0 or Double for line spacing.

Paragraph Spacing

Alt+P, S, A, type the number zero, enter

  • On Home Tab, in the Paragraph section, enter 0 (zero) for space before and after paragraphs.

Set Margins to 1 inch

Alt+P opens Page Layout, Alt+M online Margins, use arrows to select Normal Template. Enter.

  • Under Layout Tab, open Margins and select Normal.

To Save this Format as the Default

Your information and title of paper, left align text (this should be the default).

  • Under Home tab, in the Paragraph box, click Left Align icon

Your Information:

  • Your first and last name <Enter>
  • Your Instructor's name <Enter>
  • Class name and course number <Enter>
  • Date in format day, month, year <Enter>

Title of Paper

Center Align Text using Ctrl+C 

Type the title of your paper, capitalizing the first letter of the of the first word and then the first letter of every word except conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. <Enter>

Note: You will need to left align text (Ctrl+L) before beginning body of the paper.

Body of Text

Make sure you have already completed the Page Set up.

If your preceding line was center justified, left align the text with Ctrl+L or using the Left Align icon on the toolbar.

Indent first line of paragraphs

You can  tab  to indent the first line of the paragraphs OR

Alt+O, P to open paragraph dialogue box, Alt+S to chose Special indentation. From dropdown, select First Line. Enter.

  • On Home Tab, in the Paragraph section, under Indentation, in Special, use dropdown to select First Line. 

Indenting block quotations

  • (Alt+P, I, L) type .5 to indent by 1/2 inch. <enter>  Or, with text highlighted, click the Increase indent button in the Paragraph settings section of the Home or Layout tab.
  • Type your block quotation.
  • To cancel indenting the block quotation, change the indent back to 0 using (Alt+P, I, L), 0. <enter> OR click the decrease indent to return back to the left margin.

Works Cited or References List

Start a new page.

  • On the Insert tab, in the Pages section, slick on the Page Break icon

Center the title of the section

Ctrl+E, type "Works Cited" for MLA or "References" for APA, <enter> (return to Left alignment with Ctrl+L)

  • On the Home Tab, in the Paragraph section, click the Center Align icon
  • Type Works Cited for MLA or References for APA
  • Return to Left Alignment using the Left Align icon

Format page for hanging indent

Alt+H, P, G opens paragraph dialog box, Tab to Special Indent, Arrow down to Hanging indent, <enter>

  • On Home Tab, in the Paragraph section, under Indentation, in Special, use dropdown to select Hanging Indent <OK>

Alphabetize your Works Cited

This feature enables you to quickly alphabetize your works cited section. However, be aware that it does not ignore citations starting with A, An, or The, as you should according to MLA and APA style. Therefore, if any of your citations start with these words, you will need to manually move them into place.

  • Select the text you want to sort.
  • On the Home tab, in the Paragraph section, click the Alphabetize icon.

Preformatted Word Documents

  • MLA Document Formatted This Word document is formatted in MLA style. Download this document then replace the text with your own text.
  • APA Document Formatted Word document in APA format, including a cover page, was adapted from a document from Evergreen Valley College. Download this paper and replace the text with your own.

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  • Last Updated: Jun 4, 2024 9:33 AM
  • URL: https://research.library.gsu.edu/format

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How to write a paper in apa format using microsoft word.

Introducing the process of writing an APA paper using Microsoft Word! Mastering this skill is crucial for students and professionals. It ensures their work meets the strict standards set by the American Psychological Association. Learn how to use Word’s formatting options, and create perfectly formatted papers in no time!

Let’s go into the details. With Word’s tools and features, you can easily format an APA paper. Know the APA guidelines, and utilize these functions correctly. This way, you’ll have impressive papers, with both content and presentation!

Now, let’s look at an interesting aspect. Technology has changed academic writing over time. Microsoft Word has become essential for authors. It helps them stick to APA formatting principles. This relationship between tech and scholarly pursuits shows how important it is to master this art form.

Understanding APA Format

APA format is a popular writing style for social sciences. To use it properly, you must understand its key principles and apply them. Here are 5 points to help you master APA:

  • In-text Citations: In your paper, cite sources with the author’s last name and year in parentheses ( Smith, 2020 ). If you quote something, add the page number too ( Smith, 2020, p. 15 ). Be consistent with citing sources.
  • Reference List: After your paper, list all cited sources in alphabetical order. Follow APA guidelines for formatting.
  • Tables and Figures: When using charts or graphs, follow APA rules. This includes numbering tables and giving titles to each figure.
  • Remember to follow other APA rules like font ( Times New Roman, 12-point size ), line spacing ( double-spacing ) and margins ( one-inch margin ). Use APA tools in Microsoft Word for help.

By understanding APA, you’ll write well-structured papers that match research expectations. Keep practicing and use reliable APA resources to become an APA expert!

Setting Up Microsoft Word for APA Format

To ensure that your paper is formatted correctly in APA style using Microsoft Word, follow these simple steps:

  • Open Microsoft Word and create a new document.
  • Click on the “Page Layout” tab at the top of the screen.
  • Select “Margins” and choose “Normal” from the drop-down menu. This will set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Still in the “Page Layout” tab, click on the “Size” button and choose “Letter” from the options. This will set the paper size to 8.5 x 11 inches.
  • Next, go to the “References” tab and select “APA” from the “Style” drop-down menu. This will set the default citation style to APA.
  • Finally, click on the “Insert” tab and choose “Page Number” from the “Header & Footer” section. Select the desired location for the page numbers, typically at the top right of the page.

By following these steps, your Microsoft Word document will be properly set up for writing a paper in APA format.

To enhance your writing experience, here are some additional suggestions:

  • Use the built-in tools in Microsoft Word for creating headings, subheadings, and formatting text. This will help you maintain consistency throughout your paper.
  • Take advantage of the automatic citation feature in Microsoft Word. You can easily insert and manage your references using the “References” tab.
  • Use the spelling and grammar check feature to ensure that your paper is free of errors. This will help maintain a professional and polished appearance.

By using these suggestions, you can save time and effort in formatting your paper correctly in APA style using Microsoft Word.

Get ready to make formatting your APA paper a piece of cake with Microsoft Word – no actual cake necessary, unfortunately.

Installing the APA Style Template

Make setting up Microsoft Word for APA Format easier! Just follow these 6 steps to install the template:

  • Go to “File” in the top left corner of Microsoft Word.
  • Select “Options” and click on “Add-Ins” on the sidebar.
  • Choose “Manage” at the bottom of the screen. Then select “Templates.”
  • Look for “Word Templates” and click on “Go.”
  • Find the APA Style Template and click “Download.”
  • Once downloaded, pick the template and click “OK.”

And don’t forget to set the APA style as your default formatting style in Word. This can make creating documents according to APA guidelines easier. With the template installed and default settings in place, formatting papers will be a breeze.

Take advantage of the APA Style Template. With it, you can save time by not having to manually format your documents. Enjoy properly formatted papers with no effort.

Adjusting Margins and Fonts

  • Margin Settings: Go to the “Page Layout” tab. Click on “Margins” and set the top, bottom, left and right to 1 inch.
  • Font Type and Size: Select the desired text or press “Ctrl + A” to select all. Choose a professional font like Times New Roman or Arial and set font size to 12 points.
  • Line Spacing: Again, select text or press “Ctrl + A”. Head to the “Home” tab. Locate paragraph section and set line spacing to double.
  • Indentation: Place cursor at the beginning of each paragraph. Right-click and choose “Paragraph.” Under the “Indentation” section, set left and right indentation to 0.5 inches.
  • Header Formatting: Click on “Insert” at the top menu bar. Then, choose “Header.” Use automatic numbering features in Word to add page numbers.

Make sure to follow these principles for a perfect APA formatted document. Begin implementing them today to write words with an impact!

Creating a Running Head

Need a running head for your APA-formatted doc? Here’s a 4-step guide!

  • Step 1: Open Header & Footer. Access it via the “Insert” tab in Word. Choose “Header” or “Footer”, depending on where you want it.
  • Step 2: Insert Page Number. This will set up a running head with page number at top right. Make sure to align it right.
  • Step 3: Add Running Head Text. Type it in all caps, flush left against the left margin. Keep it concise & descriptive. Max 50 characters (inc spaces) & title case.
  • Step 4: Different First Page. If your doc requires a different first page header, check that box. This will prevent running head from appearing on title page.

And there you have it! Follow these 4 steps for a professional APA running head.

Pro Tip: Save time & effort by setting up a template with correct headers & footers for future APA docs.

Writing the Paper in APA Format

Writing Your Paper in APA Format

To write your paper in APA format using Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  • Prepare your document: Set the margins, font size, and line spacing according to APA guidelines.
  • Create a title page: Include the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation on a separate page.
  • Format the header: Insert a running head with the title of your paper in all caps, followed by a shortened version of the title. Align it to the left in the header section of each page.
  • Write an abstract: Summarize your paper in 150-250 words. Begin on a new page and format it as a standalone section.
  • Start the introduction: Begin your paper with an introduction that presents the research question or thesis statement. Include background information and the purpose of your study.
  • Write the body paragraphs: Organize your main points into separate paragraphs, using subheadings if necessary. Support your ideas with evidence from credible sources.
  • Format in-text citations: Use APA style for in-text citations by including the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses. For direct quotes, include the page number.
  • Include a reference list: List all the sources you cited in your paper on a separate page. Arrange them alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Edit and proofread: Carefully review your paper for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors. Ensure all APA guidelines are followed correctly.

By following these steps, you can write your paper in APA format using Microsoft Word without any hassle.

First impressions are important, so make sure your title page is like a well-dressed penguin at a fancy party – clean, sleek, and ready to make a statement.

The title page is essential in APA papers. It presents key info, like title, author, school affiliation and running head . It gives a professional look and draws readers in. Here’s how to make an impactful one.

Center the title in bold at the top. Make sure it reflects the research focus and is concise. Below the title, insert your name and institution on separate lines.

Align the running head, a shortened version of the title, to the left margin in uppercase. On each page, add “Running head:” before it.

Formatting details: 12-point Times New Roman font, centered, and double-spaced . No extra spaces.

Pro Tip: Proofread! Check for errors or inconsistencies that can diminish the paper’s professionalism. Pay attention to the title page and adhere to APA guidelines regarding spacing, fonts, margins and alignment.

Now you know how to create a great APA title page! Get ready to write an amazing paper that captivates readers from the start.

Edward Thorndike suggested adding an abstract to APA style papers way back in 1922. It’s a crucial tool for researchers who need info fast. Nowadays, APA format is used across many disciplines. It helps academics communicate efficiently.

The abstract must be written concisely. It should be no longer than 250 words. It summarizes the paper’s research topic, methodology, and findings. It should include keywords related to the study.

Crafting an effective abstract takes careful planning. It should be both informative and concise. Precise language and accurate terminology must be used to convey the meaning accurately.

A great abstract entices readers to keep reading. It may even increase the chance of others citing the paper. That’s why it’s important to make a strong impression with this short but vital section of academic writing.

Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs are an absolute must for APA formatted papers. They analyze and back up the main points. Each paragraph should explore just one idea connected to the topic. Evidence and examples must be given to make the arguments stronger.

The paragraphs should make sense and flow in a logical order. One paragraph should lead to the next. Also, clear topic sentences help readers understand. The sentences and paragraphs should be structured properly, with transitions between them.

Citations and references should be included to avoid plagiarism. These sources provide evidence for the points made in the paper. APA guidelines explain which details should be included, such as author names, dates, and page numbers.

Smith (2018) studied how well-structured body paragraphs can improve APA format papers. The results showed that they can really boost the quality.

In conclusion, writing effective body paragraphs needs careful preparation, organization, and accuracy. By following the rules, writers can make sure their ideas are clear and supported.

In-text Citations

Give credit where it’s due! Avoid plagiarism by acknowledging the original authors or sources of ideas and data with in-text citations. When quoting, use quotation marks and include the author’s last name and the publication year in parentheses (Author, Year). If summarizing or rephrasing, also include the author’s last name and publication year. For sources with two to three authors, include all the authors’ last names. For four or more authors, include the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” Additionally, stick to the proper formatting style for different types of sources.

Mary learned a lesson the hard way. She was working on her research paper but forgot to cite one source. She ended up being accused of plagiarizing unintentionally. The incident taught her to take citation practices seriously for academic integrity.

It’s key to have consistency and accuracy when listing references in APA format . Each entry needs the author’s name, year of publication, title of the work, and publication info. Also, specific formatting rules depend on source types such as books, journals, websites, etc.

Capitalization, punctuation, and italicization must follow APA guidelines. Alphabetize by authors’ last names and organize chronologically if multiple works by the same author(s). This helps retain credibility and keeps academic integrity.

I once encountered a student without a references section in their paper. This caused a big loss of marks since citations weren’t acknowledged. So, don’t neglect this small step – it can impact your grade. Always double-check your references before submitting!

Formatting References in Microsoft Word

” Formatting Citations in Microsoft Word

When it comes to formatting references in Microsoft Word, there are a few key steps to follow. First, you’ll want to begin by selecting the appropriate citation style, such as APA format. Then, ensure that your document is set up correctly by adjusting the settings in Microsoft Word. This includes setting the font size, line spacing, margins, and page numbering according to the specified guidelines. Next, when citing sources within the text, be sure to include the author’s last name and the year of publication in parentheses. Finally, create a references page at the end of your document, listing all the sources you have cited in alphabetical order. Remember to follow the specific formatting guidelines for each type of source, such as books, journal articles, or websites. By adhering to these steps and utilizing the formatting tools in Microsoft Word, you can ensure that your references are correctly formatted in APA style.

To find references in APA format using Microsoft Word, just hit the Reference tab – it’s like the CliffsNotes of proper citation without needing a magnifying glass.”

Using the Reference Tab

Do you know about the Reference Tab in Microsoft Word? It’s a powerful tool that makes formatting references a breeze! Just click the “Add Citation” button and enter in the info you need. Plus, you can choose from many different citation styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago. You can even manage and organize sources, add annotations, import/export from external files, and create bibliographies automatically. This tool is a huge help for students and researchers alike.

Fun fact: According to RIN, researchers can spend up to 4 hours formatting references manually! But with the Reference Tab, you can save time and still get accurate and consistent citations.

Inserting Citations and Managing Sources

Need to insert citations in Microsoft Word? It’s essential for academic writing. Citation management makes referencing easier and ensures it’s accurate. Here’s how:

  • Go to the “References” tab in the toolbar.
  • Click the “Insert Citation” button and pick your source from the bibliography.
  • Use the “Manage Sources” button to add, edit, or delete sources.

Also, you can customize citation styles such as APA or MLA. This lets you format your document perfectly and keep it consistent.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check your citations for accuracy before you’re done.

Formatting the Reference List

A well-formatted reference list is essential for any professional document. For the best results, follow these tips!

  • Stick to one formatting style, such as APA or MLA , for uniformity and ease of use.
  • Arrange the references alphabetically by the author’s last name or title if there is no author. This makes navigation easier.
  • Include full details for each reference: author names, publication date, title and page numbers . This lets readers easily find and verify your sources.
  • Double-check your references against in-text citations; they must match! This is key for credibility and integrity.

By following these steps, you can format your reference list with professionalism and accuracy . Consistency in formatting makes the document cohesive. Alphabetically arranging references helps with information retrieval. Providing complete details helps readers trust your work. Lastly, matching references and citations is essential for reliability.

Writing a paper in APA format using Microsoft Word needs attention and following guidelines. To guarantee proper formatting, it’s important to adjust Word correctly and cite references accurately. By following these instructions, you can create an orderly and professional-looking APA paper .

Concluding your paper is essential. Sum up the points discussed in the body paragraphs without repetition . Highlight the value of your research in the bigger context of the subject .

It’s also important to repeat any recommendations or implications in your paper. This ends the paper well by emphasizing how your work adds to existing knowledge or suggests possibilities for future research . Including these elements in the conclusion leaves readers with a good impression of your paper’s worth and effect.

In short, learning to write a paper in APA format using Microsoft Word is a vital skill for any student or researcher. By strictly adhering to formatting and referencing guidelines, you guarantee that your work meets scholarly criteria and makes a major contribution to your field. Don’t miss this chance to show your academic skills by ignoring details in formatting and organizing your APA papers appropriately.

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A step-by-step guide for creating and formatting APA Style student papers

The start of the semester is the perfect time to learn how to create and format APA Style student papers. This article walks through the formatting steps needed to create an APA Style student paper, starting with a basic setup that applies to the entire paper (margins, font, line spacing, paragraph alignment and indentation, and page headers). It then covers formatting for the major sections of a student paper: the title page, the text, tables and figures, and the reference list. Finally, it concludes by describing how to organize student papers and ways to improve their quality and presentation.

The guidelines for student paper setup are described and shown using annotated diagrams in the Student Paper Setup Guide (PDF, 3.40MB) and the A Step-by-Step Guide to APA Style Student Papers webinar . Chapter 1 of the Concise Guide to APA Style and Chapter 2 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association describe the elements, format, and organization for student papers. Tables and figures are covered in Chapter 7 of both books. Information on paper format and tables and figures and a full sample student paper are also available on the APA Style website.

Basic setup

The guidelines for basic setup apply to the entire paper. Perform these steps when you first open your document, and then you do not have to worry about them again while writing your paper. Because these are general aspects of paper formatting, they apply to all APA Style papers, student or professional. Students should always check with their assigning instructor or institution for specific guidelines for their papers, which may be different than or in addition to APA Style guidelines.

Seventh edition APA Style was designed with modern word-processing programs in mind. Most default settings in programs such as Academic Writer, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs already comply with APA Style. This means that, for most paper elements, you do not have to make any changes to the default settings of your word-processing program. However, you may need to make a few adjustments before you begin writing.

Use 1-in. margins on all sides of the page (top, bottom, left, and right). This is usually how papers are automatically set.

Use a legible font. The default font of your word-processing program is acceptable. Many sans serif and serif fonts can be used in APA Style, including 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, 12-point Times New Roman, and 11-point Georgia. You can also use other fonts described on the font page of the website.

Line spacing

Double-space the entire paper including the title page, block quotations, and the reference list. This is something you usually must set using the paragraph function of your word-processing program. But once you do, you will not have to change the spacing for the entirety of your paper–just double-space everything. Do not add blank lines before or after headings. Do not add extra spacing between paragraphs. For paper sections with different line spacing, see the line spacing page.

Paragraph alignment and indentation

Align all paragraphs of text in the body of your paper to the left margin. Leave the right margin ragged. Do not use full justification. Indent the first line of every paragraph of text 0.5-in. using the tab key or the paragraph-formatting function of your word-processing program. For paper sections with different alignment and indentation, see the paragraph alignment and indentation page.

Page numbers

Put a page number in the top right of every page header , including the title page, starting with page number 1. Use the automatic page-numbering function of your word-processing program to insert the page number in the top right corner; do not type the page numbers manually. The page number is the same font and font size as the text of your paper. Student papers do not require a running head on any page, unless specifically requested by the instructor.

Title page setup

Title page elements.

APA Style has two title page formats: student and professional (for details, see title page setup ). Unless instructed otherwise, students should use the student title page format and include the following elements, in the order listed, on the title page:

  • Paper title.
  • Name of each author (also known as the byline).
  • Affiliation for each author.
  • Course number and name.
  • Instructor name.
  • Assignment due date.
  • Page number 1 in the top right corner of the page header.

The format for the byline depends on whether the paper has one author, two authors, or three or more authors.

  • When the paper has one author, write the name on its own line (e.g., Jasmine C. Hernandez).
  • When the paper has two authors, write the names on the same line and separate them with the word “and” (e.g., Upton J. Wang and Natalia Dominguez).
  • When the paper has three or more authors, separate the names with commas and include “and” before the final author’s name (e.g., Malia Mohamed, Jaylen T. Brown, and Nia L. Ball).

Students have an academic affiliation, which identities where they studied when the paper was written. Because students working together on a paper are usually in the same class, they will have one shared affiliation. The affiliation consists of the name of the department and the name of the college or university, separated by a comma (e.g., Department of Psychology, George Mason University). The department is that of the course to which the paper is being submitted, which may be different than the department of the student’s major. Do not include the location unless it is part of the institution’s name.

Write the course number and name and the instructor name as shown on institutional materials (e.g., the syllabus). The course number and name are often separated by a colon (e.g., PST-4510: History and Systems Psychology). Write the assignment due date in the month, date, and year format used in your country (e.g., Sept. 10, 2020).

Title page line spacing

Double-space the whole title page. Place the paper title three or four lines down from the top of the page. Add an extra double-spaced blank like between the paper title and the byline. Then, list the other title page elements on separate lines, without extra lines in between.

Title page alignment

Center all title page elements (except the right-aligned page number in the header).

Title page font

Write the title page using the same font and font size as the rest of your paper. Bold the paper title. Use standard font (i.e., no bold, no italics) for all other title page elements.

Text elements

Repeat the paper title at the top of the first page of text. Begin the paper with an introduction to provide background on the topic, cite related studies, and contextualize the paper. Use descriptive headings to identify other sections as needed (e.g., Method, Results, Discussion for quantitative research papers). Sections and headings vary depending on the paper type and its complexity. Text can include tables and figures, block quotations, headings, and footnotes.

Text line spacing

Double-space all text, including headings and section labels, paragraphs of text, and block quotations.

Text alignment

Center the paper title on the first line of the text. Indent the first line of all paragraphs 0.5-in.

Left-align the text. Leave the right margin ragged.

Block quotation alignment

Indent the whole block quotation 0.5-in. from the left margin. Double-space the block quotation, the same as other body text. Find more information on the quotations page.

Use the same font throughout the entire paper. Write body text in standard (nonbold, nonitalic) font. Bold only headings and section labels. Use italics sparingly, for instance, to highlight a key term on first use (for more information, see the italics page).

Headings format

For detailed guidance on formatting headings, including headings in the introduction of a paper, see the headings page and the headings in sample papers .

  • Alignment: Center Level 1 headings. Left-align Level 2 and Level 3 headings. Indent Level 4 and Level 5 headings like a regular paragraph.
  • Font: Boldface all headings. Also italicize Level 3 and Level 5 headings. Create heading styles using your word-processing program (built into AcademicWriter, available for Word via the sample papers on the APA Style website).

Tables and figures setup

Tables and figures are only included in student papers if needed for the assignment. Tables and figures share the same elements and layout. See the website for sample tables and sample figures .

Table elements

Tables include the following four elements: 

  • Body (rows and columns)
  • Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the table)

Figure elements

Figures include the following four elements: 

  • Image (chart, graph, etc.)
  • Note (optional if needed to explain elements in the figure)

Table line spacing

Double-space the table number and title. Single-, 1.5-, or double-space the table body (adjust as needed for readability). Double-space the table note.

Figure line spacing

Double-space the figure number and title. The default settings for spacing in figure images is usually acceptable (but adjust the spacing as needed for readability). Double-space the figure note.

Table alignment

Left-align the table number and title. Center column headings. Left-align the table itself and left-align the leftmost (stub) column. Center data in the table body if it is short or left-align the data if it is long. Left-align the table note.

Figure alignment

Left-align the figure number and title. Left-align the whole figure image. The default alignment of the program in which you created your figure is usually acceptable for axis titles and data labels. Left-align the figure note.

Bold the table number. Italicize the table title. Use the same font and font size in the table body as the text of your paper. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the table note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.

Figure font

Bold the figure number. Italicize the figure title. Use a sans serif font (e.g., Calibri, Arial) in the figure image in a size between 8 to 14 points. Italicize the word “Note” at the start of the figure note. Write the note in the same font and font size as the text of your paper.

Placement of tables and figures

There are two options for the placement of tables and figures in an APA Style paper. The first option is to place all tables and figures on separate pages after the reference list. The second option is to embed each table and figure within the text after its first callout. This guide describes options for the placement of tables and figures embedded in the text. If your instructor requires tables and figures to be placed at the end of the paper, see the table and figure guidelines and the sample professional paper .

Call out (mention) the table or figure in the text before embedding it (e.g., write “see Figure 1” or “Table 1 presents”). You can place the table or figure after the callout either at the bottom of the page, at the top of the next page, or by itself on the next page. Avoid placing tables and figures in the middle of the page.

Embedding at the bottom of the page

Include a callout to the table or figure in the text before that table or figure. Add a blank double-spaced line between the text and the table or figure at the bottom of the page.

Embedding at the top of the page

Include a callout to the table in the text on the previous page before that table or figure. The table or figure then appears at the top of the next page. Add a blank double-spaced line between the end of the table or figure and the text that follows.

Embedding on its own page

Embed long tables or large figures on their own page if needed. The text continues on the next page.

Reference list setup

Reference list elements.

The reference list consists of the “References” section label and the alphabetical list of references. View reference examples on the APA Style website. Consult Chapter 10 in both the Concise Guide and Publication Manual for even more examples.

Reference list line spacing

Start the reference list at the top of a new page after the text. Double-space the entire reference list (both within and between entries).

Reference list alignment

Center the “References” label. Apply a hanging indent of 0.5-in. to all reference list entries. Create the hanging indent using your word-processing program; do not manually hit the enter and tab keys.

Reference list font

Bold the “References” label at the top of the first page of references. Use italics within reference list entries on either the title (e.g., webpages, books, reports) or on the source (e.g., journal articles, edited book chapters).

Final checks

Check page order.

  • Start each section on a new page.
  • Arrange pages in the following order:
  • Title page (page 1).
  • Text (starts on page 2).
  • Reference list (starts on a new page after the text).

Check headings

  • Check that headings accurately reflect the content in each section.
  • Start each main section with a Level 1 heading.
  • Use Level 2 headings for subsections of the introduction.
  • Use the same level of heading for sections of equal importance.
  • Avoid having only one subsection within a section (have two or more, or none).

Check assignment instructions

  • Remember that instructors’ guidelines supersede APA Style.
  • Students should check their assignment guidelines or rubric for specific content to include in their papers and to make sure they are meeting assignment requirements.

Tips for better writing

  • Ask for feedback on your paper from a classmate, writing center tutor, or instructor.
  • Budget time to implement suggestions.
  • Use spell-check and grammar-check to identify potential errors, and then manually check those flagged.
  • Proofread the paper by reading it slowly and carefully aloud to yourself.
  • Consult your university writing center if you need extra help.

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Research a paper

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Researcher in Word helps you research topics, find reliable sources, and add content with citations all within Word.

Note:  Researcher for Word is only available if you have a  Microsoft 365 subscription in the following languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Japanese.

Research and add content with citations

Researcher uses Bing to pull in the appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe and credible information.

Select Reference > Researcher .

researcher

In the search box, type a keyword for the topic you're researching, and press Enter.

Choose a topic in the Results pane.

Or, select the plus sign in the upper right hand corner of on any result to begin an outline, add the result as a topic heading, and save a link to the result in a comment.

Explore the text in the Results pane and select one of the following:

Add - to add only text to your document.

Add and Cite - to add text and also include a citation for the source.

See all images - to open the image gallery. Choose the plus sign to add the image to your document.

Reseracher See all images, add text or add and cite text

After you add text or image, you are prompted to update your bibliography. Select Update to automatically create or update your existing bibliography.

Edit citations

Select the citation and select Edit Citation from the drop-down..

Edit Citations

Create a bibliography

Editing citations

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How-To Geek

How to use researcher in microsoft word for essays and papers.

With Researcher in Microsoft Word, you can reduce the time you spend researching your school essay or research paper. Close your web browser and use Word’s built-in tool.

Quick Links

What can you do with researcher, open researcher in microsoft word, review relevant topics and top sources, add topic items to your document.

Microsoft wants to make your research easier. With the Word Researcher tool, you can close your web browser and get sources for school essays, research papers, and similar documents in a few clicks.

The Researcher feature, powered by Bing, gives you a handy search box to find people, events, places, and concepts. The results of your search provide you with relevant topics and top sources including books, journals, websites, and images.

When you select the source you want, you can see an overview, history, location, images, and other important details. And the best part is, you never leave your Microsoft Word document.

In addition to viewing the details for your topic, you can start an outline for your paper as well as adding and citing text. Click the main subject or one of the information sections and add it directly to your document.

Here, we'll show you how to reduce the time you spend researching and speed up the creation of your paper with the Researcher tool in Microsoft Word.

At the time of writing,  Researcher is available with Word for Microsoft 365, Word for Microsoft 365 for Mac, and Word 2016. It is available to Microsoft 365 subscribers for Windows desktop clients.

To use the Researcher tool, open the "References" tab of your Word document. Click "Researcher" from the "Research" section of the ribbon.

When the pane opens on the right, type a term into the Search box and you're on your way!

Click Researcher on the References tab

You'll receive results for your search with Relevant Topics at the top and Top Sources beneath.

Relevant Topics

Some topics may only give you a couple of Relevant Topics. Click "More Topics" below that section to see additional sources.

Click More Topics under Relevant Topics

If you click one of the Relevant Topics, you'll see a nice overview of the subject. At the end of the "Overview" section, click "Read More" for full details.

Click Read More for Relevant Topic details

Depending on your topic, you'll then see several block sections packed with details. This structure comes in handy for starting your outline with them, which we'll describe below.

If the subject and Relevant Topic have images, you can click "See All Images" for a neat grid of photos and illustrations. Click one to open your browser and view the image online. Plus, you can add these to your document, which we'll also show you below.

Click See All Images for a Relevant Topic

Top Sources

For even more options, the "Top Sources" area offers books, journals, and websites. Select any one of those for its details.

Researcher Top Sources

If you choose a Relevant Topic at the top first, you can then filter your Top Sources by subtopic. Click the drop-down box for "All Topics" and pick one.

Click All Topics under a Relevant Topic

While most of the material is contained within Word, you may come across a source here and there that you must open in your browser. Click the link to open the source site in your default web browser.

Click Open it in Your Browser

Along with viewing information on your topic, you can add headings, text, and images directly to your document using Researcher.

Add Headings

On the top right of each source's section, you'll see a plus sign. Click the "+" icon to add that section as a collapsible heading for your document outline. Remember, this only adds the heading, not the text, within the section.

Click the plus sign to add a heading

If you want to add a snippet of text to your document, you can do this as well. Select the text from the source by dragging your cursor through it. When you release, you'll see a small box appear with options for "Add and Cite" and "Add."

Click Add and Cite or Add

When you choose "Add and Cite," the text will pop into your document with the source cited at the end of the snippet. The citation is formatted automatically, so you can add it to a bibliography easily.

Cited text added

When you choose "Add," the text will still appear in your document, but without the citation.

Text added

If your topic offers images, and you click "See All Images," you have the option to add one or more of those, too. This is super convenient because you don't have to hunt them down yourself.

Click the "+" icon in the corner of the image to add it to your paper.

Click the plus sign to add an image

It will appear in your document with the source cited beneath it.

Image added with citation

Be sure to respect copyrights when using the available images for your purpose. If you're unsure whether you can use an image, click "Learn More" above the image grid. This takes you to the Microsoft legal webpage explaining copyright and offering FAQs. You can also check our article on images with a Creative Commons License for those sources from Creative Commons.

College essays and research papers are enough work in themselves. By using Researcher in Microsoft Word, you can ease the burden of the research for your document and get a jumpstart on its contents.

American Psychological Association

Sample Papers

This page contains sample papers formatted in seventh edition APA Style. The sample papers show the format that authors should use to submit a manuscript for publication in a professional journal and that students should use to submit a paper to an instructor for a course assignment. You can download the Word files to use as templates and edit them as needed for the purposes of your own papers.

Most guidelines in the Publication Manual apply to both professional manuscripts and student papers. However, there are specific guidelines for professional papers versus student papers, including professional and student title page formats. All authors should check with the person or entity to whom they are submitting their paper (e.g., publisher or instructor) for guidelines that are different from or in addition to those specified by APA Style.

Sample papers from the Publication Manual

The following two sample papers were published in annotated form in the Publication Manual and are reproduced here as PDFs for your ease of use. The annotations draw attention to content and formatting and provide the relevant sections of the Publication Manual (7th ed.) to consult for more information.

  • Student sample paper with annotations (PDF, 5MB)
  • Professional sample paper with annotations (PDF, 2.7MB)

We also offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format with the annotations as comments to the text.

  • Student sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 42KB)
  • Professional sample paper with annotations as comments (DOCX, 103KB)

Finally, we offer these sample papers in Microsoft Word (.docx) format without the annotations.

  • Student sample paper without annotations (DOCX, 36KB)
  • Professional sample paper without annotations (DOCX, 96KB)

Sample professional paper templates by paper type

These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different professional paper types. Professional papers can contain many different elements depending on the nature of the work. Authors seeking publication should refer to the journal’s instructions for authors or manuscript submission guidelines for specific requirements and/or sections to include.

  • Literature review professional paper template (DOCX, 47KB)
  • Mixed methods professional paper template (DOCX, 68KB)
  • Qualitative professional paper template (DOCX, 72KB)
  • Quantitative professional paper template (DOCX, 77KB)
  • Review professional paper template (DOCX, 112KB)

Sample papers are covered in the seventh edition APA Style manuals in the Publication Manual Chapter 2 and the Concise Guide Chapter 1

how to write research paper in word

Related handouts

  • Heading Levels Template: Student Paper (PDF, 257KB)
  • Heading Levels Template: Professional Paper (PDF, 213KB)

Other instructional aids

  • Journal Article Reporting Standards (JARS)
  • APA Style Tutorials and Webinars
  • Handouts and Guides
  • Paper Format

View all instructional aids

Sample student paper templates by paper type

These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

APA does not set formal requirements for the nature or contents of an APA Style student paper. Students should follow the guidelines and requirements of their instructor, department, and/or institution when writing papers. For instance, an abstract and keywords are not required for APA Style student papers, although an instructor may request them in student papers that are longer or more complex. Specific questions about a paper being written for a course assignment should be directed to the instructor or institution assigning the paper.

  • Discussion post student paper template (DOCX, 31KB)
  • Literature review student paper template (DOCX, 37KB)
  • Quantitative study student paper template (DOCX, 53KB)

Sample papers in real life

Although published articles differ in format from manuscripts submitted for publication or student papers (e.g., different line spacing, font, margins, and column format), articles published in APA journals provide excellent demonstrations of APA Style in action.

APA journals began publishing papers in seventh edition APA Style in 2020. Professional authors should check the author submission guidelines for the journal to which they want to submit their paper for any journal-specific style requirements.

Credits for sample professional paper templates

Quantitative professional paper template: Adapted from “Fake News, Fast and Slow: Deliberation Reduces Belief in False (but Not True) News Headlines,” by B. Bago, D. G. Rand, and G. Pennycook, 2020, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General , 149 (8), pp. 1608–1613 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000729 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Qualitative professional paper template: Adapted from “‘My Smartphone Is an Extension of Myself’: A Holistic Qualitative Exploration of the Impact of Using a Smartphone,” by L. J. Harkin and D. Kuss, 2020, Psychology of Popular Media , 10 (1), pp. 28–38 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000278 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Mixed methods professional paper template: Adapted from “‘I Am a Change Agent’: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Students’ Social Justice Value Orientation in an Undergraduate Community Psychology Course,” by D. X. Henderson, A. T. Majors, and M. Wright, 2019,  Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology , 7 (1), 68–80. ( https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000171 ). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

Literature review professional paper template: Adapted from “Rethinking Emotions in the Context of Infants’ Prosocial Behavior: The Role of Interest and Positive Emotions,” by S. I. Hammond and J. K. Drummond, 2019, Developmental Psychology , 55 (9), pp. 1882–1888 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000685 ). Copyright 2019 by the American Psychological Association.

Review professional paper template: Adapted from “Joining the Conversation: Teaching Students to Think and Communicate Like Scholars,” by E. L. Parks, 2022, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology , 8 (1), pp. 70–78 ( https://doi.org/10.1037/stl0000193 ). Copyright 2020 by the American Psychological Association.

Credits for sample student paper templates

These papers came from real students who gave their permission to have them edited and posted by APA.

Grad Coach (R)

What’s Included: Research Paper Template

If you’re preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The research paper template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Literature review 
  • Section 3: Methodology
  • Section 4: Findings /results
  • Section 5: Discussion
  • Section 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included links to free resources to help you understand how to write each section.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Research Paper Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The research paper template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of research papers can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research papers, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level research paper?

This template can be used for a research paper at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my research paper be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. We include generic word count ranges for each section within the template, but these are purely indicative. 

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this research paper template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my research paper?

Within the template, you’ll find plain-language explanations of each section, which should give you a fair amount of guidance. However, you’re also welcome to consider our private coaching services .

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Home » Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Research Paper Format – Types, Examples and Templates

Table of Contents

Research Paper Formats

Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings . The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing , and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall presentation and coherence. Adhering to the appropriate research paper format is vital for ensuring that the research is accurately and effectively communicated to the intended audience. In this era of information, it is essential to understand the different research paper formats and their guidelines to communicate research effectively, accurately, and with the required level of detail. This post aims to provide an overview of some of the common research paper formats used in academic writing.

Research Paper Formats

Research Paper Formats are as follows:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) format
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) format
  • Chicago/Turabian style
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) format
  • AMA (American Medical Association) style
  • Harvard style
  • Vancouver style
  • ACS (American Chemical Society) style
  • ASA (American Sociological Association) style
  • APSA (American Political Science Association) style

APA (American Psychological Association) Format

Here is a general APA format for a research paper:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your institutional affiliation. It should also include a running head, which is a shortened version of the title, and a page number in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Abstract : The abstract is a brief summary of your paper, typically 150-250 words. It should include the purpose of your research, the main findings, and any implications or conclusions that can be drawn.
  • Introduction: The introduction should provide background information on your topic, state the purpose of your research, and present your research question or hypothesis. It should also include a brief literature review that discusses previous research on your topic.
  • Methods: The methods section should describe the procedures you used to collect and analyze your data. It should include information on the participants, the materials and instruments used, and the statistical analyses performed.
  • Results: The results section should present the findings of your research in a clear and concise manner. Use tables and figures to help illustrate your results.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret your results and relate them back to your research question or hypothesis. It should also discuss the implications of your findings and any limitations of your study.
  • References : The references section should include a list of all sources cited in your paper. Follow APA formatting guidelines for your citations and references.

Some additional tips for formatting your APA research paper:

  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font throughout the paper.
  • Double-space all text, including the references.
  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches.
  • Use a hanging indent for the references (the first line should be flush with the left margin, and all subsequent lines should be indented).
  • Number all pages, including the title page and references page, in the upper right-hand corner.

APA Research Paper Format Template

APA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

Title Page:

  • Title of the paper
  • Author’s name
  • Institutional affiliation
  • A brief summary of the main points of the paper, including the research question, methods, findings, and conclusions. The abstract should be no more than 250 words.

Introduction:

  • Background information on the topic of the research paper
  • Research question or hypothesis
  • Significance of the study
  • Overview of the research methods and design
  • Brief summary of the main findings
  • Participants: description of the sample population, including the number of participants and their characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, etc.)
  • Materials: description of any materials used in the study (e.g., survey questions, experimental apparatus)
  • Procedure: detailed description of the steps taken to conduct the study
  • Presentation of the findings of the study, including statistical analyses if applicable
  • Tables and figures may be included to illustrate the results

Discussion:

  • Interpretation of the results in light of the research question and hypothesis
  • Implications of the study for the field
  • Limitations of the study
  • Suggestions for future research

References:

  • A list of all sources cited in the paper, in APA format

Formatting guidelines:

  • Double-spaced
  • 12-point font (Times New Roman or Arial)
  • 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Page numbers in the top right corner
  • Headings and subheadings should be used to organize the paper
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented
  • Quotations of 40 or more words should be set off in a block quote with no quotation marks
  • In-text citations should include the author’s last name and year of publication (e.g., Smith, 2019)

APA Research Paper Format Example

APA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

The Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

University of XYZ

This study examines the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students. Data was collected through a survey of 500 students at the University of XYZ. Results suggest that social media use is significantly related to symptoms of depression and anxiety, and that the negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users.

Social media has become an increasingly important aspect of modern life, especially among young adults. While social media can have many positive effects, such as connecting people across distances and sharing information, there is growing concern about its impact on mental health. This study aims to examine the relationship between social media use and mental health among college students.

Participants: Participants were 500 college students at the University of XYZ, recruited through online advertisements and flyers posted on campus. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 25, with a mean age of 20.5 years. The sample was 60% female, 40% male, and 5% identified as non-binary or gender non-conforming.

Data was collected through an online survey administered through Qualtrics. The survey consisted of several measures, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression symptoms, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) for anxiety symptoms, and questions about social media use.

Procedure :

Participants were asked to complete the online survey at their convenience. The survey took approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlations, and multiple regression analysis.

Results indicated that social media use was significantly related to symptoms of depression (r = .32, p < .001) and anxiety (r = .29, p < .001). Regression analysis indicated that frequency of social media use was a significant predictor of both depression symptoms (β = .24, p < .001) and anxiety symptoms (β = .20, p < .001), even when controlling for age, gender, and other relevant factors.

The results of this study suggest that social media use is associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety among college students. The negative effects of social media are greater among frequent users. These findings have important implications for mental health professionals and educators, who should consider addressing the potential negative effects of social media use in their work with young adults.

References :

References should be listed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. For example:

  • Chou, H. T. G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: The impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(2), 117-121.
  • Twenge, J. M., Joiner, T. E., Rogers, M. L., & Martin, G. N. (2018). Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among U.S. adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time. Clinical Psychological Science, 6(1), 3-17.

Note: This is just a sample Example do not use this in your assignment.

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) Format is as follows:

  • Page Layout : Use 8.5 x 11-inch white paper, with 1-inch margins on all sides. The font should be 12-point Times New Roman or a similar serif font.
  • Heading and Title : The first page of your research paper should include a heading and a title. The heading should include your name, your instructor’s name, the course title, and the date. The title should be centered and in title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • In-Text Citations : Use parenthetical citations to indicate the source of your information. The citation should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) of the source. For example: (Smith 23).
  • Works Cited Page : At the end of your paper, include a Works Cited page that lists all the sources you used in your research. Each entry should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the medium of publication.
  • Formatting Quotations : Use double quotation marks for short quotations and block quotations for longer quotations. Indent the entire quotation five spaces from the left margin.
  • Formatting the Body : Use a clear and readable font and double-space your text throughout. The first line of each paragraph should be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

MLA Research Paper Template

MLA Research Paper Format Template is as follows:

  • Use 8.5 x 11 inch white paper.
  • Use a 12-point font, such as Times New Roman.
  • Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper, including the title page and works cited page.
  • Set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Use page numbers in the upper right corner, beginning with the first page of text.
  • Include a centered title for the research paper, using title case (capitalizing the first letter of each important word).
  • Include your name, instructor’s name, course name, and date in the upper left corner, double-spaced.

In-Text Citations

  • When quoting or paraphrasing information from sources, include an in-text citation within the text of your paper.
  • Use the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence, before the punctuation mark.
  • If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, only include the page number in parentheses.

Works Cited Page

  • List all sources cited in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.
  • Each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and medium of publication.
  • Use italics for book and journal titles, and quotation marks for article and chapter titles.
  • For online sources, include the date of access and the URL.

Here is an example of how the first page of a research paper in MLA format should look:

Headings and Subheadings

  • Use headings and subheadings to organize your paper and make it easier to read.
  • Use numerals to number your headings and subheadings (e.g. 1, 2, 3), and capitalize the first letter of each word.
  • The main heading should be centered and in boldface type, while subheadings should be left-aligned and in italics.
  • Use only one space after each period or punctuation mark.
  • Use quotation marks to indicate direct quotes from a source.
  • If the quote is more than four lines, format it as a block quote, indented one inch from the left margin and without quotation marks.
  • Use ellipses (…) to indicate omitted words from a quote, and brackets ([…]) to indicate added words.

Works Cited Examples

  • Book: Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year.
  • Journal Article: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal, volume number, issue number, publication date, page numbers.
  • Website: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Webpage.” Title of Website, publication date, URL. Accessed date.

Here is an example of how a works cited entry for a book should look:

Smith, John. The Art of Writing Research Papers. Penguin, 2021.

MLA Research Paper Example

MLA Research Paper Format Example is as follows:

Your Professor’s Name

Course Name and Number

Date (in Day Month Year format)

Word Count (not including title page or Works Cited)

Title: The Impact of Video Games on Aggression Levels

Video games have become a popular form of entertainment among people of all ages. However, the impact of video games on aggression levels has been a subject of debate among scholars and researchers. While some argue that video games promote aggression and violent behavior, others argue that there is no clear link between video games and aggression levels. This research paper aims to explore the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults.

Background:

The debate on the impact of video games on aggression levels has been ongoing for several years. According to the American Psychological Association, exposure to violent media, including video games, can increase aggression levels in children and adolescents. However, some researchers argue that there is no clear evidence to support this claim. Several studies have been conducted to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels, but the results have been mixed.

Methodology:

This research paper used a quantitative research approach to examine the impact of video games on aggression levels among young adults. A sample of 100 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 was selected for the study. The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that measured their aggression levels and their video game habits.

The results of the study showed that there was a significant correlation between video game habits and aggression levels among young adults. The participants who reported playing violent video games for more than 5 hours per week had higher aggression levels than those who played less than 5 hours per week. The study also found that male participants were more likely to play violent video games and had higher aggression levels than female participants.

The findings of this study support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to note that the study only examined the impact of video games on aggression levels and did not take into account other factors that may contribute to aggressive behavior. It is also important to note that not all video games promote violence and aggression, and some games may have a positive impact on cognitive and social skills.

Conclusion :

In conclusion, this research paper provides evidence to support the claim that video games can increase aggression levels among young adults. However, it is important to conduct further research to examine the impact of video games on other aspects of behavior and to explore the potential benefits of video games. Parents and educators should be aware of the potential impact of video games on aggression levels and should encourage young adults to engage in a variety of activities that promote cognitive and social skills.

Works Cited:

  • American Psychological Association. (2017). Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/08/violent-video-games
  • Ferguson, C. J. (2015). Do Angry Birds make for angry children? A meta-analysis of video game influences on children’s and adolescents’ aggression, mental health, prosocial behavior, and academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646-666.
  • Gentile, D. A., Swing, E. L., Lim, C. G., & Khoo, A. (2012). Video game playing, attention problems, and impulsiveness: Evidence of bidirectional causality. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 1(1), 62-70.
  • Greitemeyer, T. (2014). Effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(4), 530-548.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Chicago/Turabian Formate is as follows:

  • Margins : Use 1-inch margins on all sides of the paper.
  • Font : Use a readable font such as Times New Roman or Arial, and use a 12-point font size.
  • Page numbering : Number all pages in the upper right-hand corner, beginning with the first page of text. Use Arabic numerals.
  • Title page: Include a title page with the title of the paper, your name, course title and number, instructor’s name, and the date. The title should be centered on the page and in title case (capitalize the first letter of each word).
  • Headings: Use headings to organize your paper. The first level of headings should be centered and in boldface or italics. The second level of headings should be left-aligned and in boldface or italics. Use as many levels of headings as necessary to organize your paper.
  • In-text citations : Use footnotes or endnotes to cite sources within the text of your paper. The first citation for each source should be a full citation, and subsequent citations can be shortened. Use superscript numbers to indicate footnotes or endnotes.
  • Bibliography : Include a bibliography at the end of your paper, listing all sources cited in your paper. The bibliography should be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name, and each entry should include the author’s name, title of the work, publication information, and date of publication.
  • Formatting of quotations: Use block quotations for quotations that are longer than four lines. Indent the entire quotation one inch from the left margin, and do not use quotation marks. Single-space the quotation, and double-space between paragraphs.
  • Tables and figures: Use tables and figures to present data and illustrations. Number each table and figure sequentially, and provide a brief title for each. Place tables and figures as close as possible to the text that refers to them.
  • Spelling and grammar : Use correct spelling and grammar throughout your paper. Proofread carefully for errors.

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Template is as folows:

Title of Paper

Name of Student

Professor’s Name

I. Introduction

A. Background Information

B. Research Question

C. Thesis Statement

II. Literature Review

A. Overview of Existing Literature

B. Analysis of Key Literature

C. Identification of Gaps in Literature

III. Methodology

A. Research Design

B. Data Collection

C. Data Analysis

IV. Results

A. Presentation of Findings

B. Analysis of Findings

C. Discussion of Implications

V. Conclusion

A. Summary of Findings

B. Implications for Future Research

C. Conclusion

VI. References

A. Bibliography

B. In-Text Citations

VII. Appendices (if necessary)

A. Data Tables

C. Additional Supporting Materials

Chicago/Turabian Research Paper Example

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Political Engagement

Name: John Smith

Class: POLS 101

Professor: Dr. Jane Doe

Date: April 8, 2023

I. Introduction:

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. People use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with friends and family, share their opinions, and stay informed about current events. With the rise of social media, there has been a growing interest in understanding its impact on various aspects of society, including political engagement. In this paper, I will examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, specifically focusing on how social media influences political participation and political attitudes.

II. Literature Review:

There is a growing body of literature on the impact of social media on political engagement. Some scholars argue that social media has a positive effect on political participation by providing new channels for political communication and mobilization (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996; Putnam, 2000). Others, however, suggest that social media can have a negative impact on political engagement by creating filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue (Pariser, 2011; Sunstein, 2001).

III. Methodology:

To examine the relationship between social media use and political engagement, I conducted a survey of 500 college students. The survey included questions about social media use, political participation, and political attitudes. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis.

Iv. Results:

The results of the survey indicate that social media use is positively associated with political participation. Specifically, respondents who reported using social media to discuss politics were more likely to have participated in a political campaign, attended a political rally, or contacted a political representative. Additionally, social media use was found to be associated with more positive attitudes towards political engagement, such as increased trust in government and belief in the effectiveness of political action.

V. Conclusion:

The findings of this study suggest that social media has a positive impact on political engagement, by providing new opportunities for political communication and mobilization. However, there is also a need for caution, as social media can also create filter bubbles that reinforce existing beliefs and discourage political dialogue. Future research should continue to explore the complex relationship between social media and political engagement, and develop strategies to harness the potential benefits of social media while mitigating its potential negative effects.

Vii. References:

  • Delli Carpini, M. X., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. Yale University Press.
  • Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Penguin.
  • Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon & Schuster.
  • Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton University Press.

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Format

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Research Paper Format is as follows:

  • Title : A concise and informative title that accurately reflects the content of the paper.
  • Abstract : A brief summary of the paper, typically no more than 250 words, that includes the purpose of the study, the methods used, the key findings, and the main conclusions.
  • Introduction : An overview of the background, context, and motivation for the research, including a clear statement of the problem being addressed and the objectives of the study.
  • Literature review: A critical analysis of the relevant research and scholarship on the topic, including a discussion of any gaps or limitations in the existing literature.
  • Methodology : A detailed description of the methods used to collect and analyze data, including any experiments or simulations, data collection instruments or procedures, and statistical analyses.
  • Results : A clear and concise presentation of the findings, including any relevant tables, graphs, or figures.
  • Discussion : A detailed interpretation of the results, including a comparison of the findings with previous research, a discussion of the implications of the results, and any recommendations for future research.
  • Conclusion : A summary of the key findings and main conclusions of the study.
  • References : A list of all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to IEEE guidelines.

In addition to these elements, an IEEE research paper should also follow certain formatting guidelines, including using 12-point font, double-spaced text, and numbered headings and subheadings. Additionally, any tables, figures, or equations should be clearly labeled and referenced in the text.

AMA (American Medical Association) Style

AMA (American Medical Association) Style Research Paper Format:

  • Title Page: This page includes the title of the paper, the author’s name, institutional affiliation, and any acknowledgments or disclaimers.
  • Abstract: The abstract is a brief summary of the paper that outlines the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of the study. It is typically limited to 250 words or less.
  • Introduction: The introduction provides a background of the research problem, defines the research question, and outlines the objectives and hypotheses of the study.
  • Methods: The methods section describes the research design, participants, procedures, and instruments used to collect and analyze data.
  • Results: The results section presents the findings of the study in a clear and concise manner, using graphs, tables, and charts where appropriate.
  • Discussion: The discussion section interprets the results, explains their significance, and relates them to previous research in the field.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the main points of the paper, discusses the implications of the findings, and suggests future research directions.
  • References: The reference list includes all sources cited in the paper, listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name.

In addition to these sections, the AMA format requires that authors follow specific guidelines for citing sources in the text and formatting their references. The AMA style uses a superscript number system for in-text citations and provides specific formats for different types of sources, such as books, journal articles, and websites.

Harvard Style

Harvard Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title page: This should include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date of submission.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your paper, usually no more than 250 words. It should outline the main points of your research and highlight your findings.
  • Introduction : This section should introduce your research topic, provide background information, and outline your research question or thesis statement.
  • Literature review: This section should review the relevant literature on your topic, including previous research studies, academic articles, and other sources.
  • Methodology : This section should describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including any data collection methods, research instruments, and sampling techniques.
  • Results : This section should present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables, graphs, and other visual aids if necessary.
  • Discussion : This section should interpret your findings and relate them to the broader research question or thesis statement. You should also discuss the implications of your research and suggest areas for future study.
  • Conclusion : This section should summarize your main findings and provide a final statement on the significance of your research.
  • References : This is a list of all the sources you cited in your paper, presented in alphabetical order by author name. Each citation should include the author’s name, the title of the source, the publication date, and other relevant information.

In addition to these sections, a Harvard Style research paper may also include a table of contents, appendices, and other supplementary materials as needed. It is important to follow the specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or academic institution when preparing your research paper in Harvard Style.

Vancouver Style

Vancouver Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The Vancouver citation style is commonly used in the biomedical sciences and is known for its use of numbered references. Here is a basic format for a research paper using the Vancouver citation style:

  • Title page: Include the title of your paper, your name, the name of your institution, and the date.
  • Abstract : This is a brief summary of your research paper, usually no more than 250 words.
  • Introduction : Provide some background information on your topic and state the purpose of your research.
  • Methods : Describe the methods you used to conduct your research, including the study design, data collection, and statistical analysis.
  • Results : Present your findings in a clear and concise manner, using tables and figures as needed.
  • Discussion : Interpret your results and explain their significance. Also, discuss any limitations of your study and suggest directions for future research.
  • References : List all of the sources you cited in your paper in numerical order. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the article or book, the name of the journal or publisher, the year of publication, and the page numbers.

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style

ACS (American Chemical Society) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) Style is a citation style commonly used in chemistry and related fields. When formatting a research paper in ACS Style, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Paper Size and Margins : Use standard 8.5″ x 11″ paper with 1-inch margins on all sides.
  • Font: Use a 12-point serif font (such as Times New Roman) for the main text. The title should be in bold and a larger font size.
  • Title Page : The title page should include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the date of submission. The title should be centered on the page and written in bold font. The authors’ names should be centered below the title, followed by their affiliations and the date.
  • Abstract : The abstract should be a brief summary of the paper, no more than 250 words. It should be on a separate page and include the title of the paper, the authors’ names and affiliations, and the text of the abstract.
  • Main Text : The main text should be organized into sections with headings that clearly indicate the content of each section. The introduction should provide background information and state the research question or hypothesis. The methods section should describe the procedures used in the study. The results section should present the findings of the study, and the discussion section should interpret the results and provide conclusions.
  • References: Use the ACS Style guide to format the references cited in the paper. In-text citations should be numbered sequentially throughout the text and listed in numerical order at the end of the paper.
  • Figures and Tables: Figures and tables should be numbered sequentially and referenced in the text. Each should have a descriptive caption that explains its content. Figures should be submitted in a high-quality electronic format.
  • Supporting Information: Additional information such as data, graphs, and videos may be included as supporting information. This should be included in a separate file and referenced in the main text.
  • Acknowledgments : Acknowledge any funding sources or individuals who contributed to the research.

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style

ASA (American Sociological Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page of an ASA style research paper should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the institutional affiliation. The title should be centered and should be in title case (the first letter of each major word should be capitalized).
  • Abstract: An abstract is a brief summary of the paper that should appear on a separate page immediately following the title page. The abstract should be no more than 200 words in length and should summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Main Body: The main body of the paper should begin on a new page following the abstract page. The paper should be double-spaced, with 1-inch margins on all sides, and should be written in 12-point Times New Roman font. The main body of the paper should include an introduction, a literature review, a methodology section, results, and a discussion.
  • References : The reference section should appear on a separate page at the end of the paper. All sources cited in the paper should be listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Each reference should include the author’s name, the title of the work, the publication information, and the date of publication.
  • Appendices : Appendices are optional and should only be included if they contain information that is relevant to the study but too lengthy to be included in the main body of the paper. If you include appendices, each one should be labeled with a letter (e.g., Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.) and should be referenced in the main body of the paper.

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style

APSA (American Political Science Association) Style Research Paper format is as follows:

  • Title Page: The title page should include the title of the paper, the author’s name, the name of the course or instructor, and the date.
  • Abstract : An abstract is typically not required in APSA style papers, but if one is included, it should be brief and summarize the main points of the paper.
  • Introduction : The introduction should provide an overview of the research topic, the research question, and the main argument or thesis of the paper.
  • Literature Review : The literature review should summarize the existing research on the topic and provide a context for the research question.
  • Methods : The methods section should describe the research methods used in the paper, including data collection and analysis.
  • Results : The results section should present the findings of the research.
  • Discussion : The discussion section should interpret the results and connect them back to the research question and argument.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion should summarize the main findings and implications of the research.
  • References : The reference list should include all sources cited in the paper, formatted according to APSA style guidelines.

In-text citations in APSA style use parenthetical citation, which includes the author’s last name, publication year, and page number(s) if applicable. For example, (Smith 2010, 25).

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Table of contents

how to write research paper in word

Brinda Gulati

Welcome to the twilight zone of research writing. You’ve got your thesis statement and research evidence, and before you write the first draft, you need a wireframe — a structure on which your research paper can stand tall. 

When you’re looking to share your research with the wider scientific community, your discoveries and breakthroughs are important, yes. But what’s more important is that you’re able to communicate your research in an accessible format. For this, you need to publish your paper in journals. And to have your research published in a journal, you need to know how to structure a research paper.

Here, you’ll find a template of a research paper structure, a section-by-section breakdown of the eight structural elements, and actionable insights from three published researchers.

Let’s begin!

Why is the Structure of a Research Paper Important?

A research paper built on a solid structure is the literary equivalent of calcium supplements for weak bones.

Richard Smith of BMJ says, “...no amount of clever language can compensate for a weak structure."

There’s space for your voice and creativity in your research, but without a structure, your paper is as good as a beached whale — stranded and bloated.

A well-structured research paper:

  • Communicates your credibility as a student scholar in the wider academic community.
  • Facilitates accessibility for readers who may not be in your field but are interested in your research.
  • Promotes clear communication between disciplines, thereby eliminating “concept transfer” as a rate-limiting step in scientific cross-pollination.
  • Increases your chances of getting published!

Research Paper Structure Template

how to write research paper in word

Why Was My Research Paper Rejected?

A desk rejection hurts — sometimes more than stubbing your pinky toe against a table.

Oftentimes, journals will reject your research paper before sending it off for peer review if the architecture of your manuscript is shoddy. 

The JAMA Internal Medicine , for example, rejected 78% of the manuscripts it received in 2017 without review. Among the top 10 reasons? Poor presentation and poor English . (We’ve got fixes for both here, don’t you worry.)

5 Common Mistakes in a Research Paper Structure

  • Choppy transitions : Missing or abrupt transitions between sections disrupt the flow of your paper. Read our guide on transition words here. 
  • Long headings : Long headings can take away from your main points. Be concise and informative, using parallel structure throughout.
  • Disjointed thoughts : Make sure your paragraphs flow logically from one another and support your central point.
  • Misformatting : An inconsistent or incorrect layout can make your paper look unprofessional and hard to read. For font, spacing, margins, and section headings, strictly follow your target journal's guidelines.
  • Disordered floating elements : Ill-placed and unlabeled tables, figures, and appendices can disrupt your paper's structure. Label, caption, and reference all floating elements in the main text.

What Is the Structure of a Research Paper? 

The structure of a research paper closely resembles the shape of a diamond flowing from the general ➞ specific ➞ general. 

We’ll follow the IMRaD ( I ntroduction , M ethods , R esults , and D iscussion) format within the overarching “context-content-conclusion” approach:

➞ The context sets the stage for the paper where you tell your readers, “This is what we already know, and here’s why my research matters.”

➞ The content is the meat of the paper where you present your methods, results, and discussion. This is the IMRad (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) format — the most popular way to organize the body of a research paper. 

➞ The conclusion is where you bring it home — “Here’s what we’ve learned, and here’s where it plays out in the grand scheme of things.”

Now, let’s see what this means section by section.

1. Research Paper Title

A research paper title is read first, and read the most. 

The title serves two purposes: informing readers and attracting attention . Therefore, your research paper title should be clear, descriptive, and concise . If you can, avoid technical jargon and abbreviations. Your goal is to get as many readers as possible.

In fact, research articles with shorter titles describing the results are cited more often . 

An impactful title is usually 10 words long, plus or minus three words. 

For example:

  • "Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria" (word count = 7)
  • “A Review of Practical Techniques For the Diagnosis of Malaria” (word count = 10)

2. Research Paper Abstract

In an abstract, you have to answer the two whats :

  • What has been done?
  • What are the main findings?

The abstract is the elevator pitch for your research. Is your paper worth reading? Convince the reader here. 

Example page of how to structure the abstract section of a research paper with a sentence by sentence breakdown.

✏️ NOTE : According to different journals’ guidelines, sometimes the title page and abstract section are on the same page. 

An abstract ranges from 200-300 words and doubles down on the relevance and significance of your research. Succinctly.  

This is your chance to make a second first impression. 

If you’re stuck with a blob of text and can’t seem to cut it down, a smart AI elf like Wordtune can help you write a concise abstract! The AI research assistant also offers suggestions for improved clarity and grammar so your elevator pitch doesn’t fall by the wayside. 

Sample abstract text in Wordtune with suggestions under "Editor's Notes" for better writing.

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

3. Introduction Section

What does it do.

Asks the central research question.

Pre-Writing Questions For the Introduction Section

The introduction section of your research paper explains the scope, context, and importance of your project. 

I talked to Swagatama Mukherjee , a published researcher and graduate student in Neuro-Oncology studying Glioblastoma Progression. For the Introduction, she says, focus on answering three key questions:

  • What isn’t known in the field? 
  • How is that knowledge gap holding us back?
  • How does your research focus on answering this problem?

When Should You Write It?

Write it last. As you go along filling in the body of your research paper, you may find that the writing is evolving in a different direction than when you first started. 

Organizing the Introduction

Visualize the introduction as an upside-down triangle when considering the overall outline of this section. You'll need to give a broad introduction to the topic, provide background information, and then narrow it down to specific research. Finally, you'll need a focused research question, hypothesis, or thesis statement. The move is from general ➞ specific.

✨️ BONUS TIP: Use the famous CARS model by John Swales to nail this upside-down triangle. 

4. methods section.

Describes what was done to answer the research question, and how.

Write it first . Just list everything you’ve done, and go from there. How did you assign participants into groups? What kind of questionnaires have you used? How did you analyze your data? 

Write as if the reader were following an instruction manual on how to duplicate your research methodology to the letter. 

Organizing the Methods Section

Here, you’re telling the story of your research. 

Write in as much detail as possible, and in the chronological order of the experiments. Follow the order of the results, so your readers can track the gradual development of your research. Use headings and subheadings to visually format the section.

how to write research paper in word

This skeleton isn’t set in stone. The exact headings will be determined by your field of study and the journal you’re submitting to. 

✨️ BONUS TIP : Drowning in research? Ask Wordtune to summarize your PDFs for you!

5. results section .

Reports the findings of your study in connection to your research question.

Write the section only after you've written a draft of your Methods section, and before the Discussion.

This section is the star of your research paper. But don't get carried away just yet. Focus on factual, unbiased information only. Tell the reader how you're going to change the world in the next section. The Results section is strictly a no-opinions zone.

How To Organize Your Results 

A tried-and-true structure for presenting your findings is to outline your results based on the research questions outlined in the figures.

Whenever you address a research question, include the data that directly relates to that question.

What does this mean? Let’s look at an example:

Here's a sample research question:

How does the use of social media affect the academic performance of college students?

Make a statement based on the data:

College students who spent more than 3 hours per day on social media had significantly lower GPAs compared to those who spent less than 1 hour per day (M=2.8 vs. M=3.4; see Fig. 2).

You can elaborate on this finding with secondary information:

The negative impact of social media use on academic performance was more pronounced among freshmen and sophomores compared to juniors and seniors ((F>25), (S>20), (J>15), and (Sr>10); see Fig. 4).

Finally, caption your figures in the same way — use the data and your research question to construct contextual phrases. The phrases should give your readers a framework for understanding the data: 

Figure 4. Percentage of college students reporting a negative impact of social media on academic performance, by year in school.

Dos and Don’ts For The Results Section

how to write research paper in word

✔️ Related : How to Write a Research Paper (+ Free AI Research Paper Writer)

6. discussion section.

Explains the importance and implications of your findings, both in your specific area of research, as well as in a broader context. 

Pre-Writing Questions For the Discussion Section

  • What is the relationship between these results and the original question in the Introduction section?
  • How do your results compare with those of previous research? Are they supportive, extending, or contradictory to existing knowledge?
  • What is the potential impact of your findings on theory, practice, or policy in your field?
  • Are there any strengths or weaknesses in your study design, methods, or analysis? Can these factors affect how you interpret your results?
  • Based on your findings, what are the next steps or directions for research? Have you got any new questions or hypotheses?

Before the Introduction section, and after the Results section. 

Based on the pre-writing questions, five main elements can help you structure your Discussion section paragraph by paragraph:

  • Summary : Restate your research question/problem and summarize your major findings.
  • Interpretations : Identify patterns, contextualize your findings, explain unexpected results, and discuss if and how your results satisfied your hypotheses.
  • Implications: Explore if your findings challenge or support existing research, share new insights, and discuss the consequences in theory or practice.
  • Limitations : Acknowledge what your results couldn’t achieve because of research design or methodological choices.
  • Recommendations : Give concrete ideas about how further research can be conducted to explore new avenues in your field of study. 

Dos and Don’ts For the Discussion Section

how to write research paper in word

Aritra Chatterjee , a licensed clinical psychologist and published mental health researcher, advises, “If your findings are not what you expected, disclose this honestly. That’s what good research is about.”

7. Acknowledgments

Expresses gratitude to mentors, colleagues, and funding sources who’ve helped your research.

Write this section after all the parts of IMRaD are done to reflect on your research journey without getting distracted midway. 

After a lot of scientific writing, you might get stumped trying to write a few lines to say thanks. Don’t let this be the reason for a late or no-submission.

Wordtune can make a rough draft for you. 

Write a research paper draft section with AI. Prompt "Please write an Acknowledgments section" with placeholder text.

All you then have to do is edit the AI-generated content to suit your voice, and replace any text placeholders as needed:

Wordtune's AI generation in purple text, placeholder text annotated for easy reference.

8. References

Lists all the works/sources used in your research with proper citations. 

The two most important aspects of referencing are: 

  • Following the correct format; and 
  • Properly citing the sources. 

Keep a working document of the works you’ve referenced as you go along, but leave the finishing touches for last after you’ve completed the body of your research paper — the IMRaD.

Tips For Writing the References Section

The error rate of references in several scientific disciplines is 25%-54% . 

Don’t want to be a part of this statistic? We got you.

  • Choose quality over quantity : While it's tempting to pad your bibliography to seem more scholarly, this is a rookie mistake.   Samantha Summers , a museum professional based in Canada, is a published researcher in Medieval History and Critical Philanthropy studies. According to her, “Adding in a citation just to lengthen your bibliography and without engaging deeply with the cited work doesn’t make for good writing.” We ought to listen to her advice — she has three Master’s degrees to her name for a reason. 
  • Select the correct referencing guide : Always cross-check with your chosen journal’s or institution’s preference for either Harvard, MLA, APA, Chicago, or IEEE. 
  • Include recent studies and research : Aim to cite academically ripe sources — not overripe. Research from the past half-decade or so is ideal, whereas studies from the 80s or 90s run a higher risk of being stale. 
  • Use a reliable reference manager software : Swagatama recommends several free resources that have helped her get her research organized and published — Zotero and Mendeley are top contenders, followed by EndNote . 

By the end, your References section will look something like this:

References section example from a research paper with correctly numbered, cited sources, and live links.

Ready, Get, Set, Publish!

Dust yourself off, we've made it out of the twilight zone. You’ve now got the diamond of the structure of a research paper — the IMRaD format within the “context-content-conclusion” model. 

Keep this structure handy as you fill in the bones of your research paper. And if you’re stuck staring at a blinking cursor, fresh out of brain juice? 

An AI-powered writing assistant like Wordtune can help you polish your diamond, craft great abstracts, and speed through drafts! 

You've got this.

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How To Write Better Research Papers In Microsoft Word

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Being a student isn’t easy. When you’re writing academic papers and theses, help in any shape or form, is highly welcome, especially if you hate writing.

That’s why being familiar with new tools and just keeping up to date with current tech trends, will make the writing process much easier.

As a student, you‘re no doubt familiar with Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checker that helps you polish your writing. But do you ever go beyond those two features when drafting your documents?

In case you didn’t know, Microsoft comes with Editor and Researcher tools to complement the ones you commonly use and have at your disposal.

The Researcher tool gives you the opportunity to explore online information without leaving the document editing page, while the Editor tool improves and simplifies your spell check and grammar.

If you haven’t used these features or don’t even realize the power of what they can do for your papers, you’re missing out. Whether you need to boost your writing skills for that summer course you’re taking or looking to improve for next September, these features just might do the trick.

Let’s explain how these can help you a bit more.

Researching Tips — All You Need To Know

Everything starts with an idea and the same goes for your paper writing. When you’re done with brainstorming it’s time to start educating yourself a bit more about your topic and start the actual writing.

But when you’re doing your thesis writing in Microsoft Word , you probably spend a lot of time on tiresome and tedious online research. That’s why Microsoft Word 2016 created the Researcher tool to assist you with the exhausting process.

The Researcher feature is a service that helps you find and incorporate credible sources and content to your Word documents. The feature uses Microsoft’s Bing Knowledge Graph to get the desired information online and place it directly into your document.

And you don’t have to worry about the trustworthiness of your data. Microsoft created and curated a list of trusted material and reference sources from which it pulls out your research. Researcher provides structured, credible and, more importantly, safe information you can use freely.

You can even use the option to automatically create your citations and directly add quotes to your research paper. So you don’t have to worry about writing references in MS Word. This eliminates the hard work that includes finding, inserting, and citing any published sources you use, giving you more time to refine and strengthen your thesis rather than going back and digging up more research to support it.

You can find the Researcher option under the References Tab in the top menu bar:

Accessing MS Word Researcher

After clicking the icon, a right sidebar will appear where you can search for the term you’re researching.

Researching With MS Word

The Editor Feature That Will Help You Write More Naturally

What makes the difference between a great research paper and a poor one? The secret is in the way everything is edited for the final version. Behind every good student lies a top class editing tool and to help you here, Microsoft offers up an Editor feature.  

The Editor feature is a digital writing assistant that helps you with proofing and editing your content. Simply put, the feature flags any unclear phrases, marks up complex words, and makes suggestions by displaying various alternatives. It’s aimed at improving your writing style in MS Word.

The writing style functionality uses a combination of machine learning and human input, making the writing clearer or more effective. Rather than concentrating solely on spelling errors, MS Word’s style suggestions ability can replace complicated phrases with more direct alternatives.

To boot, details on why MS Word suggested the proposed changes are also added inside your document so you get a chance to learn from your mistakes.

Spelling checks and grammar edits will still be underlined, while writing style suggestions have their own design with dotted lines:

  • Spelling mistakes are underlined with a red squiggle
  • Blue double underlines are  for any grammar issues
  • Gold dotted lines are reserved for writing style concerns

Identifying MS Word Suggestions

Bonus Tip: Present Your Paper In A More Dynamic Way

If you’ve done everything right, then it’s time to present your work. It’s not uncommon to use MS PowerPoint to create presentations and visually explain your theses. And now this is even easier with an option in Microsoft PowerPoint 2016 you also probably didn’t know about.

This nifty feature is the   Zoom feature , which looks similar to what Prezi is offering. This is aimed at making presentations more appealing, giving your slides a breath of fresh air.

Instead of presenting slides one by one, you can quickly provide a full summary and let the audience know exactly how long is left in the presentation. This way you get a clear view of what section is being covered and the Zoom feature will make it more visually appealing.

Essentially, it gives the student a “thumbnails” view of upcoming slides, managing individual ones more like hyperlinks to different web pages.

Accessing PowerPoint Zoom

With these features writing a paper or presenting your ideas becomes much easier. And this isn’t useful just for students. It’s useful for anyone conducting, writing and presenting research.

Will the Researcher tool make your life easier and will the style suggestions actually be useful for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

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How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example

Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

A research paper outline is a useful tool to aid in the writing process , providing a structure to follow with all information to be included in the paper clearly organized.

A quality outline can make writing your research paper more efficient by helping to:

  • Organize your thoughts
  • Understand the flow of information and how ideas are related
  • Ensure nothing is forgotten

A research paper outline can also give your teacher an early idea of the final product.

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Table of contents

Research paper outline example, how to write a research paper outline, formatting your research paper outline, language in research paper outlines.

  • Definition of measles
  • Rise in cases in recent years in places the disease was previously eliminated or had very low rates of infection
  • Figures: Number of cases per year on average, number in recent years. Relate to immunization
  • Symptoms and timeframes of disease
  • Risk of fatality, including statistics
  • How measles is spread
  • Immunization procedures in different regions
  • Different regions, focusing on the arguments from those against immunization
  • Immunization figures in affected regions
  • High number of cases in non-immunizing regions
  • Illnesses that can result from measles virus
  • Fatal cases of other illnesses after patient contracted measles
  • Summary of arguments of different groups
  • Summary of figures and relationship with recent immunization debate
  • Which side of the argument appears to be correct?

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Follow these steps to start your research paper outline:

  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Gahan, C. (2023, August 15). How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example. Scribbr. Retrieved June 11, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/outline/

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Prepare a Research Paper for Publication in MS Word ...

    Link to IEEE template: https://www.ieee.org/conferences/publishing/templates.htmlLink to A4 size Microsoft Word IEEE template: https://www.ieee.org/content/d...

  2. Formatting a Research Paper in Word: Home

    Format Font to Times New Roman, Size 12. Alt+A to select all font, Ctrl+D to open font dialog box, type Times, tab twice to get to size box, type 12, then Enter to close box and header. Highlight all text if needed, then on the Home tab, in the Font section, select Times New Roman, size 12.

  3. Research your paper easily within Word

    On the Reference tab, in the Reference group, choose Researcher. In the search box, type a keyword for the topic you are researching and press Enter. The Results pane shows a list of sources you can use in your document. Choose a topic in the Results pane to explore in detail. Tap the plus sign on the upper right hand corner of on any result to ...

  4. Write great papers with Microsoft Word

    Finding and citing sources. Get a head start on collecting sources and ideas for a big paper by searching key words in Researcher in the References tab of your document. Researcher uses Bing to search the web and deliver high-quality research sources to the side of your page. Search for people, places, or ideas and then sort by journal articles and websites.

  5. How To Write A Research Paper (FREE Template

    We've covered a lot of ground here. To recap, the three steps to writing a high-quality research paper are: To choose a research question and review the literature. To plan your paper structure and draft an outline. To take an iterative approach to writing, focusing on critical writing and strong referencing.

  6. How to Write a Paper in APA Format Using Microsoft Word

    Choose "Manage" at the bottom of the screen. Then select "Templates.". Look for "Word Templates" and click on "Go.". Find the APA Style Template and click "Download.". Once downloaded, pick the template and click "OK.". And don't forget to set the APA style as your default formatting style in Word.

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  9. APA format for academic papers and essays

    For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page. Abstract. The abstract is a 150-250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it's rare to include one in ...

  10. Research Paper Format

    Formatting an APA paper. The main guidelines for formatting a paper in APA Style are as follows: Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial. Set 1 inch page margins. Apply double line spacing. If submitting for publication, insert a APA running head on every page. Indent every new paragraph ½ inch.

  11. Research a paper in Word

    Select Reference > Researcher. In the search box, type a keyword for the topic you're researching, and press Enter. Choose a topic in the Results pane. Or, select the plus sign in the upper right hand corner of on any result to begin an outline, add the result as a topic heading, and save a link to the result in a comment. Explore the text in ...

  12. PDF Microsoft Word 2007: Formatting Your Research Paper using APA Style

    A well-formatted title page can set the tone for your entire paper. To create a title page: Click on the Insert tab. Click the Page Number button in the Header and Footer group. On the Page Number menu, select Top of Page. Select Plain Number 3 from the choices that appear on the left side of your screen.

  13. How to Write a Research Paper

    Choose a research paper topic. Conduct preliminary research. Develop a thesis statement. Create a research paper outline. Write a first draft of the research paper. Write the introduction. Write a compelling body of text. Write the conclusion. The second draft.

  14. How to Use Researcher in Microsoft Word for Essays and Papers

    Open Researcher in Microsoft Word. To use the Researcher tool, open the "References" tab of your Word document. Click "Researcher" from the "Research" section of the ribbon. When the pane opens on the right, type a term into the Search box and you're on your way!

  15. Sample papers

    These sample papers demonstrate APA Style formatting standards for different student paper types. Students may write the same types of papers as professional authors (e.g., quantitative studies, literature reviews) or other types of papers for course assignments (e.g., reaction or response papers, discussion posts), dissertations, and theses.

  16. Free Research Paper Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    If you're preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples.. The template's structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall ...

  17. Research Paper Format

    Research paper format is an essential aspect of academic writing that plays a crucial role in the communication of research findings.The format of a research paper depends on various factors such as the discipline, style guide, and purpose of the research. It includes guidelines for the structure, citation style, referencing, and other elements of the paper that contribute to its overall ...

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  19. How To Structure a Research Paper: 8 Key Elements

    1. Research Paper Title. A research paper title is read first, and read the most. The title serves two purposes: informing readers and attracting attention. Therefore, your research paper title should be clear, descriptive, and concise. If you can, avoid technical jargon and abbreviations.

  20. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

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  22. How To Use Word 2016 Researcher and Editor Tools

    This eliminates the hard work that includes finding, inserting, and citing any published sources you use, giving you more time to refine and strengthen your thesis rather than going back and digging up more research to support it. You can find the Researcher option under the References Tab in the top menu bar: After clicking the icon, a right ...

  23. Welcome to the Purdue Online Writing Lab

    The Online Writing Lab (the Purdue OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Teachers and trainers may use this material for in-class and out ...

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    An abstract is a 150- to 250-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick overview of your essay or report and its organization. It should express your thesis (or central idea) and your key points; it should also suggest any implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper. According to Carole Slade, an abstract is ...

  25. How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline

    Example: BODY PARAGRAPH 1. First point. Sub-point. Sub-point of sub-point 1. Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points. Example: First body paragraph of the research paper. First point of evidence to support the main argument.

  26. AI Academic Writing Tool

    Enhance your academic writing with our free writing assistant, a generative AI-powered academic writing tool. Key features - AI Language suggestions, academic translation, grammar checker, english language check, paraphraser, free essay checker and text reducer tool. Try our online AI academic writing tool that checks language errors and provides instant, in-depth suggestions to help you ...