Probably the easiest, but most complicated, task involved in academic research paper writing is formatting. Each journal has its preferred style, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) which is predominant in social science research.

While academic editing companies like Harrisco offer formatting services, it pays to know how to format your research paper on your own. This can reduce the time spent on editing once your first draft is complete. Below, we’ve rounded up the common formatting styles used by renowned journals.

Paper Size

Use a clean, white sheet of 8 ½” x 11” paper, otherwise known as the Letter size.

Font and Size

Save the Comic Sans and Wingdings fonts for later. Academic research paper writing requires a readable typeface, which means that classics such as Times New Roman and Arial are preferred. The standard size is 12 points, and while it may seem tempting to lower the font size for tables and graphs, it’s recommended to use a uniform font size on all pages.

Text Formatting

Many editing services such as Harrisco stick to the standard format for academic papers: double-spaced, with the first line of each paragraph indented .5 inches from the left. It’s important to disable automatic hyphenation so as to maintain the text’s readability. Block quotations should also be indented one-half inch from the left.


The top, bottom, left and right sides should have one-inch margins. For the first page, where you are supposed to write your name, title, and other information, begin one inch from the top margin.


It’s best to get this part right before sending your paper off to a professional editing service like Harrisco. This is because editing companies check punctuation, capitalization, etc. but your paper’s title might intentionally not be following such rules. To prevent editors from making unnecessary changes to your title, make sure that you get it right before you e-mail it to them. Common rules regarding titles include spelling out month names, typing it all in capital letters, and not using a period after the title.


Avoid splitting tables. Make sure that tables are below or beside the text which describes them. Tables are usually labeled as “Table” with the number and title. For example, “Table 1 Most-Enrolled Post-Graduate Degrees of Higher Education Institutions in the United States.”


Every research paper’s contents are different, but what remains constant across all kinds of journals is their format. Regardless of your field, a well-formatted paper can impress colleagues, reviewers, and professors.