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"Creativity requires input, and that's what research is. You're gathering material with which to build."

– Gene Luen Yang

Brief Guide to Standard Paper Format

Generally, institutions have guidelines and formats for their papers. Anyone who is writing research must adhere to these formats and expectations. This article guides you about the standard format for a research paper.

Is there a standard on how to structure a research paper?

There are different formats of research paper writing. However, regardless of the acceptable style in your department or institution, there is a standard format for research paper writing.

Every college paper writing is expected to have an introduction – which most often includes the background of the study. The literature review, methodology data analysis, and discussion of findings then follow this. There is always a title page and appendix.

Before you begin, knowing what is accepted in your institution and department is essential. Understand the guidelines and ensure you adhere strictly to the format the department or institution provides.

What’s the most standard paper format?

There is a standard outline format for research papers regardless of what style of writing is being used. When you are writing a research paper, you might want to pay attention to the following:

  1. Margin

Typically, the standard paper format is to have a one-inch margin at both borders. All styles of writing require this. This is to make sure your work is neat. Also, some parts of the text will not be covered by the binding when it is bound.

  1. Font

The standard college paper format uses Times New Roman, 12 points. This is usually more readable than any other font. You might need to use a sans-serif font for some writing styles for figures.

  1. Spacing

The standard format of writing a paper is to use double line spacing, except your institution says otherwise. Double line spacing makes the work more legible and easily readable for your supervisor or lecturer.

  1. Title page

The standard title page should have the name of the college and the paper’s title. The student’s name, the course title, the lecturer’s name, and the date of writing follow. However, how this is structured will depend on what is acceptable in the institution and the style of writing.65.

  1. Pagination

The general rule is that each page must have a number. The standard paper format for college is that the preliminary pages are identified with Roman numerals. Arabic numerals identify the main pages. The position of the page number depends on the style of writing and what is accepted in the institution.

  1. Paragraphing

Generally, a tab instead of a spacebar is generally acceptable for paragraphing. This ensures that you have a more even distribution of paragraph spacing. Paragraphs are also supposed to be in a straight line.

If you use the indented format, the same spaces must be allocated to each. The paragraph must form a straight line and not be in a zig-zag. If you’re using line spacing for your paragraph, however, you are expected to have a single drop-down.

  1. Page alignment

The most common thing for page alignment is to flush left with an even right margin. All text is expected to be justified, and the heading could be centralized or placed on the left. The writing style determines the position of the heading.

  1. Referencing

Every research paper must have a reference section. The reference section could be titled “bibliography” or “works cited,” depending on the writing style. Make sure all sources used are cited in your reference section. It is generally expected that the references are arranged in alphabetical order.

  1. Appendix

The appendix section is essential in the research paper. This is where all tables used are arranged according to their use. If you have also used images, you need to put them in the appendix section in the order of use. Your appendix structure may depend on what you used and the writing style.


Having an outline before you begin writing helps you know how to format your paper. Before you even write your paper, ensure you know the guidelines.

You also need to know the standard research paper format for your institution. Ask for help from your course advisor or lecturer if necessary. The writing format is very important, as your work could be penalized heavily if your format is wrong.