Academic papers are considered academic, rather than creative or professional, because they have a particular format. When you are assigned an academic paper, your instructor will also assign a formatting style like APA, MLA, or Chicago Style. Collegiate instructors are under the assumption that their students have already written papers in at least one of these styles before they arrive in college, so instructors do not usually teach the skills required to write an academic paper.
Your academic paper will not only need to be organized in a particular structure, but it will also need to be formatted properly on the screen and paper. Each style has requirements for fonts and sizes, for the text, headlines, sub-headlines, and the works cited pages. Even the title pages require special fonts, sizes, and spacing. It is important to know the margins and what type of indentation is required. Most styles also require a specific line spacing, headers, and page numbers, too. The manuals for APA, MLA, and Chicago Style will have give the specifics for all of those details.
When you write your academic paper, you will not only need to worry about the formatting of your fonts, margins, and headers, but you will also need to worry about the organizational formatting of your paper. This means that each required section of your needs to include the elements that your chosen format requires. This means that if you need to have a section about literature review, then you must include that section. If you need to call your works cited page a bibliography and reverse indent each alphabetized entry, then you must do that. If you stray from the required formatting and structural elements, then your instructor will know and you will lose points on the project and possible even get a plagiarism call.
One of the most important aspects of every academic paper is the properly structured and formatted in-text citations. Since most academic papers require the use of well-researched material, students need to know how to structure the direct quotes and paraphrased material they use in their projects. Students not only need to properly cite their researched information, but they also need to be sure they explain it well, too. With too many errors in citations, instructors could find students in violation of plagiarism rules.
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