It is essential to have a good understanding of the correct format and style for essays and reports. This guide is designed to be used as a manual to help you with the format of your assignments and the citations (bibliography, footnotes) related to them.

There are two very well known styles of documentation from the MLA (Modern Languages Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association). This style guide conforms to these in terms of basic principles and is accepted at John McCrae. However, at the post secondary level, you should check the specific directions given to you by the institution or your professor !

If you would like more information or direction about footnotes, endnotes, in-text citation and/or bibliographies, you may also use the sources indicated below:

Published Style Manuals
American Psychological Association. Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th Ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th Ed., New York: Modern Language Association, 1995.

The Chicago Manual of Style. 14th Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
(often referred to as the Turabian Manual, after the original author)

On-line Style Guides
University of Toronto Writing Guide -> Standard Documentation Formats

Research and Documentation Online


  • Use 8 1/2 x 11 good quality white paper
  • Use double spacing for assignments ( especially if they are hand written) and leave an extra blank line between paragraphs.
  • The location for the left hand margin is 2.5 cm. Left justify your text and if you need to indent (for a quotation over three lines, for example), the measurement should be 3 cm. indentation on both sides of the quoted passage. Avoid using more than two levels of indentation. Remember to line up the words and the hyphens/ bullets when using point form.
  • Underline only those items that require it according to documentation rules
  • (i.e. titles of books). Important items, to which you want to draw attention, can be put in boldface. Turn off hyperlinks so that URL’s are not underlined!
  • Don’t change font styles in formal essays and be sure to choose a simple, clear typeface.
  • Usually, neither illustrations nor photocopies are used in a formal essay in high school. For science, social science and sometimes technical writing, illustrations are used: i.e. graphs, tables, drawings, photographs, maps, etc. There are specific rules about the inclusion of these items (unnumbered paging, location, etc.) Consult the teacher or teacher-librarian for the correct methods.
  • Cited sources are embedded in the text according to parenthetical style i.e. (Franklin 198). Parenthetical means using brackets which are also called parentheses !
  • A list of References is given in alphabetical order at the end of your paper. The items in the list are:
    • 1) listed on a separate page
    • 2) titled REFERENCES
    • 3) double spaced between entries
    • 4) if one entry goes onto a second line, use hanging indent formatting to cause the second and following lines to be indented 5 spaces
    • 5) correctly punctuated - Be sure to follow the examples here exactly!

References are a frequent source of mistakes and omissions.
Check them carefully!