An Expert Guide To Learn the Synthesis Essay Format

So, you have a synthesis essay writing task in hand and now worried about how to take this off your shoulder? Well, all you need is to get comfortable with the format of synthesis essay and you will be doing great already.

Speaking of which, this interesting yet engaging blog post will guide you about the procedural format of a synthesis essay. So let’s get started with it.

Understanding the Synthesis Essay Format

Form a Good Understanding of the Prompt

It is essential to comprehend the essay prompt thoroughly. Work out the primary subject matter, the goal of the essay, and any particular directions given by the teacher.

Carefully Research the Source

Gather Sources: In order to develop an informed and balanced argument, it is essential to conduct a thorough investigation to locate appropriate sources. This should incorporate materials such as scholarly articles, books, academic journals, and reliable websites. It is important to ensure that the sources used are trustworthy and varied.

Evaluate Sources: Familiarize yourself with the main ideas, research methods, and facts that each source offers. Jot down significant points and phrases that you may want to include in your essay.

Thesis Formation

Develop a Thesis Statement: Formulated on the basis of your research, construct a robust thesis statement which clearly states your primary argument or the point you wish to make in your synthesis essay. Your thesis should be controversial and allow for the integration of multiple perspectives.

Outline Creation

Organize Your Ideas: Construct a thorough plan for your essay. Organize the format, selecting which sources or evidence you will draw on to back up the distinct parts of your essay.

Introduction: This text aims to provide an overview of a particular topic by providing some background information and presenting the main thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs: Each section of your paper should address one particular point or subject. Start each section with a main idea, then provide evidence and analysis from your sources to support it. Explain why each source is relevant to the thesis statement.

Counter Arguments: It is important to consider other perspectives and recognize that not everyone will agree with your point of view. Take the time to address any counter arguments or opposing viewpoints, and explain why your opinion is more valid or well-informed.

Conclusion: In the conclusion of your essay, it is important to summarize the main points, reword your thesis statement, and discuss the broader implications of your argument. Do not introduce any new information.

Writing the Essay

Clear and Concise Language: Write clearly and concisely. Avoid jargon and complex language that might confuse your readers.

Cite Sources Properly: Use the appropriate citation style (such as APA, MLA, or Chicago) to cite your sources within the text and in the bibliography or works cited page.

Maintain a Logical Flow: Ensure your essay has a logical flow of ideas. Use transitions between paragraphs to guide your readers through your argument smoothly.

Revision and Editing

Review and Revise: After you have written your initial draft, take a pause before you start editing. Make sure that your arguments flow together, are easily understandable, and remain consistent.

Editing: Be sure to look for any mistakes in grammar or spelling. Make sure that your essay follows the directions given by your teacher.

Finalizing the Essay

Final Edits: Make final edits and proofread your essay one last time. Ensure that it meets all the requirements specified in the prompt.

Submission: Submit your well-crafted synthesis essay on time, following the submission guidelines provided by your instructor.

Additional Tips

Critical Thinking: Examine your sources carefully. Do not just provide a summary of their content; assess the arguments made and evaluate the quality of the evidence that is presented.

Balance Sources: Try to maintain an equilibrium between your sources. Don’t overly depend on one or two sources; instead, utilize an assortment of outlooks to reinforce your synthesis.

Originality: While you are synthesizing information from various sources, ensure that your analysis and interpretation are original. Your essay should reflect your understanding and insights derived from the synthesis process.

MLA Format of Synthesis Essay

Modern Language Association (MLA) format is commonly used for humanities and literature works. This formatting style makes it easier for the readers to analyze, navigate, and comprehend your thesis statement. The main purpose of using this citation format is to promote consistency of writing style in the given field. Following is a quick view of general guidelines to set up your MLA format paper in no time:

  • The font should be ‘Times New Romans’ and the font size must be 12. 
  • The standard page setup needs to be 8×11 inches on the computer printout. 
  • Leave one inch of space on the top, bottom, left, and right corners of the page throughout the paper. 
  • Use double spacing in your referencing format to make it easy for readers to find references in your essay. 
  • Create a header note to number the pages. Make sure that the page number is added in the upper right corner with half an inch space from the top margin. In MLA style, the numbering of pages starts from the second page, but you can number the first page if your instructors mention it. 
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch from the left margin. MLA recommends using the Tab key to indent the paragraph instead of pressing the spacebar five times. 
  • Use title case capitalization in the titles of your sources as well as the titles and subheadings of your paper. That means all the principal words, like the first word of the title or heading, the first word of the subtitle, and the first word after the colon, emdash, or end punctuation in a heading, will be capitalized. 

First Page in MLA Format

The first page of your essay is crucial in MLA format because it represents how organized and formatted the rest of your essay will be. Here is what you must include in the first page of your essay:

  • Author:  Your full name appears on the top left of the paper.
  • Instructor(s): Write the instructor’s name below your name.
  • Course name and number: Mention the course name properly with a given number. 
  • Submission Date: Mention the submission date of the paper. 
  • Running Head: Running head is the portion in the top right corner of the first page that contains the last name of the author with a page number. The main idea behind Running Head is to help readers track the author and the page numbers on your essay.
  • Proper Title: Write the full title of your essay to represent your thesis statement.

Headings and Subheadings 

Including headings and subheadings helps in organizing and structuring your essay. While following the MLA style, there are some requirements for headings.

  • Make sure to write them in the title case.
  • Headings should be left aligned. 
  • Don’t end the headings in a period.
  • It is often recommended to keep the font and size the same and organize them with the help of title case capitalization. Generally, boldface is used to represent the prominence of the main heading, and italics are used for subheadings.


If your essay contains tables, there are certain MLA guidelines to present them. 

  • Label and number the table in bold above the table. 
  • Mention the full title of the table to explain what the table is about. 
  • If the table is someone else’s work that you’ve cited, you need to give a proper reference to that article or paper below the table. Write a proper MLA citation for that work and provide a brief description of what the study was about.


Table 1

Percentage Of The People Happy With Their Jobs In Overall Europe.


MLA formatting has some requirements for presenting figures and images in your essay. Unlike tables, the label, number, and caption of the figures are mentioned below them. 

  • The label would be ‘fig,’ the abbreviation of the word figure.
  • Next to it is the number of the figure and a period. 
  • The rest of the caption states either the full source of information or just descriptive information about the image. The caption includes the artist to whom that object in the figure belongs, the title of the image, and the publication date. 


Fig.1. Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, (1889)

Work Citation Format

The citations are added at the end of the paper, containing all the references of the sources you’ve used for information and research. MLA citations have some major points to be mentioned in every reference, whether a book, article, study paper, newspaper, or any other research material.

  • Author’s last name or first name if applicable. Put a period at the end of names. 
  • Title of work inside quotation marks.
  • Name of the journal or the publishers in italics
  • Names of the contributors. 
  • Edition or version. 
  • Issue number
  • Page number in case of books and larger assignments.
  • Publication Date. 
  • Location of the assessed work or, more specifically, location of publication. 
  • Date of accessing the source. 


Hughes, Langston. “Aunt Sue’s Stories,” The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad, p.23, 2004, Wisconsin, United States. 

APA Format of Synthesis Essay

American Psychological Association (APA) is generally used for technical and scientific works. Let’s just take a quick look at the general guidelines of the APA format:

  • The standard size of page margins is 8.5”x 11”.
  • The document should be double-spaced with 1-inch margins. 
  • APA Manual recommends using Times New Roman as Font with size 12
  • Indent the first word in all of your paragraphs. 
  • Include a running Head on the top of all pages that shouldn’t be more than 50 characters. The title page of your essay should contain the term “Running Head,” and after a colon, it should have the proper title of the project. The running head has to be justified. 

Major Section in APA format

Every paper formatted in APA style should have four major sections:

Title page
  • The title page should have the essay’s title typed in the center. It should be typed in boldface and centered in the upper half of the title page. 
  • Mention the name of the first, middle, and last name of the author. Refrain from using any titles such as Dr. or Mr. 
  • Write the name of the institution affiliation to indicate your location. 
  • Double-spaced all text on this page. 
  • The abstract starts from the next page, and it should include a page header without the term ‘Running head’ but the title of the essay and the page number. 
  • Write “Abstract” in the center of the page in bold, without quotation marks, italics, or underlining. 
  • Summarize the main topic, key findings, and results of your essay in a maximum of 250 words. It should be a single paragraph. 
  • Refrain from indenting this paragraph and keep it double-spaced. 
  • The main points of the abstract are to discuss research topics, questions, participants, methods, data analysis, results, and conclusion. 
  • Mention some keywords that might help readers to find your document. 
Main Body
  • All pages should have a running head and page number.
  • Write the title of the essay in the center without italics or underlining. 
  • Start with the introduction and indent the first line of all the body paragraphs will be indented. 
  • Headings should be in the capitalized case. 
  • Discuss the methods of your research, the main discussion, and key findings one by one. 
  • Properly cite the tables, figures, or graphs you add to your research. 
  • Conclude and state the result of your essay.
  • Do mention some future study limitations in your essay.
  • Write ‘References’ in bold, in the center of the page, without italicizing or underlining it. 
  • Add all the references and sources of your research in alphabetical order. 
  • Please start with the author’s last name or family name, followed by the initials of their first and middle names. 
  • Include the year of publication in brackets. 
  • Write the title of the article without italicizing it. 
  • Mention the name of the journal or publisher in italics. 
  • Note down the volume number
  • Issue number in brackets. (If had any)
  • Page range.


Ambady.N.& Richard. D.(2003). Half a minute: Predicting teacher evaluations from thin slices of nonverbal behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(3), 431-441.

Side Note

MLA and APA styles are updated and revised. That’s why use the recommended and up-to-date edition of these formats. 

Understanding the Synthesis Essay Format With an Example

For our understanding, let’s consider this topic: “How social media affects our mental health?” 

Here’s how you might apply the steps of the procedural format of a synthesis essay to this topic:

Step 1: Understanding the Prompt

Prompt: Explore and synthesize the existing research on how social media affects mental health.

Step 2: Research and Source Selection

Research: Look into doing some research on social media and mental health. Check out academic journals and platforms like PubMed for interesting scholarly articles, surveys, and studies.

Sources: Include studies from institutions like Harvard Medical School, Pew Research Center, and articles from reputable psychology journals.

Step 3: Thesis Formation

Thesis Statement: Social media can make mental health issues worse, but it can also be a great source of support. It’s important to be aware of how much time you spend on it and how it affects your mental health so that you can stay well.

Step 4: Outline Creation

Introduction: Define social media, mention its prevalence, and introduce the thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs

Paragraph 1: Discuss studies showing the correlation between excessive social media use and increased anxiety and depression.

Paragraph 2: Present research indicating how social media can provide a sense of belonging and support, especially for people with mental health conditions.

Paragraph 3: Address the impact of cyberbullying and social comparison on mental health, citing relevant studies.

Paragraph 4: Discuss strategies for mindful social media usage and its positive effects on mental health.

Conclusion: Summarize main points, restate thesis, and emphasize the importance of balanced social media use for mental well-being. 

Yes, outline is an important part of the format of synthesis essay!

Step 5: Writing the Essay

Write clear and concise paragraphs, integrating findings from studies. Use transitions to guide readers from one point to the next.

Step 6: Revision and Editing

Revise the essay for coherence and clarity. Check citations and ensure they are accurate.

Step 7: Peer Review (Optional)

Have a peer review your essay for feedback on clarity, argument strength, and overall structure.

Step 8: Finalizing the Essay

Make final edits based on peer feedback, proofread for errors, and ensure the essay adheres to the formatting and citation style required.

Synthesis Essay Outline

As we already know that outline is a vital element of the format of synthesis essay, so let’s elaborate on this more. 

  • Introduction

Hook: Start with an engaging statement or question related to your topic.

Background Information: Provide brief context about the topic and its significance.

Thesis Statement: Clearly state your main argument or insight derived from synthesizing the sources.

  • Body Paragraphs

Topic Sentence: Introduce the main idea of the paragraph.

Summary of Source 1: Briefly summarize the key points of the first source relevant to the paragraph’s topic.

Summary of Source 2: Do the same for the second source.

Analysis: Compare and contrast the sources. Discuss similarities, differences, and patterns.

Your Interpretation: Explain how the sources contribute to your thesis. What insights do they provide? How do they support or challenge each other?

Transition: Provide a smooth transition to the next paragraph.

Repeat for each body paragraph (number of paragraphs depends on the essay’s length and complexity). Each paragraph focuses on a different aspect or source relevant to your topic.

  • Counter Arguments

Acknowledge Counterarguments: Address opposing viewpoints or arguments related to your thesis.

Rebuttal: Refute counter arguments with logical reasoning and evidence from your sources.

Acknowledgment of Complexity: Acknowledge the complexity of the issue, showing that you understand various perspectives.

  • Conclusion

Restate Thesis: Summarize your main argument, restating it in different words.

Summary of Main Points: Recap the key points discussed in your body paragraphs.

Broader Implications: Discuss the broader implications of your argument. Why does it matter? What are the real-world applications or consequences?

Closing Thought: End with a thought-provoking statement, quote, or question that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

  • References/Bibliography (if required)

Cite Sources: List all the sources you referenced in your essay. Follow the appropriate citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.).


Writing a synthesis essay is no doubt a difficult task and most of the students would agree to that. But many don’t know that following a proper format of writing one can make it a very doable task for them. That’s what this blog post was all about to guide you about the format of the synthesis essay along with examples and a detailed outline for your understanding.

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