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Extended Essay Resources: Paper Formatting

Find resources and links for the Extended Essay

How to format the EE

The extended essay should be written in a clear, correct and formal academic style, appropriate to the subject from which the topic is drawn. Given that the extended essay is a formally written research paper, it should strive to maintain a professional, academic look.

To help achieve this, the following formatting is suggested.

  • font, font size and spacing conducive to on-screen marking
    • Arial 12 or Times New Roman 12
    • Double-spaced
  • page numbering
  • no candidate, supervisor, or school name on the title page, page headers, appendices or acknowledgment pages
  • the file size must not be more than 10 MB. (Note that the RPPF is uploaded separately and is not part of the overall file size of the essay.)

What's on the Title Page?

Title page

The title page should include the:

  • title of the essay
  • research question
  • subject for which the essay is registered
    • if it is a language essay also state which category it falls into;
    • if a world studies essay also state the theme and the two subjects utilized)
  • word count.

DO NOT include any personal information like your name, the name of the school, or your candidate number. The IB wants each EE to be anonymous and assessed without bias. 

Images and Illustrations

From the MLA Style Guide at Purdue

Labels, captions, and source information

Illustrations appear directly embedded in the document. Each illustration must include a label, a number, a caption and/or source information.

  • The illustration label and number should always appear in two places: the document main text (e.g. see fig. 1) and near the illustration itself (Fig. 1).
  • Captions provide titles or explanatory notes (e.g., Van Gogh’s The Starry Night)
  • Source information documentation will always depend upon the medium of the source illustration. If you provide source information with all of your illustrations, you do not need to provide this information on the Works Cited page.


  • All visuals/illustrations that are not tables or musical score examples (e.g. maps, diagrams, charts, videos, podcasts, etc.) are labeled Figure or Fig.
  • Refer to the figure in-text and provide an Arabic numeral that corresponds to the figure. Do not capitalize figure or fig.
  • MLA does not specify alignment requirements for figures; thus, these images may be embedded as the reader sees fit. However, continue to follow basic MLA Style formatting (e.g. one-inch margins).
  • Below the figure, provide a label name and its corresponding arabic numeral (no bold or italics), followed by a period (e.g. Fig. 1.). Here, Figure and Fig. are capitalized.
  • Beginning with the same line as the label and number, provide a title and/or caption as well as relevant source information in note form (see instructions and examples above). If you provide source information with your illustrations, you do not need to provide this information on the Works Cited page.
  • If full citation information is provided in the caption, use the same formatting as you would for your Works Cited page. However, names should be listed in first name last name format.

Figure Example

In-text reference:

Some readers found Harry’s final battle with Voldemort a disappointment, and recently, the podcast, MuggleCast debated the subject (see fig. 2).

Figure caption (below an embedded podcast file for a document to be viewed electronically):

Fig. 2. Harry Potter and Voldemort final battle debate from Andrew Sims et al.; “Show 166”; MuggleCast;, 19 Dec. 2008,



Appendices are not an essential part of the extended essay and examiners will not read them, or use any information contained within them, in the assessment of the essay. Students must take care to ensure that all information with direct relevance to the analysis, discussion and evaluation of their essay is contained in the main body of it. Appendices should therefore be avoided except in the following instances:

  • an exemplar of a questionnaire or interview questions
  • an exemplar of permission letters
  • group 1, category 1 essays: copies of poems or short stories (of less than three pages)
  • group 1, category 3 essays: excerpts from newspapers, advertisements and transcripts of speeches
  • language acquisition, category 1 and 2: excerpts from newspapers, advertisements, transcripts of speeches, etc
  • language acquisition, category 3: excerpts or copies of poems or short stories (less than 3 pages)
  • an external mentor letter, where one has been used
  • raw data or statistical tables for experimental sciences (this should not include any analysis or conclusions).

Students should not continually refer to material presented in an appendix as this may disrupt the continuity of the essay and examiners are not required to refer to them.

Word Counts

Word counts

The upper limit is 4,000 words for all extended essays.

Please note: Examiners are instructed not to read or assess any material in excess of the word limit. This means that essays containing more than 4,000 words will be compromised across all assessment criteria. 

Please refer to the following guidance on what content should be included in the word count.

checkmark Included in the word count cross Not included in the word count
The introduction The contents page
The main body Maps, charts, diagrams, annotated illustrations
The conclusion Tables
Quotations Equations, formulas and calculations
Footnotes and/or endnotes that are not references Citations/references (whether parenthetical, numbered, footnotes or endnotes)
The bibliography
The Reflections on planning and progress form

Please refer to the document entitled Assessment principles and practices—Quality assessments in a digital age for further clarification of word count requirements.

A note for students writing in Chinese, Korean and Japanese:

Students writing their extended essay in Japanese, Korean or Chinese should use the following conversions.

  • Japanese: 1 word = approximately 2 Japanese characters (upper limit 8,000 characters)
  • Korean: 1 word = 1 Korean character (upper limit 4,000 characters)
  • Chinese: 1 word = approximately 1.2 Chinese characters (upper limit 4,800 characters)

When typing in Chinese, Korean or Japanese word processing software is likely to include the number of characters and punctuation in the word count. Students are asked to not include punctuation in the word count for assessed work. The word count should only take into account the number of characters typed.

A note about acknowledgments and dedications:

An acknowledgment/dedications page may be included in the EE if this is important to the student, but it must contain no “identifiers”, for example, people should not be detailed in any way that makes the student’s school identifiable. An acknowledgment/dedications page is not a formal requirement of the EE, so it does not contribute to either the word count or assessment.

Headers and Footnotes


Students may wish to use the header function for their research question, so that it appears on each page. This may help retain focus.

Footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes may be used for referencing purposes and if this is the case will not be included in the word count of the essay. If information is contained in a footnote or endnote and is not a reference, this must be included in the word count. In order to avoid confusion and unwittingly exceed the word limit, students are advised to avoid using footnotes or endnotes other than for referencing purposes unless it is appropriate.

One appropriate use of footnotes is for the placement of the original quotation (where the original quotation is in a language other than the language of registration). This use of footnotes would not need to be included in the word count.

As footnotes and endnotes are not an essential part of the extended essay students must take care to ensure that all information with direct relevance to the analysis, discussion and evaluation of their essay is contained in the main body of it.

An essay that attempts to evade the word limit by including important material in footnotes or endnotes will be compromised across the assessment criteria. Please note that footnotes and endnotes are added to the word count as they are encountered.