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Writing strategies for beginners: what is most important about a paper’s format?


Writing papers as a beginner can be tough. There are so many rules to break and depending on who your writing is aimed at, you may be expected to follow every single one. When it comes to formatting, here are a few basic ideas to keep in mind no matter what format you’re supposed to be using:

Size Matters

Your writing will have to be typed on paper of a specific size. It may be something you overlook in a hurry especially if you are printing something that needs to be handed in within the hour (or the minute). Spare a moment and check that you’re not using the last of your ink on paper that’s too long.

Keep it simple with the Font Size and Style

Most formats will either specify a simple font like Times New Roman in font 12 or they will hint it. Even if it’s never overtly stated in the guide booklets, stay away from beautiful fancy calligraphy like fonts and keep the size readable and consistent.

Avoid Excessive Text Formatting

Don’t use bold or italics unless it is expressly stated that you may. The same goes for underlining.

Limit your Title Length

You may have an epic title in mind for your research but if the format you’re working with says 12 words or less, please summarize.

Include Page Numbers

Some formats will require you to place your surname next to the page number on each page. Fortunately just about all software will make this process automatic with just a few clicks.

Leave Margins

One inch margins to the sides, top and bottom of each page are another common requirement. They’re also very simple to accomplish.

(Maybe) Cover Pages

Not every format needs a cover page. To compound matters, sometimes a teacher may request a cover page knowing full well that the format doesn’t require it. In the end, defer to the judgment of whoever is correcting the paper.

Never neglect References

Leaving out a margin will make your work messy. Leaving out a citation will make your work plagiarism. Make sure to properly cite every author whose work you make reference to. Styles will very from format to format but no academic work is permitted to omit these.

As difficult as it may all seem at first glance, this is the gist of what formatting your paper entails. In time it will be as natural to you as breathing.

 

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