Properly formatting your term paper could mean the difference between an A and a C! It may not sound fair, but even the best paper in the world probably still won’t receive an A if it’s not presented in the proper way. There’s a reason for this, but knowing the reason isn’t nearly as important as knowing how to do it! For the curious, though, most of the rules regarding formatting your paper are simply to make it easier for the reader to read! It can also help differentiate an academic paper from, say, a short story. There are other reasons, too, but those are the most important.
So how do you properly format a term paper? Your best bet, always, is talk directly to your professor about what sort of format they’re expecting. It’s likely your teacher expects you to already know how a paper is supposed to look, and assumes you already know the basics. However, every teacher is different, and it’s important that you clarify anything you might be confused about directly with your teacher. However, the following rules are standard across all subjects and disciplines, or there are very few and rare deviations. If you stick to these tips you shouldn’t have any issues formatting your paper!
Double-space. Your paper should always be double-spaced, meaning an extra space in between each line of text. Unless you’re using a typewriter or an extremely basic word processor, the only thing you’ll need to do to ensure double-spacing is set your word processor to double space automatically. Easy!
Times New Roman, Size 12 Font. This is the absolute standard for academic essays. You might like the way Arial looks more, or think that a fancy script text will make your paper look more sophisticated, but your teacher wants to see Times New Roman font, in size 12. Don’t think you can get away with increasing the font size to add bulk to your paper! Your professor will know as soon as they look at your paper that your font is bigger than the other papers!
Use page numbers, using your last name. If you have a paper that’s three or more pages long, it would likely be prudent to add page numbers. You can put page numbers at the top or bottom, but the top right corner is generally the most accepted place. Precede each page number with your last name so that it looks like this: Smith 2. Most modern word processors will allow you to automatically add page numbers as a header or footer.
Format your header. Your “header” will only go on the first page, and it should include your name, teacher’s name, the class, and the date. It should go in this order:
Put your title in quotation marks, or simply center it. You should always center the title of your essay. Never use bold or italics on your title. You can, depending on your teacher, put your title in quotation marks. Your Title Should Be Capitalized Like This, do not write your title in all caps.
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