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Formatting Papers in Accepted Academic Style

Formatting Papers in Accepted Academic Style

This is sadly true that students often lose grades because of the lack of knowledge on the standard font size for college papers. Thus, our writers and editors have compiled a short but informative guide to the standard academic format for scholarly assignments in MS Word. The info provided below is in line with the most widely used styles such as MLA and APA. You will learn about the requirements for margins, indents, font size and style of your documents. These are the basic rules the majority of college students are required to follow when composing their papers. Still, professors can change formatting requirements. So, it is important to carefully read the assignment instructions, or check with your tutor for such details.

Guide on Formatting Papers

When you use accepted formatting standards in an academic paper, it shows you understand the customary practices of the academic community. This is, therefore, a great way of boosting your own academic credentials and credibility. By contrast, if you use an unusual, distinctive or non-standard formatting style, it suggests you were not properly trained by your previous school to present college or university-level coursework. Think about the impact non-standard formatting can have. It does not just draw what may prove to be non-positive attention to your work, but your professors might get the impression you are attempting to make a paper look longer.

The Margins of Your Documents

Standard rule: You should allow a one-inch margin on all sides of the page in any paper you submit for grading or review. You should make this your default setting in MS Word, but if one-and-a-quarter inch margins are required, you will need to alter your default settings. Generally speaking, the requirements when determining page length assume margins of one inch.

How to Set Margins:

  1. From the ‘Format’ menu, choose ‘Document,’ and then set the margins to your required dimensions.
  2. Now click the ‘Default’ option, and accept your changes.
  3. Be careful that the gutter is left set at ‘0’ or the formatting in your document will get messed up.

Indenting Paragraphs

Standard rule: For each new paragraph, it is necessary to automatically indent the first text line.

How to set indentation: You should ensure this is the default setting in MS Word. If this is not the case, it is recommended that you use the instructions above to change whatever style is your ‘normal.’ The following are the instructions for changing the indentation in a document.

How to set indentation
How to set indentation (mobile)

This will automatically indent the first lines of all new paragraphs, which means you won’t have to keep doing this manually.

Choosing or Setting Font Size and Style

Standard rule: Virtually every college paper is expected to be typed in a standard academic format and size font. These fonts are usually 12-point Times New Roman or 11-point Calibri or Arial. If the paper you submit is in a different font, it may be rejected by your tutor or they may change it when they download it.

How to set or change fonts: A 12-point Times New Roman font should be the default setting in MS Word. However, if this is not the case, the default setting can be changed.

How to set or change fonts
How to set or change fonts (mobile)

The Alignment of Text

Standard rule: In an academic paper, the text should be aligned to the left margin. It should not be justified. In general, it is quite difficult to read justified text that was not handled in a professional manner. In MS Word, the text is left-aligned by default so there is no need to make any changes.

Formatting of First Pages

  • First Page Heading

Standard rule: The writer should type their name, date, the course title, number and section, paper version (e.g. Paper 2 First draft) on separate lines in the top left-hand corner of the first essay or document page. Make sure you modify dates and versions as you keep submitting revised and final paper versions.

It is advisable not to use the ‘headers’ option in MS Word’s ‘Header/Footer’ menu for this step. It causes this first heading to show on every subsequent page and this is not a common practice when writing academic papers. Additionally, you should not include a title or cover page unless you are specifically asked to do so for a particular assignment.

  • Adding the Title or Name of Your Paper

Standard rule: Leave a blank line following your heading and write an original name or title that reflects your paper’s topic. Place this title in the center. Avoid using italics or underling for your heading unless it is a reference to the title of an article, book, etc. In an APA-formatted academic paper, your heading will be bolded. In both MLA and APA, the heading should be written in capital letters.

Adding Page Numbers

Standard rule: Academic papers should have page numbers. These should appear in the top right-hand corner of every page apart from the first page. Try not to insert page numbers manually. It is best to use the ‘Header/Footer’ feature in MS Word to have them automatically generated.

If your paper is being written in the MLA style, add your last name and the number of the page to the top right-hand corner. If you are using the APA style, present only the number of the page in the top right-hand corner. Note: the running head is not required for student papers. Still, exceptions are possible.

How to add page numbers
How to add page numbers (mobile)

These steps should cause a page number to be automatically generated in the top right-hand side, even when changes are made. The header and footer option will remain greyed out and will need to be activated when changes are required.

If you do not want page numbers displayed on the first page:

  • From the ‘Format’ menu, go to ‘Document’ and click on the button labelled ‘Layout.’
  • You should see an option called ‘Different First Page.’ Click this.
  • Now click on ‘OK.’

If need be, remove the first page header and insert one on the next (second) page. It should now automatically appear on subsequent pages of the document.

Line Spacing

Standard rule: Double-space your full paper. This rule includes headings and bibliographies.

How to set or change line spacing
How to set or change line spacing (mobile)

Alternatively, any of the following keyboard shortcuts can be used to create double-spacing: Ctrl-A and Ctrl-2 (PC users) or Cmd-A and Cmd-2 (Mac users) to select all and create double-spacing.

How Spacing Applies to Paragraphs

Standard rule: There should not be any extra spaces between paragraphs. This setting should be the default in MS Word. However, if you have set your system for 10point spaces between paragraphs, this should be changed.

How to set paragraph spacing
How to set paragraph spacing (mobile)

When the settings menu appears, change the ‘Spacing’ settings to 0 point.

Creating New Pages

To start a new page for, say, a bibliography, follow these instructions: from the ‘Insert’ menu, go to ‘Break,’ and then to ‘Page Break.’  It is better than hitting the ‘return’ key lots of times.

Block or Blocked Quotes

Standard rule: Generally, where a quotation exceeds 4 lines, it should be separated from the rest of the text by indenting and ‘blocking’ it. You should introduce your block quotation using the signal phrase. Furthermore, it should be correctly cited but the rules are slightly different in this case. There is no need for quotation marks and the colon should be put after the signal phrase. Your parenthetical citation should go after the closing punctuation mark (and not before it).

How to create a blocked quotation

How to create a blocked quotation (mobile)

A Reliable Help with Font Size for College Papers

In case you are still not sure about the font size for college papers or face difficulties shaping your written academic assignments, seek help from a professional editor/writer. This is a common practice even among well-known scholars and authors. Reputable custom writing agencies offer such services as formatting and proofreading. Working in tandem with an expert writer, you will definitely succeed and get high grades!

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