Formatting and layout
Assignments vary in their requirements for formatting and layout. Check for formatting requirements in your course materials or with your course co-ordinator. Aim for consistency in your formatting.
The most common format is as follows:
- Print the assignment on A4 paper, one-sided.
- Do not put the assignment in a folder unless instructed to; simply staple pages together.
- Use a clearly legible font and font size (12 point is the most common size).
- Give the assignment a left margin of around 3 centimetres so that markers can insert comments.
- Use 1.5 or double line-spacing.
- Keep the space between paragraphs consistent. Two styles are:
- Do not indent paragraphs, and leave a blank line between paragraphs. (This is the most common style.)
- Indent the first line of each paragraph, but leave no spaces between paragraphs.
Always double-check for the formatting requirements of your individual paper.
If one has been provided, attach a cover sheet to the front of the assignment. Distance assignments use a standard cover sheet; internal assignment cover sheets are often provided by your department or course co-ordinator.
Most assignments do not require a title page - all the necessary information is already included on the cover sheet. However, title pages are sometimes needed for longer assignments, postgraduate assignments, or certain types of report.
The format of these title pages varies according to the specific requirements of the assignment, but typically contain:
- The title, centred, approximately one third of the way down the page
- The date of the assignment's submission
- The author's name and ID number
- The marker's name
- The paper number and name
Some assignment types require headings and sub-headings, whereas others do not use any.
Essays, for example, do not usually use sub-headings unless you have specific instructions that they can be included. The only sub-heading common in essays is ‘References’, for the reference list. Instead of headings, the first sentence of each paragraph should signal the topic to the reader (see essay body paragraphs for more on this).
Reports, on the other hand, often require specific headings such as ‘Introduction’, ‘Discussion’, and so forth.
If you are unsure whether to use headings or not, ask your course co-ordinator for clarification. If you do use headings and sub-headings, keep the style consistent throughout the assignment.
Most assignments do not use appendices, but sometimes you need to include additional information, transcripts, questionnaire details, or raw data. These should go in an appendix.
If there is only one appendix, it is given the title “Appendix”. If there are several appendices, each is given a letter (follow the same order that they are mentioned in the body of the assignment): “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, “Appendix C”, etc.
The title is used to refer to the appendix in the body of the assignment:
The analysis shows that the mean was well above expected (see Appendix B for details).
Style guides differ on whether the appendices should come before or after the reference list / bibliography.
APA style (the style most commonly used at Massey University) and Massey University's Thesis Presentation Guide put the appendices after the reference list / bibliography.
Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012
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