When you’re getting ready to print your paper for class there’s a few standard rules that you should always follow (unless your professor gave specific, varying instructions). So to make sure that your grade isn’t brought down by one little mistake make sure you follow these rules of thumb.
1) Make it double spaced
Double spaced papers are easier for your professor to read and make notes on. He expects your paper to be double spaced, and probably included that specification in your length requirement.
I love the moment when I finally get to hit Ctrl A and then Ctrl 2. My paper expands, doubling in size and fulfilling my page requirements. After 5 hours of work it’s always a real treat!
2) 12 point font.
Even if you’re desperate to stretch or shrink your paper, leave the font size alone. Font that’s too small or too big is really obvious, especially when it’s sitting next to all of your classmates correctly sized papers. Making your professor squint to read your assignment is the easiest way to get on their bad side.
3) 1 Inch Margins
The default on my Word is always 1.5 inches, but that’s not acceptable. So make sure you adjust the margins on your paper so that they are 1 inch wide all the way around. Like font size, margins that are too big or too small are really obvious when they’re compared to your peers’ work.
4) Times New Roman
When in doubt, always set your font on Times New Roman. Book Antiqua, Arial, or Verdana might look a little fancier, but chances are your professor won’t like it. There is a reason Times New Roman is the font used in the production of most mass market paperbacks; it’s easy to read. So don’t get crazy, stick to the predictable, standard font that everyone else will be using.
5) Use citations
Even if all the information in your paper came directly from class notes and textbooks make sure that you give credit where credit is due. Not showing your sources will be an easy way to fail your paper, and plagiarism has consequences that can stretch far beyond the boundaries of one classroom. So make a works cited and add in your in-text citations.
As long as your paper is double spaced there should be no extra spacing between paragraphs, but there should be a .5 inch indentation. So hit tab at the beginning of every new paragraph. It’s as simple as that.
7) Use a clear header
The title of your paper, the date, the class, and your name should always be placed on the header of the first page. However, that information shouldn’t appear on every single page. So check the little box in your Word settings that says ‘different first page’ before you type in the information. It’s also a good idea to add a header to page 2 and up with the page number and your last name.
8) Staple it
Don’t fold over the corners or use a paper clip to attach the pages of your paper. Go, find a stapler, and actually staple the pages. There is nothing more frustrating for your professor than losing the last page of your paper because it wasn’t properly attached.
Image: University Language