The presentation of
your written work is important: first impressions do count, and poorly
presented work might lead your tutor to think that the work has been
rushed or that you do not really care about it.
It is important to note, however,
that no matter how professionally your assignment is presented, it will
not hide mediocre content. A poorly presented assignment with excellent
content is always preferable to excellent presentation with poor content,
although you should of course always aim for a combination of the two.
Particular faculties or courses
may have their own guidelines for different aspects of presentation,
so always check your own course documentation or with course tutors.
What follows is general advice on the presentation of courses assignments
which is usually, but not always, appropriate.
Always use A4 size paper, and print or write on one side only.
You will almost always now be expected to word process your work. If
you need help or practice with this, ask in your learning/resource centre,
or in the library.
Although you will always have to hand in your work with a faculty cover
sheet, it is usually a good idea to include a title page at the beginning
of your assignment, although this may not be necessary for very short
pieces of work. (See Guide 1.25)
A contents page is usually included with longer reports. (See Guide
You may want to protect your work with a plastic sleeve or cover. There
are usually no rules on this, but probably the longer the piece of work,
the more important it is. Dissertations and theses will need to be bound.
Don’t put individual pages into plastic sleeves.
Always use standard fonts, the type you would see in a book or journal;
for example, Times/ Times New Roman, Ariel, Palatino etc. Don’t
use Comic Sans!
The size for the majority of you
text should normally be 10, 11 or 12, depending on the individual font
(Times, for example, is small). The most important thing is that your
text is clear and easy to read. Don’t forget that your tutor’s
eyesight might not be what it was!
For headings and titles use a slightly
larger size, but don’t make them to big.
Avoid overuse of formatting such as bold, italic and underlining.
Bold is probably best used just for headings and titles and italics
just for names or specialist words (instead of using inverted commas).
Don’t use italics for quotes incorporated into your text, although
they can be used for longer quotes which are indented and separate from
the rest of the text (See Guide 1.14). However, even in this case normal
text is preferable.
Underlining is best avoided, as is the use of coloured fonts.
It is generally recommended that your text is 1.5 or double spaced,
depending on the size of the actual font. In Word, go to Format and
then Paragraph, where you will see the Spacing option.
The reasons for doing this are so that your tutor will be able to make
comments and corrections easily, and also to avoid making your page
a dense block of text with perhaps 500 or 600 words, which can be off-putting
to the reader.
Always have left and right margins of around 2.5 cm (1”). This
again allows for comments to be made, and also ensures that when the
pages are stapled or bound, no text is lost.
Always include page numbers: they can go at the top or bottom, usually
to the right.
See Guides 1.13 and 1.14 and also check your course documentation. There
are different ways of doing this, and variations within each system;
make sure that you are consistent.
Dissertations and theses
These will have stricter guidelines on how they should be presented.
Check with your tutor/supervisor and if possible consult a model piece
Always keep a copy of what you hand in, and remember to regularly back
your work up.