How to Format My Paper Correctly
Students often run into trouble formatting research papers. As a result, many use the wrong styles, and the professor has to send it back for revision, and in other cases, you are penalized for the same. While some universities and departments have specific formatting requirements, most follow widely known formatting standards like the APA, MLA, and Harvard, among others. We will look at the basics of formatting in APA style.
- Title page and header
APA is one of the most widely used writing and formatting style standards. It is used for both student assignments and professional work. APA is not static, and recently, the American Psychological Association released the 7th edition of the guidelines. The guidelines state that each paper must have a dedicated front page where the researcher's name, research title, instructor, course, institution name, and dates are written. Additionally, each page of an APA paper carries a numerical page number on the top upper right section.
- APA Headings
Headings are an excellent way to maneuver through your content. However, they can be a nuisance when poorly used. APA supports six heading levels beginning with level 1 through six. Level 1 is the highest and is often used for titles, while level six is the smallest. In APA, you should not number the headings, bullet headings, or add space before and after headers. You can obtain further details on the use of subheadings from the official APA website.
- Font type and font size
Although not a standard that is strictly adhered to, students should use easy-to-read font types on an APA paper. For instance, various schools recommend using Times New Roman, Georgia, Calibri, or Arial. Generally, you can use any Serif or Sans serif fonts and font sizes between 8 and 14. Note that there are particular formatting requirements for text in figures, footnotes, and computer code.
- Line spacing
The APA guidelines state that all parts of your text should be double spaced. Consequently, scholars, departments, and schools recommend this setting to students and staff. Additionally, you should not add any extra space after or before paragraphs. However, there is a catch in the double-spacing rule since the title page, figures, footnotes, tables, and mathematical equations are exempted. With these cases, you can choose to use a single space, 1.5 or double space setting accordingly.
- Page margins
Students should use a one-inch margin all around, and most word processing applications have this setting. Therefore, most people do not have to worry about margins, but you may want to confirm it before submitting your paper. However, like with other formatting requirements, your school or department may have a preferred setting, and you should check and comply. For example, final year project documents, thesis, and dissertations may call for a more considerable left margin for binding.
- Alignment and indentation
You should align all paragraphs with the left margin. Consequently, the right margin remains rugged, and that is okay. You should not add hyphens to words appearing at the end of the line since word processor applications will insert automatic breaks instead.