Additional Formatting Rules


1. Type of font: The rule of thumb is to be sensible. Remember that this is a college paper and not a fancy invitation to the party of the year. Times Roman seems to be the most readable and professional-looking. Courier is the standard for papers in text-only format. If you must go with a sans serif font, Tahoma is OK.


2. Special font formatting: Don't use bold or all UPPER-CASE. Consider underscore an alternative to italics, be consistent in using one or the other, and use it only when required by rules found in your handbook or in the MLA guidelines.


3. Font size 12 seems to be standard. Don't mix font sizes. Stick with 12 throughout.


4. Margins: For online papers, margins aren't an issue. However, paragraph markers are. Don't hit ENTER at the end of every line. Instead, press ENTER twice at the end of each paragraph. This will create a blank line between paragraphs.


5. Right margin: Don't use right justification. Instead, use ragged right.


Here's an example of a paragraph formatted with right justification. Notice the spaces that are inserted to achieve the even right margin. Justified right margins looks good for text placed in columns, but they're not suitable for standard college essays.


6. Spacing: Use single spacing within paragraphs, and double spacing between paragraphs (by hitting ENTER twice).


7. Graphics: Omit them. If you really need to include illustrations, graphs, photos, animations, etc., then point to them via a URL.


8. Footnotes and endnotes. Try to avoid them as much as possible. If the information is important, include it in the body of the paper. If it's not, omit it.


9. Non-standard punctuations: In your word-processing program, turn off "smart quotes" and use the default "straight quotes" instead. The same is true for other autoformat options such as apostrophes, super- and subscripts, dashes, etc.


10. Headers, footers, pagination, page breaks: Omit these.