Academic Skills

Follow layout conventions

All course-work should be word-processed. Generally the conventions are that you double line space work except for indented quotes. Always leave suitable margins: 2.5 or 3.0 cms on both left and right and set the main text of the essay in Times New Roman or Arial, 12 point. Italics are only usually used for titles of published works or foreign words so don’t use them for quotes etc. Keep it simple and clear. The aim is to get the reader to forget the presentation and concentrate on the content; you do this by following convention. Remember to set the spell-checker for ‘UK English’.

It’s a good idea to set a header with your name and date to print at the top of every page (Use a smaller font size for this if you wish) but at least make sure that all the details are on your first page. Don’t forget to number the pages.

Include the full question you are answering, in bold, on the first page. This serves as a reminder to you as well as helping the reader. Sub-headings or numbered paragraphs are not usual in academic essays as the flow of your argument should come from the content. However, this ‘report style’ lay-out may be more appropriate in other forms of work; check your assignment brief and see Report Writing section.

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