Basic Format for Your Paper


Slide 1 — The Basic Format for Your Paper

Slide 2 — Academic Format

If you follow the standard format for your paper, it will be easier to read, and it will look more professional.

Almost all American professors will expect you to format your paper according to the standard rules for academic papers.

Slide 3 — Ask Your Professor!

As always, if your professor prefers a different format, you should follow his/her rules instead of the guidelines that you see here.

Now let’s get started with the rules.

Slide 4 — Paper

If you will submit a printed paper, it should be printed on 8 1/2 by 11-inch white paper.

If you plan to submit electronically, it should still be formatted the same as if it were printed.

Slide 5 — Font

Two types of font are used in word processing: serif and sans-serif.

Times New Roman is an example of a serif font.

Arial is an example of a sans-serif font.

The font size should be 12 points.

Use a serif font like Times New Roman for the text of your paper.

For APA style, if your paper includes figures or graphs, use a sans-serif font like Arial for the labels under the figures.

Slide 6 — Spacing

The text of your paper should be double-spaced.

Slide 7 — Margins and Indentation

The margins at the top, bottom, left, and right should all be one inch (2.54 cm).

Indent 1/2 inch at the beginning of each paragraph.

Slide 8 — Page Headers

Ask your professor about preferences for page headers, or follow the APA, MLA, or Chicago style guidelines for more information.


If you have followed all this advice, you now have an attractive, professional-looking paper.

For more information, refer to the Citation & Documentation area or the APA Refresher section within the Excelsior OWL.

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