Helpful Term Paper Formatting Rules

Many people put a great deal of effort into researching and writing their term papers, only to find that they have lost points because of formatting issues. Don't let that happen to you! Your teacher will often include specific formatting rules in the assignment. These will include acceptable page layouts, word or page count, and bibliographic style.

Page Layouts

Every professor has specific demands for page layout. They will specify a font, font size, and margin size. They may also request headers, footers, or page numbers. For longer papers, they may ask for titles or sections to break up ideas. Whatever your teacher asks for, do not deviate from their layout. Your page layout will be the first thing that the teacher will notice, and if it is incorrect you will lose points immediately. If you are submitting a physical paper, print it out in advance to make sure everything looks good before you turn it in to your teacher. If you are submitting your paper electronically, ensure that you are saving the file in the correct format and in the right place.

Word or Page Count

When a teacher assigns a word or page count, what they are really telling you is how much detail they expect you to provide about your subject. If you find yourself short on words or pages, you may want to expand your thesis to explore another angle on the topic. If you find that you have too many words or pages, you will have to make some tough choices about what information is most pertinent to your essay. Either way, make sure you achieve your teacher's designated word or page count. In this circumstance, too much information is just as bad as too little.

Bibliographic Style

Various disciplines use different bibliographic styles. Your teacher should be clear about which format you are expected to use. Some formats require footnotes, and others require endnotes. You will be expected to document your sources according to the style format. It is important to make enough time to be completely accurate with your bibliography. You don't want to lose points over mis-marked sources, or a period or a comma in the wrong place. There are a number of style guides and websites that can assist you to perfect your citations and bibliography.