Proper Heading For College Assignments

Formatting and presenting your assignments

Formatting and presenting your assignment correctly is important because almost all assignments include marks for presentation.

This may include marks for things such as formatting and layout, word count, APA referencing, writing style, grammar and spelling.

Before you start your assignment:

  • Check your learning materials, the course page, emails from your lecturer or the assignment question for how it should be presented.
  • Read the instructions carefully, and make sure you understand them and follow them exactly.
  • If you’re not clear about what’s required email your lecturer. You could phone but it’s better to have a record of the answer.

Some lecturers assume that students will know how to present work of the required standard or quality and don’t give specific instructions. If this is the case, follow the general guidelines below.

General guidelines for electronic submissions

File format

  • Most assignments need should be written using MS Word. If you don’t have MS Word go to Office 365 in My Open Polytechnic to download and access your free version.
  • Assignments can be submitted one of the following file formats: .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx or .rtf.
  • Do not submit html files, web pages, CAD files, Visio (.vsd), PowerPoint (.ppt), PDF s (.pdf) or zip files unless these are specifically required for your course.

 If you're not sure about the file format required contact your lecturer.

Fonts
  • Use a clear, readable, sans serif font such as Verdana, Calibri, Tahoma or Arial, and be consistent and use the same font throughout.
  • Use black text on a white background. Avoid coloured backgrounds or text in a colour other than black unless you have special permission to use them (for example, if you're dyslexic).
  • Use 11 or 12 point for the body of your assignment.
Spacing
  • Use 1.5 or double spacing and fairly wide margins. This leaves room for the marker’s comments.
  • Leave a blank line between paragraphs.
  • If the questions are short, leave a blank line between each question. If they are long, start each question on a new page.
  • Left-justify your work (also known as left-aligned). Block-justified (flush left and right) might look tidy, but it’s harder to read as it can result in gaps between words.
Headings
  • Use bold for headings. Not underlining or italics.
  • Essays do not usually require subheadings; reports usually do.
Title page

Most assignments require a title page, which should include the following:

  • the title and number of the assignment
  • the course number and name
  • the due date
  • your full name and student number.

This information should be centered, starting approximately one third of the way down the page.

Numbering
  • Number all pages except the title page.
  • Tables and figures must be numbered and clearly labelled. Table captions are placed above the table, while captions for a figures go below the figure.
  • Don't number the items in a reference list.
Headers and footers

Insert a header or footer on each page (except the title page). It should contain:

  • your name (last name, first name/s)
  • your student number
  • the course number
  • the assignment number
  • the page number.
Word count

Include a word count (the number of words in your assignment) at the end of the assignment, before the references and appendices. Your assignment should not more than 10% under or over the prescribed word count. Remember that the title/title page, reference list and appendices are not included in the word count.

Word count calculator - Massey University website (opens in a new window)

Reference list

The reference list comes at the end of the assignment, and should start on a new page labelled 'References'.

Referencing and avoiding plagiarism

Appendices

Appendices are used for information that:

  • is too long to include in the body of your assignment, or
  • supplements or complements the information you are providing.

Start each appendix (if applicable) on a new page. If there's just one appendix label it ‘Appendix’ without a number, but if there are more than one label them Appendix A, Appendix B, etc. In the main text of your assignment, refer to the Appendix by the label, e.g. Appendix A.

Tops and bottoms of pages

Check the top and bottom of your pages to ensure they avoid:

  • widows - single lines of text at the top of a page
  • orphans - first lines of paragraphs at the bottom of a page
  • tombstones - headings or subheadings alone at the bottom of a page
  • split lists – lists that are divided between two pages (if possible).

General guidelines for hard copies

Most of the guidelines above also apply to hard copies (printed or hand-written documents). There are also a few additional things to note.

Handwritten submissions

Some courses allow handwritten answers, but make sure you check with your lecturer to make sure this is acceptable. When submitting a handwritten assignment:

  • Print or write on white A4 paper on one side only, using a blue or black pen.
  • Write legibly – if a marker can’t read what you’ve written, your answer might as well be wrong.
  • If you make a mistake, use correction fluid or draw a neat line through the mistake.
  • If there are too many mistakes and your work looks messy, rewrite it.
  • Use a ruler for tables and graphs.
  • Underline headings.
Stapling your assignment
  • Staple multi-page assignments in the top left corner only.
  • Don’t put your assignment in a plastic folder.
  • Attach an 'Assessment Return Sheet' (coversheet) to you assignment. (If you don't have one Contact us).

Related information

Submitting your assignments

Types of assignments

What lecturers want in your assignments

MLA General Format

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2016-08-11 04:27:59

MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language in writing. MLA style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages.

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material by other writers.

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook (8th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). The MLA Handbook is available in most writing centers and reference libraries; it is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this handout for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA style is covered in chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter four of the MLA Style Manual. Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in MLA style.

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

  • Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks; write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.
  • Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number; number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:

Image Caption: The First Page of an MLA Paper

Section Headings

Writers sometimes use Section Headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.

Essays

MLA recommends that when you divide an essay into sections that you number those sections with an arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.

1. Early Writings

2. The London Years

3. Traveling the Continent

4. Final Years

Books

MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.

If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.

Sample Section Headings

The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

Numbered:

1. Soil Conservation

1.1 Erosion

1.2 Terracing

2. Water Conservation

3. Energy Conservation

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left

     Level 3 Heading: centered, bold

     Level 4 Heading: centered, italics

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

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