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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

Cover Page Templates

Editable Cover Pages for Business Documents, Academic Assignments, and Books

In the professional and academic arenas, many projects require you to create a cover page. Since this is the first thing the reader sees, the cover design should be professional and convey clearly what the content inside is about. The information and elements you include will depend on the type of document you are creating and other specifics of the project. We have numerous cover page templates available in various formats, all of which can be customized to fit your needs.
Cover pages, also commonly referred to as “title pages“, are used in a wide range of projects, including but not limited to:
  • Business Plans/Proposals
  • Professional Reports
  • Academic Essays
  • White Papers
  • Magazines
  • E-books
  • Albums
Cover pages should not be confused with cover letters and cover sheets. A cover letter is typically submitted alongside a resume by job seekers applying for a new position, while a cover sheet is a document you send along with a fax to provide additional information to the recipient. We have hundreds of free resume cover letter templates available here, and several fax cover sheet templates available here.

Essentials of a Strong Cover Page

Your cover page design should draw the reader in and give them a compelling reason to go deeper into the document. It may include some or all of the following elements:
  • Document Title/Subtitle
  • Author’s Name
  • Author’s Title
  • Cover Photo/Cover Image
  • Completion/Submission Date
  • Document Description
The style, layout and color spread should be seamlessly blended together in a way that accurately reflects the content inside, and is in keeping with any other specific requirements.

Academic Cover Pages

In the world of academia, following the rules is most often just as important as the content inside the paper. This means you must have proper in-text citations, quotations, references, etc. Most importantly, the document must be presented in the proper format. The three most common formatting styles for academic papers are:
  • American Psychological Association (APA): Currently in its Sixth Edition, the APA format is typically used in the social sciences field. The APA cover should include a running header, title, author’s name, institution name, and any author notes you want to include. Times New Roman in font size 12 is also recommended.
  • Modern Language Association (MLA): Currently in its Eighth Edition, the MLA format is typically used in the arts and humanities fields. While this format does not require you to create a cover page, some instructors may still want it. If you are asked for a title page, be sure to follow the specific guidelines you are given.
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS): Currently in its 16th Edition, the CMS format is also often used in the arts and humanities. In this format, you may be required to create a standalone title page, or you may be asked to include the title on the first page of your text. As always, consult with your instructor for additional formatting guidelines.
For more in-depth APA, MLA, and CMS formatting instructions and other free academic writing resources, check out the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab).

Business Cover Pages

In the corporate world, the cover page design is largely dependent on the nature of the organization and the type of document you are producing. Certain cover pages should be formal and professional, while others may call for more creativity and flare. For example, technical reports that mostly show facts and figures typically have more conservative covers, while business and marketing plans might be more colorful and use attractive imagery that makes the reader feel good about the company. Your title page should identify with the brand, be consistent with the organization’s mission, and follow all pre-set guidelines. Above all, be sure to create a design that will be pleasing to your target audience.

Book Cover Designs

Whether you are creating a magazine, ebook or paperback book cover, a compelling design is essential for the success of the project. The cover is what sells the book, and if it doesn’t immediately grab the attention of potential readers, many will not take the time to read the description and learn what the book is about. Keep in mind that many consumers today shop for books and magazines using electronic formats such as tablets and smartphones, rather than on bookshelves. For this reason, the title should be large and easy to read and the graphics should be professionally designed in a way that allows the reader to connect emotionally with the subject matter. Also make sure any graphic images are easily viewable in thumbnail size, so they can be seen by readers on all devices.

Free Title and Cover Page Templates

We have an extensive cover page gallery with numerous free template designs you can use. Our cover and title page templates are M.S. Word-based, and can be edited using Microsoft Word, Open Office, or Mac Pages. Find the template that best suits your needs, download it, and quickly get started on your cover page project.

APA Title Pages

These cover page templates have everything you need to easily put together the title page for your APA-formatted academic report. Each title page contains a running head, Times New Roman size 12 font, and the correct spacing requirements for the information you need to insert. From standard and typical APA formats to formats with multiple authors and multiple affiliations, we provide a wide range of options to fit your requirements.
  • Typical APA style term paper
  • Standard format with title in the middle
  • Two authors, same affiliations
  • Two authors, two affiliations
  • Three authors, two affiliations
  • Three authors, three affiliations
  • Three authors, same affiliations for the first and third authors
  • One author, one affiliation
  • … and more!
See all APA Title Pages

Report Cover Pages

Whether you need a cover page for an annual financial report, marketing report, business proposal or any other type of corporate project, our report cover page templates can help put the best face on your project. Each template is formal, professional and designed to impress your audience.
  • Annual Report cover sample
  • Purple pattern formal cover
  • Blue Annual Report title page sample
  • Formal Design with blue sidebar
  • Header Weaves research report
  • Purple Circles cover design
  • Formal title page design
  • … and more!
See all Report Cover Pages

Cover Page Designs

Looking for a cover that allows you to showcase your creativity? Our cover page design templates provide several options that can be used as they are or as a starting point to create a more unique design. These designs feature stylish images and fashionable color schemes blended seamlessly to help tell your story. They can be used for more creative projects such as magazine and book covers, brochures, and family scrapbooks.
  • Technology design cover
  • Intelligent solutions cover page
  • Red background abstract cover page
  • Yellow lines professional theme
  • Stylish book cover page
  • Black grunge explosion design
  • Professional elegant lines cover page
  • Romantic cover page
  • … and more!
See all Creative Cover Designs

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