Formatting and layout
Assignments vary in their requirements for formatting and layout. Check for formatting requirements in your course materials or with your course co-ordinator. Aim for consistency in your formatting.
The most common format is as follows:
- Print the assignment on A4 paper, one-sided.
- Do not put the assignment in a folder unless instructed to; simply staple pages together.
- Use a clearly legible font and font size (12 point is the most common size).
- Give the assignment a left margin of around 3 centimetres so that markers can insert comments.
- Use 1.5 or double line-spacing.
- Keep the space between paragraphs consistent. Two styles are:
- Do not indent paragraphs, and leave a blank line between paragraphs. (This is the most common style.)
- Indent the first line of each paragraph, but leave no spaces between paragraphs.
Always double-check for the formatting requirements of your individual paper.
If one has been provided, attach a cover sheet to the front of the assignment. Distance assignments use a standard cover sheet; internal assignment cover sheets are often provided by your department or course co-ordinator.
Most assignments do not require a title page - all the necessary information is already included on the cover sheet. However, title pages are sometimes needed for longer assignments, postgraduate assignments, or certain types of report.
The format of these title pages varies according to the specific requirements of the assignment, but typically contain:
- The title, centred, approximately one third of the way down the page
- The date of the assignment's submission
- The author's name and ID number
- The marker's name
- The paper number and name
Some assignment types require headings and sub-headings, whereas others do not use any.
Essays, for example, do not usually use sub-headings unless you have specific instructions that they can be included. The only sub-heading common in essays is ‘References’, for the reference list. Instead of headings, the first sentence of each paragraph should signal the topic to the reader (see essay body paragraphs for more on this).
Reports, on the other hand, often require specific headings such as ‘Introduction’, ‘Discussion’, and so forth.
If you are unsure whether to use headings or not, ask your course co-ordinator for clarification. If you do use headings and sub-headings, keep the style consistent throughout the assignment.
Most assignments do not use appendices, but sometimes you need to include additional information, transcripts, questionnaire details, or raw data. These should go in an appendix.
If there is only one appendix, it is given the title “Appendix”. If there are several appendices, each is given a letter (follow the same order that they are mentioned in the body of the assignment): “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, “Appendix C”, etc.
The title is used to refer to the appendix in the body of the assignment:
The analysis shows that the mean was well above expected (see Appendix B for details).
Style guides differ on whether the appendices should come before or after the reference list / bibliography.
APA style (the style most commonly used at Massey University) and Massey University's Thesis Presentation Guide put the appendices after the reference list / bibliography.
Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012
Cover Page Templates
Editable Cover Pages for Business Documents, Academic Assignments, and BooksIn 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.
- Business Plans/Proposals
- Professional Reports
- Academic Essays
- White Papers
Essentials of a Strong Cover PageYour 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
Academic Cover PagesIn 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.
Business Cover PagesIn 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 DesignsWhether 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 TemplatesWe 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 PagesThese 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.
Report Cover PagesWhether 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.
Cover Page DesignsLooking 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.