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Help With Papers

If you need help with your paper, and you are a student at Mars Hill College, you can and should consider getting help from the MHC Writing Center.

Whether your issue is that you can't figure out how to format the paper, or your grammar is bad, or you don't know how to come up with a thesis, argument, or topic, whatever it is: you need help, and they are there to help, so what are you waiting for?

If you need my help, then what I really would like is if you would post your questions in the appropriate moodle forum, so that my answers to you can also benefit your classmates.

Standard Paper Format

These are the standard paper requirements which are to be used for every formal writing assignment. If you ignore these requirements, you will be graded accordingly.

Margins:
Use a 1" margin on all sides. On the left and right you may, if you prefer, use up to 1.25" margins (the default on Microsoft Word). Personally, I do prefer 1" margins all around. This seems to be quite legible and is less wasteful of paper.

Fonts:
Always use 12 point font.

Spacing
Line spacing should be 24 point (double spaced).

Personal Information:
At the top of the first page ONLY, on either the right or left side, in single spaced lines, give your name, the name of the class, the assignment name or number and the date you finish the work.

Page Numbers:
Always include them in the header or footer of the document. It is usual to put these on the right side like so: "Page 1."

Paragraphs:
All paragraphs should be indented on the first line by about .5". Paragraphs should not have any extra space between them. This is important to know, because Microsoft Office 2007 and 2008 both have default settings of 10pt between paragraphs. Eliminate this useless, unwelcome, ugly, and unnecessary extra spacing.

Title:
A paper without a good title is like a person with no name. Imagine a newspaper article with the headline: "Newspaper Article #1"! I have never given an "A" grade to a paper without a proper title, and I never will. Yet, for some reason, no matter how many times I tell students this, they seem not to understand.

Your title is the most important thing in your paper. It is the first line of your paper. It tells the reader what your paper is about, and gives the reader an idea of your content, main idea, and even your thesis. NEVER give your paper a "title" which is just the name of the assignment! I hate that. Honestly. Hate is not too strong of a word. To the reader, a paper with such a title says, in its very first line, "I don't care about this assignment at all." And your grade is affected by this first impression.

Use a thematically detailed, subject specific, linguistically rich, subtle, and interesting title. A typical, and not unwelcome title pattern is: "Subject α and Subject β: A Clever Subtitle."

Your title should be bold-faced and centered on the first page of the document. Do not use a title page. The title should be separated from the personal information and from the first line of the paper by about 2 lines (24 pt) both before and after.

Quotations:
Always enclose quotations with quotation marks! For example:

“Arms and a man I sing,” writes Virgil in the first line of the Aeneid

Don't forget to provide a citation to your source.

Blockquotes
For longer quotations, use a single-spaced blockquotation in a separate paragraph, with indents of .5" on both sides, 24 point before, and 12 point after. You may also choose to use a smaller, 10 or 11 point font for blockquotations.

Subsections
You may have an easier time crafting a well-organized and interesting paper if you use subsections. Subsections should be given clear, specific, and thematically appropriate titles. These subsection titles should be bold faced, flush left, with 24 points (2 lines) before and 12 points (1 line) after.

Footnotes
It is expected that you will cite all sources using footnotes. Footnotes should be sequentially numbered, and every footnote should begin on the same page as is found the footnote reference mark. Befriend the footnote. They are awesome and powerful instruments for communicating about your research. There are rules for how to cite sources in footnotes. LEARN THEM (start here). Footnotes may contain references to more than one source. They may also contain asides: more explanatory content or additional analysis that would disrupt the flow of your paper if it appeared in the text.

Bibliography
Always include a bibliography. The bibliography should appear within the main document, beginning immediately after the end of the text, with only a two or three line (24–36 point) space before it. There should be a centered, boldfaced line reading "Bibliography" or "Works Cited," or something similar.

Download a Template
To download a Microsoft Word formatted paper template illustrating these formatting principles right-click here: template.doc