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General Paper/Project Guidelines

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This webpage is provided with links to various guidelines to help facilitate your required papers or projects.  These are only general guidelines so be SURE to confirm with your instructor about specific requirements.

Related links: 

Your instructor might include a poster as a requirement; follow the directions at Powerpoint Poster Template.

General Paper Guidelines

All 1-credit workshops carry a mandatory essay requirement, as well as all regular courses.  Below are the general guidelines but confirm with your instructor about due date, submission procedure, page length, etc.


  • Computer copy.  Type your paper on a computer in the general white 8.5 x 11-inch paper format your instructor will inform you whether an actual paper copy or digital attachment is to be submitted.
  • Double-space the text of your paper, and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman with font size 12).
  • Margins.  Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent paragraphs.  Indent the first line of paragraphs one half-inch from the left margin. It is recommended you use the Tab key as opposed to pushing the Space Bar five times.
  • Page Numbers.  Create a header or footer that numbers all pages consecutively.
  • Use italics throughout your essay for the titles of published works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing emphasis; articles meanwhile are designated using quotation marks.

Paper Length

Regular course:  confirm with the instructor the number of pages required for each specific assignment
1-credit workshops:  length is based on what level you signed up for:

  • 294 prefix: should turn in a paper 3-5 pages long
  • 494 prefix: should turn in a paper 5-7 pages long


If the assignment requires research and the use of citations, check with your instructor to confirm which style you should use; e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.
How to quote:

  • Frame your quotation.  Don’t just drop your quotation into your paper; provide an introduction of your own and explain its significance.
  • Indicate where your quotation begins and ends.
  • Indent long quotations.  If your quotation is more than four typed lines, this is a called a block quotation.  Indent this quotation and in this case, quotation marks are not necessary (the indented portion indicates it is a quotation).
  • Integrate your quotations grammatically.
  • Keep quotations brief.


mirror-chair_nendoWriting is the mirror of the mind.  When you want to see what you look like, you look in the mirror.  But where do you look to see what is in your mind? A reflection of what is in your mind, visible to yourself and others, is what you write.  If your writing is clear, then it shows that your thinking is clear; the converse is also true as unclear writing reveals unclear thinking.  Writing is the means of clarifying and refining our thinking. The mere process of writing out our thoughts compels us to have to clarify and structure our thinking.

Essay Type

There are various types of essays so clarify with your instructor what kind of essay is required.  Common essay types include the following:

  • Persuasive/argumentative:  Makes a claim or takes a position and backs it up with statistics, expert opinions, and other evidence. You may review an opposing view and explain why it is wrong and you are right.
  • Compare/contrast: demonstrates similarities and differences between two topics.
  • Descriptive: Explains the who, what, why, how, when, and where of a topic. For example, a descriptive essay about a tree would explain what it is made of, why it grows, when it grows, and so on.
  • Evaluation: Describes a thing or event and explains its importance, value, and/or relevance. Did you like this thing? Why?
  • Narrative: Tells a story in a sequence of events. There should be some point, lesson, or idea gleaned from this narrative to make the essay meaningful.