Friday Fundamentals for Solid Writing Habits: Ten Formatting Basics

Formatting your essay, article, story, or poem can make or break your professional image. 

While some publications will have their own guidelines, or break from tradition for a new look (even this blog template demands the new look), here are some basics you can trust as generally acceptable.

    1. Your article, essay, or story should need to be double-spaced prior to editing. The editor can determine spacing after that. Thus, any submission to a continued process requires double-spacing, and the big caveat is this: Do not Double-double, which leaves giant unnecessary 4-line blocks between paragraphs!  Instead, just indent a half-inch or 5 spaces at the beginning of each paragraph and double-space entirely.
    2. Size 12 for normal text. Titles can be size 14-16 and centered at the top. Headings are size 14 and placed at the left margin.
    3. Times Roman font saves space over Arial. All the rest are too artsy and not for business.
    4. Number pages if there are more than two.
    5. No more double-“enters” after each sentence, like back when we typed on a typewriter. Technology will do that for you now.
    6. Use the word, not digits, for numbers in a sentence, unless it is a journalistic article, or over two digits long.
    7. Do not capitalize for emphasis. Italicize instead. You may also italicize when the content deviates in some artistic way, for example, a letter within a story.
    8. Station all graphics or additional media after the first paragraph and before the last.
    9. It is popular to break up your writing into manageable bites or paragraphs; today’s readers are easily overwhelmed by large chunks of text. Don’t go overboard in either direction though. 
    10. Place the writer biography, called a “shirttail”, around 75 words, at the bottom, written in third-person. This is for journalistic articles only.

We will discuss the format of poetry, and specifically free verse poems next Friday! Have an awesome weekend, my friends! 





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