Formatting and presenting your assessments correctly is important because many 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 on your assessment:
- check your assessment question, emails from your course leader, and learning materials for how it should be presented
- read the instructions carefully. Make sure you understand them and follow them exactly
- if you're not sure about what’s required contact your course leader.
General guidelines for electronic submissions
- Most assessments should be produced using Microsoft Word.
- You can also submit assessments using: .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx or .rtf.
- if you don’t have Microsoft Word go to My Open Polytechnic to download and access your free version
- if you're not sure about the file type required, contact your course leader.
- Use a clear, readable font, such as Verdana, Calibri, Tahoma or Arial 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.
- Use 11 or 12 point font for the body of your assessment.
- Use 1.5 spacing and 2.53 cm (1”) wide margins.
- 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).
- Use bold for headings.
- Essays don’t usually need subheadings; reports usually do.
Most assessments need a title page, which should include:
- the title and number of the assessment
- the course number and name
- the due date
- your full name and student number.
Centre this information on the page, starting approximately one-third of the way down the page.
- Number and clearly label figures and tables.
- Add numbers as follows: Figure 1, Figure 2, Table 1, Table 2, and so on.
- Put table and figure captions above the table.
- Don't number the items in a reference list.
For more help with figures and tables, check:
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 code
- the assessment number
- page numbers.
Word limits and word count guidelines
Word limits support the development of concise writing skills. Word count guidelines help you to understand the expectation of workload for an assessment.
Terms used in assessment tasks are:
- Word count guideline is the recommended word count for an assessment task response. There are no penalties for exceeding the word count guideline.
- Word limit is the word count that you must keep within to avoid potential penalties. Word limits are used where writing in a concise and focused manner is a component of the graduate profile. Word limits are clearly stated in the assessment task.
Include a word count (the number of words in your assessment) at the end of the assessment. This goes before the references and appendices.
The following are not included in word count:
- title page
- reference list
- tables and table headings
- figures and figure headings
- footnotes and endnotes
Your assessment should not be more than 10 per cent under or over the prescribed word count.
Applying word limits
For an assessment where word limits apply, if your submission is longer than 110% of the word limit, marking ceases on that submission once 110% of the word limit is reached. We will provide feedback on the marked portion of the submission.
For fail grades, where course regulations allow, a resubmission is allowed.
For more information on word limits see the Assessment Word Limit Policy. (PDF 90KB)
The reference list comes at the end of the assessment and should start on a new page labelled 'References'.
Need more help with reference lists? Check out the guides below:
Quick referencing APA guidelines (PDF 47 KB; opens in a new window)
Guide to APA referencing (PDF 395.11 KB; opens in a new window)
Appendices are used for information that:
- is too long to include in the body of your assessment
- 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. If there is more than one, label them Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on.
In the main text of your assessment, refer to the Appendix by the label – for example, 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 handwritten documents).
If your course requires or allows handwritten assessments, be sure to follow the course instructions on presenting handwritten assessments.