Formatting and presenting your assignments correctly is important because many assignments 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 assignment:
- check your assignment 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 assignments should be produced using Microsoft Word.
- You can also submit assignments 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.
There are certain formatting rules that should be followed. Check out the Assignment formatting guide to help you with this.
- 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 assignment.
- 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 assignments need a title page, which should include:
- the title and number of the assignment
- 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 assignment 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 focussed 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 assignment) at the end of the assignment. This goes before the references and appendices.
- Your assignment should not be more than 10 per cent under or over the prescribed word count.
- The title page, reference list and appendices are not included in the 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. Feedback is provided 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 assignment 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 assignment
- 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 assignment, 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 assignments, be sure to follow the course instructions on presenting handwritten assignments.