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CPS Online Graduate Studies Research Paper (UNH Manchester Library): Production Guidelines

General Guidelines

To make a paper readable:

  • Use a 12 point standard font, such as, New Times Roman, Calibri, Geneva, Bookman, Helvetica, etc.
  • Text should be double spaced on 8 1/2" x 11" white paper with one inch margins on all four sides.
  • Number pages consecutively but never number the title page as page 1.

General mistakes to avoid:

  • Start each new section on a new page--avoid orphan headings [insert a page break!].
  • Dividing a table or figure--if possible, confine non-textual elements, such as a table or chart, to a single page.
  • Submitting a paper with pages out of order.
  • Not adhering to recommended page limits.

General  stylistic and grammatical mistakes to avoid:

  • Use normal prose with appropriate articles ["a," "the," "an"].
  • Spell checkers and grammar checkers are helpful, but they don’t catch everything. Always proofread and, if possible, get someone to do it for you before submitting your final paper.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph.
  • If a paragraph is nearly a page or more longer, then it is probably too long for the reader to contemplate and should be divided into smaller paragraphs.
  • Write in active voice when possible but note that some professors prefer a passive voice.
  • Write out all abbreviations the first time they are used with parentheses around the abbreviation [i.e., International Monetary Fund (IMF)]. Do not use too many abbreviations; they shorten the text but make it more difficult to read because the reader has to repeatedly think about what each means. Never start a sentence with an abbreviation.
  • Do not use contractions in academic writing and do not start sentences with conjunctions (and, but, or) or numerals.
  • Avoid informal wording, addressing the reader directly, and using jargon, slang terms, or superlatives unless they appear in direct quotes from other sources.

In all sections of your paper:

  • Stay focused on the research problem you are investigating [follow the steps in this guide].
  • Use paragraphs to separate each important point.
  • Present your points in a logical order.
  • Use present tense to report well accepted facts [e.g., "The Prime Minister of Bulgaria is Boyko Borissov."]
  • Use past tense to describe specific results from your study [e.g., "Evidence shows that the impact of the invasion was magnified by events in 1989."]
  • Avoid the use of superfluous non-textual elements [images/figures/charts/tables]; include only those necessary for presenting or enhancing an understanding of the results.

NOTE: These are general guidelines that apply to almost every paper you write in college. However, the specific format of your paper--how you arrange the title page, headings, subheadings, non-textual elements, citations, appendices, etc.--will be dictated by the writing style manual you are asked to use [e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA, or other]. If your professor has not stated which style to use, be sure to ask. See the GSC Citation Guide for links to OWL resources on MLA, APA, etc.

The Guide to Grammar and Writing. Capital Community College Foundation; Grammar. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Tips. Writers Workshop.  University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign;  Handouts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.