Writing essays

Formatting & presenting your essay

Ask your tutor for criteria on how your essay should look. Familiarise yourself with your tutor’s expectations and make an effort to meet them.

Formatting and fonts

  • Font -the standard font for Southampton Solent University is Trebuchet MS.
  • Spacing -set your line spacing to 1.5 lines.
  • Indents or breaks -it is current standard to leave a space of one line between paragraphs, rather than indenting the first line. A good way to do this is to set your spacing at 12pt after a line.
  • Section headings -left aligned, bold and numbered. The numbering should be the same as given in your contents page. Be consistent in your numbering of headings and sub-headings.
  • Title- at the top, centrally aligned.

Cover page

Include the following items on your cover page:

  • Your student number
  • Your tutor's name
  • Your university
  • Your department
  • Your school
  • Title of the module the essay is for
  • Number of credits awarded for the essay
  • Module/essay level
  • The number of words in your paper

The list above is based on a standard Solent University format. Notice that you should put your student number, not your name on the cover page. The word count should be the number of words set in your paper, not the exact number of words that you have written.

Most of your written work will be submitted online using Turnitin. You must use the electronic cover sheet. Get a copy of this from your Unit page, or visit succeed @ online submission.

First page

Include the following on your first page:

  • Your essay title/question
  • The introduction to your essay
  • Page numbers- helps the reader negotiate your essay
  • Your student number in the footer – check with your tutor first.
Example of a First Page (PDF opens in new window)

Introduction

See the chapter on 'structuring your essay'.

Main Body

See the chapter on 'structuring your essay'.

Conclusion

See the chapter on 'structuring your essay'.

Reference List

A reference list is a list of books, web-pages, articles and any other sources used and referred to in your essay. This is put at the end of your essay.

Illustrations/tables/graphs

Anything that is not your original material must be given a reference. You must give a citation in the bibliography and a reference in the text if you use a picture from another source, copy an illustration, photo, graph or table.

Illustration Reference example (PDF opens in new window)
Only use pictures in the text where they are relevant and add something to your argument, just like quotations or other references. Make sure that the picture is referred to within the text of your essay.

Remember to put a title on your picture as well – something descriptive that tells us exactly what it is.
  • Text wrapping

To make the picture sit nicely in your Word document, change the text-wrapping to ‘In line with text’.

  • List of illustrations:

If needed, include a ‘List of illustrations’ after the contents page, and before the first page of the essay.

List of Illustrations (PDF opens in new window)
When submitting any written work via Turnitin add an electronic cover sheet to your assignment. Get a copy of this from your Unit page, or visit succeed @ online submission.
Summary-What an essay should look like (PDF opens in new window)
Example essay (PDF opens in new window)
Essay template (Word doc)