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Formatting Papers: Basic Formatting

Basic Formatting

Page Layout > Page Setup

  • If your assignment requires a title page make sure to insert a page break to begin writing your paper on the next page.
    • To insert a page break go to "page layouts" and click "breaks" in the page setup section on the far left. The first option is to insert a page.
  • You can adjust the page margins in this section as well by clicking "margins" which will drop down a menu with different margin width options.
    • "Normal" margins are 1" all around, which is default in Microsoft Word and is the standard requirement unless otherwise spefied.
  • You can also change the number of text columns in page setup by clicking "columns."
    • Only adjust the text columns if your assignment requires it.

Insert Tab

  • On the Insert tab you can find many helpful tools that add images and aides to your paper
  • To add page numbers click "Page Number" and select either "top of page" or "bottom of page." These are the most commonly preferred options.
    • If you have a title page but you want page number 1 to begin on your first page of text click the page number placement you prefer, then in the Header & Footer Tools check the box that says "different first page" and then close the header and footer.
    • Now go back to the Insert tab and click page number again, opening the menu options. Now click "custom page numbers" and put 0 in the box that says "start at" and click okay. When you're finished your cover page will not have any page numbers and your first page of text will start on page 1. 
  • To insert a symbol or special character click "Symbol." A menu will drop down with a selection of common or recently used special characters.
    • If the character you are looking for is not in this selection then click "more symbols."
    • The character categories default to the first alphabetical option. To find a specific character click the down arrow in the "subset" list. Most special letter characters for Romance or Indo-European languages will be in the "Latin Extended Addition" subset.



  • Some citation manuals require parenthetical citation, which occur in the running text at the end of the sentence you're citing.
  • Some manuals, however, require endnotes or footnotes. To insert an endnote or footnote click on the "references" tab then click "insert footnote" or "insert endnote," which is in the top right corner of the footnotes box. 
    • Footnotes are the default note style in Microsoft Word, but check to see what your assignment requires. Many journals are starting to require long form endnotes over short form and footnotes so that a Bibliography or Works Cited page isn't required. 
    • If you use endnotes and you want to change them from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals, click the small corner arrow on the bottom right of the footnotes box and select "1, 2, 3,..." in the number format menu. You can also convert your footnotes to endnotes or vice versa in this window.
  • You can also use the Citations & Bibliography box to enter parenthetical citations and format your bibliography.
    • If you click "insert citation" you can click "add new source" to add the information for a new citation or choose a source that you have already entered. 
    • You can also auto generate a bibliography from this box by clicking "bibliography" and then selecting which list style you want.

** If you want to use a more customizable software program to manage your sources, citations, and bibliography look at the Zotero Guide. It can save your PDFs, auto format citations and bibliographies, and offers more updated citation manuals than word processors.