How Do I Format My College Assignment?

Writing papers will be a common and continuous practice throughout your college life. And while your paper contents are the most important as they’ll significantly impact your grades, formatting your assignment appropriately also earns you presentation marks.

Presentation marks include things like:

  • Formatting and layout
  • APA referencing
  • Writing style
  • Word count
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Other guidelines as may be specified by the course leader

Formatting guidelines may vary by the institution or instructor requirements but not to a more considerable extent. As a result, college students need to read formatting instructions keenly before embarking on the writing task.

Why Is Formatting Your College Assignment Important?

First, proper paper formatting earns you presentation marks. Besides, a well-formatted assignment wins your instructor’s confidence in you by proving that you paid attention to the tiniest details. Some instructors fail students for not following the writing instructions even without reading deeper into the paper.

Finally, familiarizing yourself with proper assignment formatting will help you maneuver with ease in fields with loads of papers to handle later in your career. You’ll be equipped with knowledge on professional paper formatting, thus making your work easier.

Assignment Formatting Tips

Below are helpful tips for assignment formatting, which may vary slightly across colleges and instructors.

File Type

Your college assignment should be in Microsoft Word. You may also use .docx, .doc, .xlsx, .xls, or .rtf when submitting your assignment. Confirm with your course leader if no file type is specified in the instructions.


Most college assignments will require you to put a heading in your paper in bold fonts. Keep in mind that essays may not need subheadings unless otherwise directed by the course leader. However, reports must always include subheadings.

Title Page

Your college assignment title page should include:

  • Assignment number and the title
  • Course number and the name
  • student number and full name

This information should be at the center of your paper, approximately one-third from the top. 


  • Choose a clear and readable font such as Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, or Verdana and maintain the same font all through.
  • Use font size 11 or 12 in the body (font size changes by default when using “H” tags in the heading and subheadings)
  • All fonts should be in black unless there are special instructions to highlight some texts in different colors.
  • Avoid coloring the text background (the background is white by default and should remain as is)


  • Number and label your tables and figures appropriately, for example,  Table 1, Table 2,Figure1, Figure 2, etc.
  • All figures and tables should have captions at the top
  • Avoid numbering items in the reference list

Get additional guidelines on tables and figures from APA Style.


  • Leave 2.3cm (1-inch) wide margins and 1.5 spacing
  • Left-align your work
  • Leave a blank space between your paragraphs
  • For short questions, leave a blank line between the questions. Long questions should start on a new page.

Headers and Footers

Each page, apart from the title, should have a header and a footer. Here’s the information to include:

  • Your full name (last name, firsts name/s)
  • Student number
  • Page number
  • Course number
  • Assignment number

Word Count

You’ll always have word limit guidelines whereby going beyond or below attracts penalties. Confirm with your course leader where guidelines are not clear.


Your references list should be at the end with the title “Reference” on a new page. 


Use appendices for lengthy information you cant include in your assignment or as complements and supplements of the information provided in the assignment body.

Each appendix should start on a new page and be numbered as Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on for multiple appendices. If you have just one appendix, label it “Appendix” on a new page.

Final Thoughts

Assignment formatting greatly varies by institution and course leader instructions. However, you can use the above format to guide you on how college assignment formatting should look. Always contact a course leader for clarifications where formatting guidelines are not clear.

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