University Assignment Layout Template

Formatting and layout

Assignments vary in their requirements for formatting and layout. Check for formatting requirements in your course materials or with your course co-ordinator. Aim for consistency in your formatting.

The most common format is as follows:

  • Print the assignment on A4 paper, one-sided.
  • Do not put the assignment in a folder unless instructed to; simply staple pages together.
  • Use a clearly legible font and font size (12 point is the most common size).
  • Give the assignment a left margin of around 3 centimetres so that markers can insert comments.
  • Use 1.5 or double line-spacing.
  • Keep the space between paragraphs consistent. Two styles are:
    • Do not indent paragraphs, and leave a blank line between paragraphs. (This is the most common style.)
    • Indent the first line of each paragraph, but leave no spaces between paragraphs.

Always double-check for the formatting requirements of your individual paper.

Cover sheet

If one has been provided, attach a cover sheet to the front of the assignment. Distance assignments use a standard cover sheet; internal assignment cover sheets are often provided by your department or course co-ordinator.

Title page

Most assignments do not require a title page - all the necessary information is already included on the cover sheet. However, title pages are sometimes needed for longer assignments, postgraduate assignments, or certain types of report.

The format of these title pages varies according to the specific requirements of the assignment, but typically contain:

  • The title, centred, approximately one third of the way down the page
  • The date of the assignment's submission
  • The author's name and ID number
  • The marker's name
  • The paper number and name


Some assignment types require headings and sub-headings, whereas others do not use any.

Essays, for example, do not usually use sub-headings unless you have specific instructions that they can be included. The only sub-heading common in essays is ‘References’, for the reference list. Instead of headings, the first sentence of each paragraph should signal the topic to the reader (see essay body paragraphs for more on this).

Reports, on the other hand, often require specific headings such as ‘Introduction’, ‘Discussion’, and so forth.

If you are unsure whether to use headings or not, ask your course co-ordinator for clarification. If you do use headings and sub-headings, keep the style consistent throughout the assignment.


Most assignments do not use appendices, but sometimes you need to include additional information, transcripts, questionnaire details, or raw data. These should go in an appendix.

If there is only one appendix, it is given the title “Appendix”. If there are several appendices, each is given a letter (follow the same order that they are mentioned in the body of the assignment): “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, “Appendix C”, etc.

The title is used to refer to the appendix in the body of the assignment:

The analysis shows that the mean was well above expected (see Appendix B for details).

Style guides differ on whether the appendices should come before or after the reference list / bibliography.

APA style (the style most commonly used at Massey University) and Massey University's Thesis Presentation Guide put the appendices after the reference list / bibliography.

Page authorised by Director, CTL
Last updated on 25 October, 2012


This assignment is designed to assess your critical thinking problem solving, and communication skills. Your answer will be judged for its clarity, relevance, coherence, logic, depth, consistency, and fairness. More specifically, the reader will be asking the following questions:
  1. Is the question at issue well stated? Is it clear and unbiased? Does the expression of the question do justice to the complexity of the matter at issue?

  2. Does the writer cite relevant evidence, experiences, and/or information essential to the issue?

  3. Does the writer clarify key concepts when necessary?

  4. Does the writer show a sensitivity to what he or she is assuming or taking for granted? (Insofar as those assumptions might reasonably questioned)?

  5. Does the writer develop a definite line of reasoning, explaining well how he or she is arriving at his or her conclusions?

  6. Is the writer's reasoning well- supported?

  7. Does the writer show sensitivity to alternative points of view or lines of reasoning? Does he or she consider and respond to objections framed from other points of view?

  8. Does the writer show sensitivity to the implications and consequences of the position he or she has taken?

Issue #1: Ecology

The nation is facing a variety of ecological problems that have the following general form: an established practice, whether on the part of business and industry or on the part of the public, is contributing to serious health problems for a large number of people. At the same time it would be costly to modify the practice so as to reduce the health problem.

People often say that the answer is one of achieving a "balance" between the amount of money we spend to correct the problem and the number of lives we would save by that expenditure.

Develop a point of view and some plausible criteria for telling how one would determine this "balance." Make sure you address any dilemmas inherent in your strategy for solving such problems.

Issue #2: Politics

There is a growing number of Americans who do not vote in national and local elections. Many of them explain their non-participation by saying that their vote would not make a difference.

Some go on to argue that this is true because "money plays such a large role in elections that the candidate with the highest paid, and the highest quality, media campaign wins." Most people agree that money sometimes plays an inappropriate role in determining the outcome of elections.

Develop a proposed solution to this problem that takes into account the view that people and organizations with money have a right to use that money to advance political causes they believe in. If you like, you may decide to develop a position to the effect that there is no solution to the problem and that we have no choice but to accept the status quo.

Issue #3: Morality

Sociologist Erving Goffman has pointed out that all social groups, including professions, develop a protective attitude toward members of their group, even when what some of the members do is seen as morally wrong. A sense of loyalty to the group often overrides what they would otherwise deem immoral.

Consider the arguments for and against exposing people with whom you are personally close or with whom you have close professional ties. Develop a position on this issue that could serve as a guide for anyone in such a position.

{This article is adapted from the resource: Critical Thinking Basic Theory and Instructional Structures.}

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