Welcome to our new blog series, Formatting Friday! Every Friday, we’ll be looking at a topic in formatting. One of the most common issues, if not THE most common issue, that clients email us about is formatting. No matter what the overarching formatting style, proper formatting can be tricky and difficult, and at times, it can seem futile. We often have students express their frustration with it, and ask us why it’s even necessary, especially when you add the individual school or program idiosyncrasies, which should always take precedence above the established general formatting style.

So why is proper formatting so important? Read on to find out.

Ease of Communication

One of the main purposes of academic writing, like all writing, is to communicate. Proper formatting can facilitate clear communication, signal to the reader that you are knowledgeable about how to communicate with others in your field, and convey a degree of professionalism. Proper citation helps your reader find supporting sources on the subject. If a paper is disorganized, the reader’s attention is drawn to the sloppiness or inconsistency of the paper; if formatted neatly and properly, the reader’s attention can be focused on the content, with minimal distractions.

A Sign of Respect and Professionalism

Proper formatting and citation sends a message to your school, your program, and to other professionals that you respect the discipline and other researchers enough to give them credit, and to follow the established general guidelines for research. Especially for your dissertation committee and any submissions to professional journals, this is crucial – and can make or break your paper or article. Later on, in your profession, proper formatting is important to maintain professionalism.

It Develops Good Habits

Following formatting guidelines shows that you can follow directions, and gets you in the habit of working within the practice guidelines of your discipline. If you’re used to working in APA, MLA, CMoS, or whatever the accepted style is, it will become second nature when you’re working in the field, benefitting your overall work and helping to convey your knowledge of best practices.

 

Proper formatting is important, both when you’re in school and while you’re working professionally in your field. Find out what the required formatting style is, and if you can, acquire the latest edition of the style guide. You can often find them discounted on various websites, and many school libraries have multiple copies – just make sure you are using the most recent edition, since there are always updates and changes with each revision.

Did you know that our editing team is comprised of editors who specialize in a variety of formatting styles, including Bluebook and MLA? This means that if your paper needs APA formatting, you’ll get an editor who knows APA, inside and out. Need Turabian? No problem. We have editors proficient in nearly every major formatting style, and they’re always learning new, less-common formatting styles, as well. If you need formatting assistance, or even want to schedule a one-hour phone consultation with an editor or formatting specialist, to go over any questions or issues you might have, contact us today.