If all has gone according to plan, your essay should now be finished and ready to print out. Here are a few tips for maximising its impact.
1. Make it legible.
Put yourselves in the position of the people who will be marking your work. Your essay will make for a much more pleasant reading experience if it is double-spaced in a decent-sized font (such as Times 12 point).
2. Cut out the packaging.
There’s nothing more annoying for a marker than having to extract an assignment from a plastic wallet and then slot it in again after marking. Don’t use any plastic envelopes or binding—simply stapling the pages together is much easier for readers.
3. Follow the guidelines.
You will have been given guidelines (in your course handbooks and elsewhere) on referencing style, word counts, electronic submission, etc. Make sure you follow them.
4. Make it easier for your marker to give feedback.
Depending on the kind of assignment, your marker may or may not be writing comments on the essay itself. Either way, make it as easy as possible for him/her to refer to specific bits of your essay when writing feedback. Pages should be numbered, or course, but so should lines. (In Word, choose ‘Document’ from the Format menu. Click on the ‘Layout’ tab. Press the ‘Line number’ button and check the box, then click OK. Line numbers will appear in Page Layout View, and also when you print.)
5. Read it through.
Many errors of style, fact, argument or presentation can easily be picked up on a simple read-through. Plan the writing of your essay so as to give you a few days at the end in which you can have a break before re-reading it. Getting some distance on your work is not only good for the soul; it also allows you to gain some all-important perspective on what you have written, and to see it with fresh eyes.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. I’d be very pleased to carry on in the New Year, but please let me know that you have found it helpful, and perhaps also suggest things you would like to see covered. You can email me through my departmental webpage or through my website, or else you can leave a comment right here on the blog. Have a good holiday.