Neatness Counts!!

I often joke that my favorite ATL is Self-management, because I spend a lot of time talking about it. I have noticed that students seem to struggle with basic formatting and organization of their work, so I decided to create a checklist to share with them. This is going to be required for all of my classes going forward, but I thought it would be a good idea to let everyone have a look. Feel free to use it if it helps.


Here are some basics that are useful for any assignment:

  • Put your NAME on everything. Use your first AND last name.  The top right corner is always a good place for it.
  • If it doesn’t have one already, put some kind of title on it. (Essay on WWII, German Homework pg. 6, etc.) Fun fact: In English, you do not underline your own title!
  • Proofread!!  (Check for mistakes in spelling, punctuation, etc.)
  • Unless you’re given special instructions, use only blue or black ink.
  • Proofread!! 
  • Keep your papers flat and unwrinkled. (Get some folders, please.)
  • Did I mention you should proofread?


If you have to write something out by hand, here are some tips:

  • Use lined paper, preferably the kind with a margin drawn in.
  • Do not tear pages out of your notebook.  You were asked to get lined paper as part of your school supplies; use it.
  • If it has holes in it, the front of the paper is where the holes are on the left.
  • Write neatly, ON the lines. Don’t make things two or three times their normal size.
  • Don’t write in the white space above the first line or below the last line. (You can write ON the first line, but words shouldn’t float in the white space.)
  • Proofread!!
  • Unless your teacher says no, it is perfectly acceptable to write on both sides of the paper.
  • Do not split single-syllable words at the end of a line.  (school, NOT sch-ool) If there isn’t enough room for the word at the end of a line, write the whole word on the next line.
  • Proofread!!


Your computer will make some things easier for you, but you still have to do the work.

  • Use a standard font (letter style) like Times New Roman or Calibri.  Save the fancy fonts for creative projects. (See below.)
  • Use 10-12 point type. (See below.)
  • Proofread!!
  • Give your document a name that makes sense and includes your name as well.  Do you think teachers want to get 14 docs just labeled “Essay”?
  • Use normal margins.  They are usually programed for you.
  • Proofread!!
  • It is not necessary to skip extra lines between lines of text.  Unless your teacher says something else, just use 1.5 or double-spacing and indent your paragraphs.


This isn’t technically about assignments, but it is written work.  When you need to communicate with your teachers, remember the following:

  • Fill in the subject line on emails
  • Use a proper greeting. (Dear Ms. Lisa; Good Morning, Ms. Maria; etc.) “Hi” doesn’t count.
  • Use your very best writing.  This is not a WhatsApp to a friend, so spell out words, capitalize appropriately, and use punctuation.
  • Proofread!!
  • Use “please” and “thank you,” a LOT.
  • End your message with something like “Regards” or “Have a nice day.”
  • Sign your name.  Yes, it’s probably in your email address, but that’s not the point.
  • Proofread!!

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