Maybe I’m superficial, but I like to look at a piece of writing before reading it. I could discuss Cummings’ “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r” or some other avant-garde, experimental literature, but there’s likely no benefit in that. As students, we’re probably most familiar with academic writing and writing assignments formatted in APA or MLA. Each of these formatting styles, and others, have their own guidelines and rules. However, as writers, we can still effectively demonstrate our own voices within these seemingly rigid restrictions, and we must still keep in mind certain things as well. From structure to typography, we students have various choices and opportunities to make our writing our own.
Paragraphs shouldn’t take up whole pages, as a wall of text may block the reader from keeping interest. Personally, we choose how we divide and organize our ideas, where we place paragraph breaks.
Generally, sentences shouldn’t run on—nor be too long or confusing even if grammatically sound—and convey a complete thought. But simple sentences capture attention. With the addition of a dependent clause, complex sentences have space for more context and cohesiveness. Compound sentences have more than one independent clause and they allow for the discussion of one thought, or more.
Within our sentences, there are many pathways for us to present our voice through punctuation. Dividing clauses, one could use commas, periods, semicolons, and so on between independent clauses, and commas, parentheses, em dashes, brackets, and more to separate dependent clauses from the main thought.
Generally, most students will use 12 pt Times New Roman for their writing. Personally, there should be no judgement towards those who use Calibri or whatever font chosen following the guidelines of whatever formatting style—Arial even.
These are just some general considerations and possible personal choices to make in writing, such that maybe we recognize the aesthetic of our writing, for the sake of the reader and, thus, ourselves. And maybe each of us, as students, can look at our own work and say, “This is my work which I am proud to submit.”
So this blog post might not be the most academic of writing, but it’s mine, of which I’m proud to submit.
Ian Angeles, Writing Center intern