General Psychology Writing Rules & Common Mistakes

The following pages contain a number of general rules we want you to follow when writing in psychology, as well as many mistakes that we often see in student's reports and essays. Following these rules will significantly improve the quality of your work.

Double-space and use a clear 12 point font.

Please double-space the abstract and body of your report/essay (and that means double-space, not 1.5 space). I know it uses up more paper, but it gives markers room to write comments and makes the work surprisingly easier to read. For a marker, there is little worse than picking up the 10th assignment you've marked in a row (ie. after 5 hours of marking) and having to squint to read it because it is not double-spaced. It is to your advantage to make your work as easy to read for the marker as possible.

(The double-spacing command is usually under a "paragraph properties" heading. For example, in Microsoft Word, select the text you want to double-space, go to the Format menu, click on Paragraph, and select Double from the Line spacing drop-down box.)

Obviously the same applies with font style and size. Use plain, easy-to-read font styles such as ARIEL or TIMES NEW ROMAN rather than fancy ones, and use 12 point font-size.