W: Polishing


Finish post-drafting with the polishing phase, especially when you’re submitting your writing for assessment or publication. It makes sense to save polishing for last, because edits and revisions can undo the work done in polishing. To polish your paper, ensure it fits all format requirements for the assignment—you’ll want to make your paper look its best so you can get as much credit for your hard work as possible.

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Polishing tips

A typical college APA-formatted paper should meet the following guidelines, unless otherwise indicated by a specific instructor or assignment:

  • Include a title page. Ask your instructor if they have a personal preference for title page format. If your instructor has no preference, your title page should include:
    • the title of your essay
    • your name
    • the name of your institution
    • the course name and number
    • the instructor’s name
    • the date of submission
  • Use one-inch margins on top, bottom and sides.
  • Use a standard, readable font. Times New Roman size 12 is a safe choice.
  • The text should all be the same font, size, and colour, unless otherwise indicated by your instructor. Copying and pasting tends to change the font, so make sure you check for this if you used copy/paste or citation generators. In Microsoft Word, using the “clear all formatting” tool can get rid of otherwise stubborn text formatting.
  • Include page numbers in the top-right corner.
  • Repeat your title at the centre-top of the first page of your essay.
  • Line spacing should be consistent throughout the paper, usually double-spaced.
  • Include a reference page at the end of your paper. Reference entries should be in alphabetical order, double-spaced, and use a hanging indent.
  • Clarify your instructor’s formatting and submission requirements before your paper is due! For example, instructors often require a certain file type or to ask you to title your submission file a certain way.

Sample student paper polished

If your paper must be written according to APA (7th edition) guidelines, it might help to compare your paper’s formatting to the formatting in the LC APA Sample Paper. You can also view the polished version of the sample paper we’ve been working with in the Writing Process pages—just keep in mind that it does not follow current APA guidelines. If you’d like a summary of APA formatting, we recommend Dr. Forlenza’s video.


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