West Seattle High School

West Seattle
High School
Social Studies Department

Basic Paper Format

Basic Paper Format Standards


  • You should head your paper on the top right-hand side of your paper like this example:

Last name, First name

How to do a Title

  • The title of your paper should be centered at the top of your paper’s first page.
  • Capitalize the first letter of your title and all the longer important words in your title (not of, and, etc.).
  • When typing, make the title two font sizes larger, but do not underline or italicize it.

Basic Text Formatting

  • For handwritten papers, write in blue or black ink unless your teacher allows otherwise.
  • For typed papers, use some standard black font of 12-point type.
  • When typing a paper, always double-space.
  • Be sure to indent all of your paragraphs 5 spaces (at least a quarter of an inch or one tab).
  • Do not put an additional line between paragraphs.
  • For formal papers, use margins of one inch on both sides.

Using Italics, Underlined, and Bold in Text


  • Put the titles of longer works (films, books, newspapers, websites, etc.) in italics.
  • Use italics for foreign language words not common in English.
  • Do NOT put the titles of short works (letters, speeches, newspaper article titles, etc.) in italics, use quotations marks.


  • When handwriting, underline the titles of longer works.
  • In general, do NOT use underlining when typing since it makes the text look like a link. Do not underline titles.


  • Use bold to focus attention on a specific phrase or word.
  • Do NOT add bold to quotes unless you explain that you are the one doing the bolding. (You don’t want to mislead your reader that the original author bolded the text.)
  • Do NOT use bold or italics for quotes.