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How to format your essay


Erin
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How to Format Your Essay

 

One of the most common problems we see with essays posted here is improper FORMATTING.

 

I have therefore put together this list of formatting tips for you to follow BEFORE you submit your essay to this forum for others to read and comment on.

 

Remember, the real ETS essay scorer reads hundreds of essays every week and really, really appreciates nice formatting.

 

Essays submitted here that do NOT follow these formatting rules will receive lower scores (if somebody offers a score) and will incur the disdain of fellow forum members. :p

 

Yes, believe it or not, punctuation IS very, very important in English. There’s a lot more for me to say, so you should check this topic regularly for updates.

 

The Most Important ETS Essay Formatting Rules

 

This list was compiled by Erin with the help of all the visitors to the TestMagic forums.

 

  • Hit "Enter" twice at the end of every paragraph. Doing this will create a space between your paragraphs and will make your essay much, much easier to read. Remember, the real ETS essay scorer reads hundreds of essays every week and really, really appreciates nice formatting.

  • Or, indent the paragraphs in your essay. "indentation" refers to the number of blank spaces at the beginning of a paragraph. The "standard," or most traditional formatting, requires using five blank spaces at the beginning of every paragraph. There are, however, two other common ways. The second very common way is to use two spaces instead of five; the third way way is not to use any spaces at all, but to separate the paragraphs with a space.

You will notice in these forums that I (Erin Billy) usually skip a line between paragraphs, but that I do not use any spaces at the beginning of a new paragraph. I do this because this is an Internet discussion forum. When I have to write a formal paper, however, I skip one line between paragraphs and indent five spaces.

  • Hit the space bar after almost EVERY punctuation mark. Specifically, this includes periods, commas, and colons. Conversely, do NOT hit the space bar before almost EVERY punctuation mark.
    • Good: Because I was sleepy, I went to bed a bit early.
    • Bad: Because I was sleepy,I went to bed a bit early.
    • Bad: Because I was sleepy ,I went to bed a bit early .

  • CAPITALIZE the first letter of every sentence, the pronoun “I,” and other proper nouns.
    • Good: Because I was sleepy, I went to bed a bit early.
    • Bad: because I was sleepy, I went to bed a bit early.

  • Do not use only uppercase letters or only lowercase letters.
    • Good: Because I was sleepy, I went to bed a bit early.
    • Bad: BECAUSE I WAS SLEEPY, I WENT TO BED A BIT EARLY.
    • Bad: because I was sleepy, I went to bed a bit early.

It would be very good to follow these guidelines in your posts, as well (if only to develop good habits). It can be difficult at times to read posts that use "irregular" punctuation.

 

I hope this post helps! :)

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Hi Dusty, welcome to TM :) !!!!

 

I myself have taken the test. I did one 'Enter' between the paragraphs and no spaces at the beginning of each para :). And I think that's enough to realize the desperation between them. Actually I got 5.0 (not high but not too bad :)) for my essay and I don't think the score givers cost me 1.0 for that 'mistake' :).

 

-phuong-

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Originally posted by Dusty

 

hi there so i have a question, on the real TOEFL we need to make double space between the paragraphs and also 5 or 2 spaces on the beginning of each paragraph?

TOEFL cannot take points of for not making your essay look beautiful, but you should think of your TOEFL essay, and any essay for that matter, as something of an advertising piece--"packaging" is important!!
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  • 2 years later...

Erin, thanks for taking your time to give some invaluable advice which could be taken for granted. I had a 6.0 in my TOEFL test and I used single spacing between paragraphs.

 

In your recommendation for single spacing you said: 'Hit "Enter" twice at the end of every paragraph. Doing this will create a space...' Later, you seem to reject this very pattern when you said: " I (Erin Billy) usually skip a line between paragraphs, but that I do not use any spaces at the beginning of a new paragraph...I do this because... "

 

Kindly advice if this option requires both a paragraph spacing AND identation.

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Erin, It is a great post and given a lot of info for formatting.... I am non native speaker and never really wrote essays...I am giving my GMAT in AUG 2006..Could you please guide me how can I do better in AWA and what resources you recommned me...I am sorry if this is covered already some where...I browsed most of the topics in this forum but couldnt get the info.

 

Vijay

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Erin,

 

I keep reading about people using "templates" for their AWAs on the GMAT. How could one possibly create a template if they will have one of potentially dozens of topics? Or does one simply remember these formatting tips and call that their "template"?

 

Thanks,

Cason

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