Five General Instructions for Writing Project Text


I. Please follow the formats shown below.

Make sure the title format, spacing, and indentation of your submission adheres to this format.

For regular text:

All non-outline format text should follow the following conventions:

Please format your text as follows:


by [Your name]
[Date completed]

Body of text

For outlines:


by [Your name]
[Date completed]

  1. Major topic

    1. Subsidiary topic to I
      1. Subsidiary topic to A
      2. Subsidiary topic to A
      3. Subsidiary topic to A

    2. Subsidiary topic to I
      1. Subsidiary topic to B
      2. Subsidiary topic to B
        1. Subsidiary topic to 2
        2. Subsidiary topic to 2

  2. Subsidiary topic to I

  • Next major topic etc......

    (Note, the exact size of the indentations is not important, as long as they use this hierarchy.)

    II. Use spelling and grammar checks:

    Given the many tools available, there's really no excuse for spelling or punctuation errors on your submissions. Be sure to use the spelling and grammar checks that come with most word processors. When you do, keep the following in mind.

  • Spell check is stupid. It has no idea which word belongs in which context. Consider this poem:

    Spell Checker

    Eye halve a spelling chequer
    It came with my pea sea
    It plainly marques four my revue
    Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

    Eye strike a key and type a word
    And weight four it two say
    Weather eye am wrong oar write
    It shows me strait a weigh.

    As soon as a mist ache is maid
    It nose bee fore two long
    And eye can put the error rite
    Its rare lea ever wrong.

    Eye have run this poem threw it
    I am shore your pleased two no
    Its letter perfect awl the weigh
    My chequer tolled me sew.

    Received from James Knisley.

  • Spell checkers usually freak out when they encounter people's names and technical terms. Here are two versions of an exerpt of my dissertation abstract, showing spellings before and after spell check had its way with it. "Corrections" are in boldface.


    "Pistosaurus, Cymatosaurus, and Corosaurus are successively remote sister taxa to plesiosaurs in this analysis. Among ichthyosaurs, Grippia and Utatsusaurus form a basal polytomy. Following the nomenclature of Mazin, the remaining taxa comprise Euichthyopterygia."


    "Pistosaurus, Cymatosaurus, and Corsairs are successively remote sister tax to plesiosaurs in this analysis. Among ichthyosaurs, Grippe and Utatsusaurus form a basal polygamy. Following the nomenclature of Maxine, the remaining tax comprise Euichthyopterygia."

    III. Web site links.

    Remember that this text is intended to be posted to the web. There may be occasions when you would like there to be links from your text to some other web site. Please indicate the urls in parentheses. If you have a vague idea of the kind of link you would like but don't know the url, indicate the general link type in parentheses.

    IV. Complete sentences.

    In looking over people's rough drafts, I find that in some cases the style is so telegraphic that it is difficult to understand. One sure-fire solution to this is to write in complete sentences. Obviously this is not always necessary. For example, if you are giving a list of terms and their definitions, it's fine to say:

    Igneous rock: A rock formed by the solidification of magma.

    rather than

    An igneous rock is a rock formed by the solidification of magma.

    Still, when in doubt, write out a complete sentence.

    V. Keep it simple.

    On the other hand, with outlines and text that is meant to be presented on a web site, less really is more. Make sure your sentences are as grammatically simple as possible and remember that the fewer words it takes to express an idea, the better.

    Don't pad your text. It's very obvious. Also, it's obnoxious to have to wade through verbiage that everyone knows is there for no good reason. If you find, having written your blurb in simple spare prose, that your text is only three lines long, maybe you should dig for more information.

    Download an rtf file of this text.