Electronic Format Rules


Late in the FA18 semester, I bought a 10″ tablet device and started to use it to mark student writing submitted as PDFs. Using Adobe Reader, I can handwrite with a stylus or type text comments, draw, highlight, etc. I like marking student work by hand (it’s actually faster), but don’t like carrying papers back and forth. With the tablet, I can have the best of both worlds: hand-marking plus the convenience of electronic files rather than physical paper. Most of the time, I will hand-mark your submission as a PDF, but also give you a typed rubric with a substantive typed end comment as well. Both documents will typically be uploaded back to Canvas’s Speedgrader for you to view and download.

Below are the rules for how I want you to format most electronic documents submitted as PDFs (e.g., essays, reading responses, annotated bibliographies, memoranda). So, you can consider these the rules for any document submitted electronically that I ask you to turn in. You may rely on these rules, unless I tell you otherwise in the assignment. 


I have come to view the typical “double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt font, 1 inch margins” paper assignment as a near-perfect example of asking students for poor document design. On a 10″ tablet with a stylus that works like a marker, the typical “school paper” format is too constraining, but a format that is too open looks wonky.

I’m trying to save my eyesight, take advantage of the tablet’s display of documents in Acrobat, have students produce reasonably attractive documents, and leave myself enough room to write comments with the stylus.  Hence, these rules:

Rules for Electronic Documents for Dr. Loewe

  1. Please use a 14-point font. Remember that I am viewing your work on a 10″ tablet, not on a huge computer monitor, so the bigger font helps me to read your work. Use any reasonable font that reads well on a screen and doesn’t look primitive or weird.
  2. 1.2 line-spacing (so, not double-spaced, but a little more open than single-spaced).
  3. 1.0-inch top and bottom margins; 1.5-inch left and right margins (so I have room for comments and marks); left-justified text.
  4. Page numbers: yes
  5. Indented paragraphs
  6. One space between sentences, not two.
  7. I love headings. I often require them. Make them bold. No other emphasis is necessary. Align headings with paragraphs (i.e., no centering).
  8. No underlining, no ALL CAPS.

Here is an example of how you format an electronic document for me.

Please feel free to ask me questions about any of this.