As you know from writing your course papers and capstone projects, clear writing and formatting are important components of presenting your research. If your readers cannot follow your train of thought, or if they become distracted by problematic formatting, they might not trust your credibility as a researcher. Although published work does undergo a formal editing process, you will increase your odds of reaching that point if you submit work that is already grammatically sound and compliant with required formats.
See our checklist for ensuring that you submit your most polished written work.
Most social science journals require APA formatting, although some depart from that style (e.g., requiring single spacing). Every reputable journal will have a clear statement its formatting requirements, which you should read carefully to ensure you understand the style guide expectation.
If APA is required, use our resources to ensure you have covered your bases:
A document free of typos and other errors looks professional and polished and will present your ideas in the best light. Always build in time for this step when you are putting the finishing touches on your submission. Use the following proofreading checklist.
Use all of the tools available to you within Microsoft Word. Word has a robust spelling, style, and grammar checker, so be sure to turn these settings on and heed the advice. You can also find advice on maximizing these tools on the Writing Center's blog. A word of caution: Although these computer-based tools are great helps, they are not foolproof. Be sure to think critically about each recommendation, as some will be inaccurate.
If you—like most people in academia—write in less-than-ideal conditions, there are sometimes large gaps of time between when you write one section and when you write the next. Interrupted writing like this can cause problems with the article's flow, so take some time to ensure your work flows smoothly. Some hints:
Read the journal submission guidelines carefully and ensure you have noted any layout, content, or style requirements you may have missed. This practice demonstrates respect for the journal and its editors.
Familiarize yourself with the content of the journal to which you are submitting. Reading a published article that mirrors your methodology is an excellent way to get a sense of what the editors expect. Does your submission match this content in tone and use of terminology? In addition to content considerations, think about writing style when trying to match your work to the appropriate journal.