Image is from one of Dr. Bailey's books: The Practical Writer (7th edition) Handout

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Summary of suggestions on layout

by Edward P. Bailey

This handout summarizes the suggestions in this Web site. You have permission to print one copy for your personal use but not to make any other copies.


  1. Use short paragraphs.
  2. Start with an especially short paragraph.
  3. Use block (that is, unindented) paragraphs.


  1. Use headings often, especially when you write anything longer than a page.
  2. Prefer a bold, sans serif font (like Arial).
  3. Put more space above than below a heading.
  4. Consider a “down style” heading. That is, capitalize only the initial letter of the first word in the heading and make the rest lowercase.
  5. Use at least two of each heading.


  1. Consider using bullets whenever you have a list in a paragraph.
  2. Use good spacing. Indent half an inch from the left. Don't indent from the right. Tab over .25 inch from the bullet symbol to the beginning of your text. Put extra space between all bullets and before the first one and after the last one. And make sure the second (and following) lines are indented, tooŚrather than returning all the way to the left margin (as this list does).
  3. Have a system for capitalizing and punctuating your lists.


  1. Use a serifed typeface (such as Times New Roman) for your body text.
  2. Use 12-point type for most body text.
  3. Prefer a sans serif font (like Arial) for your headings and the labels for your illustrations. Use two points smaller than your body type for the labels for your illustrations.
  4. Use typesetting conventions: italic instead of underlining, real dashes (Ś), one space after all punctuation.

First pages

  1. Allow extra space at the top of your document's first page.
  2. Start your document with a short paragraph.

Copyright 2007 by Edward P. Bailey
(all rights reserved)