> Education Commons > Typography

Word-Processing Guidelines

Page index:


  1. never press the space bar more than once in a row, except to separate a postal code from the province or country
  2. press the enter key only to indicate the end of a paragraph
  3. never press the enter key more than once in a row
  4. do not type a blank space before the end of a paragraph
  5. type one en space before and after an ellipsis
  6. use whitespace consistently and generously
  7. avoid widows and orphans


  1. if indenting paragraphs, indent no more than 1 em (if the text is 12-point, 1 em is 12 points; if the text is 10-point, 1 em is 10 points)
  2. don't indent the first paragraph of a section; indent only succeeding paragraphs
  3. never use tabs to indent a paragraph


  1. fully-justify body text
  2. autohyphenate, with a maximum of one hyphen in a row
  3. centre-align or left-align major headings
  4. left-align minor headings


  1. body text should normally not be larger than 12-point
  2. line length:
    • preferred option: set the line length in picas to no more than twice the type size in points (for 12-point text, that's a line length of 24 picas)
    • alternative option: set the line length to no more than 2.5 times the width of the lower-case alphabet (for Palatino 12-point, that works out to side margins of at least 9 picas)


  1. use ALL CAPS only for acronyms, like VPCI
  2. never underline
  3. for emphasis adjust:
    • colour
    • typeface (font)
    • size
    • style (bold, italics, etc.)

    • whitespace

    • ← alignment →
  4. restrict yourself to one serif typeface and one sans serif typeface per page

Quotation marks

  1. use proper quotation marks (“ ”), not the inch symbol (")
  2. commas and period belong inside quotation marks
  3. colons and semicolons belong outside quotation marks
  4. question marks and exclamation marks belong inside quotation marks if they are part of the quotation, otherwise they belong outside

Special characters

  1. respect the differences among hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes:
    • hyphens: for hyphenation at the end of lines and for the creation of compound words and phrases like “fund-raising effort” and “up-to-date results”
    • en dashes: for ranges of dates, marks, etc: “On the exams written 21–25 June 2016, students in grades 9–11 received marks in the range 68–93.”
    • em dashes: to punctuate a break in a sentence: “She was—he had long thought—one of the best speakers on campus.”
  2. do not add blank spaces before or after hyphens and dashes
  3. use the Character Palette (Mac OS) or Character Map (Windows) application to learn and use the codes for dingbats and special characters like bullets (•), the cent sign (¢), and the copyright symbol (©)


  1. reminder: 1" = 72 points = 6 picas > Education Commons > Typography

[This page last updated 2017-02-28 at 11h37 Toronto local time.]