The body text typically consists of shorter and longer parts. Dividing your text into shorter sections makes it easier to read. There are two ways to mark the beginning of a new section: With one line break and an indent or with two line breaks marking a new section. The new section can have a heading and possibly be numbered (see headings).
It should be clear from your table of contents that you use different section levels. Therefore, you need to use consistent formatting in sections at the same level.
Use of either indents or double-line breaks is an indicator of how closely linked the two sections are in terms of content.
Use an indent if you want to indicate to your reader that you are making a new point, with supporting evidence, but that it is closely linked to the previous point.
Insert a line break by pressing the Enter/Return key, and move the text using the Tab key. You can increase or decrease the indent in your word processor.
Do not use indents after:
a new section with a heading
Double line breaks
Use double line breaks if you want to show your reader that the next point, with supporting evidence, marks a considerable shift in content in relation to the previous point.
Major shifts in content should be marked by section headings.
See also the section on body text.
Headings serve as signposts, guiding readers on the content of each section. They help to make the assignment:
manageable and informative.
easy to navigate.
inviting and captivating.
If your assignment operates at different levels, and you want to emphasise this, it may be a good idea to divide your headings into different types. For example, you can:
work with different font sizes in your headings. This shows the reader which headings are sub-headings of other headings.
number your sections, e.g. 2.1.1. (chapter 2, section 1, sub-section 1). However, do not use only numbers in your headings. It is important that the reader is able to see what the section is about.
Consider how you can make your headings more interesting by using a pun, an active verb or a question, for example. Note, however, that the heading should still be relevant for the content of the section.
Use no more than three different types of headings.
Prioritise readability and clarity over fancy graphics.
When writing longer assignments, it is a good idea to divide them into chapters. Each new chapter should have its own heading and possibly its own number. Each chapter will then contain a number of sections.
Opinions vary, so ask your supervisor what he/she prefers.
For page breaks: A page break gives the reader more ‘breathing space’ and clearly shows that the previous chapter is ending.
Against page breaks: Large blank areas will make the assignment look ‘empty’.