The Research Paper

by Naveen Jain and Princesa VanBuren Hansen


Headers and footers are easy ways to organize the layout of your paper. Not only can headers and footers help the reader keep track of information (page numbers, headings, etc.), but they can help emphasize your main body of text on the page. Even though your text often fills a majority of the page, the margins on your page contain valuable white space which can be put to use. As you can see from this document, you want to choose headers and footers which form a clear distinction between the main body of text.

Word 2007 Lesson

1. Click on Insert. You will find Header & Footer.

2. Select Header, Footer, or Page Number.


· When your header or footer is selected, you can access Design. Your first page will be a cover for your report. Therefore, by checking Different First Page in Options, you can help your readers by making the visual distinction for them.

· Keep your headers and footers consistent. Make sure you are checking that the font and size and colors match after you have selected a header or footer. Microsoft Word has a habit of changing your work back into a Normal format.

· Headers and footers work well with page borders as well to achieve a modern and professional look. To add page borders to your research paper, click Page Layout and then select Page Borders in Page Background.

Tables of Contents

Keep in mind that judges only have a limited amount of time to read your research paper in terms of the actual paper competition and when they pass by during the project competition. A table of contents keeps every aspect of your paper in order and keeps judges from becoming frustrated when they need to quickly find a page. However, making tables of contents in Microsoft Word can be equally as frustrating.

Word 2007 Lesson

1. Click on References. You will find Table of Contents.

2. Select Table of Contents.


· Microsoft Word, when creating a table of contents naturally cascades entries from Heading 1 onward. In order to make a wonderful table of contents, you need to follow this system by using Heading 1 for your Methodology and Results, for example, and Heading 2 and Heading 3 to break up each of these respective sections.

· Never hesitate to break up your research paper into smaller sections. Nobody likes to be confronted with a wall of text, and breaking up sections will help your judges process all of your information. For example, look how I have subdivided The Research Paper section.


You know what they say. A picture genuinely is worth a thousand words. Pictures are a fantastic way to explain scientific concepts while colors help keep your judges awake when they read your research paper. However, overloading your research paper with pictures can detract from your main points. Not to mention, pictures take up valuable space in your research paper. Nonetheless, with the right tools, you can maximize the pictures you do end up using.

Word 2007 Lesson

1. Copy your picture from the source. Paste into document.

2. Click Insert. Select Picture and choose a picture from your computer.


· Keep your pictures relevant. If they are not involved in the discussion of the main text, keep them for the Appendix or throw them out. Your judges do NOT want to see irrelevant pictures.

· Microsoft Word has several features for spicing up your pictures. When you click on your picture you can select Format. Here, you can use Border and Shadow Effect to give your picture some extra pop. Using Arrange, you can even move your picture into your main body text.

· Label and explain your pictures. As I know from experience, you cannot assume your pictures make sense to everybody. In general, label each of your pictures with a figure to maintain scientific professionalism. For example, Figure 12: Transcriptional Activation/Repression.


Giving credit to your sources is an important aspect of a research paper. Frequently, however, many students will just jam all of the sources they can into a Bibliography following the research paper leaving no evidence of how the sources were used. By using endnotes and footnotes, you can easily direct judges to the portions of your paper in which individual sources were utilized. This process is much more convincing and impressive for judges who are scrutinizing your scientific research.

Word 2007 Lesson

1. Click References.

2. In Footnotes, select Insert Endnote or Insert Footnote.


· Space is a valuable commodity for your research product. You would be surprised how quickly 20 pages can be used when developing a research paper. Therefore, using endnotes will be much more useful. You get the benefit of having individual pieces of information cited without having the deal with space wasting chunks of sources on every page.

· Check the requirements for the bibliography. Because endnotes and footnotes arrange your sources in the order of their use within the main body of text, your sources will not be in alphabetical order.

Last modified: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 6:45 AM