Assignment Structure or How to Write a Clean Paper

Assignment Structure

Knowing how to structure an assignment is half the battle. Once you understand what sections need to be included, you can begin to organize your thoughts and materials easily.

Assignment Structure

College writing assignment structure normally consists of 5 sections:

  1. Title page
  2. Introduction
  3. Main Body
  4. Conclusion
  5. Reference list or bibliography
The title page A title page will normally include the title of your assignment (ideally catchy and informative), your name, the name of the course, the name of the module, the name of your educational establishment, your educational instructor’s name, and the submission date.
The introduction An introduction aims to draw the reader’s attention (perhaps with an interesting fact or shocking statistic), clearly identify your assignment’s specific topic, and describe the structure of your assignment. To write an introduction for an assignment begin with a general overview of the topic, then focus on a specific aspect of the topic, and end with a thesis statement or hypothesis about the specific topic.
The main body The main body will consist of a minimum of three paragraphs. Each of the main body paragraphs of an assignment should firstly include a topic sentence, followed by supporting details or evidence, and end with a concluding sentence.
The conclusion Understanding how to conclude an assignment is important as this is where the final words are stated.  A conclusion is presented in reverse order to the introduction. Conclusions begin by answering or addressing the thesis statement or hypotheses, then state the main points made in relation to the specific aspects of the topic (covered in the main body), and they end with a general statement about the overall topic. A strong concluding sentence will summarise your entire assignment whilst leaving readers with a strong impression of its significance in a wider perspective.
References The reference list or bibliography will list your sources, normally in alphabetical order and according to your educational establishments required citation style e.g., MLA, Harvard, APA, Chicago, Turabian, etc. If you choose to include sources that you read as well as sources that you referred to in the assignment, you will title this section ‘bibliography’. If you only want to include sources referred to in the assignment, title it ‘references’ or ‘reference list’. The reference list or bibliography will be written on a separate page and the heading will be centred.

Types of assignment

For some assignments, structure varies, and extra sections are required. The following tables show what is normally expected for different types of assignments:

Literature Review Assignment Structure 

  • Title Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem statement/project report research question
  • Purpose of the report
  • Background information
  • Methodology
  • Analysis of the problem statement
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and recommendations
  • Reference list or bibliography
  • Appendices (if applicable)

Case Study Assignment Structure 

  • Title page
  • Introduction
  • Background information
  • Methodology and Findings
  • Discussion and Limitations
  • Proposed Solutions/recommendations/implementation
  • Reference list or bibliography
  • Appendices (if applicable)

Research Paper/Term Paper/Dissertation Assignment Structure

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Title page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures and tables (if applicable)
  • List of abbreviations (if applicable)
  • Glossary (if you have used many specialist terms)
  • Introduction
  • Background information e.g., previous research
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference list or bibliography
  • Appendices (if applicable)

Project Report Assignment Structure

  • Title Page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of contents
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem statement or question
  • Report Purpose
  • Background information e.g., previous research
  • Methodology
  • Analysis of problem or question
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and recommendations
  • References list or bibliography
  • Appendices (if applicable)

Reflection Assignment Structure 

  • Title Page
  • Introduction
  • Event or situation description e.g., work experience, a school or college trip
  • Appraisal of the event of situation
  • Exploration of the event or situation
  • Conclusion
  • Reference list or bibliography
  • Appendices (if applicable)

Writing an abstract for an assignment 

An abstract is a short (generally under 250 word) summary, and it will be expected to include:

  • Some relevant background information on the topic and the specific area of the topic the assignment covers
  • A main question/idea/statement you address (thesis or research question).
  • Key points that are already known about the specific topic
  • The main reason and goal of assignment (the rationale) e.g., a gap in the current research that you noticed
  • An explanation of the key ideas/information/points/arguments

Writing a methodology for an assignment 

A methodology section is often required for a research paper, dissertation, project, or term paper. It can be a vital part of an assignment structure. The methodology section describes what you did and how you did it, allowing readers to assess the dependability and validity of the work. It should include details of:

  • The type of study you conducted e.g., Was it a qualitative or qualitative study? Was it an action-based study or a mixed methods study?
  • How you collected and chose your data e.g., Did you survey people online or in person? Did you research literature? Did you select case studies? Did you conduct interviews?
  • How you analysed your data e.g., Was it a descriptive, influential, predictive, or exploratory analysis?
  • The research tools or materials you used e.g., Did you use an application such as Microsoft Excel, Python, or SSPS software?

Writing a discussion section of an assignment 

A discussion section may include:

  • Any principles, linkages, and generalisations shown by your findings
  • An explanation of any outliers or inconsistencies in the findings or data
  • The theoretical ramifications of your work as well as practical applications
  • An explanation of how your results agree or disagree with previously published research
  • Summarised evidence with clear conclusions
  • The relevance of the findings

Writing a reflective assignment 

When writing a reflective assignment, bear in mind Gibbs Cycle of Reflection and ask yourself:

  1. What occurred?
  2. What were your thoughts and feelings at the time?
  3. What were the positive and negative aspects of the experience?
  4. What do you think the situation means?
  5. What other options did you have?
  6. What would you do if it happened again?

College writing assignment format

The format of assignment for college varies but as a general guide be sure to:

  • Use 1′′ margins.
  • Use a 12pt clear font e.g., TNR, Calibri, Arial.
  • Number all pages
  • Double space lines
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph and do not miss a line in between paragraphs.
  • Avoid paragraphs that are too long (1 page) and too short (1-2 sentences).
  • Avoid using slang and contractions terms e.g., ‘kids’, ‘buck’, ‘it’s’, ‘they’re’ unless the slang or contractions are part of a direct quote.
  • Underline or italicise all book titles
  • Proofread and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors

Quotations in Assignments

Quotations are generally expected. Make sure you:

  • Include in-text citations after every direct quote, paraphrased quote, statistic, or fact.
  • Use quotation marks around direct quotations
  • Block any direct quotes over 4 lines which means you must first introduce them, begin the quote on a new line, indent them by ½ inch, and do not put quotation marks around them.

Now you know how to structure an assignment and the general college assignment format, you can see that the basics of essay writing are still present but additional specialist sections may also be needed to complete your assignment, such as an abstract, a background, a methodology or discussion section.

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