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Beyond Black on White: Document Design and Formatting in the Writing Classroom

Klein, Michael J. and Kristi L. Shackelford
Series Edition: 
Vol. 2

Formatting can be a challenge to teach and learn. This chapter provides you with an overview of how the Modern Language Association (MLA) format choices in typography, spacing, and image placement adhere to the standards of basic design. By understanding the theory the MLA rules are based upon, you can help students learn to apply good design principles to any document.  Students often don’t understand why they should format their papers according to the design specified by style guides such as the one published by the MLA. Rather than being arbitrary, formatting rules specified by MLA are grounded in good design principles that allow the reader to focus on the meaning of the text rather than the design of the document.


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