If you’re new to APA style, the requirement of a different header text on the first page of the manuscript might seem a bit daunting, at least on a technical level. We can help. Read on for the step-by-step, or click through for the TL;DR
Often, students solve this problem with a lot of manual twiddling of the “just hit enter a bunch and then tab over” variety. While this sometimes comes out looking okay, it makes things a lot more difficult when it comes to revising. Ultimately, this results in teachers seeing a lot of papers where, because of a minor change on page two, every header from page three onward actually shows up on the fifth or sixth line of the paper.
Fortunately, talking Microsoft Word into using a different header for the first page of the document isn’t quite as hard as you might expect. There are lots of ways to do this, but this is a fairly easy, step-by-step guide to setting up an APA-style header in Microsoft Word 2010. I’m assuming here that you’ve already started on your paper, and are adding the title page as a last step.
For many of us, this part is familiar. At the beginning of your paper (again, assuming you haven’t added the title page yet–we’ll do that in a bit), click on “Header” under the “Insert” section of the Banner. For APA style, the easiest option to choose is the “Blank (Three Columns)” layout, as it makes it easy to separate your running head from your page number.
This will give you something that looks more or less like this. You can go ahead and delete the middle box, since APA style doesn’t require anything in the center of your header.
Type in your running head on the left, and make sure to set your font correctly–whenever you change the header, Word will go back to the default font for its theme, which is probably not the font you’re trying to use. Remember, we’re setting up the header for the paper right now, not the title page, so you just want the actual short title for your paper here.
Next, click on the box on the right, where your page number should go. In the “Insert” section of the Banner you’ll find a dropdown for “Page Number.” Click “Current Position,” then “Plain Number.” This means to put the current page number wherever you have the cursor right now–which should prevent Word from “helpfully” messing up the rest of the stuff you’re doing in the header. (This will also be in some wacky font, so make sure to clean that bit up too.)
Cool. So at this point, we’ve got a header for our main document that looks about like it should!
So now for that pesky title page.
Step 2: Setting Up the Title Page.
One common problem that people have with title pages is that what feels natural is, again, just hitting Enter a bunch of times. But what we really want is for the beginning of our paper to always be on the beginning of a new page, no matter what we do on the title page.
Most word processors have an easy way to do this, called a Page Break. Click on the very beginning of your document, and click on “Page Break” in the Insert section of the Banner.
Now you’ve got a shiny new page for your title page. Go ahead and set up your title page.
So the problem now is that the header for your title page looks just like the header for the rest of your document–which is, after all, kind of the point of headers, right? But because APA asks us for a different header on the first page, we have to tell Word that.
If you click on your header on that first page, you’ll get a banner section that says “Design” under “Header & Footer Tools.”
Right under that is a checkbox that says “Different First Page.” Go ahead and click it.
Congratulations! Your header has disappeared. Try not to panic.
If you scroll down to page 2, you’ll see that your header is still there, safe and sound, just like you made it. But your first page now has a different header. In fact, you’ll see where the little blue box used to say “Header” on that first page, now it says “First Page Header.”
Type in your first page header (including the “Running head: ” part). Just like before, Word has probably decided that in fact, you really really want to be writing in Calibri 11, no matter what you’ve told it a bazillion times before. Make sure to change it.
Now, hit tab. Your header is automagically set up so that if you hit tab twice (or once if your running head is super long), it’ll take you over to the right margin.
Once you’re there, insert the page number again the same way as above.
And lo! We’re done. Now, no matter what happens to the rest of your paper, your first page header will always be right. Here’s how it looks when all is said and done.
The magic option is “Different First Page” in the Design section of the Banner, which only appears when you’re working in a document’s current Header. Click it, and you can set up a different header for the first page of the document.
Thanks to Bacon Ipsum for being the most flavorful
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At least once or twice a semester I have a consultant come to me with a moral quandary. The funny thing is, it’s the same moral quandary every time, sometimes two or three times in a semester. It goes like this: “A student came in with a form their instructor had given them, and I didn’t know if I should sign it, because
<blank> causing frustration for the consultant is, usually, one of the following:
- “It asked me to grade the paper, and I don’t feel comfortable with that.”
- “I didn’t work with the student.”
- “I felt like I was being asked to ‘sign off’ on the paper.”
- “We didn’t do what the form says because I didn’t see the form until after the session.”
- “The student didn’t really seem to be involved in the session.”
- “The form was asking me to do something that I didn’t feel qualified to do.”
- “The form was asking me to do something that was against our policy.”
These are all, to my mind, good reasons not to do something, but–at least in my experience–they’re also not usually what the tutor is actually being asked to do. We’re always thrilled when instructors ask students to come to the Writing Center, and if an instructor has taken the time to generate a form for students to fill out, that almost always means that they understand what the Writing Center is all about, and what they want is for their students to have that experience. Fantastic!
Once a form comes into play, though, their clear (and wonderful) intentions become fuzzier, because of a problem we’re constantly bumping into at the Writing Center in one form or another: the way information moves. Here’s how an instructor’s intentions move when she gives a class a form to have filled out at the Writing Center.
What the teacher wants
What the teacher says
What the student hears
What the student thinks the teacher wants
What the student explains to the tutor
What the tutor hears
What the tutor thinks the teacher wants
What the tutor thinks the student thinks the teacher wants
What the teacher writes on the form
What the teacher thinks the form means.
What the student reads
What the student think the form means
What the tutor reads
What the tutor thinks the form means.
So ultimately, we end up with four different conceptions of what the teacher wants out of the session, and three different conceptions of what the form is asking for–and no guarantees whatsoever that any of those things line up, even a little bit. These kinds of conflicting understanding end up making everyone frustrated. The consultants, because they think they’re being asked to do something they shouldn’t; the students, because they think they’re not getting credit for something they should be; and the instructors, because they’re not getting back the information they wanted.
What makes all of this even more farcical is the fact that, for the most part, what teachers usually want is really simple. Teachers usually want one of two things:
- to verify that students are spending time working in the Writing Center,
- to verify that students are spending time working with a tutor in the Writing Center, or
- to get a sense of what the tutor and the student worked on in the session.
We’re working on developing a form that will allow us to have a standardized way to give instructors information about the second two things, and we’re glad to have instructors develop their own forms, too. But if you’re asking students to visit the Writing Center, there are a few things you can do and know to make your students’ experience easier.
Our Reports System
If what you’re concerned with is simply knowing whether your students have spent time in the Writing Center, you don’t need any kind of form whatsoever for that. We always keep track of a student’s time in the Writing Center, and that information is accessible on our reports page for any instructor from any campus computer. You’ll be able to see both how much time a student has spent working on your class in the Writing Center, as well as how much time they’ve spent overall.
Me! I’m friendly!
If you’re thinking about sending students to the Writing Center with a form, I’d strongly encourage you to contact me about it first. Not because I want to “vet” your form or anything like that, but because I’ve been in the middle of all of this long enough to know what kinds of problems consultants have, what sorts of things students are predisposed to misunderstand, and what ambiguities I myself might be uncertain about. There may be ways you can refine your form to better get to the information you’re after.
Even if there’s nothing you want to change in your form, talking with me about what you’re expecting of your students will help us trim out some of those lines of miscommunication. If I know what you’re wanting, and I can communicate that to our consultants directly, then the tutor will have a much clearer picture of what you’re expecting (sometimes even than the student does).
If you’d like to get in contact with me, the best way is via email: email@example.com.
My goal in all of this is to help you get the information you want without having to be caught up in the mad tangle of telephone wires that is communication via paperwork.
Success in the Writing Center is something you will see a lot of discussion about on this blog, specifically when to come in for a visit. This is part of the writing process and depends on each person. I have found that the best and easiest answer is to come early and come often. So how do you decide when you should join us?
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This semester, for some reason, I have worked with several students struggling
with a specific grammar problem. I will be honest and say that I do not normally
feel very comfortable working through grammar with students. However, this
seemed like a problem that I could easily help with. Then I had a great idea:
Write a blog about it hoping that it would help other people not coming into the
Apostrophes. When I was a kid I actually had problems saying this word let
alone knowing how to use them. Since then I have learned how to say them and how
to use them. For many students coming into the writing center, however, this can
be something they constantly struggle with. There are a few different uses for
- The girl’s house is over there.
- This essay is that student’s writing.
Often times we think that if we add an “s” to the end of a word we need to add
an apostrophe. When making something plural, there is not a need for an
apostrophe. The only time it needs to be used when adding an s is if it is
explaining or showing that something belongs to, or is owned by, someone or
something. Here are some examples of situations that do not need an apostrophe.
- The girls live over there.
- Students need to spend more time studying.
One of the hardest parts of possession is when you have a plural word that also
is showing possession. We call this plural possessive and this is one of the
hardest situations in which we use an apostrophe.
For plural possessive it is almost always written with an s and then the
apostrophe (“s’”). There are a few exceptions to this rule but I will get into
- My parents’ car is really small.
- The singers’ voices were very loud. (Singers is a plural word already. But
we are showing that the voices belong to the singers. To show this possession,
we write “singers’”.)
Another way that we can write this sentence without the apostrophe is to say:
- The singers are very loud. (There is nothing in this sentence the singers
have possession of, so there is not a need for the apostrophe.)
When writing a proper noun (names, places):
- Laura’s boyfriend is really nice.
This is true even when the name ends with an “s”:
- Silas’s hats are super fly.1
- That is Mr. Jones’s dog.
Contractions are two words merged into one. Common contractions include: Won’t,
Can’t, I’ll, I’ve, and I’d.
The easiest way to explain a contraction is to say that the apostrophe stands in
for whatever letters are omitted when the words are merged.
Example: I have = I’ve. (We removed the “ha” and replaced it with the
We have to write it this way no matter what kind of contraction it is, or how
many letters we remove.
When we write “I’d” we are saying “I would.” In the contraction we are
missing four letters, but the apostrophe represents them all.
- I’d like to invite you over for dinner.
- They’re trying out for the cheerleading team.
Once you get all of these nuances down as a writer, writing with them becomes second nature. I know this seems lik*e a lot of hard information, but there are many resources available (online and also in the writing center) that you can use as you’re writing. Whether you have questions on how to use commas, interesting ways to fix run-ons, or more information on apostrophes, you can find them online or by visiting us in the comfy, cozy writing center.
When Violet told me what she planned to write about last week, it made me think of all the times I’ve been on the other side of the table. Having worked in Writing Centers for a decade now, I have a lot of practice responding in peer workshops. But as a writer, I often find that my readers aren’t as comfortable responding to my writing. For me, one of the most useful things I ever learned as a writer was how to get people to give good feedback to my writing.
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