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Department of Geography

General Paper Information

General Guidelines

  1. Students should stay in contact with their supervisor on a regular basis in person or by email after signing up for Geog 499. Keeping in contact is critical to producing a quality (i.e. passing) Senior Assignment.
  2. Geog 499 is a 3-credit course over two semesters. The work involved in the Senior Assignment must be at least the equivalent of a 3-credit course at the 400 level. Most Senior Assignments go through at least two drafts before the final draft is submitted for evaluation.
  3. At least two weeks should be allowed for drafts to be read and commented on. This is especially important near the end of the semester.
  4. For the final draft, sufficient time (at least two weeks) must be allowed for the Senior Assignment to be read and evaluated by your supervisor and a second faculty member.

Format Guidelines: These guidelines are required and must be followed.

  1. Text should be in a 10- to 12-point font with 1-inch (2.5 cm) margins. We are looking for 15-20 pages of text.
  2. The paper should be double-spaced and have page numbers at the bottom each page (except the title page).
  3. The paper should have a title page with pertinent information: title, student name, department, school name, date, and supervisor's name.
  4. The paper should have an abstract of 150-250 words that summarizes the purpose, methods, and major findings of the paper.
  5. The paper should be organized using sub-headings for sections and sub-sections. They may be numbered if you like. See the Annals of the Association of American Geographers style sheet or other geography journals for examples.
  6. Maps and graphs should be labeled as figures (Figure 1, 2, 3, etc.) and tables should be labeled as tables (Table 1, 2, 3, etc.).
  7. Figures and tables must have captions that explain what they show and what data or sources of data are used.
  8. Figures and tables must be referred to in the text indicating what information we should be getting from them and how they are relevant to whatever is being written about.
  9. Spelling and grammar should be checked carefully. Papers with many errors will be returned for correction without content comments.
  10. Check spelling with spell checker and by reading and using a dictionary. Many errors are not found by spell checkers e.g. there - their, affect - effect, its - it's, and other words that are spelled correctly but not for the way they are being used in the sentence.
  11. Check capitalization. Find out whether words are capitalized or not. Look in textbooks, web sites, and the dictionary. Be consistent throughout the paper.
  12. Check your grammar and punctuation. You can use a grammar checker but they are not always accurate and sometimes even incorrect. It's a start, though, for basic mistakes.
  13. Read it over yourself. Ask someone else to read it. Go to the Writing Center for help.
  14. Citing sources: Proper citation of sources is essential; see the Chicago Manual of Style Online for detailed information

Some Hints for How to Proceed with Your Senior Assignment

  1. You need a topic but a topic is not enough. You also need a theme, thesis, problem or purpose.
  2. To identify a theme or a purpose, answer the following questions: What do you want to tell? What makes your paper different from what is available elsewhere? How does the paper reflect your take on the topic?
  3. You may make use of the research of others, your own original data analysis, or some combination of the two.
  4. Write down your thesis idea and make an outline of what you want to cover and in what order. Show the outline to your advisor. Use the outline as your writing plan.
  5. Collect information and read it.
  6. Take notes and keep a list of sources for your References section.
  7. Use reliable sources.
  8. Use original sources whenever possible.
  9. Encyclopedias and textbooks are not acceptable sources of information; you should avoid using them for your senior assignment.


1. Drafts that do not follow these guidelines will be returned without further comment.

2. You cannot graduate until you have successfully completed your Senior Assignment.

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