The word “publish” means “make public” or simply “share.” So publishing is the goal for most of your writing assignments. You want to share them with others.
Publishing comes in many forms. It might involve posting pages on the bulletin board in your class. It might mean sharing with others on a digital classroom page or in a class blog. It could even mean entering some of your best work in a contest, or sending a letter to a newspaper!
This chapter helps you design your writing to look its best and then share it near and far.
Designing Your Writing
Design should always make your ideas clearer. The whole point of writing is to take thoughts from your head and put them into someone else’s head. That’s why you should design writing not to distract from ideas, but to make them clear and inviting to readers. Follow these tips.
Title and Headings
- Think up a catchy title, one that makes readers want to read.
- Use an easy-to-read font (type style) for the body and any headings.
- If your document is long, consider using headings to make your writing easier to follow.
Margins and Spacing
- Double-space your writing and leave a one-inch margin on all four sides of your paper.
- Indent the first line of each paragraph.
- Leave one space at the end of each sentence (after the period, exclamation point, or question mark).
- Avoid putting a heading or the first line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page.
- Use a bulleted or numbered list if it makes information easier to read.
- Add a photo, illustration, or chart to clarify your ideas. Make sure the graphic is free to use (public domain).
- Provide a credit for any graphics you use.
Tip These guidelines are for your school writing—essays, reports, and other papers. For personal writing, you can be more creative when designing your documents.
Effective Design in Action
The following student report illustrates effective design. See how each element helps make the ideas clearer and easier to understand.
The title is 18-point type, boldfaced. Grand Canyon with a Roof
The main text is 12-point type. That’s how Will Rogers described Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico— "the Grand Canyon with a roof!" Like the Grand Canyon, it descends a mile into the ground, and it shows what water and time can do to solid rock.
Margins are one inch all around. In 1898, teenage cowboy Jim White saw bats boiling out of a deep dark hole in the earth. He made himself a wire ladder and climbed down in with a lantern, traveling even to a deep place he named “The Bottomless Pit.” One time, his lantern went out, leaving him in darkness for hours.
The Upper CavernPublic-domain photos help to explain. You follow a lighted path from the surface, winding beneath stalactites and around stalagmites. You see the Scenic Rooms, like the Green Lake Room and the Queen’s Chamber.
The writer credits the source of the photo. NPS / Peter Jones
The headings are 14-point type and boldfaced. The Big Room
You enter the Big Room. It holds a mile loop past the Hall of Giants and the Temple of the Sun down to the Bottomless Pit. Then the trail leads back up to the Rock of Ages.
NPS / Peter Jones
Features of the Cave
Water dissolves and reshapes rock into many forms in Carlsbad Caverns:
- A bulleted list presents information in an effective way. Stalactites hang tight from the ceiling.
- Stalagmites on the floor might reach the roof.
- Soda straws are straw-shaped stalactites.
- Draperies are hanging sheets of rock.
- Flowstone looks like giant melting candles.
- Cave popcorn is stone shaped like popcorn!
You can see all of these places and features just by hiking down into Carlsbad Caverns. If you are braver, you can go on a lantern walk and find out what it feels like when the lights go out! And for the bravest people of all, you can learn to spelunk and go into deeper sections like the beautiful Lake of the Clouds.
Find out more at A link provides more information. www.nps.gov/cave.
Creating a Classroom Portfolio
There are several different kinds of classroom portfolios. Two popular kinds are the showcase portfolio and the growth portfolio. Your teacher will tell you what kind to compile.
In a showcase portfolio, you show off your best work. Your best work may include writing that you like very much or writing that you’ve worked especially hard on. Your teacher will help you, but in the end, it’s important that you decide which pieces are your best.
If you’ve ever looked at a photo album, you know that people change over time. Writing is like that. It changes as the writer changes. A growth portfolio contains writing you have done throughout the year. It shows how your writing changes from September to December to May. By the time you get to May, you might look back at your September writing and say, “Wow! Did I write that? Can that really be mine?”
“I used to think of writing as my most dreaded fear. Now it’s what I look forward to. . . . When I look over my work, I feel honored that I wrote it.”
—Kristen Tomlinson, student
Tip A digital portfolio is any type of portfolio available online. In addition to written work, it may contain graphics, video, and sound. A digital portfolio provides classmates, friends, and family members instant access to your work.
Five Tips for a Super Portfolio
1. Date everything. 🟪 It’s very important that you date everything, especially in a growth portfolio. Knowing when you wrote each piece will help you see how your writing has changed over time.
2. Keep your portfolio small, but not too small. 🟪 Adding a new sample of your writing every four to six weeks is usually about right for a growth portfolio. More samples than that can make your portfolio hard to manage, and fewer samples won’t tell enough about you.
3. Attach a self-evaluation to every piece. 🟪 Besides telling what you like about the writing, mention one or two problems you had and how you solved them. Also give reasons for choosing each sample—it’s fun for readers to know this information.
4. Write a letter of introduction. 🟪 Be sure to tell who you are and what kind of portfolio you’ve made. Suggest some things to look for, like interesting details, a strong voice, or your use of humor.
5. Keep on schedule. 🟪 Do not wait until the night before your portfolio is due to quickly write eight pieces and stick them in a folder. That would be like grabbing anything out of your closet to pack a suitcase. You won’t like the result.
Tip Portfolios, like people, are different. Your portfolio will not look like anyone else’s—and that’s a good thing. The writing you choose should tell the story of you, as a writer.
There are many different ways that you can publish your writing. The most basic form of publishing is sharing your writing in person with your classmates and teacher. This page lists other publishing ideas you can try.
( In the Community )
- Submit it to the local newspaper.
- Enter it in a local writing contest.
- Submit it to a church or civic publication.
- Perform it for a community group.
- Make copies for waiting rooms.
( In Class )
- Perform your writing.
- Include it in the classroom blog.
- Display it in class.
- Share it with your writing group.
- Add it to a classroom collection.
( On Your Own )
- Include it in a family newsletter.
- Post it on a personal blog.
- Email it to relatives.
- Recite it in an online video session.
- Submit it to a digital publication.
( In School )
- Include it in the school’s website.
- Submit it to the school newspaper.
- Perform your writing at an assembly.
- Post it in a hallway display case.
- Make copies for the library.