When I was in primary school, I was told to use 1.0-line leading for papers; in secondary school, this jumped to 2.0 lines; in early tertiary school (i.e. college/university), I was told to use 1.5 line; and then, after my 3rd/4th year began, more and more I was expected to do 1.15-line leading.

In short,

  • Primary School: 1.0 line
  • Secondary School: 2.0 lines
  • Early Tertiary: 1.5 line
  • Mid-to-Late Tertiary: 1.15 line

Have expectations actually changed for academic papers, or is it that expectations have not changed but vary depending on the skill level? Or is it just combination?

  • 1
    Interesting question. Too bad there's no typography section on StackExchange. Jul 24 '15 at 2:41
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    I would think that this is just the result of the differing preferences of different teachers. Have you done a survey to verify that this change was experienced by everyone in your country and not just your class? Teachers generally love wide line spacing because it gives them space to mark mistakes or even write comments, therefore 2.0. 1.5 is a convention in academic papers and has been for decades..
    – user5645
    Jul 24 '15 at 5:52
  • @DaleHartleyEmery: I know there's one in beta; maybe I'll go check it out... And thanks. Jul 24 '15 at 15:46
  • @what: Nah, I've not done a survey. This was more or less just a fun little question to float around in my head. Not too serious. Haha. And, how appropriate would you personally view 1.15 line? It's obviously preference here, as you said; I'm just curious what your preference is. :) Jul 24 '15 at 15:48
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    Simply check the style guides and standards for wherever you are submitting something to. Jul 28 '15 at 13:41

Are you in the United States or elsewhere?

The United States colleges and universities favor a writing style called MLA or Modern Language Association -- they publish their own style guide which give extremely detailed instructions on how to format a paper for academic purposes.

After undergraduate work, most people involved in writing default to their field's standard format, or professional body's agreed conventions. Look up APA, Chicago etc. for more information.

  • Unfortunately, I was born, raised, and currently live in the United States. Also, that's quite interesting; some of that I didn't know. I just looked it up per your suggestion, and it turns out that, for the main body at least, all 3 of those style guides suggest 2.0 lines (MLA, APA, Chicago). Jul 27 '15 at 21:11

I agree that 2.0 is the standard - at least for Humanities PhD production and academic writing. It is assumed then that a piece of work can be printed and commented upon 'in the space' surrounding the text. Gutters and margins likewise are typically specified.

  • I think the "space surrounding the text" is typically called whitespace, alternatively spelled white space. But yes, that's interesting. Thank you very much. :) Jul 27 '15 at 21:00

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