Posted on: September 16, 2014

Ask a Coach: Times New Roman in Writing Assignments

Ask a Coach: Times New Roman in Writing Assignments

Ask a Coach

Q: Must I use Times New Roman for all of my academic assignments? All my teachers place this requirement on their directions, but there are so many fonts out there that are just as professional but more attractive. – Fighting for Fabulous Fonts in Fairfax, VA


A: Why not usdifferent fonts? Okay, I am sure you get the point–though I can see your point that there are many great fonts from which to choose! This issue goes back to the theme we have been following this month, which is standardization. Professors place this font rule in their assignment directions because they know that while there are many attractive fonts out there, not all of these fonts are equal. A five-page paper written in Trebuchet will produce larger lettering and less content than a paper written in Times New Roman (TNR). Therefore, if a professor compares two papers–one written in TNR and one written in another font, he can judge which has met his content requirements. 

Besides size, some fonts are very attractive but difficult to read. This is a very pretty font, but if a paper were written in this font for five pages, your professor’s eyes will hurt and he will start to lose focus and understanding. Times New Roman is a simple font that is easy to read. In fact, APA recommends that when we have a choice, we should stick to the serif typeface family for writing texts, lists, and references. This group includes Times New Roman, Garamond, and MS Serif (Lee, 2013).

But the above recommendations don’t quite answer your question–not directly, at least. Must you use TNR for your assignments? According to APA, not necessarily. The APA Manual, 6th Edition (2010) recommends that when preparing a manuscript, you should “use a simple typeface with enough space between letters to avoid crowding. (p. 161)” However, if your professor tells you that you must use TNR, then you must: It is better to be in your professor’s good graces than a stickler for script statute. 

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