EazyPaper manWrite your EazyPaper March 2012

Welcome to the March edition of the Write your EazyPaper monthly newsletter. Professor Randy Wollf writes about how and when you should avoid "he" and "she" in your writing, and Michael continues his series on Word's Page Layout features.

Avoiding "He" or "She"

by Professor Randy

In this article, I will examine how writers can avoid using "he" or "she" in their writing to make their writing more stylistically acceptable and appealing.

Most writing style manuals (e.g. APA Publication Manual) prefer that writers avoid using "he" or "she" when they are not referring to specific people. However, if you know the gender of the person you are referencing, it is acceptable to use "he" or "she." Here is an example:

"My teacher wants us to make sure that we follow APA guidelines very closely. She said that she will check the formatting of our references very carefully."

In this example, the writer obviously knows the teacher's gender and so using "she" is appropriate in this instance.

Yet, there are times when writers will refer to a person in a general sense like in the following example:

"A professor will sometimes ask a student to have someone proofread his or her work."

In this example, both the "professor" and "student" are unidentified people and so some writers would include "his or her" to avoid gender bias. However, a better approach is to change the sentence, so that using "his or her" is unnecessary.

"A professor will sometimes ask students to have someone proofread their work."

Notice how changing "student" to "students" makes it possible to replace "his or her" with "their." The revised sentence is more succinct and flows more smoothly than using "his or her" (especially when the writer needs to use "his or her" in subsequent sentences, as well).

A common practice is to use "their" with a singular noun. In the previous example, that would involve changing "his or her" to "their" but keeping "student" the same.

"A professor will sometimes ask a student to have someone proofread their work."

In my years of teaching and working as a professional editor, I have seen many writers use this approach to avoid designating gender. Even though it is technically ungrammatical, it is becoming more acceptable in speech and writing. However, some professors will still view it as incorrect and so it is generally better to use the plural form (e.g. "students") where possible.

Avoiding the use of "he" or "she" may seem like a small issue; yet, I have found that paying attention to these kinds of stylistic issues creates a positive impression about the whole paper, often resulting in a higher grade.

Headers and Footers

by Michael Hu

Previous articles in this series introduced Word's concept of a per section page layout and how to insert section breaks. We'll extend this concept further by introducing Word's header and footer features and how they interact with sections.

This is best shown by example; follow the APA quick-start guide or watch the EazyPaper demo to generate the resulting APA template. Open it and note the Running head with a right-aligned page number in the title page header, followed by shortened titles with page numbers on subsequent page headers. Double click the title page header to open it for editing as shown in Figure 1.

Header toolbar

Figure 1: Header toolbar

Editing headers and footers is just like editing the main body in Word, except that whatever you type into a header or footer will be replicated for every page in that section. In the case of Figure 1, type a Running head into the header, and then click the Insert Alignment Tab button under the Position section to position the page number at the right of the page. You can also configure the distance the header and footer are from the edges of the page in the Position section. To exit the header/footer view, click Close Header and Footer or simply double click the main body of the text.

Another concept important for headers and footers is linking. Click the Link to Previous button of Figure 2 to link this section's header with the previous section's header.

Link to Previous section

Figure 2: Link to Previous section

Changing the header of either section will then change both sections' headers. Footers are linked in a similar manner, and you can link a section's footers without linking its headers and vice versa.

In the final article in this series, we'll take a look at Word's rich support for page numbers. See you next month!

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