Original Post by Jarrett Vigil:
It is important to pay attention to format and style requirements because it is the best method for communication in a specified area. When working with different industries it is important to understand how information is shared specific to an individual industry to avoid issues like misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or miscommunication. Situations causing disruptions can waste time, increase costs, and make things more difficult than they need to be. Another recurring topic from our readings this week is that following these requirements shows that a person can follow instructions. It is basically just being professional in your industry.
A tip that I have found helpful in the past with paper formatting and style is to read other published papers in that formatting or style. Reading these papers shows real life examples of proper citation and works as a template when formatting and styling your paper. This can be very helpful with the reference page/s especially if there are different kinds of references (books, website, legal document, etc.). Using this method has allowed me to better learn how to format papers in different methods and styles.
Something I have learned about formatting and style throughout my career is that there are always times for it but not always times where it is required. During my time with the City of Denver I primarily worked doing research and public outreach about energy and climate science. When submitting research projects internally I was able to be more relaxed about my formatting and style, references were usually in text citation links. Small changes like that weren’t issues. This all changed when working with published research or outreach. When this information was released to the public it had to follow very strict formatting and style requirements set by the city. This was especially true for presentations using applications like PowerPoint. Taking all of that into consideration I would say that you don’t always have to use formal formatting and styling but you should until you know you do not need to. You will never get into trouble by using correct formatting and style but you can if you don’t.
Great point that formatting and style requirements are particular in each specific professional field. That said, following the requirements indicates experience in the field. However, what are your thoughts on a writer following some of the requirements in a field but not others? I figure a writer who follows only the requirements that align with their values can do so in such a way of communicating their experience while also honoring the importance of their uniqueness. For instance, perhaps a writer can show a higher than typically expressed amount of respect to the audience directly with words in a letter but add typically inappropriate color to the document if the logos of the argument is about increasing funding for visual art, music and theatre classes in a public school district. It is interesting that adhering to norms is linked to efficiency. Is it possible that a writer could more efficiently convey an argument if they were not limited by having to adhere to formatting and style requirements? Great point that adhering to requirements is not always required. In the instances where it’s not required, the author may increase ethical appeal by not following the requirements.