A term paper is a very common assignment given to students in college, often toward the middle of a term or at the end. As you progress through a particular course, a professor may assign one to determine how well you are progressing. Knowing the basics of setting up and writing your term paper can help you get a better grade. For example, certain grammatical rules apply when creating a list in a term paper.

Determine the items in your list. The kind of information you're presenting in your list will help you decide on a format.

Separate the items in your list using a comma if it's a simple list. This means that each item is a single unit, such as "English, African and Middle Eastern history."

Add semi-colons to create your list if each unit contains commas already. For example, you might be listing one item as "tough, opinionated Americans," another as "somber, dignified Europeans" and a third as "ambitious, loyal Japanese." In this case, each item in the list should be separated with a semi-colon: "tough, opinionated Americans; somber, dignified Europeans; and ambitious, loyal Japanese."

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  • The serial comma, or series comma, is the third comma in your list of items and comes just before the conjunction, or "and" in the above examples. While this comma is not necessary in casual writing or in writing for the web, it is still required in formal academic writing, including a term paper.


  • Don't use bullet points in your term paper unless your professor makes it clear that you don't need to follow popular styles such as the APA style, which doesn't allow bullet points inside of the term paper. Bullet points are strictly for informal term papers.

About the Author

J. Johnson has been completing freelance writing work since September 2009. Her work includes writing website content and small client projects. Johnson holds a degree in English from North Carolina State University.