Requirements your paper should have, in this order:

  1. Title page
  2. Table of contents page
  3. Abstract page
  4. Body
  5. Acknowledgments (if appropriate)
  6. Section of references
  7. Appendices (if appropriate)

The style of the paper should be in accordance with the Geological Society of America Bulletin guidelines, including headings, subheadings, figures and tables. We strongly encourage you to read the guidelines, and refer to recent articles in GSA-Bulletin to see how to construct your paper including figures and tables.

Title page should include the title, author, and date. This is an example:

Trace Metal Levels of Recent Lake Sediments in Selected Lakes of the Eastern Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

Steven O. Helgen
Senior Integrative Exercise
March 10, 1990

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a
Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.

Table of contents should be on an unnumbered page directly following the title page. Include the headings that you use in the body of the paper such as Introduction, Field Work, Conclusions, and so on.

The abstract should summarize the results of your project in not more than 300 words. It should be typed single–spaced and placed just before the body of the paper on a separate unnumbered page. It should also include the title, author, date, and adviser.

Keywords (five or six) Finding GeoRef Keywords using the GeoRef Thesaurus. (see instructions on top of this page).

Body of the report should have page numbers (upper right and left when guttering, see below). It should be organized into sections such as Introduction, Geologic Setting, and so on. Your adviser can give you help with this.

Acknowledgments  should include your comps adviser(s) and the source for funds you used, such as NSF and College funding agencies.  Please note that any funding from the National Science Foundation (e.g. Keck, all REU’s) must be acknowledged the following way: “This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. #######.”  Please ask your research advisor for the appropriate grant number.

References cited should include all references mentioned in text and figures. Do not include any references unless you cited them somewhere. It is best to follow the format of the Geological Society of America for citations.

An Appendix is the place for large amounts of raw data. You might ask your advisor about the appropriateness of an appendix for your report. Be sure to include the appendix in the table of contents.

Format details:

  • Use double spaced Times 12 point font.
  • Double sided printing is preferred.
    • Printing Double sided:
      Set the margins at 1 inch with a 0.5 inch gutter. (In the Word Format Document menu, check the box “mirror margins.” The gutter provides space for the book binding).
    • Printing Single sided (only in exceptional circumstances, talk to your advisor)
      The left margin should be 1.5 inches and the remaining 3 margins should be 1 inch.
    • Margins for figures
      Figure margins must be 1.5 inches on the binding side, but the remaining 3 margins can be 0.5 inches. See below for more detail on figures.
  • Number the pages in the upper right and left hand corners. In Word, choose Insert –>Page Numbers, then select “Top of Page” and “Outside”.
  • Ordinarily, measurements should be in metric units. There may be some cases in which dual units make more sense. Check with your advisor.
  • You must check spelling and proofread!
  • Use the format of the Geological Society of America Bulletin for figure captions, table headings, citations, and references. All illustrations must be referred to in the text. Captions should thoroughly explain the illustrations.
  • If you turn a table or illustration so that it fits on the paper lengthwise, then put the top of the illustration or table on the side where the binding will occur. Be sure to allow enough margin (1.5″).
  • Photomicrographs and other photos must have a scale, preferably a bar scale.
  • Maps should be page size (watch the margins). Try to avoid larger maps, but if they are essential they should be folded to 6 inches by 9 inches for insertion in a map pocket when the comps are bound.

Integrating Figures and Tables

Most figures and perhaps most tables are easier to create and manage as separate documents. Therefore, a recommended strategy for putting your comps paper together is to keep your figures and tables separate from the main body (text portion) of your comps.

  • Once you have the final version of your text ready to go (after many edits and polishing), choose Setup from the File menu and be sure that the margins are set properly and that a laser printer (8.5″ x 11″ paper) is selected.
  • Scroll through your document and insert pages where you think figures and tables should go (usually just after they have been referred to in the text). This reserves an entire page for one or more figures that will be placed in this position when you merge your document at the very end of the process in Adobe Acrobat. (Note: Be sure that the figure numbers match the order in which they are referred to in the text!)
  • Of course this strategy requires knowledge of how large your final figures/tables are, and what will fit together. Therefore, at this point, your figures must be complete with figure captions and laid out as single pages. Adobe Illustrator is a good program to use to do this.
  • Now that you have the pages reserved for your figures and tables, scroll through your document in page layout mode and note the page numbers of the blank pages that correspond to your figure/table pages. Be sure to place these page numbers in the appropriate location on your figure/table page in what ever program you are using to layout your figures. Try to match font and type size.
  • Now that you have your paper properly paginated and all of your figures set to go with appropriate page numbers and figure captions, you are ready to create PDF documents from your various Word documents and figure files.

Saving Word Docs as PDFs

  1. Make sure that a laser printer is selected as the current printer of the computer you are using.
  2. Select “Page Setup” from the File menu. Check the margins of your document. The left margin should be 1.5″ and the rest 1″.
  3. Be sure you have the correct page number in the upper right hand side of the page.
  4. Once you are sure your document is exactly how you want it, select “Print” from the File menu. Click the “Save as PDF” button in the dialog box.
  5. Use the following format for naming your document: Firstname_Lastname_classyear.pdf (e.g. Eiler_Henrickson_2018.pdf)

Saving Adobe Illustrator Files as PDFs

  1. Make sure that a laser printer is selected as the current printer of the computer you are using.
  2. Select “Page Setup” from the File menu. Check the margins of your document. The left margin should be 1.5″ and the rest 1″ or 1/2″.
  3. Be sure you have the correct page number in the upper right hand side of the page.
  4. Once you are sure your document is exactly how you want it, select “Save As…” from the File menu. Click on the Format popup menu item in the dialog box and select “Adobe PDF.” Name your file and click “Save.” Note that the “Preserve Illustrator Editing” box is unchecked. (This helps make your pdf document smaller.)

Merging PDF Files into one Grand Document

  1. Start Adobe Acrobat (Full Version, not Reader), and open one of your PDF files to merge (e.g. the PDF version of a multi page word document).
  2. Click on the Thumbnails tab to the left of the document. This allows you to quickly scroll through the pages of your document. Locate the pages in your document you want to replace with one or more pages from a previously saved PDF document (e.g. a figure).
  3. Select “Replace Pages” from the Document menu, and choose the file you want to insert.
  4. A dialog box appears asking where you want to insert the pdf file. Make the appropriate selections and click OK.
  5. Save your newly created document, and continue with steps 3 and 4 until your masterpiece is finished (saving often).

File Size

If your comps file is more than about 5 MB, are there ways to reduce the size? Prime objects of suspicion would be graphics and photos. Can the resolution be reduced without causing harm? If so, it would be a good idea to slim them down. A photograph in a paper usually doesn’t need to be more than 500K to 1 MB to reproduce well, and graphs usually can be less than that.

Submitting the Paper

  • Use Moodle to submit a PDF copy of your comps by the last day of classes during winter term. Follow this naming convention: Firstname_Lastname_classyear.pdf (e.g. Eiler_Henrickson_2018.pdf)
  • Submit two revised and final, archival paper copies of your comps to the department. They will be bound and put in the Gould Library and the College Archives.
  • Also use Moodle to submit a PDF copy of your final version. Follow this naming convention: Firstname_Lastname_classyear_rev.pdf (e.g. Eiler_Henrickson_2018_rev.pdf).
  • The archival paper copies have a few special requirements:
    • pages of text and line drawings need to be printed using the above guidelines on good quality, acid-free bond paper, which the Geology Department will supply.
    • Color images, figures and photographs must be laser printed (not inkjet printed for archival reasons). Please check for legibility; you might want to use archival-quality glossy or matte photo paper for photographs.