Get the following from your lecturer

  • The topic for the assignment.
  • Length of the assignment (e.g. 10 pages)
  • Due date for the assigment.
  • How the assignment should be presented e.g. a verbal presentation,
  • a computer-based presentation, in written format, or both written and verbal.

Plan your time

It is very important that you do not start at the last minute with your assignment.
Start early enough to avoid delays because of unexpected circumstances. Remember
the Library materials that you might need may not be available at the time when
you need them, so allow time for this. Also allow enough time for writing up your assignment.

Survey the subject

If you are not already familiar with the subject field, do some preliminary reading
of reference books and write down everything you already know about this topic,
as well as what you would like to know. In other words identify key words,
concepts and names on this topic. Your page might look something like this:

Write down different spellings for your key word, e.g.

  • butterflies or butterfly.

...and then use both these words when you start your search.

Also look at the wider and/or narrower subject terms that might include your topic.

A wider subject might be things like:

  • Cocoons
  • Insects
  • Moth
  • Lepidoptera etc.

Narrower terms might be:

  • for example, the names of specific butterfly species
Getting your search terms right can be quite tricky...remember to ask your Librarian for assistance!

For online help on searching techniques, see the assistance on the searching process.

Make a rough outline

Make a rough outline of the structure you would like your assignment to follow. An assignment
normally consists of the following:

Title page

This is the front cover of your assignment. On this page you must have the following:

  • The topic of your assignment
  • Your name and student number
  • The name of the subject the assignment is for.
  • The submission date.
  • The name of the Lecturer.
  • You can also have a picture or a frame around the page.

Table of contents

This provides an index to the content of the assignment. Remember to add page numbers.
See the following example:


The introduction gives a short overview of and general background to the topic of the assignment.

Body of report

This consists of the factual information you have found during your searching process and your
discussion of this information. It is important to acknowledge your sources in your text when
you make use of information found. The body of the assignment makes up the biggest part
of your assignment.


In this section you summarise and present your conclusions.


Give any recommendations that you might have in this section. This is important if your assignment
must lead to suggestions abpout improving something such as a process, a situation, etc.


It is an absolute requirement of scholarship and of honesty that any information sourced from other
documents or people (whether quoted directly or paraphrased) must be acknowledged by using
bibliographic references indicating the source. Your readers will normally know something about
the subject, and they will often spot a case of "stealing" others' ideas quite easily. It can cost you
dearly! The Harvard and APA styles are used most often. Ask your lecturer which style you should use.


These are useful for material which is not suitable for inclusion in the text, such as detailed tables,
technical notes, forms used in collecting data, copies of documents not generally available (e.g. letters),
lengthy case studies, certain illustrations. If such material falls into different categories there should be
several appendices numbered consecutively. This is information that supplements the body of your

Remember: an assignment must be typed. It is considered to be unprofessional to submit a hand written asignment.

Search for suitable information sources

Ask a Subject or Information Librarian to help you with your search. A good place to start is in
the reference section.

The following information resources are available in the Library. Also use this Library Web site's
"Search" function (see the top of this web page) to use online resources. Some of the ones below
are directly accessible to you:

  • Audio Visual material
  • Books
  • CD Roms
  • Databases
  • Internet
  • Journals
  • Library Catalogue (ALEPH)
  • Maps
  • Reference Section

Write a rough draft

  • Decide on which information you are going to use.
  • Develop your rough outline of your "argument" into a detailed draft.
  • Do not hesitate to rewrite your assignment. The more you rewrite it, the more orderly
    your ideas will be stated. Let your ideas follwe a clear logical flow, and substantiate
    what you say by means of quotations of other documents or by making a case for your
    point that you are making.
  • Add graphics such as graphs, diagrammes etc. wherever appropriate. It makes an
    assignment more visual and gives information at a glance.

Processing information

Plagiarism is when you copy information from information sources and submit the work as
your own. It is theft. All sources used must be acknowledged in your content and bibliography.

  • The Copyright Act, 1978, governs the making of photocopies of other reproductions
    of copyrighted material. Under the provisions of the Act Libraries and archive depots are
    authorised to supply photocopies or other reproductions. One of these provisions is that
    the photocopy or reproduction is not to be used for any purposes other than private study,
    personal or private use. If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or
    reproduction for purposes not permitted by the Act, that user may be liable for copyright
    infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its
    opinion, fulfilment of the order might involve violation of the Act.
  • Mention only relevant facts, else your "argument - the point you are making -
    will be incoherent!.
  • Use double spacing when typing your assignment. It makes the assignment
    more readable.
  • Check for spelling and grammar mistakes - carelessness will cost you marks!.
  • You can have your assignment bound in the Library so that you will submit a
    professional looking document.

You have completed your assignment. Now submit it and wait for your good marks!!