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This might seem like a weird question, but as a university student I regularly get assignments in which, instead of a simple word count, requirements à la "5 pages, double-spaced" are stipulated by the professor. Sometimes a point size is given, sometimes a margin width, but that is actually unusual (rendering the commandment toothless as a length limit, of course).
Since I'm not a document designer myself, does anyone have suggestions on how to best deal with the above "5 pages, double-spaced" assignment? (I have one coming up.) Links to successful layouts, suggestions for fonts (I assume larger x-heights work better?), suggestions for the treatment of subheadings, lists, blockquotes etc.
(Some will say I shouldn't bother and just conform, but I'm genuinely interested in how designers usually work with weird constraints.)