How To Format a Research Paper In MLA : Guide and Example

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Learn how to format a research paper in MLA style step by step by going through this guide. In the end, you will able to write good research papers in MLA as the example shown within the article.

MLA College Research Paper Format Guidelines for Students

The nature of your research does not matter, if your paper is centered on an effective outline. The outline is essential because it will assist you in not only aligning your thoughts, but it also serves as the outline for your entire assignment. A research outline is a constant, visual reminder that you should incorporate essential detail in your paper. It is the building block for your paper because it will guide you through the comprehensive process.

Students should understand that the introduction is massively important in a research paper. Beginning a research paper will provide the instructor with your primary intention that you will mention throughout the paper. It is done primarily by presenting the topic, and crafting a catchy thesis statement that will capture the attention of the reader.

Thereafter, a student needs to write a body that will cover vital parts of the essay comprehensively. The student need to ensure that their sentences are filled with important facts that will convince the reader that the essay is of high quality. It will also ensure that your arguments will be centered on strengthening your thesis statement. Furthermore, the body should also provide the insights into the methods that have been used to conduct your research, by providing formidable questions to pondered questions and investigative points.

A literature overview is also critical when drafting a research paper. It is achieved by providing peer reviewed scholarly sources to support your hypothesis and theories. The topic of your research and your literature review should be in sync, because students tend to provide literature reviews that are not adjacent with their paper.

If you want to include a data validation section in your research paper, they need to follow the literature and methodology sections. The section is critical because it will allow you to mention essential variables that you have covered and showcase your results. Tables or graphs can also be included, but a student should ensure they provide insightful explanation because some tables may be complex to the reader.

The conclusion is the final part of a research paper, but it does not provide further information. Instead, it provides a summary of the vital points addressed in the paper. It is also MUST to mention the thesis statement and mention how future research maybe conducted.

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How to Format a Research Paper In MLA

There are a myriad of sources that you can consult, and they will assist you write an excellent research paper. They also have personnel that have specialized skills, so be sure that you will receive a paper centered on your desires. Excellent research papers will provide you with a glimpse of what is extensively required. The recipe of a deficient research paper is it has a bunch of texts and citations that have been written with the hope of attaining an excellent grade, with ascertaining it has all the qualities of a good research paper.

Attaining a distinction in your research paper needs an unmatched effort, and diligence. You need to ensure you have conducted thorough research on your topic, the paper has been appropriately formatted, all your sources are legitimate, and have been cited accurately. The guidelines below will assist you to draft a paper that has been professionally written.

Formatting a College Research Paper

  1. Paper

Always ensure that your paper is clean, so that you can ensure that you submit neat work. Its background needs to be white, unless stated otherwise, and the margins need to be 8 ½” x 11”.

  1. Margins

The margins of your essay should be 1” (2.5 cm) at the right, left, top, and bottom of every page. The page number should be at the top and are placed at ½” (1.25 cm) from the margin of the paper.

  1. MLA Title Page format

A research paper does not require a title page unless stated otherwise by the instructor. There is a general outline that an MLA research needs to be written, and how sources should be documented. If you are not sure, feel free to revisit the guidelines.

If you are instructed not to include a topic on your paper, you may begin 1” from the top of the first page by typing your name. Type your instructors name, your course code, and the date. If the instructor does not want the page numbered, you can begin numbering from the second page. You should ensure that these details are double spaced and flushed against the left margin.

Example:

James White

Mr. P. Smith

COR-3H2-01

16TH March 2010

Gun Violence: What Needs To Be Done?

You should ensure that your title is not all capitalized, and do not also include quotation marks before, and after the title. You should also not underline the topic, or include the word period at the end of the sentences. All nouns and important words in the title should be capitalized. However, conjunctions and prepositions should be written in lower case letters, and the same should be done for headings and sub-headings. Acronyms such as the FBI that represents the Federal Bureau of Investigations also be capitalized. When including unpopular acronyms, you must provide its meaning at the first appearance on your essay, for instance, The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

If you are instructed to include a cover page on your paper, you need to begin on a new page. Use the formatted provided by the instructor, because if you fail, you will be subject to deductions of marks. Otherwise, ensure all contents are double spaced, which include, School Name (optional) paper title, school (optional), course code, and professor’s name.

The Following is how your first page should appear:

Gun Violence: What Needs To Be Done?

COR-3H2-01

Mr. P. Smith

James White

16TH March 2010

If you align your cover page as the example below, you will be destined for point deduction,

TITLE OF ESSAY: GUN VIOLENCE: WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

TO MY TEACHER: MRS. PETER SMITH

FROM YOUR STUDENT: JAMES SMITH

ASSIGNMENT DUE DATE: MONDAY

MARCH 17TH 2010

Adding words on the title page is unnecessary because it will seem like you are providing explanation to basic information. Proving a simple paper will make it look presentable and neat making the instructor intrigued about your paper even before they begin reading it.

  1. Page Numbers and Paragraphs

Ensure that all your pages in your paper have page numbers, which should be situated in the upper right hand corner. According to the MLA handbook, you should write your surname before the page number in case you misplaced your paper. The page number should be written in Arabic numerals, but you should not add decorations because the paper is formal. You should also not underline it, precede it with “P’, “Pg.”, or “Paper”. If the paper appears as the following, you will be subject to point deduction: 4. 4, “4”, (4), *4*, -4-, ~4~, #4, p. 4, pg. 4, pg. 4, Page 4, or PAGE 4.

In cases where the paper needs to be submitted to your professor’s email, they may advise that you add numbers at the beginning paragraphs consecutively and adding brackets, for example [1]. Electronic submission has become increasingly common in recent years because of the massive advancements in information technology. People use email extensively because it is more convenient, especially in higher education institutions where assignments were submitted manually. This method of adding paragraph is essential because it enhances citation of sources because they can be easily identified in the paper.

  1. Spacing Between Lines

Your entire essay should be double spaced, whether you want to submit it manually or electronic. Its margins should also be 1” on all side so that your instructors can comment on different areas on your essay.

Spacing Between Words

It is advisable to leave a single space between words, and a single space after a colon, semi-colon, and a comma. You are also required to add one space at the end of the sentence whether it ends with a question or exclamation mark. Although, you cannot be penalized for leaving two spaces, it is not advisable because it is way that has been outdated.  However, there should be no spaces in front of a punctuation mark, for instance you should write “Why me?” instead of “Why me ?”

If you need compressive and insightful details on how labels, tables, illustrations, figures, captions, musical notations can be added on your essay, please visit  MLA Handbook.

  1. Indentation

An excellent essay that will earn you excellent grades needs to be double spaced, and begin each paragraph with a 1” indentation from the left margin. If you are not sure your paragraph is indented, you the width of your thumb to prove. However, your instructor may require you to indent or not, but your indentation must be consistent throughout your essay. If you have been instructed NOT to use indentation, you need to start each paragraph flush to the left margin. You should quadruple-space between paragraphs

When your essay is not being indented, you are supposed to begin each paragraph flush towards the left margin. Double spacing between each lines is integral whereas quadruple spacing is essential between paragraphs. This is because it’s difficult for a reader to differentiate between paragraphs when they are not indented, hence the quadruple space recommendation. Moreover 1” or 10 spaces are advised for the set-off quotations. And this is done from the left margin.

Automatic Hyphens and right justify:

When writing your essay using a word processor you should neither format your hyphens automatically nor right justify the whole essay. Instead, you should only justify or left justify where necessary and also type in hyphens manually where it’s required. The reason why the left justify is essential is the fact that it doesn’t leave huge spaces in between words.

Titles of magazines, books, journals, or Newspapers

Once, titles of complete length works, that may include plays, novels, or even books are used in the paper that you are writing, they are supposed to be underlined, for example Shakespeare’s Theater.

For shorter works however, quotation marks should be used. For example chapters of books, magazine, newspaper and journal articles and essays for example; “Giving Back to the Earth: Western Helps Make a difference in India.”

When it comes to all title citations every word, this is with the exceptions of articles (“a”, “an”, “the”) conjunctions (“and”, “but”, “however”, “because”), prepositions (“in”, “on”, “under”, “over”) are supposed to be in capital letters. The only reason that they should be capitalized is when they appear at the beginning of titles or a subtitles, for example, “And Now for Something Completely Different: A Hedgehog Hospital.”

When you are not sure whether a word is either being used as a noun, a preposition, a verb a conjunction or an adverb, look it up in a dictionary. For instance, a word like “near” depending on the writer’s context may be used as a verb an adjective, an adverb, or a preposition.

For details complicated with regards to citation of quotations and titles that appear within titles, shortened titles, texts, exceptions to the rules, you should consult the MLA Handbook (102-109)

Writing a Research Paper in All capital letters

IN AS MUCH AS THIS SAVES TIME AND ENERGY USED TO COMBINE KEYS WITH THE SHIFT KEY, DO NOT WRITE OR TYPE THE WHOLE PAPER IN CAPITAL LETTERS. THIS MOSTLY HAPPENS TO THOSE PEOPLE THAT DID NOT LEARN HOW TO WRITE SENTENCES IN UPPER AND LOWER CASESPROPERPLY DURIN THEIR TIME IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. OTHERS USE UPPR CASE IN WRITING SO THAT WHAT THEY ARE WRITING MAY SEEM IMPORTANT. READING A PAPER THAT MAY HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN UPPER CASE ESPECIALLY WHEN THE PAPER LACKS SPACES AND PUNCTUATION MARKS IS DIFFICULT MAY REDUCE COMPREHENSION OF THE READER, AND SLOWS DOWN READING SPEED THIS IS BESIDES THE READING PROCESS BEING EXTREEMELY ANNOYING. THIS UNDERMINES THE MAIN PURPOSE OF READING BEING ABLE TO COMMUNICATE. OUR EYES ARE NOT SUITED NATURALLY TO READ A LOT OF TEXT IN UPPERCASE. ALSO THE WORD PROCESSORS TREAT LETTERS NOT SPACED AS SINGLE WORDS.

 Table of contents

Short essays and research papers do not require Table of Contents. Although it is helpful to include a Table of contents once the essay that you have written is extremely long showing each page number for easier navigation. This is a suggested order of how the Table of Contents should appear like.

Acknowledgements, Foreword, Introduction, Body(parts I, II, III), a conclusion or Summary, Afterword, Explanatory Notes, Appendices, Contact Organizations, Glossary, Endnotes or footnotes, Bibliography, Index.

There is also a lesser version of the Table of Contents and it may include: Introduction, Body where main sections are used, summary or conclusion, references or cited works this is along with the corresponding page numbers

Example of a Table of contents

Introduction …………………………………………1

Government …………………………………………3

Economy ……………………………………………6

Arts and Entertainment……………………………..10

Conclusion………………………………………….14

Works………………………………………………15

End of Research Paper

The only thing that is needed is simply a period not fancy symbols or word or phrase is required.

Final Note on the Research Paper

Based on the author’s educational level and personal viewpoints, the research papers topics are usually inherently different, even when the topics are identical materials are unique. A research paper may turn out great if the author uses the research outline properly regardless of the topic or grade level of the author. The essay should include headings and subheadings that are bulleted; you should try and put in as much details as you can. Make sure to cross out each finished section so as to help you through as you finish

An example of a research paper

INTRODUCTION

  1. A quick overview or introduction of the issue or topic
  2. Methodology
  3. Thesis statement
  4. Full review of the sources applied and corresponding literature
  5. Brief explanation of research relevance

BODY

  1. Detailed information on main points of the argument
  2. Use as many paragraphs as possible. Different point in each paragraph

CONCLUSION

  1. Brief summary on main points mentioned in the body
  2. Reiterate thesis statement
  3. Closing thoughts or remarks.