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Why students are so concerned about formatting of their academic papers? In fact, appropriate formatting, structure, and most important – compliance with requirements of a citation style are the main factors that influence your work’s grade. Following a requested style is a must. If you are not meeting this requirement, your paper automatically loses at least 30% of a grade or even more because this is one of the key things that professors look at when checking students’ works.
There are many different styles. One of the most often-used one is MLA. In this article, we are going to discuss this format, its main features, and essential rules that have to be met if you are hoping to receive an A for your work!
What do you need to know? You might have been told that there are specific requirements for formatting of your research paper and it is important that you check before you start preparing your final draft. If you are meant to use the MLA formatting, below are the instructions on how to adhere to this formatting style. However, do not get upset if this task seems too difficult. You can always rely to get help with your research paper outline at our service!
Choose a font that is easily readable (it could be Times New Roman among others). It means that the regular font should contrast clearly with the italics. Set it to a standard font size – 12 pt. It is not necessary to justify your text at the right margin but it is important to turn off a hyphenation feature, and you also need to ensure that your paper has double-space. Also, you’ll have to set an indentation. It should be half inch from the left margin for each first line of every paragraph. Also keep in mind that your set-off citations have to be indented the same way and you should always have one space after a period or another concluding punctuation mark, but only if your professor doesn’t ask you to have two spaces.
All your margins have to be set to one inch at the top and bottom and to every side, except for the running head. What else to keep in mind? If for printing your work you have chosen a paper, which size is bigger than A4 (8½” by 11”), the whole size of printed text should not take more than 6½” by 9“.
Heading And Title
Starting one inch from the top of the very first page and flush with the left margin, write your name, your instructor’s name, the course number, and the date, all on separate lines, double-spacing the lines. Then on a new, double-spaced line, center the title. Do not use bold, italics or underlining. Do not put it in quotation marks or type it all in capital letters either – only italicize the words that you would in the text as well.
You should not put a period after the title or any heading in the paper. Start your text on the new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph (as usual, half an inch from the left margin).
Research papers do not normally require a title page, but if your paper is a group project, do create a title page and list all the authors there, instead of in the header on page one of your work. Keep in mind formatting requirements. If your teacher gave specific instructions with regard to the title page, format it as instructed.
Running Head With Page Numbers
All pages have to be numbered consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, flush with the right margin and half an inch from the top. Write your surname, followed by a space, before a number of the page. Do not use the abbreviation “p.” for the page number or add any periods or any other marks. Most writing programs allow you to create such a running head automatically on every page. Some teachers may specifically instruct to not have a running head on the first page.
Placement Of The List Of Works Cited
This list should appear at the very end of the paper, after any endnotes. Begin a list of works cited on a new page – a running head should be applied here as to the main text, page numbering should continue from the endnotes, and you have to center a title with an inch from the top of the page. Double-space between the title and the first entry. Each entry should begin flush with left margin. If an entry is longer than one line, apply indentation to the subsequent line half an inch from the left margin. Your writing program may have this format useful for citing particularly known as hanging indentation, so you should be able to apply it automatically. It allows for easier use of alphabetical lists. Make sure you double-space the entire list.
Tables And Illustrations
Tables and illustrations ought to always be placed as near as possible to their related paragraphs. Tables are usually labeled Table, followed by an Arabic numeral, and titled. Label and title have to be typed flush left on separate lines before a table and you also have to apply standard capitalization as you would with titles. The source of a table and any notes should be given immediately below the table in a caption. Designate notes to the table with lowercase letters instead of numerals to avoid confusion between different types of notes. Double-space throughout and use dividing lines where needed.
All other types of illustrative visual material should be labelled Figure (or commonly Fig.) and assigned an Arabic numeral followed immediately by a caption. Maps, charts, graphs and suchlike all fall into this category. Label and caption should be added directly below the illustration and share the same one-inch margins as the rest of the text.
What else? If the caption of either an illustration or table are used to deliver a comprehensive data on a particular source and there is no reference to it within your work, it is not required to make an entry for the source in the works cited list.
Musical illustrations are labeled Example (abbreviated Ex.), given an Arabic numeral, and a caption. Similarly to illustrations, any caption or label should be included directly below the example. The same one-inch margins are applied as to the standard text.
If you are required to print your paper, it is best to use the white A4 (8½” by 11”) size of decent quality. Follow your instructor’s preferences regarding single-sided or double-sided printing.
Corrections And Insertions On Printouts
You must proofread and correct your research paper thoroughly before you submit it. If you are checking your printout and find an error, re-open the document, make corrections, and print the corrected pages again. Save the changed file. It can be handy to run spelling checkers, but use them with caution – do not rely on them to find all mistakes because a machine can never detect all errors. Besides, they sometimes label correct material as erroneous. In the case if your professor accepts any adjustments in the printed document, make all the necessary corrections neatly, using an ink that fits the color of the main text and make clear statements of what should be corrected. Do not write changes below the affected lines, and do not use the margins. If there is a large number of corrections on any given page, consider revising your document and reprinting the page.
Binding A Printout
Pages of a printed research paper may get lost if left unattached. What does it mean? Try to avoid using plastic folders because most instructors find them a nuisance to checking students’ work. Depending on the instructions given, pages can be secured with a simple clip or a staple.
There are currently no widely accepted standards for electronic submission of research papers. If you were specifically asked to submit an electronic copy of your paper, ask your teacher for detailed guidelines regarding formatting and form of submission.
Now you have a general idea of how to write research paper. Hopefully, this article was useful for you and more information on MLA formatting can be found on the Lesley University website.