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Learning what is MLA and its common requirements

Understanding what is MLA formatting style

MLA is one of the principal associations for those who study in the area of humanitarian sciences, such as language, literature and so on. Originally, this is the association of the United States but is is known far and wide across the world due to its activity in the field of strengthening, developing and improving the study and the approaches of teaching such sciences as literature and language. The association has a great number of members all over the world in more than 100 countries, who are involved in the studies of literature and languages, including variety of different modern languages, primarily English. The association was founded more than a century ago and has the main office in the New York City. Since that time the number of areas of expertise that the organization deals with significantly increase and today it includes accomplishing purposes concerning scientific, social and literary objects. Apart from it, the organization publishes a couple of journals dedicated to humanitarian studies. However, the most important thing that the organization is known for is the Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, which provides a set of rules and guidelines dictating how, in which style and format to write research papers. In this article, you will find explanation of what is MLA and how to accomplish a research paper in accordance with its requirements.

The set of guidelines includes primarily rules dealing with formatting the research paper and citation within the papers, as well as at the end of them. Apart from it, it also dictates how to deal with endnotes/footnotes, as well as with grammatical rules and punctuation. MLA plays a significant role in scientific activities of researchers all over the world because it provides guidelines that allow all the writers to follow the same scheme and methodology within a discipline. As a result, when a reader wants to find a citation, table, attachment or any other aspect of a research paper, he knows where to look for it since all the papers written in accordance with MLA formatting style have the same structure. In other words, all writers follow the same set of rules, the same basic structure of the research papers which makes their works clear, coherent and understandable.

Besides knowing and understanding what is MLA formatting style, it is important also to be aware of the purpose that the organization has been accomplishing and is still dealing with within its activity. First of all, it serves to provide particular methodology to be used when writing research documents, whether it is a dissertation or simply an essay. In addition, it represents a commonly accepted technique of citing sources that are used by the author within the research paper. The set of rules provided by the Handbook is very helpful when writing any type of essay and is meant to make the process of writing much more easier and comfortable, and also, to make it easy and clear for understanding. By means of following this kind of manual, the writer has all the chances to get his research paper written effectively and at a high level, while avoiding various problems that other authors usually face within their writing. MLA stands for creating such conditions for the writers that could help them work on their research papers without being confused by such troubles as how to cite the sources, how to provide a quote, how to paraphrase or summarize, how to come up with the title of the research paper and even with such matters as setting up margins, font lines and spacing, how to avoid grammar errors and write in a clear and coherent manner.

What is MLA general format

As it has already been said, the manual serves to dictate a particular formatting style of research papers written in English language. Authors who know what is MLA and follow it when completing their research papers work on building their capability to use appropriately and cite the sources and additional materials that they use. Therefore, one of the most important things that MLA formatting style stands for, is help the writers avoid different accusations of plagiarism, which often happens if the source materials are not cited appropriately.

The general guidelines provided in the Handbook give information about how to type that or another paper, how to deal with the spacing and what font to use. As a rule, it is required to use Times New Roman, but often other fonts are also acceptable. In addition, writers can find guidelines describing how to set the margins, create the headers numbering the pages of the research papers appropriately, when it is acceptable to provide emphasis and when it’s not. Finally, when reading the Handbook, the writers can get familiar with the specificities of formatting the first page of the research paper, when to include a space and when the double space, accordingly, where to underline and italicize and where not, where to place the title of the research paper and want to type with capital letters and what not.

Apart from everything mentioned above, MLA provides guidelines dictating the formatting style in accordance with the type of the paper. In other words, depending on what kind of paper you are going to write, whether it is an essay, a book or a dissertation, the guidelines may vary and include different specificities.

No that you already know what is MLA, the basic meaning and description of the MLA formatting style, we would like to offer you a set of guidelines that will be helpful when following the MLA requirements within writing your research paper.

How to get your research paper written in accordance with MLA rules

  • MLA formatting guide says that a separate cover page, or a title page is not always required and in most of cases, writers don’t have to add it to their papers. Therefore, keep it in mind when writing and make sure you know the precise requirements of your professor, if not, ask for proper clarifications and find out whether it is necessary or not for you to make a separate title page.
  • When typing the title, make it centered in the middle of the page. The title of your research paper needs to be informative enough and attractive, announce the main idea of your paper and be quite creative. You may also include a subtitle, if necessary, and type it together with the title on the same line.
  • Provide your full name and remember typing the word «by» before the name of yours. The name has to be located under the title and the «by» has to be located on the line before the line of your full name.
  • Make all your research paper double-spaced starting from the very first page. Including extra space within the paper is not necessary, nor in the beginning neither at the end of the paper.
  • Use only 12-point font, regardless of the type of the chosen font. In case if you decide not to choose Times New Roman, remember that any font that you choose has to be easy and understandable for reading, not too large and not too small.
  • Your next step is going to be creating a running header. It s going to appear on every page of your research work and in the same spot. The running header foresees that you include there your last name, as well as the number of every page. In addition, it has to be located in the upper right corner of your paper’s page.
  • The first page of your research paper requires specific guidelines to be followed. The heading needs to be located in the upper left corner, as a rule, the heading provides all the information that may be provided in the cover page. You need to provide there your full name, the name of your professor/instructor, the name of the course and finally, the actual date on the upper left corner.
  • Make the title of your research paper centered. It has to be located right after the line where the date is provided. Keep in mind that you don’t have to make the title bold printed, underlined or apply any specific font to it.
  • The main requirement to the title, though, is that it needs to be as informative as possible and demonstrate your creativity. As for the subtitle (in case if you have it), you need to include it on the same line as the title right after it. Remember capitalizing every major word in the title and the subtitle of your paper.
  • Proceed to writing the body of your paper. The text of your paper has to be aligned left and to start with the introduction paragraph. In the introduction paragraph, you need to provide a brief overview of the entire work, state the main idea and the purpose of your paper and include the thesis statement.
  • When writing the body of your research paper, remember that the first line of every paragraph has to be indented. There is no need to use extra line spacing, although indenting is necessary to mark the beginning of a new paragraph.
  • If the body of your paper is long enough, you may separate it into sections in order to get you paper structured appropriately. In this case, you will have to number every section and make every first letter of every word in the sections capitalized. The headings of the sections have to be centered and provided with separate lines.
  • Whatever additional material you use within your research, you need to include citations in order to avoid accusations of plagiarism. Regardless of whether you use quotes, paraphrasing or whether you just summarize the information gathered from additional sources, you have to provide all the sources with citations in accordance with the requirements of MLA formatting style.
  • Deal with formatting an «in-line» quotation. As a rule, the majority of quotations are of this kind, which means that there is no any specific requirement to formatting them and eventually, they can be written as any other text. However, pay attention to the punctuation marks used when providing quotations, like commas and periods.
  • Deal with formatting a block quote. If you provide quotes that are longer than two or even three lines, it is necessary to provide them separately from other text by means of formatting a block quote.
  • Make up a section called «End notes». This section is essential only if there is additional information that you want to include into your paper. If there are already notes in your research paper, you need to list them separately after the body of your research work.
  • Your notes can include only very important information provided briefly and narrowly. If there is some information that doesn’t match the context of your paper but has to be mentioned anyway, you need to write them in the endnotes.
  • Create a separate page for citing works. In this section, you need to write down all the works of other authors that you used while doing your research. All the data provided in this section should be alphabetize appropriately.

These are the basic guidelines that can help you deal with writing your research paper. If you learn and understand what is MLA formatting style and comprehend how to apply it to your research paper, there is a great chance you will succeed with writing your paper.

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