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Research Paper In MLA Format – Finding A Good Example

The Modern Language Association, or MLA, produces a guide outlining the norms expected from students writing papers in a variety of disciplines. It is a good idea to check with your professor to see if he or she has any particular preferences when it comes to essay formatting.

It is not difficult to find examples of research papers that have been written in accordance with the standards laid out in the MLA Handbook. Many free samples can be viewed on the internet, and the library at your university is certain to have many hundreds of examples for you to look over.

It is likely that there are MLA formatted research papers in the assigned readings for the course that you are taking. If you have any questions, or concerns over the formatting that you are using for your next assignment, speak with your course supervisor.

Here are some of the fundamental formatting points you'll need to remember when you use the MLA standard:

  • Always use double-spacing for the whole paper.
  • Hanging indentation should be used, be sure to indent one half inch from the left side margin.
  • Capitalise the first word, the last, and any significant words in your title and subtitles.
  • Entries should be alphabetised by the author's last name. If there is no author, then use the title instead. Do not include articles like A, An, The etc.
  • The author's name should be reversed for alphabetising, but otherwise you should write it as it appears in your source.
  • If there are multiple entries from the same author, use the full name in the first entry, and subsequently use three hyphens instead of the name in the entries that follow. The entries should be alphabetised by title.
  • Sometimes more than one city will be listed for a given publisher. You only need to list the first city named.
  • Shorten the publisher’s name by using P for press and U for university.
  • Any missing publication information should be noted by using square brackets to indicate that it did not come from the source. You can use n.p. to indicate that there is no known publisher or place or publication. If there is no date given, use n.d.

These are just a few of the many points you'll need to know if you have been asked to use the MLA format for your next research paper. If you need a more comprehensive list, many websites have copies of the MLA and other style guides that you can download for free.