How to Write a Paper in MLA Format
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Are you struggling to write a paper in MLA format? The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is commonly used for writing papers in the humanities, including literature, arts, and language studies. MLA format provides guidelines for formatting the paper, in-text citations, and the works cited page. In this article, you will learn how to write a paper in MLA format step-by-step.
Understanding MLA Format
Before you begin writing your paper, it is essential to understand the MLA format. The MLA format provides guidelines for the following:
- Margins: Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of the paper.
- Font: Use a legible font such as Times New Roman, size 12.
- Line Spacing: Double-space the entire document, including the works cited page.
- Header: Include a header with your last name and page number in the top right corner of each page.
- Title: Center the title of the paper, using standard capitalization in the middle of the page, and do not italicize, bold or underline it.
- Indentation: Indent the first line of each paragraph by half an inch.
Once you have a good understanding of the MLA format guidelines, you can begin formatting your paper. The formatting guidelines ensure consistency and readability in your paper, making it easier for readers to follow your ideas and arguments.
Formatting Guidelines for the Paper
The formatting guidelines for the paper include the following:
Unlike other formats, MLA style does not require a title page. Instead, the title of the paper should appear centered one-third of the way down the page, followed by your name, the course name, your professor’s name, and the date.
MLA format uses section headings to organize the paper. Section headings should be centered, bolded, and use title case capitalization. Use different levels of headings to differentiate between sections and subsections in the paper.
In-text citations are used to give credit to the sources you have used in your paper. The MLA format requires in-text citations to include the author’s last name and the page number(s) where the information was found.
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In-Text Citations and Works Cited Page
In-text citations are essential in academic writing to avoid plagiarism and give credit to the sources used in your paper. The MLA format requires in-text citations to be placed within parentheses at the end of the sentence where the information was used. The citation should include the author’s last name and the page number(s) where the information was found. If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, only the page number(s) need to be included in the citation.
At the end of your paper, you should include a Works Cited page that lists all the sources you have cited in your paper. The Works Cited page should be on a separate page at the end of your paper, and the title should be centered at the top of the page. Each entry should be listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. The citation entries should be formatted with hanging indents, meaning the first line of the citation should be flush left, and the subsequent lines should be indented half an inch.
Common Errors to Avoid
When writing a paper in MLA format, there are some common errors you should avoid:
Incorrect Margins and Font
One of the most common errors in MLA format is using incorrect margins and font. Set margins to 1 inch on all sides of the paper and use a legible font such as Times New Roman, size 12.
Missing In-Text Citations
Another common error is missing in-text citations. Always include in-text citations for any information that is not common knowledge, including direct quotes and paraphrased information.
Incorrect Works Cited Page Formatting
Improper formatting of the Works Cited page is also a common error. Make sure the Works Cited page is on a separate page at the end of your paper, and each entry is listed alphabetically by the author’s last name. Use hanging indents to format the citations.
Plagiarism is a serious offense in academic writing. Always use in-text citations and include a Works Cited page to give credit to the sources you have used in your paper. In addition, make sure to paraphrase information properly and avoid copying and pasting information from sources without proper citation.
By avoiding these common errors, you can ensure that your paper is properly formatted and that your ideas are presented effectively.
Common Errors to Avoid
Even with a good understanding of the MLA format guidelines, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are some common errors to avoid when writing a paper in MLA format:
One of the most common errors in MLA format is incorrect citing. Make sure you follow the guidelines for in-text citations and the works cited page. Verify the author’s name, publication date, and title of the work to ensure accuracy.
Plagiarism is the act of using someone else’s work or ideas without giving credit. It is essential to use proper citations and avoid copying and pasting information from other sources.
Formatting errors, such as incorrect margins, font size, and line spacing, can make your paper look unprofessional. Double-check your formatting to ensure consistency and readability.
Writing a paper in MLA format can seem overwhelming at first, but with a good understanding of the guidelines, it can be a straightforward process. Remember to follow the guidelines for formatting the paper, including in-text citations and the works cited page. Avoid common errors such as incorrect citing, plagiarism, and formatting mistakes. With these tips, you can write a paper in MLA format that is professional, readable, and well-received by your professor.