The MLA (Modern Language Association) style is a set of guidelines for formatting and documenting research papers in the humanities and liberal arts fields, such as English, literature, and cultural studies. An MLA style research paper typically includes the following elements:
- Page Formatting: The paper should be typed on standard-sized paper (8.5 x 11 inches) with 1-inch margins on all sides. The font should be legible and preferably set to Times New Roman, size 12. The paper should be double-spaced, and a header with the author’s last name and page number should be included on each page.
- Title Page: MLA style research papers do not usually require a separate title page. Instead, the title of the paper should be centered on the first page of the paper, followed by the author’s name, the instructor’s name, the course title and number, and the date, all double-spaced.
- In-Text Citations: MLA style uses parenthetical citations within the text to indicate the source of information. This includes the author’s last name and the page number of the source. For example: (Smith 25). If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence, only the page number is included in the parentheses.
- Works Cited Page: MLA style requires a separate page at the end of the paper called “Works Cited” that lists all the sources cited in the paper. The entries should be arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name. The basic format for a book citation includes the author’s name, the title of the book in italics or underlined, the place of publication, the name of the publisher, and the publication year. Different types of sources, such as articles, websites, and films, have slightly different citation formats.
- Quotations: When including direct quotations in the paper, they should be enclosed in double quotation marks. If the quotation is longer than four lines, it should be indented as a block quotation without quotation marks, and the citation should be placed at the end of the block.
- General Formatting: MLA style research papers should be written in a formal and academic tone. Standard grammar, punctuation, and capitalization rules should be followed. The paper should be well-organized, with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
These are some of the basic elements of an MLA style research paper. It’s important to consult the official MLA Handbook or an authoritative source for detailed and up-to-date guidelines when formatting and documenting your research paper in MLA style.