Modern Language Association (MLA) writing style is one of the most common styles for composing research papers in the arts and humanities. Adhering to the style is crucial to increase the credibility of your paper. In addition, following the guidelines can help you avoid plagiarism issues. Before you start writing your paper, setting up MLA format on your word processor first can be helpful for you. As you write, of course you are required to follow MLA style structure. It is actually not difficult to construct a research paper in an MLA format. Here come the instructions.
1. Open your word processor. Usually, the blank page comes with default settings that you need to modify the settings first. Therefore, you should set the page format to 12 point, usually Times New Roman font. Then, you should set one inch margin on all sides of the paper. Before you write the first word of the first paragraph, make sure that you indent half an inch from the left margin.
2. Create a header. The header should include your surname and the page number which occupies the upper right-hand corner. The page number should be half an inch from the top of the paper and flush against the right margin. It is compulsory for you to use Arabic numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4…
3. Create an outline. It is actually not compulsory for you to write an outline. But this can be useful to help you manage your research paper. Besides, an outline will make it easier for you to develop certain parts or areas of your paper. Sometimes, instructors expect students to submit their outlines. If such a thing happens and you use an author’s point of view, make sure that you put the author’s name and the page number you refer to.
4. Start writing. The MLA style requires you to double-space all of your text. You are also obliged to indent the beginning of every paragraph you make by one-half inch from the left hand margin. You are not allowed to separate the title of your paper unless your instructor requires you to. The first line of your first page should be your name; your instructor’s name should be mentioned on the second line; the title should be placed on the third; and the date should sit on the fourth line.
5. Cite references. For direct quotes, you are required to use in-text citations. In-text citation must contain the surname of the author and the page number in brackets. Of course, the sources you state in-text must fit the sources you present on the Works Cited page. As for the Works Cited page, it must include all sources you use. The sources should be arranged in alphabetical order.
As you can see, MLA style is not that complicated. However, it is important for you to know that a research paper typically consist of introduction, body and conclusion section. After you are done writing, it is recommended that you proofread your masterpiece.