The MLA Format for Research Papers: Is It Hard to Follow?

When you write an essay your job is to do real research and then to format the sources you used properly. Why? Because proper citations both in text and in a reference page will allow others to find the sources that you used in your paper and review them and it will allow others to verify your findings. Whenever you paraphrase or include a quote or statistic in your paper you have to include a citation in the text and a corresponding citation at the end in the reference sheet.

Do real research

The term “real research” means something other than a generic internet search. Yes you should conduct a generic internet search when you have a handful of topics in mind but only to find out if there is enough scholarly information published on the topic to make it a strong topic. Once that part is done you have to begin thorough research with primary sources that are all academic in nature.

As you write a research paper--no matter the class--you should ensure you have the right parts. As a rule of thumb research papers include:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review (if applicable)
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix (if applicable)

Remember too that you need to format the paper based on the formatting style assigned to you. If you do not have a format listed on the project instructions you can inquire with your teacher. The most common formats are:

  • MLA
  • APA
  • Harvard
  • Or Chicago

That being said MLA remains one of the most commonly assigned formats. It is in fact quite easy to follow. Your in-text citations differ based on the number of authors for a source and the type of source. At the top of the first page on the upper left hand side is where you list your name/your course/the date. The title is centered beneath on the next line. You should number each of your pages at the top right hand side starting on the first page. In addition to that all of your paragraphs should be double spaced in Times New Roman font. The size should be 12. At the end you include a “works cited” page. The references you post should be in alphabetical order.