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Do's And Don'ts Of Writing An MLA Style Research Paper

MLA is the most common formatting style in schools. For a research paper, there are set rules governing presentation of different pages, margins, quotations, references, etc. There are variations when writing literature and compositions. For other disciplines like religion, philosophy, history, etc another style may be used.

It is the rules that govern MLA format that make it unique from APA. The guidelines provided must be adhered to consistently. This avoids confusion and allows readers to concentrate on your content. There is a provision for slight variations on some aspects but not all. Though you are required to adhere to formal MLA formatting rules, consider the instructions issued by your teacher.

Do’s of MLA format for a research paper

  • All spacing should be double. This includes the list of works cited, quotations, notes and all the text on your paper. This rule can be adjusted by the directions of your teacher.
  • All margins should be one inch. This applies to margins at the top, bottom, on the right and left. The teacher might issue different instructions to alter this rule.
  • All ideas that are borrowed through quotation, either directly or indirectly should be placed in parenthesis. This is a standard way of acknowledging the works of others and should not be altered.
  • All the works cited should be included in a different page with the same title. Ensure that you capture all citations.
  • Books, periodical, pamphlets, plays, articles, etc should be underlined or put in italics. This also applies to CDs, films, songs, poems, and such creative works. Lectures, episodes, book chapters and newspaper articles should be put in parenthesis.
  • Page numbers are always placed on the upper right hand corner of your paper. This is never altered.
  • Quoted and cited materials are introduced using present tense. The same tense is used to make personal or additional comments on the cited material. You can only use past tense where the quotation is direct and offered in past tense.

Don’ts for research paper in MLA

Any deviation from the MLA rules provided is considered a violation and will attract hefty penalties. Do not combine APA with MLA style since this will lead to confusion. Depending on the length of quotation, it is recommended that you indent a long quotation while allowing a shorter one to flow with the rest of the text. If two authors share a name, differentiate them with their other names.

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