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How to Write a Better MLA Style Paper by Brian Konradt

In writing an MLA style paper, it isn't so much the content which bothers you. Rather, it's the format which can be quite tedious! If you don't have a few tricks up your sleeve, then you could get lost in all the formatting style.

If you start worrying now about how you'll get through all of the format, then you won't be able to get anything done. So instead of going nowhere, let's start somewhere near what the Modern Language Association requires from you.

Step 1: Get started on a draft.

Before you can present your content in the specified way, you must first have a draft to begin with. As we've said, your primary concern would be the content ahead of the format.

Thus, do your own fair share of research and fact-finding. Don't rely on what the web alone can offer. Do the extra work of scouring through papers and consulting other writers. A form of practice, this would eventually prepare you for presenting your thesis.

Step 2: Get acquainted with page settings.

If you haven't mastered the MLA format yet, here's a checklist of your paper's most standard settings:
  • The Title Page is optional. It may or may not be used.
  • When a title page is used, it should be informative and consistent with the assignment.
  • Your Title Page includes the paper's title, the author's name, and date. Clarify with your instructor if his name and your class information should also be included.
  • Keep your title centered on the upper half of the first page.
  • The whole document is to be written in double space and with a font of Times Roman 12 points.
  • Each page should have a 1” margin on all sides.
  • See to it that each page header contains the title and page number.
  • Page numbers are to be set in standard Arabic.
  • The Body must be aligned at flush left and never justified.
  • Begin each new paragraph by indenting. If you use the tab key, it should be set at 5 spaces.
  • Tempting as they are, use italics, caps, and underlines sparingly.
  • Since the paper is formal, say no to contractions or slang expressions.
  • In MLA format, an Abstract is not required.

Step 3: Use quotation blocks.

An MLA style paper is famous for using quotation blocks. Here's one instance where you can quote written material without necessarily enclosing them in quotation marks. As long as you've quoted four or more lines from a written source, it would be enough to apply quotation blocks.

Step 4: Be attentive to citations.

Here's another thing which an MLA style paper is notorious for. You'll have your fill of citations which come in lists.

When writing citations MLA style, observe the practice of not placing a comma between the author's last name and the page number. The style also has the habit of putting its periods and commas outside the close-quotes.

As for citations which are organized into lists, here's how they work. You're supposed to arrange them in alphabetical order, not by their order of appearance in the text but by the first letter of the author's last name.

Finally, the works cite page will be your finishing touch to an MLA style paper. Tricky as the whole process was, aren't you glad we had tips and techniques to help us through the format?