How To Compose The Body Of A Research Paper In The MLA Format


The MLA format is one of the most popular writing styles used in academic writing, especially if you need to prepare a research paper. It provides guidelines on how to format every element of your research paper, including the body. The following tips contain the main stylistic rules that you should bear in mind while writing your assignment in the MLA format:

  • Learn the general rules.
  • All the margins should be one inch wide each. Your entire research paper should be double-spaced. Remember that you don’t need to include an extra space before a new paragraph. The most popular font and size for MLA documents is 12-point Times New Roman. Usually, your paper should have a running header, which provides your last name and a page number of each page. Use the settings of your word processor to apply everything mentioned above.

  • Format the paragraphs correctly.
  • Indent each paragraph by 1/2 inch by using “Tab” key on your keyboard. If your assignment is long, it’s advisable to separate the body of the work with a section heading where possible. The MLA style recommends to number each section with an Arabic number and a period. The sections should be centered. Don’t forget to capitalize the first letter of each word in the section’s name.

  • Pay special attention to a picture and table formatting.
  • Most research papers include pictures and tables, so you should learn how to format them in the MLA style in a proper manner. Each figure and table should be centered, have a number, label, and source details. Make sure to include all the information on a single line below the figure. It’s also important to come up with precise labels and indicate a time period if applicable.

  • Indicate all the borrowed ideas and data.
  • You should include parenthetical citations for all borrowed material, including direct quotes, paraphrasing, and summaries. A citation should be placed after the material is presented. Usually, the citation in a research paper includes the last name of the author and a page number from which the data came. Quotes should be introduced as parts of sentences, so don’t write so-called “hanging quotes.”

  • Avoid using long quotes.
  • It’s recommended to use quotes no longer than three lines unless otherwise is necessary. Such long quotes should be separated from the main text and presented as a block. The MLA style suggests to indent each line of a block quote by 1/2 inch. You should include a parenthetical citation but quotation marks are usually unnecessary. However, check the requirements provided by your supervisor to make sure.

 

 
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