The MLA style is used by many of your instructors as a guide to formatting research papers, particularly in the arts and humanities.
Is the MLA the Only Style I Will Ever Need to Learn?
Probably not! Other disciplines use other styles such as the APA (American Psychological Association) style, often used in psychology and social sciences, or the Chicago (Turabian) style, often preferred in History.
What Elements Are Included in a Citation Style?
Works Cited Pages
Font types, sizes and styles
Title Page (optional, not standard with MLA)
So, basically there are two types of elements to pay attention to- formatting issues and citation standards. The format guidelines eliminate any questions about the minute elements of a paper- margins, fonts, etc. You don’t have to spend hours choosing fonts!
Using uniform citation standards helps students and researchers around the world locate materials that are cited. The proper use of MLA style also shows the credibility of writers by showing accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism--the purposeful or accidental use of source material by other writers without giving appropriate credit.
Microsoft Word 2003
If you need extra help in using this word processing software program, we do offer an introductory MS Word class. Please ask at the circulation desk for a current schedule. For today, it should be ok if you haven’t used the program very much. You will learn some basics today just in learning to use the MLA style in your research papers.
Let’s Get Started!
Each of you has a copy of this MS PowerPoint presentation in print. MS Word sample papers are included on the floppy disk so that you can see examples of the MLA style in use. First, let’s go ahead and work with MS Word and actually work on MLA elements.
We will use a file on your disk called “PracticeMLAbefore”
Opening Microsoft Word
Double click on the Microsoft Word icon on the desktop.
If there is no icon:
Click on the "Start" menu button, usually found on the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
Go to "All Programs."
Click "Microsoft Office."
Click on "Microsoft Word 2003."
This is what you will see if there is no icon.
Opening a Document in Microsoft Word
If you have already started writing your paper, then go to the next step.
Go to "File, Open."
Choose the document’s location- drive, disk, etc.
Locate your document (ours is “PracticeMLAbefore”)
Click on "Open", after selecting your document.
Setting Margins in Microsoft Word
Go to "File, Page Setup."
Make sure the "Top" and "Bottom" margins are set to 1".
Make sure the "Right" and "Left" margins are 1" also.
Click the "OK" button.
Setting Font Type, Style, and Size in Microsoft Word
Note: If you have not started typing your paper, skip step number one.
Highlight the entire body of your research paper
Go to "Format, Font."
Set font to "Times New Roman."
Set font style to "Regular."
Set size to "12."
Click on the "OK" button.
Research Paper Heading
Most MLA formatted research papers will not have a separate title page.
At the top left of your first page, you will have 4 separate, double-spaced, left justified lines just before the title of the paper, one inch from the top of the page-
Your professor/instructor’s name
The class title
Your Research Paper Title and First Line
After the heading, double-space and center your title
Double-space between lines of the title
Double-space between the title and the first line of the text
Always indent the first word of each new paragraph ½ inch (5 spaces)
Making a Title Page in Microsoft Word
**Note: This is not required, but your instructor may want one.
Click "File, New."
Start at the beginning of the paper and hit the "Enter" button 20 times.
Click the "center justify" button on the toolbar.
Type the title of your paper in all capital letters. Then, hit the "Enter" button.
Hit the "Enter" button 20 more times.
Click the "right justify" button on the toolbar.
Type your name, then press the "Enter" button.
Type your instructor's name, then press the "Enter" button.
Type the name of the course you are doing this paper for, then press the "Enter" button.
Type the date the paper is due, then press the "Enter" button.
Your title page should look like the pictures shown.
Creating a Header in Microsoft Word
Choose "View" from the menu bar.
Select "Header and Footer."
After the floating toolbar and header box opens:
Click the "right justify" button.
Type your last name, with a space after it.
Select the "insert page number" button, on the floating toolbar.
Click on the "Close" button.
NOTE: YOUR INSTRUCTOR MAY ASK YOU TO OMIT THE HEADER FROM THE FIRST PAGE.
Click the "page setup" button.
Click in the "different first page" box.
Click on the "OK" button.
Setting the Line Spacing in Microsoft Word
Starting at the top left corner of the body of your paper-
Hold the left mouse button down and drag it straight down. Do this until the entire body is selected.
Once you have selected your text, right click your mouse button in the highlighted area.
Choose the "Paragraph" option.
After the dialogue box opens:
Under the "Indents and Spacing" tab, find the text that says, "Line Spacing."
Select "Double" from the drop down box.
Click on the "OK" button.
Formatting a Block Quote in Microsoft Word
Highlight any quote that is four lines or longer. NOTE: Make sure that it is the only text that you have highlighted.
Drag the bottom arrow on the ruler bar, at the top of the document, to 1".
Drag the top arrow on the ruler bar, at the top of the document, to 1" also.
Setting up a Works Cited Page in Microsoft Word
* Note- the Works Cited page should begin on a new page
Go to the end of your paper.
Click on the end of your paper.
Click "Insert, Break" from the toolbar.
Choose "Page Break."
Click the "center justify" button.
Type "Works Cited."
Hit the "Enter" key.
Make sure the line spacing is set to double. (See Line Spacing lesson.)
Click the "left justify" button.
Start typing your works cited.
The second line of a source should be indented 1/2".
Click on first line of a source.
Drag the bottom arrow on your ruler bar to the 1/2" mark. NOTE: Your source must be written in one continuous line for this to work.
Why So Much Worry About Citations?
Citations permit readers to put the claims to a better test by consulting the earlier work. Authors often engage earlier work directly, explaining why they agree or differ from earlier views. Ideally, sources are primary (first-hand), recent, with good ethos, credentials, and citations.
Some have questioned the authority assumed or conferred by citation, considering it endlessly recursive, the authority of a work resting on its citations, the authority of which in turn rely on their citations.
Types of Citations
Works Cited page (Bibliography, Literature Cited)
Notes- endnotes and footnotes
The MLA guidelines require that you cite the quotations, summaries, paraphrases, and other material used from sources within parentheses typically placed at the end of the sentence in which the quoted or paraphrased material appears. The parenthetical method replaces the use of citational footnotes. These in-text parenthetical citations correspond to the full bibliographic entries found in a list of references at the end of your paper. (Note that the titles of works are underlined rather than placed in italics.)
Some Basic Examples
Single author named in parentheses-
The tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences is referred to as a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (Sennett 11).
Single author named in a signal phrase.
Social historian Richard Sennett names the tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (11).
There are two types of notes used in research papers- endnotes and footnotes.
The only difference between the two is their placement.
Footnotes appear at the bottom of each page and endnotes have their own separate section at the end of the body of the paper, similar to the Works Cited section.
These features aren’t used very much at HCC. If you need help with notes, please ask a librarian at any HCC library or ERC.
You can also refer to the file on your disk called Endnotes and Footnotes for detailed help in using MS Word to do MLA style notes.
Consider buying a copy of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 6 TH edition.
There are many helpful websites on the WWW. I would make sure that the site is current and that it expressly uses the MLA 6 th edition.
More MLA Help
There are software programs and websites out there that can help with MLA formatted citations. Some of these are ProCite, ScholarWord, EndNote , etc.
Some are free, others cost money.
We would strongly recommend that you first learn to do citations yourself.
HCCS MLA Help
The HCCS Library website at http://library. hccs . edu /
has links to useful sites for both MLA and APA styles.
There is another link here-
http://www. hccs . edu /system/library/ InfoUse / samplepapers . htm