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Body Pages - Writing Center at TCC

Writing Center at TCC : Self-help Handouts : How to Format an MLA Research Paper

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How to Write a Research Paper

One must double space and indent 5 spaces when one begins a paragraph. However, for the sake of space this will be single spaced. As stated earlier the writer will use the standard one inch margins all  the way around. This is normally the default setting if using a word processing machine or computer. Use left justification for the margins. If one needs a topic, one may go to the TCC handouts - Research Paper Topics or visit the TCC Learning Resource Center for ideas. Unless the teacher specifies otherwise, this is to be written in third person (he, she, they).

This is called a research paper because the writers must do research and include it in their paper. One must include a combination of direct quotes, paraphrases, combination notes, and your own conclusions. In a direct quote the writer will use the authors exact words and place quotation marks ("quote") around it. It will be followed by the author's last name and the page number in parenthesis. When writing a paraphrase, the whole idea is in the writer's own words. With a combination note, one uses some of one's own words and an direct quote. The writers' own conclusions are the ideas that come to the writers as contemplate the research.

In the event of a long quote, more than 4 lines, the writer must set it off by indenting 10 spaces. This will not need quotation marks.

Laughter is also an elixir for the mind. Tests administered by Swedish psychologist Lars Ljungdahl before and after humor therapy reveal a reduction of stress and depression and a heightened sense of mental well being and creativity. More and more we are discovering that it only hurts when we don't laugh. (Lederer 10)

In the event there is a quote inside your quote, use a single quote mark for the interior quote. This is a combination quote with an interior quote. A teacher read this to her students, " 'If you subscribe to the summer Weekly Reader you will receive ten issues.' One of her students waited all summer for a pair of tennis shoes" (Lederer 147). Please notice that there is no punctuation inside the parenthesis, and the closing punctuation from the sentence is placed after the parenthesis.

Student 2

Page 2 and all subsequent pages will have the author's last name and the page number as a header at  1/2 inch from the top of the paper. The actual text will begin at the 1 inch margin.

If one mentions an author's name in the text, one need only give the page number in  the parenthesis. This is also the case if one is continuing to quote from one author. "She's a real Pre-Madonna" (152). In the event the quote comes from a book with 2 authors, list both in parenthesis. (Author1 and Author2 10). With 3 authors it will be (Author1, Author2, and Author3 10). Beyond 3 authors one may name them all, or name the first followed by the abbreviation for "and others" et al.  (Author1 et al.  10).  In the event the quote is a quote from another work which can't be found, one must indicate that it was quoted from another place (qtd. in Author 10).

In the event one uses an abbreviation, always spell out the name first. For example, the Modern Language Association (MLA) is the source of this information. In the event one doesn't wish to use a whole quote, one may use an ellipsis (...) to indicate that text is missing. For example: "... and the quote"   or "The ... quote"  or "The quote ..."

Should the writer need to to offer an explanation about the quote or extra details, this may be done by placing the explanation in square brackets  [ ].

Student 3

When the writer feels sure that he/she has proven the point of the thesis, the writer will prepare the conclusion. This section will sum up all that has been written without introducing any new topics.

Like any project make sure that you allow enough time. Prepare a schedule. It is a simple process if you take it in steps and allow enough time. To quote from Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." This is never more true than when you leave a project to the last minute. Good Luck.

Questions and General Guidelines : Cover Page : Outline Page : Body Pages : Works Cited Page : Preparing a Schedule

Last revision: August 27, 2004