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Basic Guidelines for a Research Paper - Writing Center at TCC

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

Basic Guidelines for a Research Paper
  1. Plan on spending about 60% of your time planning, researching, and preparing the first draft.
  2. It must be typed unless your teacher states otherwise. Statistics point to higher grades for typed papers.
  3. Use 10 or 12 point type and a standard font such as Arial or Times New Roman.
  4. Type on only one side of the page and double space all text.
  5.  The margins are to be 1 inch all around unless otherwise stated.
  6. Use parenthetical in-text documentation. 
  7. When you look at any possible source material, always copy down the bibliographical information (See Works Cited).
  8. Even if you use note cards, it helps to photo copy pages you might use.
  9. You must give credit to both exact quotes, summaries, and paraphrases. You must credit your source if this is material you personally did not know.
  10. TCC offers special writing workshops all semester
Questions to Ask Your Instructor
  1. Should I use MLA? Other guidelines include APA, Turabian, or Chicago Manual.
  2. How long should my paper be? Does that length include the outline and Works Cited page?
  3. Does my instructor require approval of the topic and/or thesis statement in advance?
  4. Does my instructor require an outline? 
  5. Will my instructor want to see my outline, note cards, copies of Web pages, or rough draft. 
  6. Does my instructor want a report cover on the paper? Some may not want plastic covers.
  7. What information does my instructor want on the title page?
  8. Will my instructor expect all research turned in with the paper?
  9. Does my instructor want a Works Cited (only the sources referenced in the paper) or a Bibliography (all sources you reviewed).
  10. Is this an informative or a persuasive paper?
  11. Are all types of  sources (encyclopedias, magazines, Internet, etc.)? How many and are there any restrictions?

Ask your questions now because excuses aren't accepted later.

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

Last revision: June 27, 2002