Format Of A Documented Essay

The following two sample research papers are typical of the papers that might be submitted in different kinds of courses.

Reading these papers will help you learn about organizing an argument and working with sources. The papers also demonstrate the use of MLA style to document sources and the formatting of the margins, line spacing, and other physical attributes of a printed paper. The MLA’s guidelines on formatting papers appear elsewhere on this site.

The sample papers were written by MLA staff members who are experienced college teachers. You may find that the writing and documentation seem polished. Because the sample papers serve as models, we aimed to make them free of errors in grammar and documentation. Nevertheless, we hope that the papers usefully represent good student work.

 

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This paper, on Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series, shows you how to incorporate figures into your text, style a block quotation, and cite a variety of sources. Read about block quotations in the MLA Handbook (1.3.2–3, 1.3.7).

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This paper, on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and the courtship novel, features examples of how to use notes in MLA style, cite a dictionary definition, and more.

[12 pt, Times New Roman, Double-spaced, center, bold]
[Press enter 6 times]







Title 
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Your name
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Grade  Course
Teacher's Name
Day  Month  Year


Paper

Paper must be white, 81/2 “X 11” , and stapled together in the left-hand corner.

All papers should be double-spaced and typed, if possible. The writing on first page should begin about 1/4 of the way down the page. All pages should be numbered except the title page and the first page. Page numbers should be placed in the upper right-hand corner. 


Referencing within your essay

In research papers or any other writing that borrows information from other sources, the borrowed information must be clearly documented. Quotations, summaries, statistics or anything not considered common knowledge is called borrowed information. The easiest way of documenting your sources is to use in-text citations. The reference is given in the text of the paper instead of using footnotes or endnotes. This means that your place your source on parenthesis (brackets) immediately after the borrowed information in your text and before any line punctuation.

The information contained in the citation should be as follows:

( Author’s last name page number)

e.g. (Collins 134)

No comma is required between the two pieces of information.

If you are citing a work without a named author, use either the title of the book or the title of the article in place of the author’s name. Remember that titles of books need to be underlined or in italics and that titles of articles should be placed in “quotation marks”.

If you are citing an Internet site, you may simply put the word Internet in brackets. If you have more than one Internet site in your works cited list, you must put the website URL in brackets.



Works Cited page

Title this page Works Cited. This page should be numbered, as should all other pages in your essay (except the first page which should not be numbered), in the upper right hand corner. Leave two lines in between the title of the page and your first source. Sources should be placed in alphabetical order on this page by last names of the author(s). If a source has no author or editor, alphabetize by the first word of the title other than a, an or the.

Do not indent the first line of each entry, but indent each subsequent line (use the TAB key). Put a space between each entry.


Quotations

Short quotations (three lines or less) are included within the text of the essay. 

e.g.
The Buddhist faith had a very interesting start. “In the beginning Buddha found enlightenment under the bodhi tree, near what is now Nepal” (McDowell 75).

Long quotations (three lines or more) are set apart from the text of the essay, as follows:

Devout Buddhists follow the teachings of the Four Noble truths an Eightfold Path. Each contains the essence that units all Buddists today: Life is full of suffering; that most of that suffering, including the fear of earth, can be traced to “desire”, the man’s habit of seeing everything through the prism of the self and its well-being; that this craving can be transcended, leading to peace and eventually to an exalted state of full enlightenment called Nirvana (McDowell 71).


Outline

The following information should be included in your outline. Remember to keep words and phrasing consistent; for example, if you write your first main topic in sentence form, write everything else in sentence form. 

Topic of essay

I. First main idea
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

II. Second main idea
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

III. Third main idea
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

IV. Conclusion



Example (topic is a person)

Leonardo da Vinci

I. Who
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

II. What / When / Where / How
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

III. Why
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

IV. Conclusion - summary



Example (topic is an event)

September 11, 2001

I. What / When / Where / How
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

II. Who
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

III. Why
1. First supporting fact / detail
2. Second supporting fact / detail
3. Third supporting fact / detail

IV. Conclusion - summary

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