How to Write an MLA Report

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The Modern Language Association (MLA) handbook guidelines assist undergraduate and high school students in the preparation of research papers. Guidelines include a general format of papers, in-text citations, endnotes & footnotes, and the Works Cited page. An understanding of the MLA style of writing is a priceless commodity to conducting your studies.

Things You'll Need

  • Word Processor
  • Open your word processor. Microsoft Word, StarOffice or Openoffice.org, and Wordperfect are the most common processors but any program that allows you to edit text is acceptable.

  • Set the correct font size. Many text editors by default will be preset for "Times New Roman" 12-pt font or similar. This is exactly the size required, and should not be changed unless necessary.

  • Set the correct margins. The MLA manual calls for 1.0 inch margins on all sides (Top, Bottom, Left, and Right). Your text editor is NOT likely to be set for these margins by default and should be changed.

    In OpenOffice:
    Format > Page > Page Tab > Margins.
    In Microsoft Word:
    File > Page Setup > Margins
    In Wordperfect:
    File > Page Setup > Margins/layout

  • Set your paper to be double-spaced. MLA reports are entirely double-spaced, from first to last page.

    In OpenOffice:
    Format > Paragraph > Line Spacing
    In Microsoft Word:
    Format > Paragraph > Line Spacing (or Hit Ctrl + 2)
    In Wordperfect:
    Format > Line > Spacing

  • Write your first and last name, your teacher/professor's name, your class/course name, and the current date on the left hand side. All proper names should be capitalized. The date will be written in the format: "day month year".

  • Center your title. The title of the page follows the date but is center justified. Capitalize the "main" words of the title. This does not include conjunctions, adverbs, pronouns, or prepositions.

  • Tab your paragraph and begin writing. What follows your title is your introduction, body, and conclusion (IBC). Indent the first line of each paragraph within the IBC by 0.5". The can easily be done by hitting the tab key in most word processors. Be sure to use Use quotation marks and underlining or italics when referring to other works.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always follow your professor/teacher's instructions first and foremost. They may make more specific requests regarding quotations, in-text documentation, spacing, etc.

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