Citing the sources in MLA format research papers
The MLA style of documentation was developed by the Modern Language Association of America. Even though it was developed with respect to the documentation requirements of literature and humanities subjects, it has become one of the most widely acknowledged documentation styles in academia. It is often used for documenting research papers in subjects other than literature due to its flexible nature. As in the case of all documentation formats, the MLA research paper format has also laid down certain rules regarding the citations. It is necessary that you know the specifications of citing your sources in an MLA format research paper, while using the style.
MLA style in-text citations
All research paper formats use parenthetical referencing as well as bibliography entries for the purpose of listing the sources used. While writing an MLA style research paper, you will have to cite the sources within the text using:
• The in-text citations: The surname of the author and the page number are to be given next to the cited information. These are to be given in brackets, separated by a comma. Ex: “Well-meaning but misinformed people think animals in the wild are “happy” because they are free” (Martel, 15) The in-text citations are to be linked to the details given in the ‘Works cited’ list.
• The content notes: These could be in the form of footnotes or end notes. The content notes, in MLA style research papers, are used for the purpose of giving extra information to the readers about certain points mentioned in the text. The content notes are used when the information you wish to give is too irrelevant to be a part of the research paper. The MLA style states that the content notes are given for the purpose of avoiding “lengthy discussions that divert the reader’s attention from the primary text”.
The references sections
MLA format research papers should also have a separate section for referencing. The bibliography section of an MLA style research paper must:
• Start on a fresh sheet.
• Be headed ‘Works Cited’, the heading centrally aligned.
• Be organized alphabetically as per the author’s last name.
• Be double-spaced with one inch margins on all sides.
The specific pattern for citing each type of source is elaborated in the style manual. It is extremely important to cite the sources appropriately, as per the prescribed format, while preparing a research paper. And, if you know that you will be using the MLA style often for your research projects, it is advisable for you to keep the latest edition of MLA style manual, in hand, for reference purposes. If you know the basic specifications of MLA format research papers, it will help you in understanding the changes which come about when the style gets updated.
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