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Getting a Handle on How to Write a MLA Research Paper

There are many parts to a MLA research paper. This is not a paper than can be written or finished in one night. Many of the steps must be completed in chronological order. It is suggested that you book mark a MLA instruction cite or you purchase the latest MLA handbook. This tool will be invaluable to you as you navigate the waters of the MLA paper.

Step One

Get all of the directions, instruction, dates dues, and handouts from your teacher. Mark the milestone on your calendar. Put the dates a few days earlier than they are actually due to give yourself a buffer.

Pick a topic and have the topic approved by your teacher. Then write your thesis statement for your topic. Your teacher should also approve your thesis statement.

To the Library: Virtual or Actual

The next jobs will occur simultaneously. You will start your outline as you conduct research. You can research online or at the actual library. You want to find support for each of your ideas. Your support has to be valid and credible. Use facts from colleges, experts, professionals, scientists, and such.

Your outline may change a bit as you go through this part of building. This is acceptable because not all your main ideas may have support and you may have to change or delete an idea.

Know before hand if your teacher will expect hard copies of your sources. If he or she does, then print them as you go. Going back to print after all of your research is not very productive.

Rough Draft Time

After you have built your outline and your teacher approves of your progress and direction, you can start the rough draft. In the rough draft (and the final) you have to cite each time you use someone else’s ideas.

In the most basic form the MLA citation is author and page number. The citation goes in parentheses. An example might look like this: (Brown 27). The in-text formatting is not always this easy, that is why you must have a guide. Not having a citation when one is needed is plagiarism.

Final Draft

The final draft will be written after the teacher returns the rough draft to you. The teacher may require the outline, hard copies of sources, an electronic deposit, a Works Cited, or a bibliography. Know up front what is expected for complete submission.

The MLA and APA writing processes are complex. You need to be aware of the rules as you write the paper. Keep in mind that each time you write a paper it will become easier.


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