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5.1: General Formatting

  • Page ID
    235746
    • Rachel Bell, Jim Bowsher, Eric Brenner, Serena Chu-Mraz, Liza Erpelo, Kathleen Feinblum, Nina Floro, Gwen Fuller, Chris Gibson, Katharine Harer, Cheryl Hertig, Lucia Lachmayr, Eve Lerman, Nancy Kaplan-Beigel, Nathan Jones, Garry Nicol, Janice Sapigao, Leigh Anne Shaw, Paula Silva, Jessica Silver-Sharp, Mine Suer, Mike Urquidez, Rob Williams, Karen Wong, Susan Zoughbie, Leigh Anne Shaw, Paula Silva, Jessica Silver-Sharp, Mine Suer, Mike Urquidez, Rob Williams, Karen Wong, and Susan Zoughbie
    • Skyline College

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    WHAT IS MLA?

    MLA stands for Modern Language Association, which is a professional association in the United States for scholars of language and literature.

    MLA style is the style recommended by the Modern Language Association for preparing and writing scholarly manuscripts and student research papers. It concerns itself with the mechanics of writing, such as punctuation, quotation, and documentation of sources. MLA style has been widely used by schools, academic departments, and instructors for nearly half a century. MLA style provides writers with a system for cross-referencing their sources from their parenthetical references to their "works cited" page.

    All fields of research agree on the need to document scholarly borrowings, but documentation conventions vary because of the different needs of scholarly disciplines. MLA style for documentation is widely used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature. Generally simpler and more concise than other styles, MLA style features brief parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works cited that appears at the end of the work.

    WHY USE MLA?

    Using MLA Style properly makes it easier for readers to navigate and comprehend a text by providing familiar cues when referring to sources and borrowed information. Editors and instructors also encourage everyone to use the same format so there is consistency of style within a given field. Following MLA's standards as a writer will allow you to:

    • Provide your readers with cues they can use to follow your ideas more efficiently and to locate information of interest to them.
    • Allow readers to focus more on your ideas by not distracting them with unfamiliar or complicated formatting.
    • Establish your credibility or ethos in the field by demonstrating an awareness of your audience and their needs as fellow researchers (particularly concerning the citing of references).

    WHEN DO I USE MLA?

    There are several steps in your essay writing process where you will need to use MLA, including:

    1. General Formatting
    2. Titles & Authors
    3. In-Text Citations
    4. Works Cited

    In this chapter, we’ll show you how to use MLA for each of these 4 areas.

    HOW DO I USE MLA?

    The following explanations and examples will help familiarize you with the basic formatting requirements of MLA Style and the different standards for notation that MLA writers are expected to use. Pay attention to even the small details from basic paper layout to abbreviations to punctuation and spacing.

    A well formatted essay sends a positive message to the reader that the writer has invested care, time, and attention into crafting the essay.

    General Formatting

    • Essay is double-spaced
    • A standard font is used (e.g. Times New Roman), font size 12
    • There are 1 inch margins at the top, sides and bottom of the paper
    • There are no extra spaces between the paragraphs, just a half inch indent at the beginning of each paragraph
    • There is a MLA formatted title page with the following information in the top left corner of the paper:
      • Student name
      • Instructor name
      • Course title
      • Date
    • There is MLA style numbering on each page in the top right with student’s last name and page number (e.g. Smith 1)
    • Essay meets the minimum page requirement
    Example: General Formatting

    Bell 1

    Rachel Bell
    Professor Karen Wong
    English 100
    21 June 2014


    America’s Weak Work Ethic: Learning a Lesson from Malcolm X

    Malcolm X in the excerpt “Learning to Read” from The Autobiography of Malcolm X shows that reading and writing are paths to self-confidence, empowerment and liberation. He also shows a level of dogged determination that has become increasingly atypical. The characteristics that he shows of not giving up even in the face of overwhelming odds and applying good old-fashioned, and often tedious and repetitive, hard work and persistence have become frighteningly rare in the U.S. today where people have bloated senses of entitlement. People today often feel that things should be given rather than earned. No need to study acting for years, act in play after play honing your craft, or learn different dialects and accents to play diverse and convincing characters. Instead, you can become rich and famous overnight by starring in a reality show without a shred of talent. The repeated message that we should be richly rewarded for doing nothing or for just being ourselves causes people to not pursue the healthy and character building paths of hard work. As a result, we become paralyzed in disappointment when we don’t get what we think we deserve, and we become a nation of discontents that do nothing and don’t care. If we keep devaluing the slow path of hard work, we’re going to become increasingly uneducated, unmotivated, apathetic, and better controlled by advertisers, politicians, and in the changing global climate, other countries.

    The diligence and persistent effort Malcolm X showed in learning to read has become disappointingly rare. Malcolm X in his autobiography tells us that when he went to prison, he could hardly read or write. He decided the way to improve would be to copy the entire dictionary word for word by hand. He said to copy just the first page alone took an entire day. The next day he reviewed all

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