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Reviewing the MLA Style
Reviewing the MLA Style
A style guide is a set of rules that describe the preferred format and style for a certain
type of writing. People in different fi elds use different style guides, with each style guide
designed to suit the needs of a specifi c discipline. For example, journalists commonly use
the Associated Press Stylebook , which focuses on the concise writing common in
magazines and newspapers. In the world of academics, style guides emphasize the proper
way to create citations , which are formal references to the work of others. Researchers
in the social and behavioral sciences use the American Psychological Association (APA)
style guide, which is designed to help readers scan an article quickly for key points and
emphasizes the date of publication in citations. Other scientifi c and technical fi elds have
their own specialized style guides. In the humanities, the Modern Language Association
(MLA) style is widely used. This is the style Natalie has used for her research paper on
disaster movies. She followed the guidelines specifi ed in the MLA Handbook for Writers
of Research Papers , published by The Modern Language Association of America. These
guidelines focus on specifi cations for formatting a research document and citing the
sources used in research conducted for a paper. The major formatting features of an
MLA-style research paper are illustrated in the Session 2.2 Visual Overview. Compared to
style guides for technical fi elds, the MLA style is very fl exible, making it easy to include
citations without disrupting the natural fl ow of the writing. In this style, citations of other
writers take the form of a brief parenthetical entry, with a complete reference to each
item included in the alphabetized bibliography at the end of the research paper.
Formatting an MLA-Style Research Paper
The MLA guidelines were developed, in part, to simplify the process of transforming
a manuscript into a journal article or a chapter of a book. The style calls for minimal
formatting; the simpler formatting in a manuscript, the easier it is to turn the text into
a published document. The MLA guidelines were also designed to ensure consistency in
documents, so that all research papers look alike. Therefore, there should be no special
formatting applied to the text in an MLA style research paper. Headings should be
formatted like the other text in the document, with no bold or heading styles.
Natalie has started writing a research paper on disaster movies for her fi lm history
class. Next, you’ll open the draft of her research paper, which is saved as a document
named “Disaster,” and determine what needs to be done to make it meet the MLA style
guidelines for a research paper.
To open the document and review it for MLA style:
1. Open the document named Disaster located in the Word2\Tutorial folder
provided with your Data Files, and then save the document as Disaster Paper in the
same location.
2. Verify that the document is displayed in Print Layout view and that the rulers
and nonprinting characters are displayed. Make sure the Zoom level is set to
Page Width .
3. Review the document to familiarize yourself with its structure.
First, notice the parts of the document that already match the MLA style. Natalie
included a block of information in the upper-left corner of the fi rst page, giving her name,
instructor, course name, and the date. The title at the top of the fi rst page also meets the
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