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An Introduction to the MLA Format

April 15, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 179

There are different writing styles or formats used in writing academic and research papers. One of the most popularly used is the MLA format. Produced by the Modern Language Association, this format is frequently the preferred choice in schools and academic departments, particularly in the fields of humanities and liberal arts. Professional documents such as journals, essays, tutorials and manuals are also often written using this style. But what exactly is the MLA format?

The MLA style is a set of rules and guidelines on how a writer can conduct research for his or her paper, how to structure the paper, and how to cite the sources used within the paper. The rules include special formatting and layout such as the margin allotted in each page, the font and its size, the spacing, and even what should be included in the header. The rules also state how the writer should properly credit sources used within the body of the text and in the Works Cited section of the paper.

Why do we need the MLA format in writing a paper? The first and foremost reason for using this format is that it enables writers to know what they should and should not include in the paper. It also helps them structure their paper and make it look more professional. In addition, using one style in writing academic papers in a particular field creates consistency, allowing readers to find it easier to understand and follow the text within because the format/layout and the references are familiar. Also, with the MLA format, readers are able to investigate the veracity of the information included in the paper through the Works Cited section. The alphabetical listing of the authors allows readers to easily find the sources they are looking for. In the same way, the writers gain credibility as their ideas can be supported through documentation. The use of the MLA format also prevents the writer from being accused of plagiarism.

Using the MLA format has numerous advantages for writers. However, it must be noted that following the rules of this format can be challenging as there are a lot of them and some of them can be quite complex for the average writer. Reading the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers can be really helpful. Keeping updated with the rules is also beneficial as they are changed or updated every few years.

The author of this article has written several scientific papers using the APA format and literary ones using the MLA format.

Source: EzineArticles
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