Format for Papers in English Classes

Recommendations here are based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. It is wise, however, to check with me first regarding any queries about proper format. (Other Professors in the English Department usually prefer MLA format rather than APA or Chicago Style, but check with them first.)

Paper: Use white, twenty-pound, 81/2- by 11-inch paper. Do not submit eraseable or very shiney paper.

Fonts: Use 12/10 size font. Do not use italics for underlining titles of books or long poems: underline book titles where necessary. Do not submit papers with fonts larger than 12 or smaller than 10. Use only standard fonts such as times roman, ariel, letter gothic, courier. Avoid ornate fonts. Do not italicize book titles; always underline them.

Margins: Except for page numbers (see below), leave one-inch margins all around the text of your paper -- left side, right side, and top and bottom. Paragraphs should be indented half an inch; set-off quotations should be indented an inch from the left margin (five spaces and ten spaces, respectively, on standard typewriters). Do not add extra spaces between paragraphs.

Spacing: The MLA Guide says that "the research paper must be double-spaced," including ALL quotations, notes, and the list of works cited.

Heading and Title: Your research paper does not need a title page. At the top of the first page, at the left-hand margin, type your name, your instructor's name, the course name and number, and the date -- all on separate, double-spaced lines. Then double-space again and center the title above your text. (If your title requires more than one line, double-space between the lines.) Double-space again before beginning your text. The title should be neither underlined nor written in all capital letters nor have quotation marks around it.. Capitalize only the first, last, and principal words of your title. Titles might end with a question mark or an exclamation mark if that is appropriate, but not in a period. Titles written in other languages are capitalized and punctuated according to different rules, and writers should consult the MLA Guide or their instructors. Do not adorn yourd your own title.


Page Numbers: Number your pages consecutively throughout the manuscript (including the first page) in the upper right-hand corner of each page, one-half inch from the top. Type your last name before the page number. Most word processing programs provide for a "running head," which you can set up as you create the format for the paper, at the same time you are establishing things like the one-inch margins and the double-spacing. This feature makes the appearance and consistency of the page numbering a great convenience. Make sure the page-number is always an inch from the right-hand edge of the paper (flush with the right-hand margin of your text) and that there is a double-space between the page number and the top line of text. Do not use the abbreviation p. or any other mark before the page number (that means that you should not have a comma here).


Binders: Generally, the simpler the better. Why spend money on gimmicky, unwieldy binders, when instructors prefer nice, flat stacks of papers they can stuff into their briefcases and backpacks? A simple staple in the upper left-hand corner of your paper should suffice, although the MLA Guide suggests that a paper clip can be removed and this facilitates reading. The only kind of clip that I like is the one that is called a file clip (black triangular that opens and closes)--not a paper clip.


MLA Documentation Style: Each time that quotations are used in your text, you must document them. Sources that have influenced you in any way must also be documented. After the quoted passage, place a parentheses in which are placed the author's name and page number, with no punctuation between them. Your format should look like the following sentence.

"Ever since my mother left us that April day, I suspected that everyone was going to leave, one by one" (Creech 59).

If it several of your quotations come from the same page, you may at the end of the series of similar references, include the correct page in the last entry. Your previous quotations, therefore, would not have page references and would look like this:

Sal herself is often unaware of the meaning of her feelings as when she admits she doesn't "know what came over me."


Creech's full title is given in the
list of works cited page at the end of the essay. If it is obvious that the quotation comes from Creech, the author's name may be omitted and only the page numbers added. Under no circumstances are the words p. or pg. ever used in MLA documentation format.


The first page of your paper should look like this:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Martin 1

English 112A

Research Paper

Professor Patten

May 11, 1999

Walk Two Moons: Journeying Toward a New Self

(spaces indent) Blah, blah, blah, blah.........