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Tips And Rules For Essay Writing

If you are preparing an essay or research paper for college, the chances are high that you are going to need a few tips on writing an essay MLA style. More often than not, when you get on the college level, there are two writing styles in which professors are looking for, they are APA (American Psychological Association) style or MLA (Modern Language Association) style. The differences are varied. MLA style is commonly used in many colleges throughout the U.S., so learning the style and tips on writing in MLA style will serve you well throughout your college education.

Guidelines of MLA Style

The MLA essay format meets the standard layout guidelines as set forth by the Modern Language Association.

General Formatting

  • Set your default font as Times New Roman, 12 point.
  • Set the margins of your paper to one inch on each side
  • Only use one space after periods
  • Indent the first lines of each of your paragraphs exactly one half-inch from the edge of the left margin. When doing your indents, use the tab key instead of using the space bar.
  • Double space throughout your essay.

Titles, Citations, Page Numbers

  • Italicize titles for emphasis.
  • Endnotes should be listed on a separate page, directly before your bibliography or works cited page.
  • You need not make a title page unless your professor requests it.
  • On the first page of your essay you should type your name in the upper left corner of the page.
  • On the line directly below your name, type in your professor’s name and below that you should type the name of the course, and finally below that you should write the date in which you are typing up the material.
  • In the upper right corner you are going to insert your page numbers, making sure your last name is on the left side of the page numbers. (Jones - 2)
  • Center the title of your essay on the line below the date.
  • Use italics to emphasize any titles of longer works that you are referencing.
  • If you have sections, then you should use numbers followed by a period in order to divide them accordingly. For example, if you had three sections that you were going to discuss within your essay you would number them like so, “1. Section One, 2. Section Two, 3. Section 3” and so forth. After each number be sure to space once prior to typing in the section name.

Works Cited

MLA style references a bibliography as a works cited page. When typing up your works cited page there are a few things that you should do.

Depending on how many sources you have and the type of sources that you used (whether a book, article, or Internet-based source), then you will want to pay special attention to the author’s name, title of the book, publication date, publisher and place of publication.

Let’s say that you used books only as your sources of information.  You will want to list the sources in alphabetical order by the authors last name. For example, if you had two sources you would list them as follows:

  • Johnson, James. U.S. Trade Relations. New York: Hummingbird Press, 1989. Print.
  • Main, Jerry. Campside Sounds. Boston: Rice Press, 1992. Print.

While the above sources are simply fictional samples and do not reference real books, it gives you a better idea on how to format your bibliography (works cited).

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Tips on Writing an Essay MLA Style

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If you are preparing an essay or research paper for college, the chances are high that you are going to need a few tips on writing an essay MLA style. More often than not, when you get on the college level, there are two writing styles in which professors are looking for, they are APA (American Psychological Association) style or MLA (Modern Language Association) style. The differences are varied. MLA style is commonly used in many colleges throughout the U.S., so learning the style and tips on writing in MLA style will serve you well throughout your college education.

Writing an essay often seems to be a dreaded task among students. Whether the essay is for a scholarship, a class, or maybe even a contest, many students often find the task overwhelming. While an essay is a large project, there are many steps a student can take that will help break down the task into manageable parts. Following this process is the easiest way to draft a successful essay, whatever its purpose might be.

According to Kathy Livingston’s Guide to Writing a Basic Essay, there are seven steps to writing a successful essay:

1. Pick a topic.

You may have your topic assigned, or you may be given free reign to write on the subject of your choice. If you are given the topic, you should think about the type of paper that you want to produce. Should it be a general overview of the subject or a specific analysis? Narrow your focus if necessary.

If you have not been assigned a topic, you have a little more work to do. However, this opportunity also gives you the advantage to choose a subject that is interesting or relevant to you. First, define your purpose. Is your essay to inform or persuade?

Once you have determined the purpose, you will need to do some research on topics that you find intriguing. Think about your life. What is it that interests you? Jot these subjects down.

Finally, evaluate your options. If your goal is to educate, choose a subject that you have already studied. If your goal is to persuade, choose a subject that you are passionate about. Whatever the mission of the essay, make sure that you are interested in your topic.

2. Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas.

In order to write a successful essay, you must organize your thoughts. By taking what’s already in your head and putting it to paper, you are able to see connections and links between ideas more clearly. This structure serves as a foundation for your paper. Use either an outline or a diagram to jot down your ideas and organize them.

To create a diagram, write your topic in the middle of your page. Draw three to five lines branching off from this topic and write down your main ideas at the ends of these lines. Draw more lines off these main ideas and include any thoughts you may have on these ideas.

If you prefer to create an outline, write your topic at the top of the page. From there, begin to list your main ideas, leaving space under each one. In this space, make sure to list other smaller ideas that relate to each main idea. Doing this will allow you to see connections and will help you to write a more organized essay.

3. Write your thesis statement.

Now that you have chosen a topic and sorted your ideas into relevant categories, you must create a thesis statement. Your thesis statement tells the reader the point of your essay. Look at your outline or diagram. What are the main ideas?

Your thesis statement will have two parts. The first part states the topic, and the second part states the point of the essay. For instance, if you were writing about Bill Clinton and his impact on the United States, an appropriate thesis statement would be, “Bill Clinton has impacted the future of our country through his two consecutive terms as United States President.”

Another example of a thesis statement is this one for the “Winning Characteristics” Scholarship essay: “During my high school career, I have exhibited several of the “Winning Characteristics,” including Communication Skills, Leadership Skills and Organization Skills, through my involvement in Student Government, National Honor Society, and a part-time job at Macy’s Department Store.”

4. Write the body.

The body of your essay argues, explains or describes your topic. Each main idea that you wrote in your diagram or outline will become a separate section within the body of your essay.

Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure. Begin by writing one of your main ideas as the introductory sentence. Next, write each of your supporting ideas in sentence format, but leave three or four lines in between each point to come back and give detailed examples to back up your position. Fill in these spaces with relative information that will help link smaller ideas together.

5. Write the introduction.

Now that you have developed your thesis and the overall body of your essay, you must write an introduction. The introduction should attract the reader’s attention and show the focus of your essay.

Begin with an attention grabber. You can use shocking information, dialogue, a story, a quote, or a simple summary of your topic. Whichever angle you choose, make sure that it ties in with your thesis statement, which will be included as the last sentence of your introduction.

6. Write the conclusion.

The conclusion brings closure of the topic and sums up your overall ideas while providing a final perspective on your topic. Your conclusion should consist of three to five strong sentences. Simply review your main points and provide reinforcement of your thesis.

7. Add the finishing touches.

After writing your conclusion, you might think that you have completed your essay. Wrong. Before you consider this a finished work, you must pay attention to all the small details.

Check the order of your paragraphs. Your strongest points should be the first and last paragraphs within the body, with the others falling in the middle. Also, make sure that your paragraph order makes sense. If your essay is describing a process, such as how to make a great chocolate cake, make sure that your paragraphs fall in the correct order.

Review the instructions for your essay, if applicable. Many teachers and scholarship forms follow different formats, and you must double check instructions to ensure that your essay is in the desired format.

Finally, review what you have written. Reread your paper and check to see if it makes sense. Make sure that sentence flow is smooth and add phrases to help connect thoughts or ideas. Check your essay for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Congratulations! You have just written a great essay.

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