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Front Office Forms And Formats For Essays

0.1) If you’ve been asked to submit a paper in MLA style, your instructor is asking you to format the page and present the content in a specific way. Just as football referees dress a certain way, and Japanese chefs cook a certain way, writers in certain disciplines follow a certain set of conventions. This document will show you how to format an essay in MLA style.

For the most complete information, check your campus library or writing center for the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed.

See Also

 

1. Document Settings

Your word processor comes with default settings (margin, line height, paragraph spacing, and typeface) that will likely need adjustment. For MLA style, you need:

  • 1-inch margins all around
  • 2.0 line height (double-space the whole paper, including title block and Works Cited list)
  • no extra spacing after the title, between paragraphs, or between bibliography items
  • 12-point typeface (usually Times New Roman)
(Jump directly to instructions for adjusting MS-Word settings in Windows or Mac; or, skip ahead to 2) Page Header.)

1.1 Adjusting Document Settings in MS-Word (Windows)

My copy of Microsoft Word for Windows defaults to

  1. 1-inch margins all around
  2. 1.15 line height
  3. 10pt spacing between paragraphs
  4. Calibri 11-point  typeface.

Changing to MLA Style (Windows)

  1. The default margins in my test run were fine, but if you need to change them:
    Page Layout -> Margins -> Normal (1-inch all around)
  2. The default line height is too low. Change it to 2.0.
    Home -> Line Spacing -> 2.0.
    (You could try fudging it to 1.9 or 2.1 to meet a page count, but any more than that and your instructor may notice.)
  3. The MS-Word default adds extra space after paragraphs.(MLA Style instead requires you to  signal paragraph breaks by indenting the first line.)
    CTRL-A (select all your text)
    Home -> Line Spacing -> Remove Space After Paragraph
  4. Change the typeface to Times New Roman 12-point.
    Home-> Font Face Selector (change to Times New Roman)
    Home -> Font Size Selector (change to 12)

1.2 Adjusting Document Settings in MS-Word (Mac)

My copy of  Microsoft Word for Mac defaults to

  1. 1.25 inch left and right margins, 1 inch top and bottom
  2. 1.0 line height
  3. no extra spacing after paragraphs
  4. Cambria 12-point typeface

Changing to MLA style (Mac)

  1. In my test run, the left and right margins are too big. To change them:
    Layout -> Margins -> Normal
    (1-inch all around)
  2. The default line height is too low. Change it to 2.0.
    Home -> Line Spacing  -> 2.0
  3. My Mac copy of MS-Word does not add extra spaces after paragraphs. If yours does:
    Home -> Line Spacing  -> Line Spacing Options… (a new window will pop up)
    Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style
    (check this box) -> OK
  4. The 12-point Cambria will probably be fine, but to change the typeface:
    Home -> Font Face Selector (change to Times New Roman)
    Home -> Font Size Selector (change to 12)

2. Page Header

In the top right of every page, use your word processor’s “Page Header” function add an automatic page number and your surname.

2.1 Adding the Page Header in MS-Word (Windows)

  1. Insert -> Page Number -> Top of Page -> (choose the right-justified “Plain Number” option)
  2. The cursor will jump automatically to the right place for you to type your surname.
  3. Click anywhere in the body of the paper to exit the header area.

2.2 Adding the Page Header in MS-Word (Mac)

  1. Insert (in the top menu) -> Page Numbers…  -> (Set “Position” to “Top of Page (header)” and “Alignment” to “Right”)
  2. Click just to the left of the new page number, and type your surname.
  3. On my test document, my name was too far over to the left; grab the triangular tab adjuster just above your name, and drag it a notch to the right.

3. Title Block

In the upper left corner, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course number and section, and today’s date. Centered on the next line, type an informative title that actually informs the reader of your main point (not just “English Paper” or “A Comparison between Hamlet and Macbeth”).

  • Like all the other text in an MLA style paper, the title block is double-spaced.
  • The title is in the same font as the rest of the paper — it is not boldface, or enlarged.
  • There is no extra space above or below the title.
  • A truly informative title will include the general topic, and your precise opinion on that topic.  (So, if you pan to compare Hamlet and Macbeth, your title should state the unique point you want to make about Hamlet and Macbeth. Reuse part of your thesis statement.)

4. Citations

This handout presumes you already know why you should cite your sources (to establish your authority, to introduce persuasive evidence, to avoid plagiarism, etc.), These instructions focus on how you format the page. (For a resource to help you determine how to cite a specific source, see the MLA Bibliography Builder).

To fully cite a source requires two stages.  The first happens in the body of your paper (the “in-text citation”) and the second happens on a separate page at the end of your paper (see “Works Cited List,” below.)

4.1 Citing a Block Quote (more than three lines)

  • Long quotes can start to look like filler. Only use a block quote if you have a very good reason to include the whole passage. (You can usually make your point with a shorter quote.)
  • If you do have a good reason to quote a passage that is several lines long:
    • Select the text and click the “Increase Indent” icon (see image, right).
    • Place the parenthetical citation (the author’s name and the page number) after the period. (This is different from inline quotes, below.)
    • There is no comma between the author’s name and the page number.
    • If the quotation runs across more than one page: (Wordsworth-Fuller 20-21) or (Wordsworth-Fuller 420-21).
  • Skip wordy introductions such as, “In his informative guide The Amazing Writing Book, published by Elizabeth Mount College in 2010, the noted composition expert Maxwell Wordsworth-Fuller describes the importance of citations in MLA style papers.” Cutting the filler leaves more room to develop your own original ideas. (See “Integrating Quotations.”)

4.2 Citing an Inline Quotation

When the passage you want to quote is less than three lines long, use inline style.  Here we have two brief passages, taken from the same page of the same source, so we can handle both with a single parenthetical citation.

  • The parenthetical citation appears outside the quoted material.
  • The period that ends the sentence comes after the close parenthesis. (This is different from block quotes, above.)
  • In this example, we have changed the first word a little, lowercasing it in order to fit it into our own sentence. To let the reader know what we changed, we put [] around it.
  • Again, note the absence of a full sentence that explains who Wordsworth-Fuller is and where the quote comes from. All that info will be in the Works Cited list, so we leave it out of the body of the paper.

4.3 Citing a Paraphrase

Let’s imagine we want to reference Wordsworth-Fuller’s general idea about citation as a way to establish credibility, but we don’t need to include any of the technical details. We can save space, and make it much easier on our reader, if we paraphrase:

  • Use paraphrasing for variety, or to make a passing reference without taking up much space.
  • If we use an author’s idea, rephrased in our own words, we must still cite the idea.

5. Works Cited List

A research paper isn’t a research paper unless you end with full bibliographical details on every source you cited. This part can be tedious and tricky; leave yourself plenty of time to do it.

  • Start a new page.
    • MS-Word Wind: Insert -> Page Break -> New Page.
    • MS-Word Mac: Document Elements -> Break -> Page.
  • Title your new page: Works Cited
    MLA style calls for no extra spaces above or below the page title; no special formatting.

5.1.  How to Create an Individual Works Cited Entry

Exactly what goes into each item in your bibliography depends on what kind of item it is. The following pages give you some questions to answer, then let you push a button to get an individual works-cited entry.

MLA-Style Bibliography Builder: Create Works Cited Entries by Filling in a Form

  • Article (in a periodical, or chapter; printed or electronic)
  • Book (printed or electronic)
  • Web Page (corporate web page, blog entry, YouTube video, etc.)

If you prefer a more narrative explanation, see Purdue OWL’s handouts for how to create a bibliography entry for a book, an article in a periodical (such as a journal or newspaper), or an electronic source (such as an email, web page or a YouTube clip). See also this list of other common sources (such as a personal interview or a movie).

5.2.  How to Organize Your Works Cited list

Sort the entries alphabetically by the author‘s last name.

  • If the author is an organization (such as a government agency or non-profit foundation), alphabetize according to the name of the organization.
  • If you are citing a painting, or a composer, then obviously “author” has to be interpreted a little loosely.
  • Unless your instructor ask you to organize your Works Cited list differently, everything should be alphabetized together, in a single list. MLA does not require that you separate works of different kinds, or that you cite works in the order that they appeared in your paper, or that you write annotations to go along with each item.
  • Use double-spaced line height. (in my copy of Word, I select the text and choose Format -> Paragraph ->  Line spacing -> Double -> OK.)
  • Use hanging indent paragraph format. (In my copy of word, I select the text then choose Format -> Paragraph -> Indentation -> Special -> Hanging Indent.)

29 May 2011 — new document posted, replacing outdated handout written in 1999.
06 Jun 2011 — expanded section on organizing the Works Cited list, since several readers asked for clarification.
07 Jun 2011 — reorganized for emphasis
19 Apr 2012 — added numbers to more subheads
24 Mar 2014 — added details on Works Cited paragraph formatting.
02 Oct 2016 — updated with MLA 8th Edition details.
30 Nov 2016 — added annotated Works Cited sample image.


Related Writing Links

Dennis G. Jerz
Researched Papers: Using Quotations Effectively
If your college instructor wants you to cite every fact or opinion you find in an outside source, how do you make room for your own opinion? Paraphrase, quote selectively, and avoid summary.Dennis G. Jerz
MLA Works Cited Citation Builder
Choose a form, fill it out, and push the button… you will get an individual entry for a “Works Cited” page, which you may then copy and paste into your word processor. The BibBuilder is more like a guide than a full-fledged utility, but you may nevertheless find it helpful.
Jerz’s Literacy Weblog

Format checking:

Before students can complete the final submission (deposit) of a major paper, thesis or dissertation, their document must be submitted to the Graduate Studies office for conformity with the format requirements outlined below.

GENERAL FORMAT SPECIFICATIONS

PHYSICAL FORMAT

SAMPLES OF SOME PAGES

GENERAL FORMAT SPECIFICATIONS 

The format requirements are applicable to the following research documents:

  • Doctoral dissertation and Master’s thesis (all programs), and Master’s creative writing project (English);
  • Master’s major paper (all programs) and major internship paper (Political Science).

Students are advised to consult the Office of Graduate Studies or refer to the SAMPLE document template before they begin writing the final version of their document.   

A student has not completed the requirements leading to a degree until the major paper, thesis or dissertation has been deposited in the Office of Graduate Studies, and may miss tuition refund or convocation deadlines or be required to register for an additional term if the document needs substantial revisions in order to meet Office of Graduate Studies guidelines.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies guidelines, derived from those set by Library and Archives Canada, concern copyrightauthorship, and physical format. No particular style of presentation is recommended for the body of the thesis document (e.g. style of chapter headings and sub-headings, heading levels, style for references, etc.). The single most important aspect of style is consistency: the same style must be followed throughout.
If your program does not recommend any particular style manual, the following are widely-accepted examples of the numerous style manuals available: 

PHYSICAL FORMAT

Students may choose between two format types for the thesis or dissertation: the traditional format or the manuscript format.

(1) Traditional format
This format organizes chapters around a central problem and is normally used when no part of the thesis has been published or submitted for publication.

(2) Manuscript format
The manuscript format comprises the text of one or more papers/manuscripts that have been, or will be, submitted for publication. These texts must follow the guidelines for format given elsewhere in this document with respect to font size, line spacing and margin sizes. The document must be more than a collection of manuscripts, however, in that all the components must be brought together into one cohesive unit, with logical progression from one chapter to the next and following one consistent style throughout the document in each chapter, e.g. chapter headings, sub-headings, heading levels, style for references, etc. 

PAGE ORDER:

Note: pages marked with an asterisk [*] are optional.

(1) Traditional format

Title page

Copyright page (if separate)

Approval page

either Declaration of Originality orDeclaration of Co-Authorship/Previous Publication

Abstract

*Dedication (where applicable)

*Acknowledgements (where applicable)

Table of Contents

*List of Tables (where applicable)

*List of Figures (where applicable)

*List of Appendices (where applicable)

*List of Abbreviations, Symbols,
*Nomenclature (where applicable)

Body of thesis(divided into various chapters)

Bibliography/References (note that the Bibliography/References section can either precede or follow the Appendices)

*Appendices(include copyright releases here, if applicable).

Vita Auctoris

-(2) Manuscript format

Title page
Copyright page (if separate)
Approval page
Declaration of Co-Authorship/Previous Publication
Abstract
*Dedication (where applicable)
*Acknowledgements (where applicable)
Table of Contents
*List of Tables (where applicable)
*List of Figures (where applicable)
*List of Appendices (where applicable)
*List of Abbreviations, Symbols,
*Nomenclature (where applicable)
Body of thesis, divided into:

  • Introductory chapter to the entire thesis with its own bibliography, where applicable.
  • Each subsequent chapter presented in a manuscript format without an abstract, but with its own bibliography/references, and following consistently the same style throughout, e.g. style of chapter headings, sub-headings, heading levels, same style for references, etc. regardless of the citation formats of the journals in which the manuscript has appeared or will be published.
  • Final chapter (general discussions and conclusions) to relate the separate studies to each other and to a relevant discipline or field of study. 

*Appendices
This section to contain details of methodology, tabulated data, and other pertinent data. Copyright releases from previous publications may be included in the Appendices. Remove any private information from appended materials, such as signatures, personal phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Vita Auctoris

The preliminary pages should appear in the following order:

Note: pages marked with an asterisk [*] are optional, depending on the demands of the thesis and the wishes of the author.

Title page

Assigned page number one (i), but not physically numbered. Format should follow that of Example 1 (for a Master's thesis, the caption should begin “A Thesis Submitted...”, for students in the Creative Writing Program – “A Creative Writing Project Submitted…”) and the wording of the caption should follow the one in Example 1, with the correct Department name and respective Degree.
In selecting your title, keep in mind that the systems used by libraries to retrieve the information contained in your document rely on title keywords. The title should therefore be accurate, specific, and brief.

Copyright page*

Assigned page number two (ii), but not physically numbered. Not necessary if copyright symbol appears on the title page.

Approval page

Assigned page number two (ii) or three (iii), but not physically numbered. For details see Example 2.

  • the unsigned approval page must be included within the thesis document.
  • the printed and signed approval page with signatures of all committee members must be submitted to Graduate Studies at the time of hte final deposit. 

Begin physically numbering pages after the Approval page.

either Author’s Declaration of Originality or Declaration of Co-Authorship/Previous Publication:

Author’s Declaration of Originality
Assigned page number "iii" or "iv" and physically numbered. This declaration should be used in the traditional thesis format when the thesis does not include materials based on joint research or material that has been published or submitted for publication. Download and insert the declaration in your thesis.

Declaration of Co-Authorship/Previous Publication

  • Assigned page number iii or iv and physically numbered. This statement should be used as an alternative to “Author’s Declaration of Originality”, when the thesis incorporates material based on joint research (published or unpublished), and/or when the thesis incorporates the text of one or more papers that the student has published or submitted for publication. In the case of previous publications, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain proper permission from the journal/copyright holder to use the published material in their thesis. For details refer to Using previously copyrighted material.
  • This declaration is normally used in the manuscript thesis format (or in the traditional format, in case of co-authorship). Download and insert the declaration in your thesis.

Abstract

Assigned a page number and physically numbered. All theses, dissertations, and major papers as well as creative writing projects must contain an abstract, which should not exceed 2 pages double-spaced (for Doctoral dissertations), and 1 page double-spaced (for Master's theses, major research papers, and creative writing projects).  

Dedication*

Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

Acknowledgements*

Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

Table of Contents

Assigned a page number and physically numbered. The Table of Contents should follow the format of Example 3 (a) or 3 (b). All preliminary pages should be listed, except for the title page, the copyright page, the approval page and the table of contents itself. All pages following the body of the text must be listed too, including the Vita Auctoris page.

When subheadings are included in the Table of Contents, they may be indented differently from the chapter titles or set in another type style.

List of Tables*

- should match the Table of Contents in font size and general style - list not only the table captions but also their page number. Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

List of Figures*

- should match the Table of Contents in font size and general style - list not only the figure captions but also their page number. Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

List of Appendices*

- should match the Table of Contents in font size and general style. Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

List of Abbreviations (or Nomenclature)*

- should match the Table of Contents in font size and general style. Assigned a page number and physically numbered.

The body of the thesis follows, divided into chapters. Remember that pages in the body of the thesis are assigned Arabic numerals (beginning with "1") which run consecutively to the very end of the thesis (including the Vita Auctoris page).
No particular style of presentation is recommended for the body of the thesis document (e.g. style of chapter headings and sub-headings, heading levels, etc.). The single most important aspect of style is consistency: the same style must be followed throughout. If using the manuscript format, each chapter should have its own bibliography/references section. If using the traditional format, the bibliography normally follows at the end of the text.

Back matter (the pages following the thesis body) should appear in the following order:

References (or Bibliography)

No particular style for references is recommended so students should consult their supervisors about the appropriate style for their discipline. In the traditional format, the References/Bibliography section appear at the end after the body of the thesis, and can either precede or follow the Appendices. In the manuscript format, the References/Bibliography must appear after each chapter within the thesis body.

Appendices*

Copyright releases from publications may be included in the Appendices. Remove any private information from appended materials, such as signatures, personal phone numbers, addresses, etc.

Vita Auctoris

(or life of the author). The Vita Auctoris is a required thesis element, however, there are no specific requirements / restrictions about its format or contents: it should include as a minimum the author's name, year and place of birth, and education and degrees (for privacy concerns, students should NOT include personal information such as home address and phone numbers, full date of birth, etc.). Other information may be included, but should be directly related to the thesis or academic discipline (e.g., list of student’s publications/conference presentations resulting from their thesis research, etc.). See sample Vita Auctoris pages. The Vita Auctoris page must be the last page of the document, it must be assigned a number and listed in the Table of Contents.

Paper

Use paper of good quality, 8½ x 11 inches (21.5 x 28 cm). Do not use erasable paper or thin computer paper. If maps or charts necessitate the use of larger sheets of paper, check with the Office of Graduate Studies for advice.

Margins

Every page must have the same margins: 1 inch all around, preferably a larger margin (1½ inches) on the left. If sufficient margins are not observed text or diagrams extending into the margins could be destroyed in the binding process.

Typing & Line spacing

The pages must bear print on only one side of the sheet. The spacing of the typed lines should be at least 1½ spaces, with the exception of notes, long quotations, figure and table captions, and references.  The typeface must be clear and the font size should be 10 points or larger; a smaller font size may be used for graphs, formulas and appendices. Computer printers must produce letter quality print. If in doubt about acceptability of print, bring a sample to the Office of Graduate Studies. 

Pagination

The document must use 2 numeration systems: Roman numerals for the front matter/ preliminary pages, and Arabic numerals for the thesis body and thereafter through the end of the document. Each page must be assigned a page number.

  • Front matter (preliminary pages): All preliminary pages (those preceding the body/main text of the thesis) are assigned Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.), however, the number does not appear on the following preliminary pages even though they must be accounted for in the numbering system: title page, copyright page (if separate), and approval page. See further details under Page order where each page is listed. Beginning with the declaration (numbered three (iii) or four (iv)), all pages must be physically numbered.
  • Body of thesis and back matter: pages within the body of the thesis are assigned Arabic numerals, beginning with one ("1") at the beginning of chapter 1/introduction, consecutively to the end of the thesis.

Do not begin new pagination sequences at the beginning of appendices. If appendices include material taken from other sources on which page numbers already appear (permission to reproduce this material having been received, if necessary), they must also carry numbers conforming to the pagination of the thesis or dissertation.


Illustrative Material

Keep illustrative material within the margins defined above. If this is not possible, such material may be inserted into a pocket at the back of the bound document, or uploaded as a supplementary file as part of the online submission. Consult with the Office of Graduate Studies for details.
The format of tables, figures, etc. must follow one style consistently. Check with your research supervisor for advice on your program’s preferred style. 

Use of colour

Colour graphs or figures can be printed either in colour or black-and-white, provided contrast is acceptable. If printing in black-and-white ensure identification of lines on a graph is clear by line symbols rather than by variation of colour. For better contrast, use cross-hatching rather than colour for shaded areas.

Grammar and Spelling

It is the student’s responsibility (and an important courtesy to the readers) to ensure that grammar and spelling conventions are observed.

Other Questions

For questions contact the Office of Graduate Studies, Room 309, Chrysler Hall Tower, or call 519-253-3000, extension 2104.

SAMPLES OF SOME PAGES:

Example 1: Title Page
[Follow exactly the wording of the paragraph beginning with “A Dissertation submitted to…” below. Note that this example is for a Doctoral dissertation; if you are a Master’s student substitute “A Dissertation” with “ A Thesis”, "A Creative Writing Project", “A Major  Research Paper”, or "A Major Internship Paper" and use the correct program name and degree, e.g. “Master of Arts”, “Master of Science”, etc.]

VLSI IMPLEMENTATION OF RESIDUE NUMBER SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE

by

Magdy Bayoumi

A Dissertation
Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies
through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the
University of Windsor

Windsor, Ontario, Canada

© 2017 Magdy Bayoumi

Example 2 - Approval Page

  • the Approval page should not be numbered, although it is counted in the numbering system. The text should be centred except for the defense date at the bottom which should be right-aligned.
  • the names of the committee members must be listed in the following format: no title "Dr.", initial for the first name, e.g. "J. Doe" instead of "Dr. Jane Doe"
  • only the advisor(s) must be indicated – insert the word: “, Advisor” after the advisor’s name as shown below (or “Co-Advisor” if you have two co-supervisors).
  • note that the chair of defense is not listed and does NOT sign the approval page.
  • see sample below or download the Approval page templates (under 'Thesis and dissertation forms')

Example 3(a) (Table of Contents - Traditional format)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Example 3(b) (Table of Contents - Manuscript format)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Examples 4 and 5:

VITA AUCTORIS

[Note that there is no specific required format for the Vita Auctoris although it is a mandatory element. You may include any information about you, the author, below are some examples. Do NOT include personal information such as telephone numbers, full date of birth, etc.]

Example 4:

VITA AUCTORIS

Mary Scott was born in 1976 in Windsor, Ontario. She graduated from Assumption High School in 1995. From there she went on to the University of Western Ontario where she obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry in 1999. She is currently a candidate for the Master's degree in Chemistry at the University of Windsor and hopes to graduate in Fall 2001.

or

Example 5:

VITA AUCTORIS

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