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MVNU Writing Guide: MLA Sample Paper

MLA Sample Paper

Comment Guide

  • Red: MLA uses a heading as shown here instead of a title page. The heading is flushed left and includes each of the following on separate lines: Your first and last name, the name of your professor, the course number (e.g. ENG-1084), and the due date.
  • Green: This is the title. Titles are centered on a line of their own between the heading and the body of the paper. Titles have specific capitalization rules. Check out the MLA formatting example for more details.
  • Yellow: This is the thesis statement. Good thesis statements give a reader a good idea of what to expect from the rest of the paper as well as in what order the information will be presented. Here, the thesis does a good job at setting up a comparison between the two main texts in relation to the theme of racial identification.
  • Blue: Body paragraphs should open with a topic sentence that logically shows the reader how the information fits into the larger narrative of the paper. It also concisely sets up the main theme of the paragraph to prime the reader for the upcoming information.
  • Red: MLA in-text citations include the author of the material and the page/line number that the material is found. However, this information does not always need to be in a parenthetical citation. Here, the writer introduces the author (Jeff Westover) of the cited source before using the information, so her parenthetical citation only includes the page number.
  • Green: (On Page 3) Here, the writer changed the tense of the verb look to better flow with her sentence. In Morrison's story, the word she used is "Looked," but that wouldn't make sense in this sentence, so the writer changed it to "Looking" and placed it in brackets to signify that a change was made. These bracketed changes can not change the meaning of a quote, just the pronouns or tense of the verbs.
  • Yellow: This quote spans across multiple lines, so the writer included a hyphen between the first and last line that she utilized. The same is done for page numbers.
  • Red: Small quotes like these are often the most effective. Long quotes generally ruin the flow of an essay, so try to incorporate smaller, more meaningful quotes into already-existing sentences.
  • Green: Here is an example of a block quote. In MLA, block quotes are used for any quote that takes up more than 4 lines. Block quotes should be used only on rare occasion when the specific wording of the source is crucial and would be lost in a paraphrase or summary. Every line of a block quote should be indented.
  • Red: The conclusion paragraph should be the most concise version of the information in your paper. Generally, you should be able to show your conclusion to someone who hasn't read your paper and that person would be able to understand its main ideas and themes.
  • Green: In MLA, the Works Cited page(s) include all of the source material cited in the paper. Sources are listed in alphabetical order and have a hanging indent (the first line is normal and the following lines are indented). See the MLA Citation guide for more details about creating citations!