The following two sample research papers are typical of the papers that might be submitted in different kinds of courses.
Reading these papers will help you learn about organizing an argument and working with sources. The papers also demonstrate the use of MLA style to document sources and the formatting of the margins, line spacing, and other physical attributes of a printed paper. The MLA’s guidelines on formatting papers appear elsewhere on this site.
The sample papers were written by MLA staff members who are experienced college teachers. You may find that the writing and documentation seem polished. Because the sample papers serve as models, we aimed to make them free of errors in grammar and documentation. Nevertheless, we hope that the papers usefully represent good student work.
This paper, on Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series, shows you how to incorporate figures into your text, style a block quotation, and cite a variety of sources. Read about block quotations in the MLA Handbook (1.3.2–3, 1.3.7).
This paper, on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and the courtship novel, features examples of how to use notes in MLA style, cite a dictionary definition, and more.
Your research paper ends with a list of all the sources cited in the text of the paper. This is called a Works Cited list.
See an example in the "Sample Paper & Works Cited List" box on this page.
Here are eight quick rules for this list:
- Start a new page for your Works Cited list (e.g., if your paper is 4 pages long, start your Works Cited list on page 5).
- Centre the title, Works Cited, at the top of the page and do not bold or underline it.
- Double-space the list.
- Start the first line of each citation at the left margin; indent each subsequent line five spaces (also known as a "hanging indent").
- Put your list in alphabetical order. Alphabetize the list by the first word in the citation. In most cases, the first word will be the author’s last name. Where the author is unknown, alphabetize by the first word in the title, ignoring the words a, an, the.
- For each author, give the last name followed by a comma and the first name followed by a period.
- Italicize the titles of full works: books, audiovisual material,websites.
- Do not italicize titles of parts of works, such as: articles from newspapers, magazines, or journals / essays, poems, short stories or chapter titles from a book / chapters or sections of an Internet document. Instead, use quotation marks.