Walk away. You will need to edit carefully, and then edit again. A well-edited paper can often make the difference between a "C" or "B" paper and an "A" paper. But before you begin, give your brain a break. Clearing your mind can help you more objectively evaluate your essay once you begin the editing process. You'll be able to more easily spot errors if your mind is refreshed. Take at least a few minutes to step away from your essay before you come back to it.
- Be aware that the "grammar check" in word processors is often incorrect about issues, and may even suggest changes that make your writing incorrect. Don't rely only on technology.
Read out loud. Even if it feels strange, try reading your paper out loud to see if it flows nicely and sounds logical. This is also a great time to enlist outside help. Try asking a family member, friend, or classmate if they would mind listening to part of your paper. Even if you just read them the introduction, this can be very helpful in catching problems.
Check your citations. This is the time to make sure that you have properly cited all of your sources. Remember, you need to give credit for direct quotes, specific facts, or any ideas that are not your own. It's important to properly cite sources so that your teacher or boss knows how you conducted your research. It is also important because you want to avoid plagiarism at all costs. When in doubt, cite your source.
Polish your paper. Go back through and look for any unnecessary words--if you don't need them, get rid of them. A thorough edit can help you to tighten the focus of your paper and ensure that your ideas are highlighted. A polish also helps you to make sure that your paper looks professional and sounds logical and organized.
- There are several methods for creating a title. One idea is to begin your title with a question, such as "How..." or "Why...". Another method is to choose a specific example that occurs within your paper and use that as a starting point for your title.
Give your paper one final review. Are your points clear? Are your transitions smooth? Are all of your errors corrected? In order to answer these questions, make sure to read every word, and read them slowly. If you're satisfied, your essay is ready to be turned in!
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.