Research Papers and Essays: Formatting and Citing Sources Not only does a good research paper include thorough research and thoughtful analysis, it should also follow specific rules for citing your sources and formatting. This brief guide will illustrate how to correctly reference your sources and set up your paper. Connections Academy students should use Modern Language Association (MLA) style for citing sources and formatting. MLA style is commonly used in many middle and high schools, as well as in colleges and universities across the country. The MLA publishes the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. This is a very useful book, as it goes into great depth explaining the steps for writing a paper. The book is available at most bookstores, and your local library likely has copies. If you run into an issue, such as citing a source that is not covered in this guide, it is best to find the proper way of citing your source by finding it in the MLA Handbook or by asking your teacher. This guide covers the basics for formatting and citing sources. However, you should always follow the specific guidelines presented by your teacher. If you want to incorporate pictures or other images into your paper, ask your teacher about the best way to do this. Depending on your teacher’s preference, images can be included within the body of the paper or in an appendix. Formatting Your Paper Here are some basic steps for setting up your paper. 1. Paper Size and Margins—Your paper should be set to 8 ½ inches by 11 inches. This is standard letter format. Your page margins should be set at 1 inch on all sides.
To set your margins: Select Page Setup from the File menu, and select the Margins tab. Set the top, bottom, left, and right margins at 1 inch. To set your paper size: Select Page Setup from the File menu, and select the Paper tab. Set the paper size to “Letter.” (This should be the default setting, so this step may not be necessary.)