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Research Paper in MLA Style: Most Common Mistakes

Writing an MLA formatted paper is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. If you are having trouble finding the right way to do it, sometimes taking a look at common mistakes will help in showing you what not to do.

Improper Organization

Many times students get lower grades due to the improper formatting and referencing styles that they use. In order to properly format and reference an MLA style paper look up an MLA sample and see what it is supposed to look like. Compare it to your paper and find where the differences are and correct them before turning your paper in.

If you find that your paper is entirely formatted wrong then go and find step by step instructions for a properly formatted MLA paper and write yours step by step following the steps set forth in the example.

Poor Content

Many students are overwhelmed with the vastness of information that they find in their research. They end up trying to stuff everything they find into their paper regardless of its true relevance. If you find that you are facing that situation then take a minute to breathe first. Walk away for a minute and clear your thoughts. When you are feeling calmed go back to your work and sort through the information that you have gathered. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this piece of information relevant to my thesis statement?
  • If it is then how is it relevant?
  • Which aspect is it relevant to?
  • Would my paper and point be proven more with or without this information?

If you find that you absolutely need that particular information then put it to the side in your "definitely" pile. If it could go one way or the other then put it in a "maybe" pile. If you find that the information is either redundant or not vital to the paper then discard it.

You may find that by doing this your information will be cut in half. If you find that you need a bit more meat to the paper then consider the information in the "maybe" pile for inclusion.

Those are the two most common mistakes with MLA style papers. If you find that you are using the methods set forth here in each one of your papers you will begin to notice that the process becomes easier with each paper and your grades will be improving.

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