Research paper documentation examples
Apr 27, 2018
If your instructor has specific requirements for the format of your research paper, check them before preparing your final draft. When you submit your paper, be sure to keep a secure copy.
The most common formatting is presented in the sections below:
Except for the running head (see below), leave margins of one inch at the top and bottom and on both sides of the text. If you plan to submit a printout on paper larger than 8½ by 11 inches, do not print the text in an area greater than 6½ by 9 inches.
Always choose an easily readable typeface (e.g., Times New Roman) in which the regular type style contrasts clearly with the italic, and set it to a standard size (e.g., 12 points). Do not justify the lines of text at the right margin; turn off any automatic hyphenation feature in your writing program. Double-space the entire research paper, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited. Indent the first line of a paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Indent set-off quotations half an inch as well (for examples, see 76–80 in the MLA Handbook). Leave one space after a period or other concluding punctuation mark, unless your instructor prefers two spaces.
Heading and Title
Beginning one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin, type your name, your instructor’s name, the course number, and the date on separate lines, double-spacing the lines. On a new, double-spaced line, center the title (fig. 1). Do not italicize or underline your title, put it in quotation marks or boldface, or type it in all capital letters. Follow the rules for capitalization in the MLA Handbook (67–68), and italicize only the words that you would italicize in the text.
Local Television Coverage of International News Events
The Attitude toward Violence in A Clockwork Orange
The Use of the Words Fair and Foul in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Romanticism in England and the Scapigliatura in Italy
Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin.
A research paper does not normally need a title page, but if the paper is a group project, create a title page and list all the authors on it instead of in the header on page 1 of your essay. If your teacher requires a title page in lieu of or in addition to the header, format it according to the instructions you are given.
Running Head with Page Numbers
Number all pages consecutively throughout the research paper in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch from the top and flush with the right margin. Type your last name, followed by a space, before the page number (fig. 2). Do not use the abbreviation p. before the page number or add a period, a hyphen, or any other mark or symbol. Your writing program will probably allow you to create a running head of this kind that appears automatically on every page. Some teachers prefer that no running head appear on the first page. Follow your teacher’s preference.
Placement of the List of Works Cited
The list of works cited appears at the end of the paper, after any endnotes. Begin the list on a new page. The list contains the same running head as the main text. The page numbering in the running head continues uninterrupted throughout. For example, if the text of your research paper (including any endnotes) ends on page 10, the works-cited list begins on page 11. Center the title, Works Cited, an inch from the top of the page (fig. 3). (If the list contains only one entry, make the heading Work Cited.) Double-space between the title and the first entry. Begin each entry flush with the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent line or lines half an inch from the left margin. This format is sometimes called hanging indention, and you can set your writing program to create it automatically for a group of paragraphs. Hanging indention makes alphabetical lists easier to use. Double-space the entire list. Continue it on as many pages as necessary.
Tables and Illustrations
Place tables and illustrations as close as possible to the parts of the text to which they relate. A table is usually labeled Table, given an arabic numeral, and titled. Type both label and title flush left on separate lines above the table, and capitalize them as titles (do not use all capital letters). Give the source of the table and any notes immediately below the table in a caption. To avoid confusion between notes to the text and notes to the table, designate notes to the table with lowercase letters rather than with numerals. Double-space throughout; use dividing lines as needed (fig. 4).
Any other type of illustrative visual material—for example, a photograph, map, line drawing, graph, or chart—should be labeled Figure (usually abbreviated Fig.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Fig. 1. Mary Cassatt, Mother and Child, Wichita Art Museum.” A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the illustration and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (fig. 5). If the caption of a table or illustration provides complete information about the source and the source is not cited in the text, no entry for the source in the works-cited list is necessary.
Musical illustrations are labeled Example (usually abbreviated Ex.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Ex. 1. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Symphony no. 6 in B, opus 74 (Pathétique), finale.” A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the example and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (fig. 6).
Paper and Printing
If you print your paper, use only white, 8½-by-11-inch paper of good quality. If you lack 8½-by-11-inch paper, choose the closest size available. Use a high-quality printer. Some instructors prefer papers printed on a single side because they’re easier to read, but others allow printing on both sides as a means of conserving paper; follow your instructor’s preference.
Corrections and Insertions on Printouts
Proofread and correct your research paper carefully before submitting it. If you are checking a printout and find a mistake, reopen the document, make the appropriate revisions, and reprint the corrected page or pages. Be sure to save the changed file. Spelling checkers and usage checkers are helpful when used with caution. They do not find all errors and sometimes label correct material as erroneous. If your instructor permits corrections on the printout, write them neatly and legibly in ink directly above the lines involved, using carets (⁁) to indicate where they go. Do not use the margins or write a change below the line it affects. If corrections on any page are numerous or substantial, revise your document and reprint the page.
Binding a Printed Paper
Pages of a printed research paper may get misplaced or lost if they are left unattached or merely folded down at a corner. Although a plastic folder or some other kind of binder may seem an attractive finishing touch, most instructors find such devices a nuisance in reading and commenting on students’ work. Many prefer that a paper be secured with a simple paper or binder clip, which can be easily removed and restored. Others prefer the use of staples.
There are at present no commonly accepted standards for the electronic submission of research papers. If you are asked to submit your paper electronically, obtain from your teacher guidelines for formatting, mode of submission (e.g., by e-mail, on a Web site), and so forth and follow them closely.
Designed to be printed out and used in the classroom. From the MLA Handbook, 8th ed., published by the Modern Language Association.
Surround yourself with people who support you. Find champions. Sarah Gavron
In a report or research paper, documentation is the evidence provided (in the form of endnotes, footnotes, and entries in bibliographies) for information and ideas borrowed from others. That evidence includes both primary sources and secondary sources.
There are numerous documentation styles and formats, including MLA style (used for research in the humanities), APA style (psychology, sociology, education), Chicago style (history), and ACS style (chemistry).
For more information about these different styles, see Choosing a Style Manual and Documentation Guide.
See Examples and Observations below. Also see:
Examples and Observations
- "Documentation has many meanings, from the broad--anything written in any medium--to the narrow--policies and procedures manuals or perhaps records."
(Adrienne Escoe, The Practical Guide to People-Friendly Documentation, 2nd. ed. ASQ Quality Press, 2001)
- "An issue more important than documentation form is knowing when to document. In brief, anything that is copied needs to be documented. . . .
"Perhaps the best tip for knowing when to document is to use common sense. If writers are careful to give credit where it is due and to provide the reader with easy access to all the source material, the text is probably documented appropriately."
(Kristin R. Woolever, About Writing: A Rhetoric for Advanced Writers. Wadsworth, 1991)
- Note-Taking and Documentation During the Research Process
"The most important thing to remember when you take notes from your sources is that you must clearly distinguish between quoted, paraphrased, and summarized material that must be documented in your paper and ideas that do not require documentation because they are considered general knowledge about that subject."
(Linda Smoak Schwartz, The Wadsworth Guide to MLA Documentation, 2nd ed. Wadsworth, 2011)
- Library Resources Versus Internet Resources
"When you are reviewing and analyzing your resources, keep in mind that the library/Internet distinction is not quite as simple as it might seem at first. The Internet is where students often turn when they are having difficulty getting started. Many instructors warn students against using Internet resources because they are easily alterable and because anyone can construct and publish a Web site. These points are important to remember, but it is essential to use clear evaluative criteria when you are looking at any resource. Print resources can be self-published as well. Analyzing how easily a resource is changed, how often it is changed, who changed it, who reviews it, and who is responsible for the content will help you choose resources that are reliable and credible, wherever you might find them."
(Susan K. Miller-Cochran and Rochelle L. Rodrigo, The Wadsworth Guide to Research, Documentation, rev. ed. Wadsworth, 2011)
- Parenthetical Documentation
You may decide to vary the pattern of documentation by presenting the information from a source and placing the author's name and page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. This method is particularly useful if you have already established the identity of your source in a previous sentence and now want to develop the author's idea in some detail without having to clutter your sentences with constant references to his or her name.
Writers have been persecuted throughout literary history (Morrison 2).(Joseph F. Trimmer, A Guide to MLA Documentation, 9th ed. Wadsworth, 2012)
Morrison, Toni. "Peril." Burn This Book. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
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Nordquist, Richard. "documentation (research)." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/documentation-in-research-1690405.
Nordquist, Richard. (2017, March 3). documentation (research). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/documentation-in-research-1690405
Nordquist, Richard. "documentation (research)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/documentation-in-research-1690405 (accessed March 26, 2018).