How to Write an Introduction to a Paper Using MLA Style.

MLA, or the Modern Language Association, has a distinct set of rules and guidelines for writing research papers. Most research papers that aren't scientific use the MLA format. Scientific papers most often use APA format instead. The main components of MLA format are the parenthetical citations included in the paper. However, there are some guidelines regarding each section of the paper, including the introduction. The introduction is the writer's chance to grab the attention of the audience. Or, if it's not well-done, it can lead to the moment when the reader will decide he has no interest in the paper.
  • Indent the first sentence of the introduction one "tab," which should be a half an inch from the left margin. Alternatively, you can press the "Space" bar five times.
  • Understand the overall purpose of an introduction. The introduction will introduce the general topic (thesis statement) to the reader and hook her so she will want to continue reading.
  • Decide which pieces of information need to be clarified in the introduction. It may be necessary to provide a small amount of historical background, define a concept that's central to your essay or introduce factual information that you will be expanding on.
    • Creatively introduce the topic. It's possible to present even boring facts in an interesting way. Common ways to write an introduction include asking the reader questions that will get them thinking; providing an interesting phrase or quote that relates to the paper; or telling a story or recounting an event.
    • Limit the introduction to one paragraph. While long works can have multi-paragraph introductions, shorter research essays typically have a one-paragraph introduction. If necessary, you can choose to expand the intro to two paragraphs. Just keep the intro as short and concise as possible.
    • Follow basic MLA page format guidelines. The research paper should be in 12-point Times New Roman type, double-spaced, on white, 8.5x11-inch paper. There should only be one space after periods and other punctuation marks and margins should be one inch on each side.


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