• How to setup your software
  • Sample MLA Paper – normal paper
  • Sample MLA Paper – has cover page
  • Sample APA Paper
  • Sample Chicago Paper
  • Sample CSE Paper
  • APA Format Guidelines

MLA Format Heading

This page contains guidelines on how to properly format the headings of your research paper using the MLA format.

1. The Opening Page:

On the opening page or the first page, you would include the whole heading and your paper’s title. The whole heading would include the following information:

  • Your Instructor’s Name
  • Your Class Information
  • Your Paper’s Due Date
  • Font: choose an easy to read font such as Times New Roman.
  • Font Size: set the font size to be twelve (12) throughout your research paper, including your paper’s title. Never set the font site larger than 12.
  • Margins: 1-inch for top/bottom/right/left throughout your paper.
  • Double-space: double-space throughout your paper. Don’t add extra spaces (besides double-space) between your headings, your title and your paragraphs.

Sample of the Opening Page:

mla heading of essay

A sample of the first page of your paper.

2. The Inner Pages:

For the pages that follow the first page, set the heading like this: instead of the whole heading, you would use the header feature on your word processing program and including the following information: Your Last Name and the Page Number.

Sample of the Inner Page:

mla heading of essay

Example of the heading for inner pages.

3. The Works Cited Page:

Every research paper must include a works cited page.

  • The works cited list is placed at the end of your paper, on a new page.
  • The heading for your works cited pages should be the same as the heading for your inner pages, which include your name and the page number at the top.
  • Enter the title as “ Works Cited ” and place this title 1-inch from the top of the page, see more details in the example illustration picture below.

Sample of the Works Cited Page:

MLA Format Works Cited

Example of the works cited page.

– MLA Handbook, 8th edition

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I have the following level 3 heading in my thesis:

Project management office and (pmo) metrics team.

Should the abbreviation pmo be in lower case as it is or should it be in upper case?

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So for the works cited page, you don’t need the name, teacher, date, and period heading at all?

No. It should only be on the first page of the essay.

This is some good stuff to know.

I have to write a paper for an application and they want it to be in MLA format. I don’t know how to do the heading because it’s not going to one teacher in particular and it is not for one class.

I don’t think you need a heading besides the “Last name-1” on the inner pages.

Hey Shannon. You might try “To Whom it may concern” or something like that. Don’t trust me on this because I am not for sure on that and if you did do this you might get it wrong and whoever might not accept your application. I hope you figure out how to do it and do great on that application! 😀 – Christopher

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  • The Format of the Research Paper
  • MLA Format Cover Page
  • MLA Format Headings
  • MLA Citations
  • MLA Format Works Cited
  • MLA Format FAQs
  • MLA Format Sample Paper
  • MLA Sample Paper w/ Cover and Outline Pages

HOW TO SETUP YOUR SOFTWARE

  • MLA Format using Google Docs
  • MLA Format Microsoft Word 2016
  • MLA Format using Pages on Mac

Copyright © 2011–2024 • MLA Format • All rights reserved. Currently, MLA is at its 8th edition. This website has no official relationship with the Modern Language Association and is not endorsed by the MLA.

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MLA Style Guide, 8th & 9th Editions: Formatting Your MLA Paper

  • Works Cited entries: What to Include
  • Title of source
  • Title of container
  • Contributors
  • Publication date
  • Supplemental Elements
  • Book with Personal Author(s)
  • Book with Organization as Author
  • Book with Editor(s)
  • Parts of Books
  • Government Publication
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Multivolume Works
  • Newspaper Article
  • Other Formats
  • Websites, Social Media, and Email
  • About In-text Citations
  • In-text Examples
  • How to Paraphrase and Quote
  • Citing Poetry
  • Formatting Your MLA Paper
  • Formatting Your Works Cited List
  • MLA Annotated Bibliography
  • MLA 9th Edition Quick Guide
  • Submit Your Paper for MLA Style Review

MLA recommends using 12-point Times New Roman font or another readable typeface (e.g. serif ).

Line Spacing & Margins

Use double-spacing throughout the entire paper.

Leave 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and each side.

Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch from the left margin.

Quotes longer than 4 lines should be written as a block of text a half an inch from the left margin.

Heading and Title

An MLA research paper does not need a title page, but your instructor may require one. If no instructions are given, follow the MLA guidelines below:

Type the following one inch from the top of the first page, flush with the left margin (double spacing throughout).

Your Instructor's Name

Course Number or Name

Center the title on the next line. Follow the rules for capitalization. Do not italicize, underline, or bold the title. An exception is when your title includes a title.  Example:  The Attitude toward Violence in A Clockwork Orange

Indent the next line and begin typing your text.

Include your last name and page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of every page. The page numbers will be one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. If your instructor prefers no page number on the first page, begin numbering from 2 on the second page.

Sample Papers from MLA

There are sample papers available in the MLA Style Center. Check them out to see the correct formatting.

Styling Headings and Subheadings

According to the MLA Style Center website, writers should avoid using headings in shorter papers. If you are writing a longer research paper, you may want to include headings and subheadings to help organize the sections of your paper. Advice from the MLA Style Center :

"Levels

The paper or chapter title is the first level of heading, and it must be the most prominent.

Headings should be styled in descending order of prominence. After the first level, the other headings are subheadings—that is, they are subordinate. Font styling and size are used to signal prominence. In general, a boldface, larger font indicates prominence; a smaller font, italics, and lack of bold can be used to signal subordination. For readability, don’t go overboard: avoid using all capital letters for headings (in some cases, small capitals may be acceptable):

Heading Level 1

Heading Level 2

Heading Level 3

Note that word-processing software often has built-in heading styles.

Consistency

Consistency in the styling of headings and subheadings is key to signaling to readers the structure of a research project. That is, each level 1 heading should appear in the same style and size, as should each level 2 heading, and so on. Generally, avoid numbers and letters to designate heads unless you are working in a discipline where doing so is conventional. Note that a heading labeled “1” requires a subsequent heading labeled “2,” and a heading labeled “a” requires a subsequent heading labeled “b.” 

In a project that is not professionally designed and published, headings should be flush with the left margin, to avoid confusion with block quotations. (The exception is the paper or chapter title, which is centered in MLA style.)

For readability, it is helpful to include a line space above and below a heading, as shown in this post.

No internal heading level should have only one instance. For example, if you have one level 1 heading, you need to have a second level 1 heading. (The exceptions are the paper or chapter title and the headings for notes and the list of works cited.) You should also generally have text under each heading.

Capitalization

Capitalize headings like the titles of works, as explained in section 1.2 of the MLA Handbook.

The shorter, the better."

Modern Language Association. "How Do I Style Headings and Subheadings in a Research Paper?" MLA Style Center., 13 December 2018,  style.mla.org/styling-headings-and-subheadings .

MLA Style Paper Template

  • MLA 9th Edition Paper Template This template was created and saved as a Word template for Microsoft Word 2016. The process for saving and using the template is the same for the instructions given above for 2013.

You can save a personal template in Microsoft Word (IRSC students, download Office for free, see a librarian if you need help). Above is a template you can use every time you need to set-up a research paper using MLA style format. Simply open the template and type your own information every time you need to write an MLA style paper. Microsoft Word will allow you to save personal templates. Once you have the template opened in Word

Click "Save as"

Give the file a name

Under "Save as type", select Word Template

mla heading of essay

Then when you open Word, you will be able to choose a template rather than a blank document. You might have to select Personal to find your template.

mla heading of essay

Sample MLA Paper

MLA 8th Edition Paper Formatting

How to Use the MLA Style Template

Formatting Group Project Papers

For a research paper written collaboratively by several students, such as for a group project, create a title page instead of listing all authors in the header on page 1 of the essay. On the title page, list each student's full name, placing one name on each double-spaced line. After the final student name, enter the professor's name. After the professor's name, give the course name. The last line of the heading will be the date in 5 August 2021 format. Press Enter a few times to move down the page then give the paper title, centered.

MLA 9th Group Research Project Title Page Example

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MLA Format: The Ultimate Guide to Correctly Formatting Your Paper

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Hannah Yang

the ultimate guide to MLA headings cover

So you need to create an MLA heading? You’re not alone—MLA format is one of the most common styles you’ll be expected to use when you’re writing a humanities paper, whether you’re a high-school student or a PhD candidate.

Read on to learn what a correct MLA heading looks like and how to create one that works like magic.

What Is an MLA Heading?

How do you format an mla heading, what is an mla header, how do you format an mla header, headings are only the beginning, commonly asked questions about mla headers, final thoughts.

The term “MLA heading” refers to five lines of important information that appear at the top of the first page.

Here are two examples of what an MLA heading could look like:

Hermione Granger

Professor McGonagall

Transfiguration—6th period

18 October 1991

“How to Turn A Matchstick into a Needle”

MLA heading set out in Word

Harry J. Potter

Prof. Remus Lupin

Defense Against the Dark Arts

4 March 1994

“Why I Think My Professor Is a Werewolf”

Why are these headings important? Well, your teacher probably collects hundreds of papers every year. If any identifying information is missing from these assignments, grading and organizing them becomes much more of a challenge.

MLA headings ensure that all key information is presented upfront. With just a glance at the first page, your teacher can easily figure out who wrote this paper, when it was submitted, and which class it was written for.

essay heading tip: save your heading as a template

What Are the Parts of an MLA Heading?

An MLA heading should include:

  • Your instructor’s name
  • The name of the class
  • The date the assignment is due
  • The title of your paper

Your instructor may give you specific guidelines about how much detail to include in each line. For example, some teachers may ask you to refer to them by their titles, while others may ask you to use their full names. If you haven’t been given any specific instructions, don’t sweat it—any option is fine as long as it’s clear and consistent.

Follow these formatting rules for your MLA heading:

  • Start each piece of information on a separate line
  • Don’t use any periods, commas, or other punctuation at the end of the line
  • Keep the heading double-spaced, in the same font as the rest of your paper
  • Left-align the first four lines (they should start at the 1-inch margin on the left side of your paper)
  • Center the title (it should appear in the middle of your paper)
  • Make sure your title is in title case

Title case means that major words should be capitalized and minor words should be lowercase. Major words include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and any word longer than four letters. Minor words include conjunctions, prepositions, and articles.

Tip: Remember that Hermione’s “Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare” shortens to S.P.E.W., not S.F.T.P.O.E.W—only the major words are capitalized!

graphic of the SPEW acronym highlighting major words

The MLA heading should only appear on the first page of your paper . But wait, you’re not done yet! In the rest of your paper, you need to include something called an MLA header at the top right corner of every page.

Think of the MLA header as a short, simple “You are here” marker that shows the reader where they are in the paper. By looking at the MLA headers, your instructor can easily understand where each page goes and which paper it belongs to.

What Are the Parts of an MLA Header?

The MLA header consists of your last name and page number.

For example, the second page of Hermione Granger’s essays would be labeled “Granger 2”, the third would be labeled “Granger 3”, and so on.

MLA headings in Word

Creating MLA Headers in Microsoft Word

If you’re writing your paper in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:

  • Click Insert
  • Scroll down to Page Numbers and click on it
  • Set the position to “Top of Page (Header)”
  • Set the alignment to “Right”
  • Make sure there’s no checkmark in the box for “Show number on first page”
  • Click on the page number and type your last name before the number
  • Set your font and font size to match the rest of your paper, if they don’t already

Creating MLA Headers in Google Docs

If you’re writing your paper in Google Docs, follow these steps:

  • Scroll down to Page Numbers and hover over it
  • Choose the option that sets your page number in the upper right corner
  • Set your font and type size to match the rest of your paper, if they don’t already

Tip: After you create your first MLA header, save a template document for yourself that you can re-use next time, so you don’t have to follow these steps every time you write a paper!

Once you've got your headings sorted, it's time to start writing your paper. While we can't help you edit the content of your essay , ProWritingAid is here to make sure your grammar, spelling, and style is on point.

As well as checking your grammar, ProWritingAid also shows you your progress towards key goals like varied sentence structure, active voice, readability, and more. The target scores are all based on averages for real essays, so you'll always know if you're on track.

screenshot of essay writing goals in prowritingaid software

Ready to start receiving feedback before you submit your work?

Whose last name should you use in your MLA header if you’re writing a group paper?

The MLA Style Guide has no specific guidelines for group projects. You should always include the names of all members of the group project in the first line of your heading, but you don’t necessarily need to do this for the header on every page.

If there are only two or three authors collaborating on your paper, you can include all of your last names in the MLA header, e.g., “Granger, Potter, and Weasley 2.”

If you’re part of a bigger group and it would take up too much space to include all of your last names, you can write the name that comes first in the alphabet and then add “ et al. ”, e.g., “Granger et al. 2.” (The term “et al.” is short for the Latin term “et alia”, which means “and others.” You’ll often see it used in academic papers with multiple authors.)

example of a heading for a larger group project

Should you include your class period in your MLA heading or just the class name?

There’s no MLA rule about this, but when in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of including too much information in your heading rather than not enough.

If your instructor teaches more than one version of the same course, they’ll probably find it helpful if you specify the class period you’re in. You can either include your class period after the class name, e.g., “History of Magic—2nd period”, or before the class name, e.g., “2nd Period History of Magic.”

What should you write in your MLA heading if you don’t have an instructor?

If you have no instructor, you can explain the situation in the line where you would normally put the instructor’s name, e.g., “Independent Study” or “No Instructor.”

What should you write in your MLA heading if you have multiple instructors?

If you have multiple instructors, you can include both of their names in the line where you would put the instructor’s name. If you’re in a college course where you have a professor and a TA, you should choose whose name to include in the header depending on who will ultimately be reading your paper.

no instructor vs. multiple instructors

Should you include the date you started writing the paper or the date the paper is due?

The MLA Style Guide has no specific guidelines about which date you need to put in the heading. In general, however, the best practice is to put the date the assignment is due.

This is because all the papers for the same assignment will have the same due date, even if different students begin writing their assignments on different days, so it’s easier for your instructor to use the due date to determine what assignment the paper is for.

Should you format the date as Day Month Year or Month Day Year?

In MLA format, you should write the date in the order of Day Month Year. Instead of writing May 31 2021, for example, you would write 31 May 2021.

What font should you use for your MLA heading and header?

Both the heading and the header should be in the same font as the rest of your paper. If you haven’t chosen a font for your paper yet, remember that the key thing to aim for is readability. If you choose a font where your teachers have to squint to read it, or one where your teachers can’t figure out the difference between what’s italicized and what isn’t, you should rethink your choice.

When in doubt, go with Times New Roman, 12 pt. It’s always a safe bet for MLA papers unless your instructor specifically tells you otherwise.

font comparison to show easier and more difficult-to-read fonts

Do you need to italicize or bold the title of your MLA paper?

No. There’s no need to use any special styling on the title of an MLA paper, such as bold or italics.

How do you format section titles in your MLA paper?

If you’re writing a paper with multiple sections, you may need to include a subtitle at the top of each section.

The MLA Style Guide gives you two options for using subtitles in a paper: one-level section titles or several-level subtitles (for papers with subsections within each section).

For one-level section titles, the formatting is simple. Every subtitle should look the same as the title (centered and double-spaced, with no special formatting).

one level section title examples

The only difference is that instead of using title case, you should capitalize only the first word of each subtitle. For example, a title would be spelled “How to Turn a Matchstick into a Needle”, while a subtitle would be spelled “How to turn a matchstick into a needle.”

For several-level subtitles, you will need to format each level in a different way to show which level each section is at. You can use boldface, italics, and underlining to differentiate between levels. For example, subtitles at the highest level should be bolded, while subtitles at the next level down should be italicized.

See the chart below for MLA’s suggested formats.

three different formats to denote different subtitle levels

What is the difference between MLA format and APA format?

MLA and APA are two sets of guidelines for formatting papers and citing research.

MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. The MLA handbook is most often used in fields related to the humanities, such as literature, history, and philosophy.

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. The APA format is most often used in fields related to the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and nursing.

The APA manual includes a heading format similar to the MLA heading format with a few key differences, such as using a separate cover page instead of simply including the heading at the top of the first page. Both heading formats ensure that all of your papers include all your key identifying information in a clear and consistent way.

consult the MLA handbook if you're unsure

Where can you learn more about MLA style?

If you have questions about how to format a specific assignment or paper, it’s always best to consult your instructor first. Your school may also have a writing center that can help you with formatting questions.

In addition, Purdue has fantastic resources for all kinds of formatting topics, from MLA headings to MLA citations and everything in between.

If you would like to find out more directly from the Modern Language Association, consult the MLA Style Center or the MLA Handbook (8th edition).

Now you’re ready to write an MLA paper with a fantastic heading. Make sure your essay does your heading justice by checking it over with ProWritingAid.

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Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on hannahyang.com, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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MLA 9th Edition Formatting

A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide + Free Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | July 2023

Formatting your paper in MLA style can feel like a pretty daunting task . In this post, we’ll show you exactly how to set up your paper for MLA (9th edition), as quickly and easily as possible. We’ll also share our popular free MLA template , to help you fast-track your writing.

Overview: MLA 9th Edition Formatting

  • Structure and layout
  • General page setup
  • The opening section
  • The main body
  • Works cited (reference list)
  • Free MLA 9 template

MLA Structure and Layout

Let’s start by looking at the overall structure of a typical student paper formatted for MLA 9th edition, before diving into the details of each section. For the most part, MLA papers follow a standardised structure, consisting of the following parts:

The opening section : While MLA doesn’t require a dedicated title page (unlike APA ), it does require an opening section that details some important information about yourself, your university and the paper itself.

The main body : The main body begins directly after the opening section on the first page. This is the “heart” of your paper and there are a very specific requirements regarding how you present and format this content.

The appendix (or appendices):  While using an appendix in a student paper is relatively uncommon, you’ll place this section directly after the main body section, if required by your university.

The “Works Cited” list : This section is equivalent to what we’d usually call a references page and it’s where you’ll detail all the reference information corresponding to the in-text citations in the main body of your paper.

These four sections form the standard structure and order of a student paper using MLA 9th edition. As we mentioned, not all sections are always required , so be sure to double check what your university expects from you before submitting. Also, it’s always a good idea to ask your university if they have any  style requirements in addition to the standard MLA specification.

Now that we’ve got a big-picture view of the typical paper structure, let’s look at the specific formatting requirements for each of these sections.

Generic Page Setup

Before you jump into writing up your paper, you’ll first need to set up your document to align with MLA’s generic page requirements. Alternatively, you can download our MLA paper template (which comes fully preformatted).

MLA 9th edition requires a 1-inch margin on all sides , for all pages. That said, if you’re writing a dissertation, thesis or any document that will ultimately be printed and bound, your university will likely require a larger left margin to accommodate for physical binding.

Fonts & sizing

MLA does not require that you use any specific font, but we do recommend sticking to the tried and tested , well-accepted fonts. For example, you might consider using one of the following:

  • Sans serif fonts : Calibri (11), Arial (11), or Lucida Sans Unicode (10)
  • Serif fonts : Times New Roman (12), Georgia (11), or Computer Modern (10)

Whichever font you opt for, be sure to use it consistently throughout your paper . Don’t chop and change, or use different fonts for different parts of the document (e.g., different fonts for the body text and the headings). Also, keep in mind that while MLA does not have a specific font requirement, your university may have its own preference or requirement. So, be sure to check with them beforehand regarding any additional specifications they may have.

In general, all text throughout your document needs to be left-aligned and should not be justified (i.e., leave an uneven right edge). You might consider using a different alignment for section headings, but in general, it’s best to keep things simple .

Line spacing

MLA 9th edition requires double line spacing throughout the document . There should also be no extra space before and after paragraphs . This applies to all sections of the paper, including the “Works Cited” page (more on this later).

Page header

Last but not least, you’ll need to set up a running header for your document. This should contain your last name, followed by the page number. Both of these should be positioned in the top right corner of all pages (even the first page). On a related note, there’s no need for you to include any footer content unless your university specifically requests it.

Now that we’ve looked at the generic formatting considerations, let’s dive into the specific requirements for each section of your paper.

The Opening Section

While MLA-formatted papers typically don’t require a title page, there are very specific requirements regarding the opening section of the first page .

Here’s how you can set your first page up for MLA 9th edition.

  • On the first line, write your full name (flush left)
  • On a new line, write your professor or instructor’s full name
  • On a new line, write the course code and course name
  • On a new line, write the full date spelt out (e.g., 15 June 2023)
  • On a new line, write the full title of your paper , centre-aligned and using title case (consider using a title case converter if you’re not familiar with this)
  • On a new line, begin your body content

All of the above should be in plain, unformatted font – in other words, you don’t need to apply any boldfacing, underlining , etc. That said, you should use italics whenever you’re writing out the titles of other works (for example, titles of books or articles).

To make it all a little more tangible, below is an example of a first page formatted according to the MLA specifications that we just covered.

An example of the opening section of a paper formatted for MLA 9

The Main Body

While the formatting requirements for the body section are relatively light for MLA (at least when compared to APA ), there are still quite a few important things to pay attention to. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Each of your paragraphs needs to start on a new line , and the first sentence of each paragraph requires a half-inch indent (while the rest of the paragraph is flush left aligned). Note that each paragraph simply starts on a new line and doesn’t require an additional blank line.

MLA 9th edition is fairly flexible in terms of heading formatting. There is no specified formatting, so you can decide what works best for you. However, there are still a few basic rules you need to follow:

  • All your headings should be written in title case – never use all caps
  • There should be no period following a heading
  • Each heading level needs to be uniquely formatted and easily distinguishable from other levels (for example, a distinct difference in terms of boldfacing, underlining or italicisation)
  • You can have as many heading levels as you need, but each level must have at least two instances

Abbreviations

When using abbreviations, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the MLA version of the abbreviation . Below we’ve listed a few common ones you should be aware of:

  • Appendix: app.
  • Circa: c. or ca.
  • Chapter: ch.
  • Column: col.
  • Definition: def.
  • Department: dept.
  • Example: e.g.
  • Edition: ed.
  • Figure: fig.
  • Foreword: fwd.
  • That is: i.e.
  • Journal: jour.
  • Library: lib.
  • Manuscript(s): MS
  • Number: no.
  • Quoted in: qtd. in
  • Revised: rev.
  • Section: sec. or sect.
  • Series: ser.
  • Translation: trans.
  • Version: vers.
  • Variant: var.
  • Volume: vol.

If you’re interested, you can find a more comprehensive list here . Alternatively, if you have access to the MLA 9th edition handbook, you can find the full list in the first appendix.

APA 7 editing

In-text citations

MLA 9 has a very specific set of requirements regarding how to cite your sources within the body of your paper. Here are some of the most important things to help you get started with MLA citations.

Author-page number system: in-text citations consist of (at a minimum) the lead author’s last name, followed by the page number of the paragraph you are citing. There is no comma between the two components (only a space).

Types of citations: MLA allows two types of in-text citations: parenthetical and narrative . Parenthetical citations feature the author and page number in parentheses (brackets) at the end of the respective sentence. Here’s an example:

MLA 9th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen 13).

Narrative citations, on the other hand, weave the author’s name into the flow of the sentence and then present the publication date in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:

Jansen states that MLA 9th edition is easy for students to grasp if they visit the Grad Coach blog (13).

In general, it’s a good idea to utilise a mix of both in your writing. Narrative citations are particularly useful when you want to highlight or contrast authors or their viewpoints, while parenthetical citations are useful when you want to strengthen your own academic voice. In other words, both formats have their respective strengths and weaknesses, so try to use citation format strategically in your writing.

Quotations: when quoting text verbatim from a source, there is no need to do anything differently in terms of the citation itself, but do remember to wrap the verbatim text in quotation marks. Here’s an example:

Jansen proposes that MLA 9th edition is “easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog” (13).

Multiple authors: when citing resources that were authored by three or more people, you only need to list the lead author, followed by “et al.”. Here’s an example:

MLA 9th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen et al. 13).

 Below are a few more examples from our free MLA template .

Example of MLA in-text citations

Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all the MLA 9th edition citation-related requirements – just a shortlist of the most commonly relevant ones. If you’d like to learn more, consult the MLA handbook .

The Works Cited (Reference List)

The final section that you’ll need to pay close attention to is the “Works Cited” page, which should contain a list of reference information for all the sources cited in the body of the paper. Again, MLA has a quite a meaty set of specifications regarding the content and formatting of this list, but we’ll cover the basics here to get your started on the right foot. 

Basic setup

Your reference list needs to start on a new page and should be titled “Works Cited”. The title should be unformatted and centred . The reference list should then start on the next line. As with the rest of your document, you should use double line spacing throughout.

When it comes to the reference list itself, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:

  • All the sources that you cited in the body of your document should feature in the reference list. Make sure that every citation is accounted for .
  • The references should be ordered alphabetically , according to the lead author’s last name .
  • The exact information required within each entry depends on the type of content being referenced (e.g., a journal article, web page, etc.)
  • Components that may need to feature (other than the author) include the title of the source, the title of the container, other contributors, the article version or number, the publisher, the publication date, and the location.
  • All references should be left-aligned and should use a hanging indent – i.e., the second line of any given reference (if it has one) should be indented a half inch.

We have to stress that these are just the basics. MLA 9th edition requires that your references be structured and formatted in a very specific way , depending on the type of resource. If you plan to draft your reference list manually, it’s important to consult your university’s style guide or the MLA manual itself. This leads us to our next point…

In general, it’s a bad idea to write your reference list manually . Given the incredibly high level of intricacy involved, it’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes if you try to craft this section yourself. A better solution is to use (free) reference management software such as Mendeley or Zotero . Either of these will take care of the formatting and content for you, and they’ll do a much more accurate job of it too. 

If you’re not familiar with any sort of reference management software, be sure to check out our easy-to-follow Mendeley explainer video below.

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve provided a primer covering how to format your paper according to MLA 9th edition. To recap, we’ve looked at the following:

  • The structure and layout
  • The general page setup
  • The “Works Cited” page (reference list)

Remember to always check your university’s style guide to familiarise yourself with any additional requirements they may. Also, if your university has specified anything that contrasts what we’ve discussed here, please do follow their guidance . 

If you need any help formatting your paper for MLA 9, take a look at our “done for you” language editing and proofreading service . Simply send us your document and we’ll take care of all the MLA formatting intracies on your behalf. 

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The MLA Style Center

What is mla style.

Building confidence in the information and ideas we share with one another is perhaps more important today than ever before, and for nearly a century it has been the driving principle behind MLA style, a set of standards for writing and documentation used by writers to find and evaluate information, alert their audience to the trustworthiness of their findings through citation, and shape the expression of their ideas in conversation with others. 

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MLA Handbook , 9th Edition

The ninth edition of the MLA Handbook , published in spring 2021, builds on the MLA's unique approach to documenting sources using a template of core elements—facts common to most sources, like author, title, and publication date—that allows writers to cite any type of work, from books, e-books, and journal articles in databases to song lyrics, online images, social media posts, dissertations, and more. With this focus on source evaluation as the cornerstone of citation, MLA style promotes the skills of information and digital literacy so crucial today. The new edition offers

  • New chapters on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, numbers, italics, abbreviations, and principles of inclusive language
  • Guidelines on setting up research papers in MLA format with updated advice on headings, lists, and title pages for group projects
  • Revised, comprehensive, step-by-step instructions for creating a list of works cited in MLA format that are easier to learn and use than ever before
  • A new appendix with hundreds of example works-cited-list entries by publication format, including websites, YouTube videos, interviews, and more
  • Detailed examples of how to find publication information for a variety of sources
  • Newly revised explanations of in-text citations, including comprehensive advice on how to cite multiple authors of a single work
  • Detailed guidance on using notes in MLA style
  • Instructions on quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, and avoiding plagiarism
  • Annotated bibliography examples
  • Numbered sections throughout for quick navigation
  • Advanced tips for professional writers and scholars

The MLA Style Center offers free online resources on MLA style, including an interactive MLA format template, answers to common questions on Ask the MLA, advice from the MLA editors, and more. Get updates by signing up for The Source newsletter, and follow us on Twitter @MLAstyle .

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MLA Format Guide - 9th edition

  • Essay Formatting

How to Create a Header

  • To add your header, either double-click in the top inch of the page or select the "Insert" tab in Microsoft Word, navigate to the "Header & Footer" section, select "Header," and click the first option titled "Blank."
  • When editing your header, navigate to the "Design" tab and check the box beside "Different First Page" as every heading after your first page should only include the page number. 
  • Still in the design tab under the "Header & Footer" section, select "Page Number." In the drop-down box, select the first option, labeled "Top of Page," then select the third option labeled "Plain Number 3." Add your last name in front of the page number, and change the font settings to match that of the rest of your paper.
  • On the next line, set the text alignment to align your text to the left side of the page (under the "Paragraph" section of the "Home" tab) and on four different lines type your first and last name, your instructor's name, the course the assignment is for, and the date in the format DD Month YYYY.
  • On the next line, center the text (under the "Paragraph" section of the "Home" tab) and type the title of your paper.

An example of an MLA formatted header is included below.

"example of an MLA formatted header"

How to Create a Works Cited Page

You can create your Works Cited page before, during, or after you write your essay. If you do not create it before, be sure to document the sources you used, including any website links, so you can go back and create your citations later. Citation format will be discussed in a later section, but this section will detail how to create a Works Cited Page.

  • At the end of your essay, insert a page break (found under the "Insert" tab) and center the words "Works Cited" at the top of your page (not in the header). If there is only one source being cited, type "Work Cited".
  • Insert your citations in alphabetical order in the subsequent lines. Make sure they are left aligned.
  • If your citation is more than one line, apply the hanging indent feature to everything after the first line for each individual entry. You can do this by selecting the second line of the entry, navigating to the "Home" tab in Microsoft Word, selecting the arrow at the bottom right in the "Paragraph" section to open up the "Paragraph Settings" box, and under the "Indentation" section, select the drop-down box labeled "Special," and choose "Hanging". This will move everything but the first line of your citation slightly to the right.

"example Works Cited page"

Other essay formatting notes

When formatting your essay, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Use the correct font as listed under the "Home" tab of this guide. Double-space your text, use 12 pt font, and use a legible font style, such as Times New Roman, Ariel, Calibri, etc., ensuring that the regular and italic font styles are distinct.
  • After the first page, only include your last name and the page number in the top right corner of the header.
  • Change the paragraph options to remove space before and after all paragraphs. Select the entire essay (you can use the Ctrl + A feature), and in the "Paragraph" section of the "Home" tab, select the drop-down arrow where you can adjust the line spacing and make sure both selections at the bottom of the drop-down box read "Add Space Before Paragraph" and "Add Space After Paragraph". If they say "Remove Space Before Paragraph" and/or "Remove Space After Paragraph," click to remove the space.
  • On the last page, include a Works Cited page with your citations listed in alphabetical order.
  • Last Updated: Oct 13, 2023 9:40 AM
  • URL: https://uaccm.libguides.com/what_is_MLA_style

Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format

MLA Format: Everything You Need to Know Here

Welcome to an overview of “What is MLA Format?” in relation to paper formatting. You’ll find in-depth guidelines, examples, and visual samples to help you easily format your paper. This guide does not serve as a reference for MLA citation format.

For help determining the proper structure for citing, refer to the other guides on EasyBib.com. Here is another informative site which may help with further understanding of MLA citation format.

Guidelines for Formatting a Paper in MLA

  • Use white 8 ½  x 11” paper.
  • Make 1 inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.
  • The first word in every paragraph should be indented one half inch.
  • Indent set-off or block quotations one half inch from the left margin.
  • Use any type of font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman. Make sure that italics look different from the regular typeface.
  • Use 12-point size.
  • Double space the entire research paper, even the Works Cited page.
  • Leave one space after periods and other punctuation marks, unless your instructor tells you to leave two spaces.

These guidelines come from the MLA Style Center’s web page “Formatting a Research Paper.”

MLA Guide Overview

There are various sections in this guide. Each section provides an in-depth overview of the different components to keep in mind when developing an MLA paper.

This guide includes the following sections:

  • Format background
  • General paper formatting
  • MLA heading format & title page instructions
  • Running head & page numbers
  • Paraphrases
  • Abbreviations
  • Numbers (includes the use of numbers in MLA outline format)
  • Images, tables, and musical scores
  • MLA works cited format
  • MLA citation format (for in-depth citation rules visit this MLA citation guide or MLA in-text citation guide)
  • Edits & proofreading

If you need more guidance, a website like EasyBib.com usually has guides and tools to help you out. There’s also resources on other styles, like our guide on “ APA reference page ”, otherwise known as a “References” page.

MLA Format Background

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization responsible for developing MLA format. It was developed as a means for researchers, students, and scholars in the literature and language fields to uniformly format their papers and assignments. This uniform, or consistent, method to developing a paper or assignment allows for easy reading. Today, MLA is not only used in literature and language subject areas; many others have adopted it as well.

The Modern Language Association released the 9th and most current edition of their MLA Handbook in April 2021. The Handbook provides thorough instructions on citing, as well as guidelines for submitting work that adheres to the Modern Language Association’s rules and standards. Although we’re not affiliated with the MLA, our citation specialists bring you this thoughtful and informative guide on the format.

Looking for information about previous editions to the Handbook ? Want to learn more about the origin of “What is MLA format?” Click here to learn about the previous editions to the Handbook .

Actually, are you looking for help on using another style? See how to cite an APA journal , learn to create an APA book citation , and more!

Formatting the Header in MLA

To create a header for your first page, follow these steps:

  • Begin one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin.
  • Type your name, your instructor’s name, the course name and number, and the date on separate lines, using double spaces between each.
  • Double space once more and center the title. Do NOT underline, bold, or type the title in all capital letters. Only italicize words that would normally be italicized in the text. Example: Character Development in The Great Gatsby
  • Do not place a period after the title or after any headings
  • Double space between the title and first lines of the text

MLA Formating Paper

General Paper Formatting

Paper choice.

While many professors, instructors, and publications allow electronic submission, some prefer printed, hard copies of papers. This section focuses on the type of paper to use for printed submission.

If you choose to print your paper, use white paper only. Do not use ivory, off-white, or any other shades or colors.

Choose a standard, high quality paper to print your project on. Do not use cardstock. It is not necessary to use resum é paper. Use typical, high quality printer or copy paper.

When it comes to size, 8 ½-by-11-inch paper is the recommended size. If you’d like to use a different size, ask your teacher prior to submission.

Use One-Inch Margins in MLA

Use one-inch margins around the entire page. The running head should be the only item seen in the one inch margin (see below for more on running heads).

Most word processing programs automatically default to using one inch margins. Check the page settings section of the program to locate the margin size.

Indenting Paragraphs in MLA

Indent the first word in every paragraph. Sentences should begin one half inch from the left margin.

It is not necessary to manually measure half an inch. Use the “tab” button on the keyboard to create a half inch space.

Double Space Paragraphs in MLA

MLA research paper format requires that the entire research paper or MLA format essay includes double-spaced lines. Double-spaced lines should be found in between the written body of the work, in the heading, and also on the MLA reference page.

While it may seem tempting to place a few extra lines between the heading, title, and beginning of the paper, lines should all be double spaced.

Font and Font Size in MLA

In an MLA paper, it is acceptable to use any font type that is easy to read. Many source types, such as books and articles, use fonts that are easy to read, so if you’re seeking an appropriate font style, look at other sources for guidance. Two of the most commonly used fonts are Arial and Times New Roman.

It is important for the reader to be able to distinguish the difference between italicized and regular font, so if you choose a font style different than Arial or Times New Roman, make sure the difference between the two type styles is evident.

The use of a 12-point font size is recommended as this is the default size for many word processing programs. It is acceptable to use another standard size, such as 11-point or 11.5-point.

Some professors or instructors will provide guidance on how to secure hard copies of projects. If your instructor does not provide you with any expectations or guidance, a simple staple in the top left corner should suffice. If a stapler is not available, some instructors allow paper or binder clips.

Do not fold the top left corner down to secure the pages together. The page could easily unfold, causing a mess of papers. While binders and plastic holders are cute, in reality, they add bulk to a professor or instructor who may like to take the papers home for grading purposes. Keep the binding simple and clean. Staples work best, and binder and paper clips are the next best option.

As always, follow any instructions your professor or teacher may provide. The guidelines found here are simply recommendations.

MLA Heading & Title Page Instructions

The web page “Formatting a Research Paper” gives two options when it comes to creating the header for your project:

  • An MLA format heading can be placed at the top of the first page
  • A title page can grace the front of the assignment. If you choose to create a title page, keep in mind that there aren’t any official title page or cover page guidelines in MLA format. See more information below.

If choosing option one, creating an MLA heading, you’ll need to include four main components:

  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s name
  • The name and number of the course or class
  • The assignment’s due date

The first item typed on the paper should be your full name.

  • Position your name one inch from the top and left margins of the page.
  • Add a double space beneath your name, and type the name of your instructor.
  • Below the professor or instructor’s name should be a double space, followed by the name of the course, class, or section number (if available).
  • Below it, include another double space and add the assignment’s due date (Day Month Year).

Here’s an example:

mla heading of essay

The assignment’s title should be placed below the due date, after a double space. Align the title so it sits in the center of the MLA format paper. The title should be written in standard lettering, without underlines, bold font, italicized font, or any quotation marks. Only include italics or quotation marks if your title includes the title of another source.

Here is an example of an MLA header for an MLA format essay, paper, or assignment:

Neal E. Bibdarsh

Professor Haujeemoto

English 201

The Trials and Tribulations of Lincoln’s Reciting of “The Gettysburg Address”

*Note: The quotation marks here are around the title of a speech included in the paper’s title.

Most research papers use a standard MLA format heading, like the one seen above. If your instructor requires you to create a standalone title page, ask him or her for specifications. MLA does not have specific instructions for developing an MLA title page. We recommend you use an MLA header for your project.

If your teacher or professor requires a standalone title page, but has not provided any guidance or specifications, here are a few suggestions from EasyBib.com and this MLA guide :

  • Center and double space all of the text on your page.
  • Place the name of your school at the top of the page.
  • Skip down to about the center of the page and type the title of your paper. Do not bold the title, italicize the entire title, place quotation marks around it, or type the title out in capital letters.
  • Use italics for the titles of any sources in the title of your paper. Example: An Analysis of Mythical Creatures in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • first letter of the title
  • first letter of the last word
  • first letter of any adjectives, adverbs, nouns, pronouns, and verbs
  • If your paper has a subtitle, include on the next line below your title.
  • Skip down to the bottom third of the page and add your name, the the name of your instructor, the name/number of the course or class, and the assignment’s due date on four separate lines.
  • Keep the font size at 12 pt., or a size close to it, to make it look professional.
  • Use the same font as the text of the paper. The Modern Language Association recommends any font that is easy to read and has a clear distinction between italics and standard font. Times New Roman and Arial are recommended, but many other fonts work as well.
  • Include a page number in the top right corner of the paper. For more information on how to style page numbers, check out the next section, “Running Head and Page Numbers.”
  • We do not recommend adding any images or cover art to the title page. 

Click  additional information about essays to see an example of a formatted header.

You can either create a title page using the EasyBib Title Page creator or omit the title page completely and use a header.

mla heading of essay

Running Head & Page Numbers in MLA

A running head is a brief heading that is placed in the top right corner of every page in a project. The Modern Language Association Style Center (online) states that the running head consists of:

  • Last name of the paper’s author
  • Page number

General tips to keep in mind:

  • The running head is placed in the upper right-hand corner, half an inch from the top margin and one inch from the right margin of the page.
  • Type your last name before the page number.
  • The last name and page number should be separated by a single space.
  • Do not place the word “page” or use an abbreviation, such as p. or pg., before the page number.
  • Quite often, the running head begins on the second page, but your instructor may ask you to include the running head on the first page of the assignment. As always, if your instructor provides you with specific directions, follow his or her guidelines.

APA formatting page number

Before adding this information manually onto every single page, check to see if the word processor you’re using has the capability to automatically add this information for you. Try looking in the settings area where page numbers or headers can be added or modified.

Google Docs: Adding a header

  • Go to the menu section “Insert.”
  • Select “Page numbers” and select the option that places the page number in the upper-right corner.
  • A page number will appear; your cursor will blink next to it.
  • Move your cursor to the left of the page number.
  • Type your last name. Add a space between your name and the page number.
  • You should now have a properly formatted header on every page!

Microsoft Word Document: Adding a header

  • Double-click in the space at the top of the page (where the page number is).
  • OR Go to the “Insert” menu, select “Header,” and select “Edit Header.”
  • Type your last name next to page number. If it isn’t already right-aligned, go to the “Home” menu and right-align your name.

Quotations in MLA

Quotes are added into assignments to help defend an argument, prove a point, add emphasis, or simply liven up a project.

Quotes should not take up the majority of your paper or assignment. Quotes should be sprinkled sparingly throughout, and quotes longer than 4 lines should be formatted as MLA block quotes . Use direct quotes from outside sources to enhance and expand on your own writing and ideas.

Words from quotes belong to the individual who spoke or wrote them, so it is essential to credit that individual’s work. Credit him or her by adding what is called an “in-text citation” into the body of the project.

There are three ways to add quotes: 1. With the author’s name in the sentence (a citation in prose).

Dan Gutman shares a glimpse into the overall plot by stating, “I didn’t know it at the time, but a baseball card—for me—could function like a time machine” (5).

In the above example, Dan Gutman is the author of the book that this quote is pulled from.

2. Without the author’s name in the sentence (a parenthetical citation).

The main character’s confusing experience is realized and explained when he states “I didn’t know it at the time, but a baseball card—for me—could function like a time machine” (Gutman 5).

In the above example, Dan Gutman’s name isn’t included in the sentence. It’s included in the parentheses at the end of the sentence. This is an example of a proper MLA style citation in the body of a project.

3. In a block quote, which is used when a large quote, of 4 lines or more, is added into a project.

Using footnotes and endnotes

The Modern Language Association generally promotes the use of references as described in the sections above, but footnotes and endnotes are also acceptable forms of references to use in your paper.

Footnotes and endnotes are helpful to use in a variety of circumstances. Here are a few scenarios when it may seem appropriate to use this type of referencing:

  • When you are referring to a number of various sources, by various authors, in a section of your paper. In this situation, it is a good idea to use a footnote or endnote to share information for parenthetical references. This will encourage the reader to stay focused on the text of the research paper, instead of having to read through all of the reference information.
  • When you are sharing additional information that doesn’t quite fit into the scope of the paper, but is beneficial for the reader. These types of footnotes and endnotes are helpful when explaining translations, adding background information, or sharing counterexamples to research.

To include a footnote or endnote, add a superscript number at the end of the sentence the footnote or endnote refers to. They can be included mid-sentence if necessary, but be sure to add it after any punctuation, such as commas or periods. Find a location that doesn’t distract the reader from the content and flow of the paper.

Within the text example:

Numerous well-known children’s books include characters from a wide range of races and ethnicities, thus promoting diversity and multiculturalism.¹

At the bottom of the page (footnote) or at the end of the section (endnote):

¹See Isadora, Parr, and Velazquez. While Parr’s work features characters of various colors, such as pink or blue, children easily correlate it with individuals of different races and ethnicities.

On the last page of the assignment, the writer includes the full references for the books by Isadora, Parr, and Velazquez.

For more on block quotes and a further, detailed explanation on the use of quotes, including MLA footnotes, refer to our MLA In-Text Citation and Parenthetical Citations Guide. In this guide you’ll find further information including directions for the use of quotes without an author, page numbers, and how to properly credit work from electronic sources.

For guides on citations in another style, check out APA parenthetical citation and APA in-text citation .

Paraphrases in MLA

Paraphrases are created when text or speech from another source are added into a project, but the writer chooses to summarize them and weave in his or her own writing and writing style.

Even though the writer modifies the information from another source, it is still necessary to credit the source using proper format ( Handbook 98). Paraphrased information uses the same MLA reference format as stated in the section directly above this one.

Here is an acceptable paraphrase:

Original text:

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Steve Jobs

Paraphrase:

Steve Jobs encouraged students at Stanford to continue with their determination, drive, and ambitious behavior. They should never be simply satisfied with the status quo. They should continue to push themselves despite possible obstacles and failures.

To develop a well-written paraphrase, follow these simple, step-by-step instructions.

  • Find a phrase, sentence, paragraph, or section of original text you’d like to turn into a paraphrase.
  • Read the text carefully and make sure you fully comprehend its meaning. A writer can only develop a well-written paraphrase if the information has been fully grasped and understood. If you’re having difficulty understanding the information, take a few minutes to read up on tricky words and background information. If all else fails, ask a friend to see if they’re able to make sense of the concepts.
  • After analyzing and completely understanding the original text, put it to the side. Take a moment to think about what you’ve read and connect the idea to your own assignment.
  • Now that the information is completely understood, take a moment to rewrite what you’ve read, in your own words and writing style. Do not simply substitute words in the original text with synonyms. That’s plagiarism! Show off and demonstrate your ability to process the original information, connect it to the content in your paper, and write it in your own individual and unique writing style.
  • Include an in-text reference next to the paraphrase. All paraphrases include references, similar to direct quotes. See the “Quotations” section of this guide to learn how to properly attribute your paraphrased information.
  • Give yourself a pat on the back! Paraphrasing is an important part of the research and writing process.

Wondering if it’s better to quote or paraphrase?

An essential part of the research process involves adding direct quotes and paraphrases into projects. Direct quotes provide word-for-word evidence and allow writers to use another author’s eloquent words and language in their own projects. When it comes to paraphrases, writers are able to take a block of text and shrink the scope of it into the their papers. Paper writers can also use paraphrases to demonstrate their ability to analyze and reiterate information in a meaningful and relevant way.

If you’re wondering which one is better to consistently use, quotes or paraphrases, there’s a clear winner. Paraphrases come out on top. Sure, direct quotes are incredibly beneficial, but copying and pasting too many of these into a project can cause a reader to lose sight of the writer’s own voice. Mixing your own voice with another author’s too much can make for choppy and disjointed reading.

The ultimate goal of a research project is to have your voice and research merged together as one. Paraphrases allow just that. When you combine information from outside sources with your own writing style, it demonstrates your ability as a researcher to showcase your understanding and analyzation of a topic.

Remember, whether you’re adding direct quotes or paraphrases into a project, both types of additions need references. References are placed after the quotes and paraphrases, and also at the end of an assignment.

If you’re looking for additional help with your punctuation or grammar, check out the EasyBib plagiarism checker !

mla heading of essay

Using Abbreviations in MLA

Abbreviations are commonly used in many source types including websites, blog posts, books, and journal articles. It is acceptable to use abbreviations in all of these sources.

When it comes to school and research assignments, however, the MLA   Handbook states that abbreviations should be used rarely in the prose of your paper (293). Spelling out abbreviations into their full words and meanings is recommended. This ensures understanding and avoids any confusion from your reader.

There are times when you may feel it is perfectly acceptable to use an abbreviation rather than its typed out counterpart in a paper. If you do abbreviate, be sure you are using commonly accepted abbreviations, which you can find in the dictionary. You can also review Appendix 1 in the  MLA Handbook .

General Abbreviation Tips

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus can be abbreviated to HIV, not H.I.V.
  • United States should be US, not U.S.
  • Digital video disc should be DVD, not D.V.D.
  • For lower case abbreviations, it is acceptable to include periods between the letters.
  • The abbreviation, “For example” = e.g.
  • If there is a mix of lower case and upper case letters, do not use periods if the majority of the letters are upper case. Examples include PhD and EdD

Abbreviating Months

Type out entire month names when being used in the body of a research paper or assignment.

She rented out the beach house from May through September

When it comes to references, MLA bibliography format requires months longer than four letters to be abbreviated.

  • July = July
  • November = Nov.

Other abbreviations that are perfectly acceptable to use in a bibliography (not the body of a project) include:

  • p. or pp. for page and page numbers
  • ch. for chapter
  • ed. for edition
  • trans. for translation or translated
  • vol. for volume
  • no. for number
  • rev. for revised

Again, these abbreviations should only be used in the final page(s) of a project, the MLA Works Cited list. They should not be used in the body of a project.

For more information on bibliographies, see our MLA format Works Cited List page.

Abbreviating Publishers

One of the quirkiest things about this particular style is how publisher names are structured on the final page of references. Certain words are abbreviated, some words are omitted, and other words are written in full.

Words describing what type of business the publisher is are omitted from the works cited. Here’s a breakdown of the words that should be excluded:

  • Co. (Company)
  • Corp. (Corporation)
  • Inc. (Incorporated)
  • Ltd. (Limited)
  • The (when at the beginning of the name)

If a publisher’s name contains the words “University” and “Press” (or the equivalent in another language), the words should be abbreviated to the letters “U” and “P” in your citation. But if only one of the words appears, it should be written out normally.

Here are a few examples:

  • University of Delaware
  • U College of London P

All other words related to the names of publishers should be written out in full.

Abbreviating Titles

Certain classical and biblical works are abbreviated in a bibliography, but also in any parenthetical references in the text.

The official handbook provides a lengthy list, spanning over multiple pages, of the preferred abbreviations to use for classical and biblical works ( Handbook 295-301), but here’s a quick snapshot of some of the commonly used ones:

Hebrew Bible or Old Testament = OT

  • Deut. = Deuteronomy
  • Gen. = Genesis
  • Lev. = Leviticus
  • Num. = Numbers
  • Ps. = Psalms

New Testament = NT

  • 1 Cor. = 1 Corinthians
  • Jas. = James
  • Matt. = Matthew

Shakespeare:

  • Ado = Much Ado about Nothing
  • 3H6 = Henry VI, Part 3
  • JC = Julius Caesar
  • Mac. = Macbeth
  • MND = A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Oth. = Othello
  • Rom. = Romeo and Juliet

Again, the titles above are allowed to be abbreviated both in references in parentheses in the body of a project and also on the final page of references. If you’re wondering why, it’s because they’re cited often and it’s unnecessary to type out the entire title names.

Formatting Numbers in MLA

Use of numerals.

If the project calls for frequent use of numbers (such as a scientific study or statistics), use numerals that precede measurements.

  • 247 milligrams

Other items to keep in mind:

In divisions, use numbers, ex: In page 5 of the study

Arabic Numbers

When including a number in a paper, spell out the number if it can be written as one word (such as six ) or two words (such as sixty-two ). For fractions, decimals, or longer numbers, type them out using digits. For larger numbers, write the number itself ( Handbook 82-84).

  • twenty-seven
  • one hundred

If the number comes before a unit of measurement or label, type the number using digits.

  • 8 tablespoons
  • 3 July 2018
  • 25 King Street

More on Numbers

Starting a sentence with a number is generally frowned upon. Try modifying the sentence so that the number, or number word, is found elsewhere.

Instead of:

225 children were found in the warehouse, some malnourished and diseased.

Use this sentence:

A total of 225 children were found in the warehouse, some malnourished and diseased.

If modifying the sentence is not possible or does not work well with the flow of the assignment or paper, type out the written number:

Two hundred twenty five children were found in the warehouse, some malnourished and diseased.

Do not include any ISBN numbers in your paper.

Outline Format

The Modern Language Association does not have any requirements regarding the structure of an outline. If your teacher asks you to create an MLA outline, we recommend using roman numerals, capital and lowercase letters, and numbers.

Here is an example of a recommended outline structure:

mla heading of essay

In addition to outlines, use roman numerals for suffixes.

  • King George IV

Using Images, Tables, & Musical Scores in MLA

Photographs, data sets, tables, graphs, and other images are often added into projects or papers to promote or aid understanding. They provide meaningful visuals for the reader. If the illustration or visual image does not enhance the quality of the paper, do not include it in the project.

Tables and illustrations should be placed as close as possible to the text that they most closely refer to.

For an image to be significant and easily identifiable, place it as close as possible to the text in the project where it is discussed.

It is not acceptable to simply place an image in a project without including identifiable information. All images must include information about its origin.

Here are the directions to properly attribute an image:

  • Assign an Arabic number. The image closest to the beginning of the project should be labeled as Fig. 1. The next image in the project should be Fig. 2. and so on.
  • Provide a caption. The caption should be a brief explanation or the title of the contents of the image. Place the caption directly next to the label.
  • Immediately following the caption, it is acceptable to include attribution information. If the image is not discussed further in the rest of the paper or project, it is acceptable to include the MLA bibliography format citation below the image and omit it from the bibliography or MLA format works cited page.

In the text of the project or paper where the figure is discussed, include the label in parentheses to ensure the reader knows where to find the figure in your paper.

In the text:

Sarah’s tattoo design was filled with two of her favorite flowers: lilies and daffodils along a thinly curved vine (fig. 1).

Image formatting:

(Image Would Be Here) Fig. 1. Sarah’s Tattoo. barneyWILLIAMSable, Deviant Art , 2011, barneywilliamsable.deviantart.com/art/Sarah-s-Tattoo-design-193048938.

APA image caption

Fig. 1. White Studio. “Houdini and Jennie, the Elephant, Performing at the Hippodrome, New York.” Library of Congress , www.loc.gov/item/96518833/.

When adding a table or data set into a project, it is formatted a little differently. Above the data set, include the label “Table” with an Arabic numeral, and title it. The table number and title should be located flush left and on separate lines. The first table seen in the project is labeled as Table 1. The second table in the project is Table 2, and so on. The table’s title should be written in title case form (the first letter of each word is capitalized, except for small, insignificant words).

Underneath the table, provide the source and any notes. Notes should be labeled with a letter, rather than a numeral, so the reader is able to differentiate between the notes of the text and the notes of the table.

International Scholars from India Enrolled at Yale University a

Source: “International Scholars Academic Year 2015-2016.” Yale University , Office of International Students and Scholars, yale.app.box.com/v/scholar-2015-2016. a. The numbers reflect students who are enrolled full-time.

The information included above and below any images or table should be double spaced, similar to the rest of the project or paper.

mla heading of essay

Musical Scores

Musical scores need to be labeled as well. When including a musical score in a project, label musical scores with “Ex.” which is short for example. This label should be placed below the musical score. Next to the abbreviation “Ex.”, assign the score an Arabic numeral. The first musical score in the project should be labeled as Ex. 1. The second musical score found in an assignment should be labeled as Ex. 2., and so on.

If possible, provide a caption after to the label. If the caption below the sheet music includes enough information about the source, it is not necessary to include the full reference at the end of the assignment.

Here is an example of a possible label and caption:

Ex. 4. Scott Joplin, The Entertainer, piano, C major.

Another example:

Music sheet APA formatting caption

Here’s more on tables and illustrations.

Using Lists in MLA

It’s appropriate to add lists into an MLA format essay as long as the proper rules are followed.

Lists created using MLA essay format look different than a grocery list or any other type of vertical listing of items. Items in a list are included in your prose, rather than the traditional vertical style.

Often, you will use a colon between the introductory sentence and the list. But you should not include a colon if the first item in the list is part of the sentence.

List Example #1

Here is an example of how a list may look incorporated into the prose of a research project or assignment:

William Shakespeare wrote numerous plays, many of which were considered tragedies: Romeo and Juliet , Hamlet , Macbeth , Othello , Julius Caesar , and King Lear .

List Example #2 Here is an example of how a list may look in a research project or assignment when the list is part of the introductory sentence:

Many of William Shakespeare’s were tragedies. Some of his most popular tragedies include Romeo and Juliet , Hamlet , Macbeth , Othello , Julius Caesar , and King Lear.

MLA Works Cited Format

EasyBib.com has a full, comprehensive guide to creating a proper works cited MLA format , but here are a few items to keep in mind when developing this portion of a project:

  • The list of citations should be the very last page of a research project or essay.
  • The top of the page should include the running head and the page number.
  • All entries should be placed in alphabetical order by the first item in the MLA format citation.
  • The entire page should be double spaced.

For more detailed information, make sure to check out the EasyBib guide to MLA format Works Cited pages.

MLA Citation Format

The majority of this guide focuses on MLA formatting in regards to MLA paper format rules and guidelines. If you’re seeking information related to the proper formatting of an MLA citation, refer to our individual pages and posts on various types of citations.

If you’re simply looking for the general structure for full references, which are found on the final pages of projects, here’s the proper order:

Author’s Last name, Author’s First name. “Title of Source.”* Title of Container , Names of other contributors along with their specific roles, version of the source (if it differs from the original or is unique), any key numbers associated with the source that aren’t dates (such as journal issue numbers or volume numbers), Name of the Publisher, publication date, location (such as the URL or page numbers).

*Note: A title may be in italics instead of quotation marks, depending of the type of source. The general rule is that works that are self-contained (like books, journals, or television shows) are formatted in italics. Works that are part of a larger work (like articles, chapters, or specific episodes) are formatting in quotation marks. 

MLA Format Citing FAQs:

“What in the world are containers?”

Containers are what hold the source. If you’re creating a reference for a chapter in a book, the title of the chapter is the title of the source , and the container is the title of the book . The book holds the chapter, so it’s the container. If you’re searching for how to cite a website, here’s a tip: the title of the source is the name of the individual page and the title of the container is the name of the full website.

“This seems like a lot of information for a reference. Is it all necessary?”

The short answer is “No!” When citing, only include the components that help the reader locate the exact same source themselves.

It isn’t necessary to go digging for items such as numbers, version types, or names of other individuals or contributors associated with the source if they aren’t applicable. If you think it’s beneficial for the reader, then include it.

Related to citations, here are helpful pages on:

  • MLA citation website format
  • Citing a book
  • Citing a journal
  • What is a DOI ?
  • More on PDFs

If you’re looking for an MLA citation generator, head to the EasyBib homepage. Our formatter will help you create citations quickly and easily!

Need APA, too? There are also EasyBib tools and an APA citation website reference guide to help you learn the basics.

Edits and Proofreading

Editing and proofreading your assignment prior to submission is an incredibly important step in the research process. Editing involves checking the paper for the following items:

  • Spelling : Are all words spelled correctly? Review all proper names, places, and other unique words to ensure correct spelling. When finished, run the project through a spell checker. Many word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word and Google Drive, provide a free spell checking feature. While spell checks are beneficial, they do not always spot every mistake, so make sure you take the time to read through the assignment carefully. If you’re still not sure if your project contains proper spelling, ask a friend to read through it. They may find a mistake you missed!
  • Grammar : Check your assignment to make sure you’ve included proper word usage. There are numerous grammar checkers available to review your project prior to submission. Again, take the time to review any recommendations from these programs prior to accepting the suggestions and revisions.
  • Punctuation : Check to make sure the end of every sentence has an ending punctuation mark. Also make sure commas, hyphens, colons, and other punctuation marks are placed in the appropriate places.
  • Attribution : Do all quotes and paraphrases include a citation? Did you create an in-text citation for each individual piece of information?

Smart idea: running your paper through a paper checker before you turn it in. EasyBib Plus offers a checker that scans for grammar errors and unintentional plagiarism. 

Check out our MLA sample papers . Also, check out the EasyBib MLA Annotated Bibliography Guide.

Don’t forget to use the EasyBib citation generator to develop your Modern Language Association style references.EasyBib.com also has helpful guides on APA format and more styles . Lastly, stay up-to-date on what’s coming by following our EasyBib Twitter account.

Works Cited

“Formatting a Research Paper.” The MLA Style Center , Modern Language Association of America, style.mla.org/formatting-papers/.

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021.

Published October 31, 2011. Updated July 25, 2021.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau . Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at EasyBib.com. You can find her here on Twitter. Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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The works-cited list provides the reader full information so that a reader can locate the source for further use.

Basic formatting

The works-cited list appears at the end of the paper, after any endnotes if they are present.

Page margins

All margins (top, bottom, left, and right) should be set at 1 inch.

Running head

Write the running head in the top right of the page at 0.5 inch from the top. Use the running head “Surname Page #.”

The font should be clear enough to read. For example, Times New Roman font set to 12 points.

Formatting entries

Entries should be double-spaced, including a double-space between the heading and the first entry. If any entry runs over more than a line, indent the subsequent line(s) 0.5 inch from the left margin.

Formatting the title

The title should be “Works Cited.” Center the title. Do not bold, italicize, or underline the title. If you cite only one source in the list, the title should be “Work Cited.” If you include sources that you only consulted and didn’t cite directly, the title should be changed accordingly to “Works Cited and Consulted.”

Arranging works cited

Works-cited-list entries are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name (or the editor’s last name for entire edited collections). Double-space all entries. Begin each entry flush with the left margin. If any entry runs over more than one line, indent the subsequent line(s) 0.5 inch from the left margin (sometimes called a hanging indent).

Example works cited

Damasio, Antonio. The Feeling of What Happens: Body, Emotion and the Making of Consciousness . Vintage, 2000.

Hill, R. T. “Legitimizing Colonial Privilege: Native Americans at a Quincentenary of Discourse.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 16, no. 1, 1996, pp. 92–100.

MacDonald, Shauna M. “Performance as Critical Posthuman Pedagogy.” Text and Performance Quarterly , vol. 34, no. 2, 2014, pp. 164–81.

Zilio, M. “Canada Will Not Move Embassy to Jerusalem, Federal Government Says.” The Globe and Mail . 7 Sept. 2017, www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-will-not-move-embassy-to-jerusalem-federal-government-says/article37219576/ .

An in-text citation is a short citation that is placed in the text. It is styled in two ways: a citation in prose or a parenthetical citation.

The basic element needed for an in-text citation is the author’s name . The publication year is not required in in-text citations. Sometimes, page numbers or line numbers are also included, especially when directly quoting text from the source being cited. When including a page number, do not include a comma or any other punctuation mark between the author’s surname and the page number.

Parenthetical citations usually add only the author’s surname at the end of the sentence in parentheses. Sometimes they include a page number or other locator. An example of a parenthetical citation is given below:

The spiritual geography of the landscape is explained (Cooper).

If you want to cite a chapter number, a scene, or a line number, follow the abbreviation guidelines below:

When including a more specific locator number rather than a page number, place a comma between the author’s surname and the label.

(Cooper, ch. 2).

Here are a few examples of in-text citations for sources with different numbers or types of authors:

Use only the surname of the author in parenthetical citations. If you want to add a page number (or another indicator of the place in a work), add it after the author’s surname without any punctuation between the surname and the page number.

(Abraham 7).

Two authors

Add only the surnames of the authors. Use “and” to separate the two authors.

(Langmuir and Einstein).

Three or more authors

Add only the surname of the first author followed by “et al.”

(Low et al.).

Corporate author

Shorten the organization name wherever possible, excluding any initial articles and using the shortest noun phrase (e.g., shorten Literary Society of Tamil Culture to Literary Society).

(Literary Society).

If there is no author for the source, use the source title in place of the author’s surname.

When you add such in-text citations, italicize the text of the title. If the source title is longer than a noun phrase, use a shortened version of the title. For example, the title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is shortened to Fantastic Beasts .

( Fantastic Beasts 160).

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mla heading of essay

  • Incorporating Headings & Subheadings

by acburton | May 18, 2024 | Resources for Students , Writing Resources

Think about the last time you read a really long academic article or publication for a class. When the text just seemed to drone on and on to no end, think back – weren’t you really grateful for those headings (and sometimes subheadings) that broke up the longer text, switched or elaborated on a topic, stimulated your eyesight, and gave your noggin a much needed break? I bet you were! Headings and subheadings enable longer texts and differing topics and subtopics to be clearly differentiated for your reader, yet linked in a way that can be clearly understood and appreciated. Let’s go through a few other benefits to using headings and subheadings in your writing!

Incorporating headings and subheadings into your longer pieces of writing;

  • Enhances the readability of your work by organizing the content in your essay and guiding your reader.
  • Delineates subsections of a topic and provides an avenue to expanding on more complex ideas within a main idea.
  • Demonstrates your understanding of a particular citation style.

While headings and subheadings don’t replace the use of effective transitions , they can be used in tandem to further organize your paper, guiding your reader through your topic of choice. To use headings and subheadings appropriately, you’ll want to keep in mind three very important considerations:

  • the hierarchy of a heading versus a subheading (and everything that may come after)
  • the format (i.e., which citation style you are aiming to follow, and
  • accessibility, to be sure that your paper is intelligible to all readers.

The Hierarchy

Headings and subheadings are represented in the form of a hierarchy, or a ranking that clearly characterizes your main topic from your subtopic or issue. The prefix “sub” in “subheading” means under or beneath so your subheading (or subissue) will always be placed underneath your heading. Use a heading whenever you are switching subjects and want to outline the main idea of a section and use subheadings to delineate the varying subsections underneath the main idea. Think of it like a pyramid structure, not in shape, but with your heading on the very top, subheading just beneath, and so on and so forth, going “deeper” into your research until you begin a new section.

Citation styles, including APA format, utilize a system of “Levels” to distinguish the format of headings and subheadings as they move throughout your essay. The number of headings to use in a paper depends on the length and complexity of the work (APAStyle).

In APA format, headings and subheadings are delineated into five possible levels:  Level 1 is the highest or main level of heading, Level 2 is a subheading of Level 1, Level 3 is a subheading of Level 2, and so on through Levels 4 and 5 (APAStyle). Most students utilize Levels 1-3 for their work. If only one heading is needed for your assignment, use Level 1. If two levels are needed, use Levels 1 and 2 (and so on.) (APAStyle). The first image below provides a visualization of the APA heading format; the second image is an example of APA headings in a research paper from the field of education (APAStyle).

A visual representation of the APA heading style guidelines as described in the text.

MLA in contrast emphasizes consistency over a specific style. Purdue Owl offers two examples of how to structure your essay using section headings and subheadings, although it is important to remember that while these can be used as a reference, they are by no means the rule . Remember, the goal is consistency throughout your paper.

Note: Although MLA does not have specific style for headings within your paper, there is a general format used for the first page of your paper. See Purdue Owl for more information.

Below, you can see two examples of acceptable headings for a paper that requires MLA formatting. The first follows a system of Levels, like what is used for APA format. The second example uses a format that numbers different sections and subsections. According to this example, Erosion and Terracing are examples of Soil Conservation, while Water Conservation and Energy Conservation require their own, main headings.

Visual representation of the formatted style in MLA.

Accessibility

While the use of headings and subheadings work to enhance the readability of your work, without keeping accessibility in mind, your headings and subheadings can seem thorough and conducive to you, while being inaccessible and confusing to someone else. Check out these accessibility guidelines suggested by West Virginia University;

  • Make sure your headings and subheadings always follow a consecutive hierarchy.
  • Particularly when following APA format, do not skip a header for stylistic reasons.
  • While using bold or italics may be unavoidable, do not use all caps. Doing so may cause some assistive technology to substitute full words for individual letters.
  • Avoid using abbreviations.
  • Aim to avoid language that can be confusing to non-native speakers of English (e.g., puns, a play on words).

Note: Visit the Writing Center for additional help on how to format with accessibility in mind!

Streefkerk, Raimo. “APA Headings and Subheadings | With Sample Paper.” Scribber, https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/apa-headings/ . Accessed 18 May 2024.

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mla heading of essay

MLA format is a widely accepted style for writing and documenting scholarly papers, particularly in the humanities. It provides guidelines for formatting manuscripts , citing sources, and structuring works cited pages, ensuring consistency and clarity. Adhering to MLA format helps writers present their research in a professional and organized manner, facilitating readability and academic integrity.

What is MLA Format?

MLA format, established by the Modern Language Association, is a widely-used style for writing and documenting scholarly papers in the humanities. It features in-text citation , a “Works Cited” page, double-spacing, one-inch margins, and specific guidelines for formatting headings, titles, and quotations to ensure clarity and consistency in academic writing.

MLA Format Examples

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . Publisher, Year of Publication.
  • Example: Smith, John. The Art of Writing . Penguin, 2020.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal , vol. number, no. number, Year, pages.
  • Example: Doe, Jane. “Exploring Literature.” Literary Journal , vol. 5, no. 3, 2019, pp. 45-67.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website , Publisher, Date of Publication, URL.
  • Example: Brown, Lisa. “Understanding MLA Format.” Writing Resources , Purdue OWL, 15 Mar. 2021, www.owl.purdue.edu/mlaformat .
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Book , edited by Editor’s First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year, pages.
  • Example: Taylor, Robert. “Modern Poetry.” Anthology of Modern Literature , edited by Sarah Green, Norton, 2018, pp. 120-135.
  • Editor’s Last Name, First Name, editor. Title of Book . Publisher, Year.
  • Example : Anderson, Mary, editor. Cultural Studies . Routledge, 2017.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine , Date of Publication, pages.
  • Example: Clark, Emily. “The Future of Education.” Education Today , 12 June 2021, pp. 22-25.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper , Date of Publication, pages.
  • Example: Adams, Michael. “Tech Innovations in 2022.” The New York Times , 5 Jan. 2022, p. B1.
  • Title of Film . Directed by Director’s First Name Last Name, performance by Lead Actor’s First Name Last Name, Production Company, Year.
  • Example: Inception . Directed by Christopher Nolan, performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, Warner Bros., 2010.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Video.” Website , uploaded by Uploader’s Name, Date of Upload, URL.
  • Example : Johnson, Mark. “ How to Write in MLA Format.” YouTube , uploaded by Academic Tips, 10 Feb. 2021, www.youtube.com/academic-tips-mla .
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Paper.” Title of Conference , Date, Location.
  • Example: Lee, Anna. “The Impact of Social Media on Education.” International Conference on Education , 23 Apr. 2021, Boston, MA.

When to use MLA Format

MLA format is commonly used in the humanities, especially for writing papers and citing sources in subjects like:

  • Essay , research papers, and articles analyzing novels, poems, plays, and other literary works.
  • Papers exploring cultural phenomena, media studies, and societal impacts on culture.
  • Research involving comparative literature, translations, and linguistic studies.
  • Essays and papers discussing philosophical theories, arguments, and historical texts.
  • Research papers analyzing art movements, specific artworks, and artist biographies.
  • Analyses of plays, playwrights, theatrical performances, and historical context of theater.
  • Humanities-focused historical research papers, particularly those involving textual analysis.
  • Research involving film, television, digital media, and their cultural implications.

MLA format is preferred in these fields for its emphasis on detailed citation and textual analysis, ensuring clarity, consistency, and academic integrity in scholarly writing.

How to set up your paper in MLA Format

Setting up your paper in MLA format is crucial for academic writing, ensuring that your work meets the standards for scholarly communication. Follow these steps to format your paper correctly:

1. General Guidelines

  • Font : Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12.
  • Margins : Set all margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Line Spacing : Double-space the entire paper, including any notes and the works cited page.
  • Indentation : Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch from the left margin. Use the Tab key instead of the space bar.

2. Header and Title

  • Header : Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space and the page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • In the upper left-hand corner, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date. Double-space this information.
  • Center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.

3. In-Text Citations

  • When quoting or paraphrasing, include an in-text citation with the author’s last name and the page number from which the quote or paraphrase is taken, like this: (Smith 123).

4. Works Cited Page

  • Title : Center the title “Works Cited” at the top of the page. Do not italicize or underline it.
  • Entries : Begin each entry at the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent lines one-half inch from the left margin (hanging indent).
  • Alphabetical Order : List the entries alphabetically by the author’s last name. If no author is given, alphabetize by the title.

Example of the First Page

Jane Doe Professor Smith English 101 20 May 2023 Centered Title in Title Case The first paragraph of your paper begins here, with the first line indented one-half inch. Subsequent paragraphs should also be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

Example of a Works Cited Entry

Works Cited Smith, John. The Great Gatsby . Scribner, 2004.

Formatting Header and Title in MLA

Formatting the header and title correctly is an important step in ensuring your paper adheres to MLA standards. Here’s a detailed guide on how to set up the header and title for your MLA paper:

The header in MLA format is placed in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the first page. Here are the steps to set it up:

  • Open your document in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  • In Microsoft Word: Go to the “Insert” tab and select “Header.” Choose the “Blank” option.
  • In Google Docs: Click on “Insert” and then “Headers & footers,” followed by “Header.”
  • Type your last name followed by a space.
  • In Microsoft Word: While the cursor is still in the header, go to the “Design” tab, click on “Page Number,” and choose “Top of Page” then “Plain Number 3.”
  • In Google Docs: While the cursor is in the header, click on “Insert,” then “Page numbers,” and select the option to have the page numbers in the upper right corner.
  • Set the font and size : Ensure the font is Times New Roman, size 12, matching the rest of your document.

2. Title Page Setup

MLA format does not require a separate title page unless specifically requested by your instructor. Instead, the title is placed on the first page of your paper. Here’s how to format it:

Information Block

  • Position the cursor at the top of the first page.
  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s name
  • The course name or number
  • The date in the format: Day Month Year (e.g., 20 May 2023)
  • Double-space after the date.
  • Center the title of your paper. The title should be in Title Case, which means you capitalize the major words.
  • Do not use bold, italics, underline, or quotation marks for the title. Write it in plain text.

Example of the First Page Setup

Jane Doe Professor Smith English 101 20 May The Impact of Climate Change on Migration The first paragraph of your paper begins here, with the first line indented one-half inch. Subsequent paragraphs should also be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

Headings and Subheadings in MLA Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) format provides a flexible guideline for structuring your academic paper. While the MLA Handbook (9th edition) does not provide specific rules for headings and subheadings, it encourages consistency and clarity. Here’s a guide on how to create and format headings and subheadings in your MLA-style paper.

General Guidelines

  • Font and Size: Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12.
  • Consistency: Ensure that the format and style of headings and subheadings are consistent throughout the paper.
  • No Bold or Italics: Headings should not be bolded or italicized. They should be in plain text, maintaining the same font and size as the rest of the paper.
  • Title Case: Capitalize the first and last words and all principal words in headings and subheadings.

Levels of Headings

MLA does not have specific rules for the number of heading levels. However, using up to five levels of headings is common. Below is a suggested format for organizing your paper with headings and subheadings.

First-Level Heading (H2)

Centered, Title Case

Causes of Climate Change

Second-Level Heading (H3)

Left-aligned, Title Case

Human Activities

Third-Level Heading (H4)

Indented, Title Case, Ends with a Period.

Burning of Fossil Fuels.

Fourth-Level Heading (H5)

Indented, Sentence case, Ends with a period.

Deforestation and land use changes.

Fifth-Level Heading (H6)

Indented, italicized, Sentence case, Ends with a period.

Use of agricultural practices.

Examples of Headings in a Paper

Here’s an example of how to structure a paper using these headings:

Causes of Climate Change Human activities significantly contribute to climate change through various means. Human Activities Human activities that impact climate change include the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and certain agricultural practices. Burning of Fossil Fuels. The combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Deforestation and land use changes. The removal of trees decreases the planet’s capacity to absorb CO2. Use of agricultural practices. Certain farming practices, like livestock production, increase methane emissions. Natural Factors Natural factors also play a role in climate change, albeit to a lesser extent than human activities. Volcanic Eruptions. Eruptions release particles that can cool the Earth by blocking sunlight. Solar Variations Changes in solar energy affect the Earth’s climate cycles.

Quotations in MLA Format

Quotations are an essential part of academic writing, providing evidence and supporting arguments. MLA (Modern Language Association) format has specific guidelines for incorporating quotations into your text. Here’s a detailed guide on how to format both short and long quotations in MLA style.

1. Short Quotations

Short quotations are defined as fewer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse. These quotations should be incorporated into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks.

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the page number in parentheses.
  • Place the period after the parenthetical citation.

According to Smith, “climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity today” (123).

2. Long Quotations

Long quotations, also known as block quotations, are used for prose that is more than four lines or verse that is more than three lines. These should be formatted as a freestanding block of text and indented one inch from the left margin. Quotation marks are not used.

  • Introduce the block quotation with a signal phrase that ends with a colon.
  • Start the quotation on a new line and indent the entire block one inch from the left margin.
  • Double-space the quotation.
  • Place the parenthetical citation after the period at the end of the quotation.

Smith discusses the impacts of climate change in detail:

Climate change affects all regions around the world. Polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are becoming more extreme. These changes threaten the habitats of countless species, and the economic and social systems of human communities are also at risk. Immediate action is required to mitigate these effects and adapt to the changes that are already underway. (123)

3. Adding or Omitting Words

Adding Words: When adding words for clarity, enclose the added text in square brackets.

Smith notes that “immediate action [by global leaders] is required to mitigate these effects” (123).

Omitting Words: To omit words from a quotation, use an ellipsis (…). Ensure that the omission does not change the meaning of the original text.

Smith argues that “climate change affects all regions…and weather patterns are becoming more extreme” (123).

4. Quoting Poetry

For quoting poetry, maintain the original formatting as much as possible. Use a slash (/) to indicate line breaks within the text.

Short Poetry Quotations:

  • Enclose the quotation in double quotation marks.
  • Use a slash (/) to indicate line breaks.

In Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” the speaker reflects, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both” (1-2).

Long Poetry Quotations:

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase ending with a colon.
  • Maintain the original line breaks.

In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Frost writes:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; (1-5)

5. Quoting Dialogue

When quoting dialogue from a play or script, each character’s speech begins on a new line, and the character’s name is written in all capital letters followed by a period.

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase.
  • Start the quotation on a new line and indent each line of the characters’ speech one inch from the left margin.
  • Double-space the dialogue.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth , the witches proclaim:

FIRST WITCH. When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain? SECOND WITCH. When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won. (1.1.1-4)

Paraphrases in MLA Format

Paraphrasing involves restating someone else’s ideas in your own words. In MLA (Modern Language Association) format, it’s essential to credit the original source even when you paraphrase. Here’s a detailed guide on how to properly format paraphrases in MLA style.

1. General Guidelines for Paraphrasing

  • Restate the original text: Ensure that the paraphrase is in your own words and that it accurately reflects the meaning of the original text.
  • Provide an in-text citation: Include the author’s last name and the page number where the original idea can be found.
  • No quotation marks: Do not use quotation marks around a paraphrase since you are not using the exact words from the source.

2. In-Text Citations for Paraphrases

The in-text citation for a paraphrase is similar to that for a direct quotation. It includes the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses.

Basic Format: (Author’s Last Name Page Number)

Example: According to Smith, climate change poses a significant challenge to humanity, requiring immediate and concerted action from global leaders (123).

3. Incorporating Paraphrases into Your Text

You can introduce a paraphrase in several ways to smoothly integrate it into your writing. Here are some examples:

Using a Signal Phrase

Signal phrases introduce the source of the paraphrase and are typically followed by the paraphrased material and a parenthetical citation.

Example: Smith argues that immediate action is necessary to address the widespread impacts of climate change, which threaten both natural ecosystems and human societies (123).

Integrating the Paraphrase

Integrate the paraphrase directly into your sentence, ensuring it flows naturally with your own writing.

Example: The widespread impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more extreme weather patterns, require urgent action to mitigate damage to both ecosystems and human communities (Smith 123).

4. Multiple Authors

When paraphrasing a source with multiple authors, include all authors’ last names or use “et al.” for three or more authors.

Two Authors:

Example: According to Johnson and Smith, sustainable practices are essential for mitigating the effects of climate change (45).

Three or More Authors:

Example: Research indicates that sustainable practices are crucial for mitigating climate change impacts (Johnson et al. 45).

5. No Author

If the source has no author, use a shortened title of the work instead. Place the title in quotation marks if it’s an article or in italics if it’s a book or other standalone work.

Example: Measures to address climate change must be implemented urgently to prevent further environmental degradation (“Climate Action” 12).

6. Multiple Works by the Same Author

If you cite multiple works by the same author, include a shortened version of the title in the citation to differentiate between them.

Example: Smith argues that sustainable practices are necessary for environmental conservation (“Environmental Policies” 56) and that global cooperation is key to effective climate action (“Global Strategies” 78).

7. Citing Indirect Sources

If you need to paraphrase information from a source cited within another source, use “qtd. in” to indicate the original source.

Example: According to Brown, environmental education plays a crucial role in raising awareness about climate change (qtd. in Smith 89).

Example of a Paragraph with Paraphrases

Original Text: “Climate change affects all regions around the world. Polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are becoming more extreme. These changes threaten the habitats of countless species, and the economic and social systems of human communities are also at risk. Immediate action is required to mitigate these effects and adapt to the changes that are already underway” (Smith 123). Paraphrased Paragraph: Smith notes that climate change has a global impact, causing the melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events. These environmental changes endanger numerous species’ habitats and pose risks to human economic and social structures. Therefore, Smith emphasizes the need for swift measures to mitigate and adapt to these evolving challenges (123).

Using Abbreviations in MLA Format

Abbreviations can help make your writing more concise and clear. However, it is important to use them correctly and consistently. Here is a guide on how to use abbreviations in MLA (Modern Language Association) format.

  • Introduce Abbreviations: When you first introduce an abbreviation, spell out the full term followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. After this initial introduction, you can use the abbreviation alone.
  • Consistency: Use the abbreviation consistently throughout your paper after introducing it.
  • Periods: Use periods with certain abbreviations (e.g., a.m., p.m., U.S.), but do not use them for acronyms (e.g., NASA, MLA).

Types of Abbreviations

Acronyms and initialisms.

Acronyms are formed from the initial letters of words and pronounced as words (e.g., NASA). Initialisms are formed from the initial letters but pronounced as individual letters (e.g., FBI).

Example: The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides guidelines for formatting academic papers. According to MLA guidelines, authors should use consistent formatting throughout their work.

When citing sources, abbreviate the names of months (except May, June, and July) in the Works Cited page.

Example: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Works Cited Entry Example: Smith, John. “The Effects of Climate Change.” Environmental Studies Journal , vol. 12, no. 4, Aug. 2020, pp. 123-45.

Common Latin Abbreviations

Certain Latin abbreviations are commonly used in academic writing. Here are a few examples:

  • e.g. (exempli gratia): means “for example”
  • i.e. (id est): means “that is”
  • etc. (et cetera): means “and so on”
  • et al. (et alii): means “and others”

Example: There are many theories on climate change (e.g., greenhouse effect, solar variability).

Abbreviating Titles and Terms

Use standard abbreviations for titles and terms when they appear in citations.

  • ed. (edition)
  • rev. ed. (revised edition)
  • vol. (volume)
  • no. (number)

Examples: Doe, Jane, ed. Anthology of Modern Poetry . 3rd ed., Penguin Books, 2019. Brown, Sarah. History of Medieval Europe . Rev. ed., vol. 2, Academic Press, 2018.

Abbreviating Locations in Works Cited

Abbreviate the names of U.S. states and countries in publisher locations.

  • Cambridge, MA

Works Cited Entry Example: Smith, John. The Great Migration . Cambridge UP, 2015.

In-Text Citations with Abbreviations

Use abbreviations in in-text citations as necessary to keep them concise. For example, abbreviate the titles of works that are long or frequently cited within the text.

Example: (Tolkien, LOTR 23)

Abbreviating Corporate Authors

When a corporate author is commonly known by an abbreviation, you can use the abbreviation after introducing it.

Example: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has made significant advancements in space exploration. According to NASA, the Mars rover has sent back valuable data (NASA).

Common MLA Abbreviations

  • ch. (chapter)
  • sec. (section)
  • trans. (translator)
  • UP (University Press)

Example of Proper Abbreviation Usage in a Paragraph

When citing sources, the Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends abbreviating the names of months except for May, June, and July. For instance, an article published in March would be cited as “Mar.” (MLA Handbook 123). Additionally, when referring to organizations like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the abbreviation can be used after the first mention. NASA has reported new findings from the Mars rover mission (NASA).

Formatting Numbers in MLA Format

When writing papers in MLA (Modern Language Association) format, it’s important to know the guidelines for formatting numbers. Here’s a concise guide to help you understand when to use numerals and when to spell out numbers.

General Rules

  • Spell out numbers that can be written in one or two words.
  • Examples: one, thirty-six, ninety-nine, one hundred, fifteen hundred
  • Use numerals for numbers that require more than two words.
  • Examples: 101, 1,250, 7,891

Specific Cases

  • Spell out numbers when they begin a sentence.
  • Example: One hundred students attended the lecture.
  • Note: If rewriting the sentence to avoid starting with a number, it is acceptable. Example: There were 100 students who attended the lecture.
  • Use numerals for dates.
  • Example: June 5, 2024
  • Use numerals with a.m. and p.m.
  • Examples: 10:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.
  • For round numbers, you may spell out the time if clarity is preserved.
  • Example: He arrived at six o’clock in the evening.
  • Use numerals and the percent symbol (%).
  • Example: The survey showed that 75% of participants agreed.
  • Always use numerals.
  • Example: Please refer to page 45 for more information.
  • Use a combination of numerals and words for very large round numbers.
  • Example: 2.5 million, 3 billion
  • Spell out simple fractions and use numerals for more complex fractions.
  • Examples: Two-thirds of the class, 3/8 of an inch
  • Use numerals for decades and spell out centuries.
  • Examples: the 1990s, the twenty-first century

Examples in Context

  • There are fifty-two weeks in a year.
  • The population of the city is approximately 1.2 million.
  • She bought three dozen eggs.
  • On April 15, 2022, the event will take place.
  • The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m.
  • About 40% of the respondents disagreed with the statement.
  • The results are discussed on page 23.
  • He has lived here since the 1980s.
  • The twentieth century saw many technological advances.
  • There are 52 weeks in a year. (Should be spelled out)
  • The population of the city is approximately one million two hundred thousand. (Use numerals)
  • She bought 3 dozen eggs. (Spell out)

Using Lists in MLA Format

Lists can be a useful way to present information clearly and concisely. In MLA (Modern Language Association) format, there are specific guidelines for incorporating lists into your writing. Here’s a guide on how to format both bulleted and numbered lists according to MLA style.

  • Introduce the list with a complete sentence followed by a colon.

Example: There are several reasons to visit the museum:

  • Ensure that each item in the list follows the same grammatical structure.
  • Free admission
  • Guided tours
  • Educational workshops

Bulleted Lists

Bulleted lists are used to present items that do not need to be in a specific order.

  • Introduce the list with a complete sentence.
  • Use a colon at the end of the introductory sentence.
  • Begin each item with a capital letter.
  • Use a period after each item if the items are complete sentences; otherwise, do not use periods.

Example: The museum offers the following activities:

  • Art exhibitions
  • Interactive workshops

Numbered Lists

Numbered lists are used to present items that need to be in a specific order, such as steps in a process.

  • Use periods after each item if the items are complete sentences.

Example: Follow these steps to register for the workshop:

  • Visit the museum’s website.
  • Click on the “Events” tab.
  • Select the desired workshop.
  • Complete the registration form.

In-Text Lists

In-text lists are used within a sentence and are typically introduced with a colon or parentheses.

Comma-Separated Lists:

  • Use commas to separate items in a simple list within a sentence.
  • Example: The museum offers guided tours, art exhibitions, and interactive workshops.

Semicolon-Separated Lists:

  • Use semicolons to separate items in a complex list within a sentence.
  • Example: The museum offers several activities: guided tours for all ages; art exhibitions featuring local artists; and interactive workshops on weekends.

Lists with Complete Sentences

When each item in the list is a complete sentence, use periods at the end of each item.

  • The museum offers free admission every first Sunday of the month.
  • It has a wide range of art exhibitions from contemporary to classical art.
  • Interactive workshops are available for children and adults alike.

Example in Context

Here is an example of how to integrate a list into an MLA-formatted paper:

Text Example:

Visiting the museum can be a rewarding experience for several reasons:

  • Free Admission: The museum offers free admission every first Sunday of the month.
  • Diverse Exhibitions: It features a wide range of art exhibitions, from contemporary to classical art.
  • Interactive Workshops: There are interactive workshops available for both children and adults.

In addition to these activities, the museum also provides guided tours and educational programs, making it an excellent destination for visitors of all ages.

MLA Format vs. APA Format

What is mla format.

MLA format is a style guide for writing and documenting research in the humanities, particularly in English studies, provided by the Modern Language Association.

How do you cite a book in MLA format?

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . Publisher, Year of Publication. Example: Smith, John. The Great Gatsby . Scribner, 2004.

How do you format the first page of an MLA paper?

Include your name, instructor’s name, course, and date in the upper left corner. Center the title, and start the text on a new line, double-spaced.

What should be included in an MLA Works Cited page?

List all sources cited in the text, alphabetized by the author’s last name. Include full publication details for each source.

How do you format in-text citations in MLA?

nclude the author’s last name and page number in parentheses after the quote or paraphrase. Example: (Smith 123).

Do I need a title page in MLA format?

No, MLA format typically does not require a separate title page unless specified by the instructor.

How do you cite a website in MLA format?

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website , Publisher, Publication Date, URL.

How do you handle multiple authors in an MLA citation?

For two authors, use both last names (Smith and Jones). For three or more, use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (Smith et al.).

How are block quotes formatted in MLA?

Indent the entire quote one inch from the left margin, double-space, and omit quotation marks. Place the parenthetical citation after the period.

What font and size should be used in MLA format?

Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12, and double-space the entire document.

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Sample Essays: Writing with MLA Style

Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited. 

If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus , you can access annotated versions of the essays selected in 2022 and 2023. 

Writing with MLA Style: 2023 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2023 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut (chair); Rachel Ihara, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York; and Tarshia L. Stanley, Wagner College.

Caroline Anderson (Pepperdine University)

“ L’Appel du Vide : Making Spaces for Sinful Exploration in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ”

Hunter Daniels (University of South Carolina, Aiken)

“Biblical Legalism and Cultural Misogyny in The Tragedy of Mariam ”

Aspen English (Southern Utah University)

“Putting the ‘Comm’ in Comics: A Communication-Theory-Informed Reading of Graphic Narratives”

Raul Martin (Lamar University)

“The Book-Object Binary: Access and Sustainability in the Academic Library”

Grace Quasebarth (Salve Regina University)

“Finding a Voice: The Loss of Machismo Criticisms through Translation in Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits ”

Writing with MLA Style: 2022 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2022 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2022 selection committee was composed of Ellen C. Carillo, University of Connecticut; Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware (chair); and Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago.

Kaile Chu (New York University, Shanghai)

“Miles Apart: An Investigation into Dedicated Online Communities’ Impact on Cultural Bias”

Sietse Hagen (University of Groningen)

“The Significance of Fiction in the Debate on Dehumanizing Media Portrayals of Refugees”

Klara Ismail (University of Exeter)

“Queering the Duchess: Exploring the Body of the Female Homosexual in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi ”

Yasmin Mendoza (Whittier College)

“Banning without Bans”

Niki Nassiri (Stony Brook University)

“Modern-Day US Institutions and Slavery in the Twenty-First Century”

Samantha Wilber (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

“‘Pero, tu no eres facil’: The Poet X as Multicultural Bildungsroman”

Writing with MLA Style: 2019 Edition

The following essays were selected for the 2019 edition of Writing with MLA Style. The 2019 selection committee was composed of Jessica Edwards, University of Delaware; Deborah H. Holdstein, Columbia College Chicago (chair); and Liana Silva, César E. Chavez High School, Houston, Texas.

Catherine Charlton (University of King’s College, Nova Scotia)

“‘Coal Is in My Blood’: Public and Private Representations of Community Identity in Springhill, Nova Scotia”

Alyiah Gonzales (California Polytechnic State University)

“Disrupting White Normativity in Langston Hughes’s ‘I, Too’ and Toni Morrison’s ‘Recitatif’”

Meg Matthias (Miami University, Ohio)

“Prescriptions of (Living) Historical Happiness: Gendered Performance and Racial Comfort in Reenactment”

Jennifer Nguyen  (Chaminade University of Honolulu)

“The Vietnam War, the American War: Literature, Film, and Popular Memory”

Emily Schlepp (Northwest University)

“A Force of Love: A Deconstructionist Reading of Characters in Dickens’s  Great Expectations ”

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Title Capitalization for Your Essays [For Students]

Many of us have experienced moments of confusion when unsure about which words to capitalize and which to leave lowercase, leading to questions about the underlying principles of title capitalization especially when you have a style guide to follow. If you are given the task of writing an essay, then you must know what to capitalize and how to capitalize the words for your headings. Title capitalization must be taken seriously because ultimately it is part of the formatting that you have to follow. I will show you how to do title capitalization for students and most importantly, what to capitalize and what you should keep in mind while title capitalization.

Challenges of Getting the Titles Right for Your Essays

Your concern regarding the title format typically revolves around capitalization accuracy. Here's a quick guide:

1.Confused About When to Use a Certain Type of Capitalization:

If you've got your title ready but find yourself unsure about what to capitalize and what not, remember these points:

Sentence case : This capitalization style capitalizes only the first letter of the first word in a sentence, along with any proper nouns or other words that are typically capitalized in English sentences. It's commonly used in writing sentences, paragraphs, and headings.

Title Case : Title Case is commonly used for titles, headings, and subtitles, where the first letter of most words is capitalized. Students are often provided with guidelines based on specific style manuals such as APA, MLA, or Chicago style, dictating how titles should be capitalized according to the rules of each style.

For example, in APA style, the first word of the title, the first word after a colon, and proper nouns are capitalized, while the rest of the words are in lowercase. In contrast, MLA style capitalizes the first letter of every major word in the title.

Uppercase : Uppercase formatting is typically used for abbreviations, acronyms, or initialisms to ensure clarity and consistency. On the other hand, lowercase formatting is generally used for regular text to maintain readability and conformity with standard writing conventions.

Lowercase :  Students may use lowercase formatting when entering URLs, file paths, or coding snippets in their assignments or projects. This ensures that the text remains in the correct format, especially in technical or computer science-related fields.

2.Unsure About Which Words to Be Capitalized and Which Not:

One of the challenges of getting the titles right for your essays is understanding the grammar rules associated with capitalization. Students often grapple with deciding which words to capitalize and which to leave in lowercase, as there are specific conventions to follow depending on the context and style guide.

For instance, while proper nouns and the first word of a sentence are typically capitalized, the rules become more nuanced when dealing with titles and headings. There are specific guidelines outlined in style manuals such as APA, MLA, or Chicago style, which dictate the capitalization of titles based on the type of words used and their position within the title.

Also, certain words like articles (e.g., "a," "an," "the"), conjunctions (e.g., "and," "but," "or"), and prepositions (e.g., "of," "in," "to") are often left in lowercase unless they are the first or last word of the title. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty among students when creating titles for their essays or academic papers.

General Rules for Capitalizing the Titles of Your Essays

The rules for capitalization can be simplified using an easy technique. One effective method I've discovered for fixing these rules in my mind is by categorizing them into two distinct groups: what to capitalize and what not to capitalize. This approach allows for clear differentiation and easier retention of the capitalization rules.

Now, I'll demonstrate how I apply this technique, particularly when working on my thesis and adding headings.

In the title I’ve referenced from my paper, the capitalization follows the rules I have previously outlined. The first and last words, "Leader" and "Individual," are capitalized because they are nouns. Meanwhile, the words "as" and "an" in between are not capitalized, as they are a conjunction and an article, respectively.

The heading follows a similar pattern where two nouns are sandwiched between a conjunction like "and," the same capitalization rule applies. The nouns at the beginning and end of the title should be capitalized, while the conjunction "and" and any other non-capitalized words in the middle should not be capitalized.

Here a heading and subheading needs proper capitalization and it's done as such:

1.Reflection on Concepts and Theories

In this heading, "Reflection," "Concepts," and "Theories" are all nouns and should be capitalized according to the capitalization rule for nouns. "On" is a preposition and should not be capitalized.

Therefore, the correct capitalization for this heading would be: "Reflection on Concepts and Theories".

2.Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory

In this heading, "Hersey-Blanchard" is a proper noun and should be capitalized. "Situational", "Leadership", and "Theory" are also nouns and should be capitalized. The hyphens between "Hersey" and "Blanchard" should not affect the capitalization.

Therefore, the correct capitalization for this heading would be: "Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory".

If you're seeking a clear-cut capitalization rulebook to assist you in adhering to the style guide you're following, we've outlined the capitalization rules for APA, MLA, and Chicago below, ensuring you won't go wrong:

Title Capitalization Rules from Different Style Guides

The styles of APA, MLA, and Chicago are designed to provide clear guidelines for writing and formatting academic papers, articles, and other scholarly works. While they share common principles, such as the importance of clarity, accuracy, and professionalism, their differences become apparent in how they handle specific elements, particularly in terms of capitalization in titles.

1.Title Capitalization in APA Style

APA offers two clear-cut capitalization methods: title case and sentence case. Let's review the rules of title capitalization for APA style to ensure we adhere to the style correctly.

Title Case: Capitalizing the Important Stuff

Title case is all about highlighting the key words in your titles and headings. Here's what gets a capital letter:

The first word, even if it's a minor word like "a" or  "the."

The first word of a subtitle.

The first word after a colon, em dash, or ending punctuation in a heading.

Major words, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and any word with four or more letters.

The second part of hyphenated major words (e.g., "Self-Report").

Sentence Case: Keeping It Simple

Sentence case is a more relaxed approach, capitalizing only the first word and proper nouns. While rarely used for titles or headings, it might appear in certain instructions or figure captions.

When to Use Title Case

Now that you're equipped with the capitalization tools, let's explore where to use them:

Titles of essays, research papers, dissertations, and thesis.

Headings within your work (Levels 1-5, typically bolded or bold italicized).

Titles of referenced works (books, articles, reports) mentioned in your text.

Titles of tests or measures (e.g., Beck Depression Inventory–II).

Table and figure titles (italicized, along with axis labels and legends).

Knowing title capitalization in APA style is particularly handy when formatting titles in academic papers, articles, essays, reports, and other scholarly works. It's essential for headings and citations alike. APA capitalization guidelines ensure consistency and professionalism in presenting titles within the context of academic writing.

2.Title Capitalization in MLA Style

MLA uses title case for all major words within a title, regardless of whether it's a source you're citing or the title of your own work.

What Gets a Capital Letter?

The first word of the title, always.

All major words, including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, and any word with four or more letters (e.g., "The" and "After" are capitalized, while "a" and "to" are lowercase).

The second part of hyphenated major words (e.g., "Long-Term Effects").

Italics vs. Quotation Marks

MLA uses two methods to present titles within your text and Works Cited list, depending on the type of source:

Italics : Used for complete works like books, films, journals, or websites.

Book : To Kill a Mockingbird

Film : The Shawshank Redemption

Journal : Journal of Applied Psychology

Website : Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Quotation Marks : Surround titles that are part of a larger work, such as chapters in a book, articles in a journal, or webpages.

Chapter in a Book : "The American Dream" in The Great Gatsby

Article in a Journal : "Climate Change and Its Impacts" in Nature

Webpage : "How to Create a Budget" on Investopedia

Remember, the capitalization rules remain the same regardless of italics or quotation marks.

Whether you're referencing a groundbreaking novel like "To Kill a Mockingbird" or citing a captivating news article titled "The Future of AI", MLA title capitalization ensures consistency and clarity in your writing.

3.Title Capitalization in Chicago Style

Chicago Style, a popular choice in various fields, uses a specific approach to title capitalization that might differ from what you're used to. But worry not! Let's break down the rules to ensure your essay titles and headings shine with clarity.

A Headline Approach

Chicago Style follows a headline-style capitalization method, making your titles stand out and grabbing the reader's attention. Here's what gets a capital letter:

The last word of the title, even if it's a minor word like "a" or "the".

All major words in between, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs (including phrasal verbs like "play with"), adverbs, and subordinate conjunctions (e.g., "because," "although").

Keeping It Lowercase:

While major words get the spotlight, some words take a backseat in Chicago Style:

Articles (a, an, the)

Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor, so, yet)

Prepositions (regardless of length), so even longer prepositions like "throughout" stay lowercase.

The second word after a hyphenated prefix (e.g., "Mid-term Exam," "Anti-government").

The "to" in an infinitive (e.g., "Learning to Code").

By following these Chicago Style capitalization guidelines, you'll ensure your titles are both informative and visually distinct, adding another layer of professionalism to your academic work.

APA vs. MLA vs. Chicago

The major differences in title capitalization among the style guides—APA, Chicago, MLA, and AP—lie in their treatment of certain words and expressions:

Titles of Works:

Chicago and MLA : Capitalize the first and last words and all other important words, regardless of length.

APA : Capitalize any word in a title, even a preposition, with five or more letters.

Internet Terms:

Chicago, APA, and MLA prefer "Internet" and "World Wide Web" but use "web" and "website".

Color Words for Race:

Chicago, and MLA recommend lowercase for "black" and "white" when referring to race, with Chicago allowing authors to capitalize them if preferred.

APA suggests capitalizing "Black" and "White".

Using WPS Writer for Effective Headings

WPS Office is widely recognized as the best suite for students for numerous reasons, and one of its standout features is its capability to simplify the process of capitalizing text. With WPS Office, capitalizing text can be made significantly easier through a few simple steps as such:

Step 1 : Open your thesis or dissertation in WPS Writer and navigate to a heading that needs capitalization correction.

Step 2 : Use your cursor to select the heading or title in your document.

Step 3 : Go to the Home tab and click on the " Change Case " icon represented by "Aa".

Step 4 : Users can now choose from five different options. Remember to consider the capitalization rules discussed in the article before making your selection, then click "OK" to proceed.

Step 5 : I decided to proceed with the "Capitalize Each Word" option to change the capitalization of my headings according to my academic requirements.

I find WPS Office the most user-friendly option for students, especially when it comes to capitalizing all letters in a word. Not only is it straightforward to follow formatting styles thanks to the intuitive features of WPS Office, but it's also incredibly easy to use. With just a simple click, WPS Office provides us with options on how to capitalize a title or word, making the process effortless.

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Microsoft-like interface. Easy to learn. 100% Compatibility.

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WPS AI: Your Smart Writing Assistant

WPS Office is a student-friendly suite, primarily due to its accessibility—it's free of cost and offers all the essential features students might require. Its compatibility extends across all major operating systems and devices, ensuring seamless usage regardless of the platform. However, the latest addition to the WPS package is what truly sets it apart: the AI spell check feature. This innovative tool goes beyond traditional spell checking, as it not only identifies spelling errors but also corrects tone, fixes title capitalization, and enhances overall coherence and readability of documents.

Furthermore, AI plays a significant role in the AI Writer tool integrated into WPS Office. This tool serves as a valuable aid in composing articles by offering suggestions for improvement and ensuring clarity of expression. Additionally, it facilitates translation tasks by assisting in translating works into the target language, further enhancing the versatility and usability of WPS Office for students and professionals alike. With these AI-powered features, WPS Office provides a comprehensive solution for students' academic and writing needs, empowering them to create polished and professional documents effortlessly.

Converting Your Essays to PDF Without Losing Format

After completing your essay or thesis, which likely spanned a significant amount of time, the final step of converting it to PDF can be frustrating. Many PDF converters either demand payment or, worse yet, disrupt the carefully crafted formatting, which is key to your essay's presentation. However, WPS Office offers the best solution in this regard. It's free, and WPS PDF ensures that your formatting remains intact, sparing you the hassle and ensuring a seamless transition to PDF format.

Here's an easy way for students to change their papers to PDF using WPS Writer:

Step 1 : Open your paper in WPS Writer and click on the Menu button in the top-left corner.

Step 2 : Next, choose the "Export to PDF" option from the Menu.

Step 3 : In the Export to PDF dialog box, select "Common PDF" from the "Export Type" dropdown menu, and then click "Export to PDF" to convert your Word document to PDF .

FAQs About Title Capitalization

Q1. which words do you not capitalize in a title.

Certain words are not capitalized in titles, regardless of the writing style, such as AP Style, APA, Chicago Manual of Style, or MLA. These include:

Articles (a, an, the): These are not capitalized unless they are the first word of the title.

Prepositions: Most prepositions (such as "in," "on," "of," "by," "with," etc.) are not capitalized unless they are the first or last word of the title.

Conjunctions: Conjunctions (like "and," "but," "or," "nor," "for," "yet," and "so") are typically not capitalized unless they are the first or last word of the title.

Q2. Is “not” capitalized in a title?

The word "not" is capitalized in titles according to all style guides because it functions as an adverb.

Q3. How can I batch-change all the capitalizations on my reference page?

Yes, changing all the capitalizations on your reference page can easily be accomplished using the AI spell check feature in WPS Writer:

Step 1 : Open the document in WPS Writer.

Step 2 : Navigate to the Review tab and click on the "AI Spell Check" feature in the review ribbon.

Step 3 : The AI spell check feature will open on the right side of the WPS Writer interface. Click on the "Set Goals" button on the AI Spell Check window.

Step 4 : Now, set some goals by selecting the "Academic" option under "Domain".

Step 5 : Once you've chosen "Academic”, select the format you're following, such as "APA",  "MLA", "Chicago", or "Other". After selection, WPS AI spell check will highlight all headings with incorrect capitalization.

Effortless Capitalization: Simplify Your Writing with WPS AI

The rules of title capitalization for students are simple to grasp. However, it's natural to forget these rules over time. WPS AI serves as an invaluable tool in this regard. Even if you happen to forget the rules, WPS AI remembers them for you. The AI checker meticulously scans through your text, ensuring that your capitalization adheres to the formatting standards you're employing. With WPS Office and its AI capabilities, you can streamline your work processes more effectively, eliminating the need to stress over title capitalization and other formatting nuances. Get WPS Office today to enhance your productivity and streamline your workflow effortlessly.

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COMMENTS

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