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MLA General Format 

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MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages. 

Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability to their source material. Most importantly, the use of MLA style can protect writers from accusations of plagiarism, which is the purposeful or accidental uncredited use of source material produced by other writers. 

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the  MLA Handbook  (9th edition). Publishing scholars and graduate students should also consult the  MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing  (3rd edition). The  MLA Handbook  is available in most writing centers and reference libraries. It is also widely available in bookstores, libraries, and at the MLA web site. See the Additional Resources section of this page for a list of helpful books and sites about using MLA Style.

Paper Format

The preparation of papers and manuscripts in MLA Style is covered in part four of the  MLA Style Manual . Below are some basic guidelines for formatting a paper in  MLA Style :

General Guidelines

  • Type your paper on a computer and print it out on standard, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • Double-space the text of your paper and use a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman). Whatever font you choose, MLA recommends that the regular and italics type styles contrast enough that they are each distinct from one another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise prompted by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. MLA recommends that you use the “Tab” key as opposed to pushing the space bar five times.
  • Create a header that numbers all pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner, one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor may ask that you omit the number on your first page. Always follow your instructor's guidelines.)
  • Use italics throughout your essay to indicate the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, provide emphasis.
  • If you have any endnotes, include them on a separate page before your Works Cited page. Entitle the section Notes (centered, unformatted).

Formatting the First Page of Your Paper

  • Do not make a title page for your paper unless specifically requested or the paper is assigned as a group project. In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text.
  • Double space again and 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.
  • Use quotation marks and/or italics when referring to other works in your title, just as you would in your text. For example:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  as Morality Play; Human Weariness in "After Apple Picking"
  • Double space between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space with a page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), one-half inch from the top and flush with the right margin. (Note: Your instructor or other readers may ask that you omit the last name/page number header on your first page. Always follow instructor guidelines.)

Here is a sample of the first page of a paper in MLA style:

This image shows the first page of an MLA paper.

The First Page of an MLA Paper

Section Headings

Writers sometimes use section headings to improve a document’s readability. These sections may include individual chapters or other named parts of a book or essay.

MLA recommends that when dividing an essay into sections you number those sections with an Arabic number and a period followed by a space and the section name.

MLA does not have a prescribed system of headings for books (for more information on headings, please see page 146 in the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing , 3rd edition). If you are only using one level of headings, meaning that all of the sections are distinct and parallel and have no additional sections that fit within them, MLA recommends that these sections resemble one another grammatically. For instance, if your headings are typically short phrases, make all of the headings short phrases (and not, for example, full sentences). Otherwise, the formatting is up to you. It should, however, be consistent throughout the document.

If you employ multiple levels of headings (some of your sections have sections within sections), you may want to provide a key of your chosen level headings and their formatting to your instructor or editor.

Sample Section Headings

The following sample headings are meant to be used only as a reference. You may employ whatever system of formatting that works best for you so long as it remains consistent throughout the document.

Formatted, unnumbered:

Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left

Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left

Level 3 Heading: centered, bold

Level 4 Heading: centered, italics

Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left

how to format a title of an essay

Best Tips on How to Title an Essay

how to format a title of an essay

How to Make a Good Title for an Essay

The success of an essay heavily depends on its title. This may not come as a surprise given that the essay title is the first aspect to provide the reader with a sneak peek into the text. It piques our interest to read the paper in the first place and gives us a preview of what to expect from the author.

Our research paper writing help prepared a thorough guide on how to title an essay. Here you may find tips and tricks for developing an effective APA or MLA essay title. So, let's dive straight into the article for more exciting details!

Essay Title Format

During your essay writing process, ensure you know the stylistic requirements before beginning an essay. Knowing the format you need to employ is crucial because different style manuals may have varying requirements. Mostly, you could have used an APA or MLA essay title format. Our service, where you can buy essay online , explains these two in more detail below.

Essay Title MLA

If you're required to create an essay title MLA format, check whether your instructor wants you to make a separate cover page. If not, put a heading at the beginning of your work that includes your name, the name of your professor, the course ID, and, lastly, the date.

On the other hand, if you must present a cover page for your essay title MLA, then you need to include the following:

  • The name of the college
  • The title of your paper
  • The subtitle of your paper, if applicable
  • Your first and last name
  • Your teacher or professor's name
  • The class name or course number
  • The date the paper is due

The formatting instructions are as follows:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • Size 12 font
  • Apart from very short terms, each word's initial letter should be capitalized. The initial word, however, must always be uppercase.
  • The title page shouldn't include a header with the page numbers.

Essay Title APA

Having discussed the MLA format essay title, let's explore what the APA student title page includes:

  • The paper title
  • Author names
  • Institutional affiliation where the author carried out the study
  • Name and number of the course
  • Professor name
  • Page number

The title of an essay format instructions:

  • double-spaced
  • 1" margins
  • 12-point Times New Roman
  • According to APA, your title should be targeted and brief, without unnecessary words or abbreviations

How to Choose a Good Title for an Essay: Important Qualities

Nobody will read a dull headline. Your title should grab your audience's attention and encourage them to read the rest of the work. As it is one of the initial things readers see, having a strong attention grabber is essential when writing an essay from scratch. To fully understand how to come up with a title for essay that is strong and exciting, let's consider a few following factors:

Employ a Catchy Hook - Usually, the title of essay format follows a similar basic structure, especially if they are used for an academic article. The hook serves as a unique component that attracts the reader. It's a captivating statement informing others about the topic of the essay. You can also explore several types of sentences with examples that can help you develop the ideal hook structure.

Consider Topic Keywords - These are essential terms or expressions pertinent to your subject and help your reader understand the focus and body of your article. These focus keywords should serve as a brief, one- to two-word article summary. You can choose some terms from the research topic your instructor gave you, but after your thesis statement is formed, this is where you should hunt for ideas.

Use a Colon - A colon is frequently used in academic titles to separate concepts and sentences. The standard procedure is to place a clever remark or brief quotation before the colon. Although these beginning words offer flavor, they can be overdone. Because of this, some individuals find using the colon to be repugnant. Therefore be careful not to misuse this method.

Ask a Question - To write essay title that is strong, consider asking a question. But, use it with caution because posing a question will make your tone less formal. As long as the question is suitably phrased to meet the subject of your essay, feel free to employ it. Always check to see if the title question still applies to your points in the essay's body. The thesis statement should be appropriately reflected as well.

Find Inspirational Quotes - There is no formula for selecting essay titles from the textual content. You may get playful and choose any quotation, proverb, or catchphrase that applies to your particular publication and works as a title. You may also create a great essay title using well-known expressions or idioms. Doing so will help your readers relate to and feel more comfortable discussing your subject.

How to Title an Essay headline

Here are other rules for how to create a good title:

  • Title every section of writing: In the process of writing, create interesting subheadings to give your paragraphs an identity. Also, they make your text look ordered and clear. 
  • The title must bear the theme of the text: choose a title that summarizes the essay. 
  • Capitalize all words with certain exceptions: Capitalize the first letter of every word in the title, but do not capitalize pronouns, articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
  • Avoid underlining the title: Since topics come in boldface, underlining it will amount to overemphasis. Some authorities say that if you must underline it, do not bolden it.
  • Review the final version of the title: Do not forget to do a quick review of the final version of the title—check for grammar, structure, spelling and so on. Re-read it to determine if the title has given justice to the essay. Confirm if the topic is catchy enough to attract your reader’s attention. 
  • When using a colon in your title, follow the rules: Since we are dealing with punctuation rules here, let us talk about the colon – when you have two eye-catching topics, separate them with a colon.

Student’s Guide on How to Come Up with a Title for an Essay

Titling an essay can be easy, but there are a few core principles to be taken into account. The following tips will help you stay on track and avoid any common pitfalls.

Essay Goes First

Never start with a title! If you write it before the rest of the text, it will be based on it, and it should be vice versa. Writing an essay before choosing a heading will give you a clear understanding of what should make sense to the reader. Re-read the finished paper several times to decide on the title. The last thing to create is a title - such strategy will give more time to spend on crafting an essay outline, conducting research, or writing the paper itself.

How to Title an Essay, Complete Guide 2

What are you writing about? What is the style of your paper, and is it an academic essay or a free-form essay like a narrative essay? If the topic of your essay is “Do people who commit heinous crimes deserve the death penalty?” your title should not be humorous; it should be strict and to the point.

If your topic is “Why do people like watching funny cat videos?”, feel free to craft a funny title. Determine the tone of your essay and base your title on it—in consideration with the essay’s topic.

The tone can be:

  • Serious - “The implications of global warming”
  • Funny - “How cats and dogs love their masters”
  • Amiable - “Ways to fight depression”
  • Persuasive - “Why positive thinking is a must have skill for every person”
  • Informative - “Ten rules for creating a chemical at home”

The main goal of a title is to name its paper. There is no need to tell an entire story in the title, or provide any useless details. Sum up your paper in a few words! Another way to do this is to sum up your thesis statement, as it represents the main idea of your essay. Take your thesis and squeeze it into 3-4 words. Imagine that you are creating a title for your favourite newspaper or a slogan for Coca-Cola.

Don’t use fancy words! Take 2-3 main words (keywords), put them together, and stop wasting your time. Avoid jargon and abbreviations.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is something that can help any student and young writer reap benefits. While working on a title, detect the words related to the central idea of the paper. Type the words into the search field of Google and add the word “quote.” A search engine will show numerous web pages with in-text quotations that could be useful. Select the fragment you like. It is possible to learn how to make a creative title for an essay in this way.

Discover several more tips from experts:

  • Never forget the “What,” “Who,” “When,” “How,” “Why,” and “Where” questions (if you start with one of these questions, your title has a chance of getting noticed);
  • Come up with an unexpected image not related to the selected topic;
  • Sometimes, starting with a lie increases the chances of a title being able to catch an eye;
  • Review our catchy essay title examples.

Need Some Help With Your Essay's Title?

Feel free to contact EssayPro and we will provide you with a writing help at a moment’s notice. With the years of essay writing experience, titling becomes second nature, so you no longer need to worry about having a catchy headline on your paper.

Essay Title Examples: Bad vs Good

The strongest essay titles condense lengthy essays into concise statements. When wondering how to make an essay title, think carefully about your stylistic choices and essay format to produce an excellent one. Our dissertation help has provided essay title examples to let you understand the difference between good and bad ones more vividly.

bad good essay titles

Bad Essay Title Examples

As we discussed how to create an essay title and the specific elements that go into it, you should have a clear idea of how important it is to craft a strong title. In contrast, first, look at weak essay title ideas that can break your paper. This should serve as an example of why your heading should not be like this:

Ex 1: ' How Television Has Changed Our World ' - too vast and not informative

Ex 2: 'The Ara Pacis Augustae' - unclear for those who don't know Latin

Ex 3: 'The Most Poisonous Frog' - does not provide any insight

Ex 4: 'A Brief History of Subcultures and How They Manifest Themselves in a Constantly Changing Socio-Economic Environment' - too long and complicated

Ex 5: 'The Little Mermaid 29 Years Later: Selling a Harmful Sexist Message Through a Naughty Image' - inappropriate language

Good Essay Title Examples

Now that you know what a bad essay title looks like, let's explore good essay title examples as their substitutes. Examine the following essay title format styles that will give you a clear understanding.

Ex 1: ' The Electronic Babysitter: A Social History of Uses of the Television' - gives an exact description of what the essay will be about

Ex 2: ' The Modern Historical Significance of the Ara Pacis Augustae to the City of Rome' - here, the reader can understand what they will be reading about

Ex 3: ' A Deadly Beauty: The Evolution of Skin Coloration and Toxicity of the Poisonous Dart Frog' - clear, informative, and on-point.

Ex 4: 'Reconsidering Counterculture in Contemporary Society' - informative enough and brief

Ex 5: 'The Projection of Gender Stereotypes in The Little Mermaid' - employs appropriate language

Catchy Essay Title Ideas

You now understand that long, complicated headlines do not accurately convey the paper's main idea. Take ample time to consider the word choice before tilting your work. How do you create good essay titles? Think creatively and with common sense. But meanwhile, for your convenience, we compiled title ideas for essays you may use as inspiration.

Persuasive Essay Titles

  • Why Receiving College Education is Important: Examining Long-term Benefits
  • Face-to-Face Courses Cannot Be Replaced by Online Learning
  • An MBA Does Not Ensure Corporate Success.
  • Every Company Should Adopt a Green Strategy.
  • Energy Drinks Represent a Lucrative Market Segment.
  • Aircraft, Excess Weight Charges, Need to be Prohibited.
  • Patients' Life Shouldn't be Put to Death by Nurses.
  • Google Glasses May Increase the Number of Auto Accidents.
  • All of the Conventional Malls Will Soon be Replaced By Online Shopping
  • How Do Team-building Exercises Contribute to the Development of Inventions?
  • Illegal immigrants are entitled to remain in the US.

Academic Essay Titles

  • Several English Dialects: The Link Between Various Cultures
  • Instagram: A social media innovation
  • Is it possible to reverse drug-induced brain damage, and if so, how?
  • What the Future Holds for Humans in the Light of Artificial Intelligence
  • The Story of Two Nations after Decades of Conflict: North and South Korea
  • Video Games and Their Learning Context in Schools
  • Free Wi-Fi: Strategies for Enhancing the City's Economy

Strong Research Paper Titles

  • Digital World Cybersecurity
  • E-business to Provide New Paths for Booksellers
  • Outsourcing for Large Businesses
  • Preparing for College Costs for High School Students
  • What News Reporters Should Do in the Digital Age and How to Do It: Examples
  • The Transformative Power of Music: How Heavy Metal Impacted My Life

Best Essay Titles for College Students

  • The Possible Benefits and Risks of Artificial Intelligence for Humans
  • The Potential for Time Travel in Virtual Reality
  • What Role Has Mathematics Played in Human History?
  • How to Succeed in the Real Estate Industry
  • E-Commerce: An Empire of Virtual Businesses Worth Millions of Dollars
  • How to Achieve Financial Independence in the Digital Age Without Opening a Real Business

More Creative Titles for Essays

  • When getting rewarded for their grades, would kids do better left alone?
  • How Does Fake News Impact the Mainstream press?
  • Homelessness in Contemporary Society: A Dilemma
  • What News Reporters' Best Job Is in the Digital Age and How to Uphold It
  • Elon Musk: Brilliant Mind or Insane Person?
  • Positives and Negatives of Employing a Smoker
  • Do We Employ the Appropriate Student Success Metrics?

Professional Academic Help

Now that you know how to make a good title for an essay, you should also understand that you should approach the task as a process. While composing your essay title, you must condense your whole thesis and point of discussion into a single, concise, yet powerful sentence. If you have time before your deadline, give it some thought and don't hurry.

Don't forget that you can always rely on our professional academic assistance, whether you need a reflection paper , ideas for a strong essay title, or any other academic papers. Consider the following words - write my essay for me - magic keywords for delegating your most complex tasks to our skilled writers!

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how to format a title of an essay

Formatting Titles

by Purdue Global Academic Success Center and Writing Center · Published October 2, 2020 · Updated November 5, 2020

how to format a title of an essay

Let’s face it: For whatever reason, formatting titles can be confusing, especially if you think about all the titles that need proper formatting–the title placed on the title page of a paper, the title of a journal article mentioned in the body of a paper, the title of a newspaper or a website on the list of references. There are titles of books and titles of chapters in those books; titles of blogs and titles of blog entries. Some titles are italicized and some are put in quotation marks. Titles on the list of references require formatting–some titles use title case, some sentence case; some titles are italicized and some are not. And then there are those situations where titles are used in in-text citations–some titles are truncated and italicized; some are put in quotation marks–you get the idea. 

First off, I am not going to address how to format titles when citing in the paper or listing on the list of references—those are formatting guidelines for another time. I am going to focus on titles on the title page, the first page of the paper, and within a paper. Here is what you need to keep straight:

Titles require special capitalization called title case. Title case requires one to

  • capitalize the first letter of the first and last words of a title;
  • capitalize the first letter of all verbs;
  • capitalize all words of four or more letters;
  • capitalize the first letter of all other words except a, an, the, short conjunctions such as “for, and, but,” and prepositions of fewer than four letters (words like “up, in, off”);
  • capitalize the first letter of a word following a colon or dash;
  • capitalize the first letter of a subtitle. 

When a title appears on the title page of an APA Style 7th edition student paper, that title should be centered, bolded, and in title case—no need to use all caps, no need to italicize or underline, and no need to use quotation marks or place a period at the end. 

Simply type out the title using title case and bold it–that’s it.

On the first page of the essay, center and repeat the title, bold it, and use title case. Again, do not use any special formatting. Do not use a bigger font size or style. Do not underline or italicize and so forth. Just use title case, bold, and center the title on the first page of the essay.

Easy enough, right?

Titles that appear within an essay require special formatting in addition to title case. If the title is for an article—content that is part of a greater whole—then the title should have quotation marks around it. If the title is for a book, journal, newspaper, or some other whole work, then the title is italicized.

Let’s say you have an article titled “The New Coffee Culture” that appears in the journal Studies in Popular Culture . Let’s also say that for whatever reason, you name both titles in the body of your paper. The article “The New Coffee Culture” appears in the journal Studies in Popular Culture , so the article is content that appears in a greater whole, right? 

Both titles would be in title case. The article “The New Coffee Culture” would have quotation marks around it, and the title of the journal, Studies in Popular Culture , would be italicized. 

I hope this blogcast clarifies exactly what you need to do when formatting titles in typical usage situations in APA style. 

Until next week–

Kurtis Clements

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  • Writing Tips

Formatting Titles in Essays

2-minute read

  • 8th May 2018

Handling your own headings is one thing, but how should you write the titles of other works? You need to mark them out somehow, and you have two standard options: italics or quote marks.

This is especially important in academic writing , as you’ll often have to discuss books and papers written by other people. Here, then, are some guidelines you should follow when formatting titles.

When to Use Italics

You can often spot a title from the capitalisation , but we still format titles to distinguish between different types of source. Titles of longer sources, for example, typically use italics:

how to format a title of an essay

Here, Kerrang! is italicised because it is the title of a magazine (i.e. a standalone work that is not one part of a larger whole). Other publications and productions that this applies to include:

  • Academic journals
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Websites and blogs
  • Films and TV shows
  • Radio programmes
  • Plays and other stage shows
  • Book-length poems
  • Paintings and other works of art
  • Music albums

The key here, then, is that italics are used for longer published works .

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When to Use Quote Marks

We use quote marks for the title of anything that doesn’t fit in the list above. Usually, this will be something that is part of a more substantial publication, such as an article from a magazine:

how to format a title of an essay

In this case, we see both the magazine title and an article title. Using italics on the former and quote marks on the latter makes it immediately obvious which is which. Other cases where quote marks are required include:

  • Chapters from books
  • Academic papers and journal articles
  • Articles from newspapers and magazines
  • Single pages from a website or posts from a blog
  • Individual poems and short stories
  • Single episodes of a TV series
  • Single poems from a collection
  • Songs and other short recordings

In this case, the key is that quote marks are used for shorter works . However, quote marks are also used for unpublished works regardless of length (e.g. a draft manuscript or a PhD dissertation).

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COMMENTS

  1. MLA Titles | How to Format & Capitalize Source Titles - Scribbr

    Use quotation marks around the title if it is part of a larger work (e.g. a chapter of a book, an article in a journal, or a page on a website). All major words in a title are capitalized. The same format is used in the Works Cited list and in the text itself. Place in quotation marks. Italicize.

  2. General Format - Purdue OWL® - Purdue University

    Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor. In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the course, and the date. Again, be sure to use double-spaced text. Double space again and center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks.

  3. How to Title an Essay: Tips and Examples | EssayPro

    The name of the college. The title of your paper. The subtitle of your paper, if applicable. Your first and last name. Your teacher or professor's name. The class name or course number. The date the paper is due. The formatting instructions are as follows: Double-spaced.

  4. Formatting Titles – Purdue Global Academic Success and ...

    Simply type out the title using title case and bold it–that’s it. On the first page of the essay, center and repeat the title, bold it, and use title case. Again, do not use any special formatting. Do not use a bigger font size or style. Do not underline or italicize and so forth. Just use title case, bold, and center the title on the first ...

  5. How to Title an Essay: Tips and Examples - Oxbridge Essays

    To create an effective title, consider the following tips: Brainstorm Ideas: Begin by brainstorming keywords, phrases, and concepts related to your essay topic. Explore different angles and perspectives that encapsulate the essence of your argument or analysis. Consider the Audience: Reflect on your target audience and their interests ...

  6. Title page setup - APA Style

    Follow the guidelines described next to format each element of the student title page. Place the title three to four lines down from the top of the title page. Center it and type it in bold font. Capitalize major words of the title. Place the main title and any subtitle on separate double-spaced lines if desired.

  7. Formatting Titles in Essays (Italics or Quote Marks ... - Proofed

    When to Use Italics. You can often spot a title from the capitalisation, but we still format titles to distinguish between different types of source. Titles of longer sources, for example, typically use italics: Here, Kerrang! is italicised because it is the title of a magazine (i.e. a standalone work that is not one part of a larger whole).

  8. How To Write Titles in Essays (With Tips) - Indeed

    Whether composing the essay's title and subtitles or citing other works, your titling should remain consistent. Essays inspire and inform the reader, and effective titles reflect the mood and purpose. In this article, we discuss how to format titles within essays, along with tips you can use to craft compelling essay titles.