MLA Style Essay Format - Word Tutorial
How to Write an MLA Style Heading on a Literature Essay
MLA style refers to the guidelines put out by the Modern Language Association for writing essays.It specifies how you should write your headings for any type of essay that asks you to use MLA style, including literature essays. You should also use the guidelines to format other parts of your paper, including your title and headers.
Formatting the Title, Header, and Your Personal Information
Include your personal information.MLA format doesn't require you to have a title page. Therefore, on the first page of your paper, you need to include your information in the upper left-hand corner to identify yourself. You'll need to have your name, the professor's name, the name of the class, and the date.
- Put your name at the top. Underneath it, add your professor's name, and underneath that, add the class. The date goes underneath the class.
- This information should be double-spaced.
Add a title.The title goes directly underneath your information. The title should be centered in the middle of the page instead of aligned with the left margin.
- You should also use title-case capitalization for your title, where you capitalize the first and last word, as well as all other important words.
- The title should be descriptive of your paper. Try to give the reader an idea of what your paper is about, though it can be a pun or funny, as well, such as "What's at Stake: Symbolism inDracula"
- If you have a sub-title, it should be set off with a semicolon, as in the example.
Make sure that your document is double-spaced.Your entire document should be double-spaced.This means that there will be a space between the lines of your personal information and between the title and the text.
- To double-space your document in Word, highlight the text and then open the "Paragraph" dialog box in Microsoft Word. Click on the "Line Spacing" drop-down menu and select "Double." This will automatically double-space your text.
- Do not manually enter spaces into your document. Doing this will add too much space between the lines and it will make your document look a little odd.
Create a header.A header runs throughout your paper, so that every page is labelled. The header goes in the upper right-hand corner. The first header should appear on the second page of the document and then continue to the end of the document. It should include your last name, followed by just the page number to the right of your last name.
- You don't need to add "p" or "pg." in front of the page number. You just need the page number. Unless otherwise specified, the header goes on every page, including the first one.
- Always follow your teacher's instructions. For example, your teacher may ask you to place the page number under your name.
- You can create a header with your word-processing software. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can just double click in the space at the top of the page to edit the header.
- To insert page numbers in MS Word, select the "Insert" tab. Then, click on the "Page Number" drop down menu. Hover your cursor over the "Top of the Page" option and then select "Plain Number 3." The page number will appear on the current page of your document. Type your last name in front of the page number, and then check the box next to "Different First Page."
- You can also highlight the text and change it to match your document's text. For example, if you have used Times New Roman, then you could highlight the page number and your last name on the current page and then select Times New Roman from the font menu. Exit the header by clicking on a different part of your document.
Writing Section Headings
Ask your teacher if section headings are necessary.You may not be required to include section headings for your paper. Check your assignment guidelines or ask your teacher if you are unsure. If your teacher does require you to include section headings, then make sure that you follow any special instructions that your teacher has provided.
- Try saying something to your teacher like, "Just to clarify, do we need section headings for this paper?" If the teacher says yes, then you might ask, "Are there any special instructions for the section headings that I should keep in mind?"
Divide your paper into major sections.To use headings, your paper needs to be divided up into the main sections. Each section should cover one main idea in your paper. Usually, sections only work in longer papers, such as 6 to 10 pages or longer. If your paper is fairly short, you probably won't need headings.
- If you wrote the paper from an outline, use that to create your sections from.
- If you didn't use an outline, look at the main ideas that you outlined in your introduction. Each main idea should have its own section.
Number each section.In MLA format, you use a number in front of each heading, starting with the first main idea after the introduction. Use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3...), not Roman numerals (I, II, III...), to number your headings. Use a period after the number.
- For example, your first heading would be numbered like this: 1.
Give each section an appropriate title.Now, you need to name each section with an appropriate title. Each title should be descriptive of what's in the section, so it gives your reader an idea of what's ahead. Headings can also be fun, such as a pun on what you're talking about, but they should always provide some idea of what's ahead.
- For example, if your section is about the use of blood inDracula, you could write something purely descriptive, such as "The Use of Blood inDracula."
- Use title capitalization, meaning you capitalize the first and last words in the heading, as well as all the other important words in the heading. Don't capitalize unimportant words, such as articles (a, an, the), prepositions (to, with, through, about, etc.), and conjunctions (and, yet, but, for, so, etc.).
- Place the heading after the number: 1. The Use of Blood inDracula.
Use parallelism.It's best to maintain parallelism when creating your headings. That is, it's best to keep them grammatically similar. For example, you don't want to use "The Use of Blood inDracula," and "Finding the Stake." Instead, make them similar, such as "The Use of Blood inDracula" and "The Symbolism of the Stake."
- Another example of parallelism would be changing the titles "The Blood inDracula," "Dracula'sSymbolism," and "Finding Religion" to "Dracula'sBlood," "Dracula'sSymbolism," and "Dracula'sReligion."
Employ sub-headings.If your paper is very long, you can break your sections into sub-sections. In that case, you'll need to add subheadings. Use consecutive numbers after the period to distinguish the subheadings, and add a title after each number.
- For example, under "The Use of Blood inDracula," you could have the following subheadings: "1.1 Blood as Sexuality" and "1.2 Blood as Symbol of Immorality."
Decide on a style.MLA format doesn't specify how you should format your headings, so you can decide how you want to format them. You may want to bold your main headings, and italicize your subheadings, for example. The key is to be consistent with how you format them.
- For example, your headings could look like the ones below:
1. The Use of Blood inDracula
1.1 Blood as Sexuality
1.2 Blood as Symbol of Immortality
- For example, your headings could look like the ones below:
QuestionCan I have commas in the heading?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can use commas in the heading.Thanks!
QuestionWhat size font do I use?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou use 12-point font.Thanks!
Video: Google Docs: MLA Format Essay (2016)
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