mla essay heading format
Click the Align Left icon or, from the menu bar, select Format and Paragraph, select the Indents and Spacing tab, and change Alignment to left.
The Modern Language Association (MLA) specifies a standard format for essays and research papers written in an academic setting:
- One-inch page margins.
- Double-spaced paragraphs
- A header with author’s last name and page number one-half inch from the top of each page.
- Name of author, name of professor, title of course, date of paper on the first page of the paper.
- A works cited page beginning on a separate page at the end of the paper.
Follow the steps below to format your essay or research paper according to MLA whenever you use Microsoft Word. Before you begin, however, make sure that you can see the Standard and Formatting toobars displayed on two rows on your screen.
Tables, illustrations, and other visuals should be placed as close to the relevant part of text as possible. MLA also provides formatting guidelines.
The MLA Handbook is currently in its 8th edition, published in 2016.
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.)
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):
Always choose an easily readable typeface (Times New Roman is just one example) in which the regular type style contrasts clearly with the italic, and set it to a standard size, such as 12 points. Do not justify the lines of text at the right margin; turn off any automatic hyphenation feature in your writing program. Double-space the entire research paper, including quotations, notes, and the list of works cited. Indent the first line of a paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Indent set-off quotations half an inch as well (for examples, see 76–80 in the MLA Handbook). Leave one space after a period or other concluding punctuation mark, unless your instructor prefers two spaces.
Musical illustrations are labeled Example (usually abbreviated Ex.), assigned an arabic numeral, and given a caption: “Ex. 1. Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Symphony no. 6 in B, opus 74 (Pathétique), finale.” A label and caption ordinarily appear directly below the example and have the same one-inch margins as the text of the paper (fig. 6).
Here’s a breakdown of the words that are always abbreviated for work cited:
- 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.