The MLA style refers to the guidelines established by the Modern Languages Association for essay writing. They specify how to write headings for any type of essay that calls for the use of MLA style, including literature essays. You should also use the guidelines for formatting other parts of the work, including the title and headings.
Part 1 of 2: Format the Title, Header, and Your Personal Information
Step 1. Include your personal information
The MLA format does not require the inclusion of a title page or cover page. Therefore, on the first page of the work, you must include the information in the upper left corner to identify yourself. Write your name, the teacher's name, the class name, and the date.
- Write your name at the top. Below it, add your teacher's name, and below it, add the class. The date is included below the class.
- This information must be double-spaced.
Step 2. Add the title
The title is included directly below your information. It should be centered in the middle of the page, rather than aligned with the left margin.
- You should also use capital letters for the capital initials of the title. In this case, capitalize the first and last words, as well as other important words.
- The title should be descriptive based on your essay. The goal is to give the reader an idea of the topic your essay addresses, although it can be a play on words or something funny, like "In Search of Blood: Symbolisms in Dracula."
- If you have a subtitle, it must be presented with a semicolon, as in the example.
Step 3. Make sure the document is double spaced
The entire document must 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 a document in Word, highlight the text and open the "Paragraph" dialog box in Microsoft Word. Click the "Leading" drop-down menu and select "Double." This will automatically double-space all text.
- Do not enter the spaces manually in the document. This will only add too much space between the lines and make your document look a bit weird.
Step 4. Create a header
The heading is spread throughout the essay so that each page is labeled. It is placed in the upper right corner. The first should appear on the second page of the document and then continue to the end of the document. You must include your last name followed by the page number to the right of your last name.
- You don't need to add "p" or "p." ahead of the page number. You just need to include the number. Unless otherwise specified, the header is included on all pages, including the first.
- Always follow the instructions of your teacher. For example, they might ask you to include the page number below your name.
- You can create a header with your word processing software. For example, in Microsoft Word, you can double-click the space at the top of the page to edit the heading.
- To insert the page number in MS Word, select the "Insert" tab. Then, click on "Page Number" in the drop-down menu. Move your cursor over the "Top of page" option and select "Flat number 3". The page number will appear on the current page of the document. Write your last name in front of the page number. Then, click on the box next to "Different first page."
- You can also highlight the text and change it to match the text in the document. For example, if you've used Times New Roman, you can highlight the page number and your last name on the current page and select Times New Roman from the font menu. To exit the header, click on a different part of the document.
Part 2 of 2: Write Section Headings
Step 1. Ask your teacher if you need to include section headings
You may not have to include section headings in your essay. Review the homework guidelines or ask your teacher if you have questions. If your teacher requires the use of headings in sections, be sure to follow the specific instructions they provide.
For example, you could say to your teacher something like, "Just to be clear, do we have to include section headings in this essay?" If they say yes, then you can ask them "Are there any special instructions for the headings section that I should be aware of?"
Step 2. Divide the essay among the main sections
To use headings, your essay must be divided into main sections. Each one should cover a main idea. Sections are generally only useful for long essays, such as 6-10 pages or more. If your essay is relatively short, it is unlikely that you will need to use headings.
- If you've written your essay from an outline, use it to create your sections.
- If you have not used an outline, look for the main ideas that you have summarized in the introduction. Each main idea should have its own section.
Step 3. Number each section
In MLA format, you must use a number in front of each heading, starting with the main idea after the introduction. Use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) and not Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.) to number the headings. Use a period after the number.
For example, the first heading can be numbered like this: 1
Step 4. Include an appropriate title for each section
Now, you have to name each section with an appropriate title. Each title should describe the content of the section so that the reader has an idea of what to expect. Headlines can also be fun, like a pun on the topic being discussed, but they should also provide insight into the topic to be discussed.
- For example, if the section is about the use of blood in Dracula, you can write something purely descriptive, such as The Use of Blood in Dracula.
- Use capital letters in titles. Capitalize the first and last word of the heading, as well as other important words. Do not use capital letters for words that are not important such as articles (un, una, uno), prepositions (a, ante, bajo, cabe, etc.) and conjunctions (and, como, but, but, etc.).
- Place the heading after the number: 1. Dracula's Use of Blood.
Step 5. Use parallelism
It is better to keep the parallelism when creating the headers. That is, it is better to keep them grammatically similar. For example, you don't want to use "Dracula's Use of Blood" and "Discover the Symbolism of Blood." Instead, make them similar, like "Dracula's Use of Blood" and "The Symbolism of Blood."
Another example of parallelism can be to change the titles "The Blood in Dracula", "The Symbolism in Dracula" and "Discover the Religion" by "The Blood in Dracula", "The Symbolism in Dracula" and "The Religion in Dracula"
Step 6. Use subheadings
If the essay is very long, you can divide the sections between subsections. In this case, you will have 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 in Dracula", you can write the subheading: "1.1 Blood as Sexuality" and "1.2 Blood as Symbol of Immorality"
Step 7. Pick a style
The MLA format does not specify the format you should use for the headings, so you can choose what you prefer. For example, you can use bold for the main headings and use italics for the sub-headings. The key is to be consistent with the formatting throughout the text.
For example, the headings can be:
1. The Use of Blood in Dracula
1.1 Blood as Sexuality
1.2 Blood as a Symbol of Immortality