How To Format The Title Of An Essay

Formatting Titles

A lot of people have trouble formatting titles correctly.  In an English class, how you format the title of a work (a book, an article, a poem, a television show, etc.) can affect the clarity of what you are trying to communicate in your paper.  Please use this reference to make sure you are formatting your titles correctly.

NOTE:  Be sure to capitalize the first letter in ALL of the words of your title except for prepositions (in, of, to, about, toward, between, with, etc.), conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, so, etc.) and articles (a, an, the), UNLESS the word is the first one in the title or comes after a colon.  Capitalize EVEN IF the words are not capitalized in your source.  NEVER use bold type, all caps or extra large fonts in titles.


Type of Source / Document
Title Format
Examples

A book or a play
Underline or Italicize 
(Do one or the other and
 be consistent throughout the paper)
The Price of a Child or The Price of a Child
Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life among the Lowly or Uncle Tom's Cabin: Or, Life among the Lowly
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Death of a Salesman or Death of a Salesman
Othello: The Moor of Venice or Othello: The Moor of Venice


A periodical
(scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers)

Underline or Italicize
The New England Journal of Medicine or The New England Journal of Medicine
Essence or Essence
The Philadelphia Inquirer or The Philadelphia Inquirer


An article from a periodical  

Quotation Marks
"HIV Awareness in African American Fraternities"
"Referee Linked to Alleged Area Bookmaker"

A article from an anthology
(a book of articles by different authors)
Quotation Marks
"Teen Pregnancy: A Different Perspective"

A short story


Quotation Marks
"The Cask of Amontillado"
"Sweat"
"Bloodchild"


A film

Underline or Italicize
The Matrix or The Matrix
Hustle & Flow or Hustle & Flow
Bowling for Columbine or Bowling for Columbine


A CD or album

Underline or Italicize
Hairspray: The Motion Picture Soundtrack or Hairspray: The Motion Picture Soundtrack
The White Album or The White Album


A single song from a CD or album

Quotation Marks
"Revolution"
"The Light of My Life"
"Pimp & Circumstance"


A poem

Quotation Marks
"If We Must Die"
"Phenomenal Woman"
"Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?"


A reference book

Underline or Italicize
The Oxford English Dictionary or The Oxford English Dictionary
Encyclopedia Britannica or Encyclopedia Britannica


A television show

Underline or Italicize
Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Buffy the Vampire Slayer
American Idol or American Idol


A single episode of a television show

Quotation Marks
"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
"Once More with Feeling"

A web page

NOTE:You should check with me before using information from  ANY web page in your paper.

Plain text
If you are just mentioning the name of a web page, use the url: www.cnn.com
If you are using an article, poem, etc., from a web page, format it according to its type: "Dogfighting Co-Defendant Flips; Vick Speaks"

Your own title (the title of your paper)
Plain text
(no bold, no quotation marks, no all caps, no underline)

An Eating Disordered Nation: How the Obsession with Thinness Hurts Everyone
Banning Specific Dog Breeds Is Unfair
Responses to Global Warming
 A title within the title of your paper
Format any title within your title according to this chart.
Women and Skin Color in Uncle Tom's Cabin
Images of Flowers in "Sweat"
Why American Idol Is Destroying the United States


MLA General Format

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo RodrĂ­guez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2016-08-11 04:27:59

MLA style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and using the English language 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 by other writers.

If you are asked to use MLA format, be sure to consult the MLA Handbook (8th 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 handout 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 chapter four of the MLA Handbook, and chapter 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 recognizable one from another. The font size should be 12 pt.
  • Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks (unless otherwise instructed by your instructor).
  • Set the margins of your document to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of paragraphs 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 for the titles of longer works and, only when absolutely necessary, providing 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.
  • 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: 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 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:

Image Caption: 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.

Essays

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

1. Early Writings

2. The London Years

3. Traveling the Continent

4. Final Years

Books

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.

Numbered:

1. Soil Conservation

1.1 Erosion

1.2 Terracing

2. Water Conservation

3. Energy Conservation

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

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