MLA Style Guide: 8th Edition: Heading and Title
- Works Cited examples
- Direct Quote
- Block Quote
- Indirect Quote
- Multiple Authors
- In-Text Exceptions
- Personal Communications
- MLA Handbook/Other Resources
Heading and Title
An MLA-formatted research paper does not need a title page (unless your instructor requires one, of course). Instead, include at the top of your first page a heading – consisting of your name, your instructor’s name, the course number, and the date – and the title of your paper.
The title should be centered and double-spaced. Do not italicize, bold, underline, or put your title in quotation marks (unless using a quote in the title), and do not use a period after your title.
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MLA Style Guide
- How Do I Format My Paper?
- How Do I Format My Works Cited Page?
- In-Text Citations
- Using Numbers
Guidelines for Formatting your Paper
- Double space your paper including the header and the Works Cited
- Use Times New Roman, size 12.
- Leave only one space after punctuation marks at the end of sentences.
- Use italics for the titles of books or magazines. Enclose poems or articles in quotation marks.
- Create a header on the first page of your paper, which is right justified your last name and page number.
- your teacher’s name
- the name of the class (AP US History)
- the date your paper is due. (Day-Month-Year)
- Skip a line between the header and the title.
- The title should define the assignment or the topic of the paper. It should not be the title of the book, poem, essay, or short story about which you are writing. Your title should not be bolded, underlined or italicized. Type your title in the same font, size, and style as the rest of your paper.
If you are not sure whether your paper is formatted correctly, talk to your teacher or a librarian!
Example of a Properly Formatted Paper
Example of an MLA Formatted First Page
On page two, and all subsequent pages, number your pages on the top right hand side of your paper with your last name and page number. The page header should appear on every page of your paper except the first page.
Example of MLA Formatted Second and Subsequent Pages
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How to Write a Book Title in MLA Formatting
by Joe Bunting | 0 comments
You're writing a paper for school and suddenly you stop in the middle of the sentence. You have to write a book title, but you don't how to format it. How do you format a book title in MLA style? Good news: you're in the write place (sorry, I had to).
In this post, we'll talk about MLA style and formatting, whether it's appropriate for your project, and most importantly, how to write a book title in MLA style.
What Is MLA?
MLA stands for Modern Language Association, a society primarily based in the United States but with international standing, that has a mission to “strengthen the study and teaching of language and literature”. Founded in the late 1800s by an American novelist and professor, MLA publishes a set of resources used by students and teachers, including the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers .
The MLA handbook is one of the main style manuals for students and scholars in the world, especially for anyone studying literature, film, or theater.
Should You Format Based on MLA Style?
If you're writing a paper for a class in literature, theater, or film, absolutely use MLA style. Outside of that, it depends. Here are the most frequent style guides associated with various disciplines:
- Literature, Film, Theater: MLA
- Psychology: APA
- Science (Physics, Biology, Chemistry): CSE or APA
- Journalism: AP
- Mathematics: AMA
- Publishing: Chicago
You can find a full list of international style guides here .
Now that you know if you should be using MLA style, how do you format a book title with it?
How to Format a Book Title in MLA Style: Example
In MLA style, book titles are italicized, as so:
Henry Thorough argues in Walden that the best life is lived in deliberate simplicity so as to discover what life truly is about.
In fact, most style guides, including MLA and Chicago style, require book titles to be italicized , not underlined.
If the book title has a subtitle, the subtitle should be italicized as well and separated by a colon to be formatted correctly for MLA style, as in:
Natural History of the Intellect: the last lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Should You Underline Book Titles in MLA Style?
If you are using MLA style, you should not underline book titles. Instead, italicize the titles.
However, AP style, the guide used by journalists, suggests putting titles in quotation marks, not italicization.
Still, I wouldn't recommend underlining a book's title. In fact, I couldn't find a single style guide that requires book titles to be underlined, but if you know of one that does, let me know in the comments!
Which style guide do you use most? MLA? Chicago? APA? AP? Or do you just write based on your own rules?! Let me know in the comments .
Let's cement this formatting lesson in our minds by putting it to use right away with the following writing exercise .
What are your favorite books of all time? Write about what you love about them and why they are your favorites for fifteen minutes . Make sure to use the correct formatting for each title!
When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section . And if you post, please be sure to read a few practices by other writers and share your feedback with them.
Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).
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This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.
What about MLA format?
All research papers on literature use MLA format, as it is the universal citation method for the field of literary studies. Whenever you use a primary or secondary source, whether you are quoting or paraphrasing, you will make parenthetical citations in the MLA format [Ex. (Smith 67).] Your Works Cited list will be the last page of your essay. Consult the OWL handout on MLA for further instructions.
Note, however, the following minor things about MLA format:
- Titles of books, plays, or works published singularly (not anthologized) should be italicised unless it is a handwritten document, in which case underlining is acceptable. (Ex. Hamlet , Great Expectations )
- Titles of poems, short stories, or works published in an anthology will have quotation marks around them. (Ex. "Ode to a Nightingale," "The Cask of Amontillado")
Tip If you're using Microsoft Word, you can easily include your name and page number on each page by following the these steps:
- Open "View" (on the top menu).
- Open "Header and Footer." (A box will appear at the top of the page you're on. And a "Header and Footer" menu box will also appear).
- Click on the "align right" button at the top of the screen. (If you're not sure which button it is, hold the mouse over the buttons and a small window should pop up telling you which button you're on.)
- Type in your last name and a space.
- Click on the "#" button which is located on the "Header and Footer" menu box. It will insert the appropriate page number.
- Click "Close" on the "Header and Footer" window.
That's all you need to do. Word will automatically insert your name and the page number on every page of your document.
What else should I remember?
- Don't leave a quote or paraphrase by itself-you must introduce it, explain it, and show how it relates to your thesis.
- Block format all quotations of more than four lines.
- When you quote brief passages of poetry, line and stanza divisions are shown as a slash (Ex. "Roses are red, / Violets are blue / You love me / And I like you").
- For more help, see the OWL handout on using quotes .
MLA Citations (9th ed.)
- General Formatting
- Formatting & Ordering Your Works Cited
- Tables and Illustrations
- Title of Source
- Title of Container
- Publication Date
- Optional Elements
- Parenthetical Documentation
- Endnotes and Footnotes
- Avoiding Plagiarism
The title is usually prominently displayed in the work, often near the author. If the title has a subtitle , include it after the main title.
Titles and subtitles are given in the entry in full exactly as they are found in the source, except that capitalization and punctuation are standardized.
A title is placed in quotation marks if the source is part of a larger work. A title is italicized (or underlined if italics are unavailable) if the source is self-contained independent.
Title Capitalization and Punctuation
For titles and subtitles, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all principal words , including those that follow hyphens in compound terms.
When an untitled poem is known by its first line or when a short untitled message is identified in the works cited list by its full text, reproduce the line exactly as it appears in the source.
Use a colon and a space to separate title and subtitle, unless the title ends in a question mark or exclamation point. Include other punctuation only if it is part of the title or subtitle.
A book is a whole unto itself. This means that the title is set in italics.
Here is an example:
Jacobs, Alan. The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction . Oxford UP, 2011.
Collection of Essays, Stories, or Poems Title
A collection of essays, stories, or poems by various authors is also a whole unto itself. This means this title is also in italics.
Baron, Sabrina Alcorn, et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein . U of Massachusetts P / Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.
Essay, Story, or Poem Title
An essay, story, or poem in a collection is part of a larger whole. This means the title should be placed in quotation marks.
Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein , edited by Sabrina Alcorn Baron et al., U of Massachusetts P / Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007, pp. 365-77.
BUT when a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics.
Euripides. The Trojan Women . Ten Plays , translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.
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Day Month Year
Start your introduction paragraph here. Remember to double-space your entire document!
This sample paper describes MLA guidelines for formatting papers for your English courses. For more information on document design, see the MLA handbook, or any writing handbook, and perhaps do a web search for "document design."
You will not need a cover page or a title page for your essay, so set up the first page of your paper as described above. Be sure to double-space your entire essa y, including the Works Cited page (even though this web-page is not). Use at least one-inch margins on all four sides . Use a 12-point �readable� font (e.g. , Times New Roman , Cambria, Arial , or Calibri ) . Indent the first line of each paragraph one tab. An extra space between paragraphs is optional.
Finally, do not submit your final draft in one of those plastic "report covers" or binders. Ask your instructor if s/he prefers you to staple your final draft.
In addition, check your paper for the following items:
- You should NOT �quote,� bold , underline , italicize , CAPITALIZE, or enlarge your own title.
- You might use the assignment title as your own title --or even the number of the assignment, such as Essay #1, as your own title. But some instructors, and readers, might prefer you to come up with a more original title of your own , one that reflects the essay's topic or central idea (argument) .
- You should definitely proofread your final draft carefully before submitting it.
As you proofread, pay particular attention to the following items:
- Be sure to spell the names of any other authors correctly; check your book s to be sure.
- When you refer to another author in your paper, use her/his full name the first time; then use either her/his full name or last name; do not refer to an author by her/his first name only .
- Be sure to spell any other name s correctly as well, such as characters' names in a novel or play ; check your book s to be sure.
- When you refer to a character in your paper, use his/her full name the first time; thereafter, you may refer to a character by his/her first name or full name.
- We underline or italicize the titles of books , movies, TV shows, and albums/CDs-- e.g. , Where No Gods Came and The Little Seagull Handbook are underlined or italicized -- but not both at the same time, and be consistent with which one you choose.
- We put in �quotation marks� the titles of stories, poems, articles, chapters, individual TV episodes, individual songs, etc. (For really long titles, once you have used the long title once, such as "Leaves that Shimmer in the Slightest Breeze," you can use a shorter version thereafter , such as �Leaves t hat Shimmer.�)
These are the most common formatting functions (Word '97) :
- To Change Margins -- Go to File -- then Page Setup
- To Change to Double spacing -- Highlight the whole text -- then go to Format -- then Paragraph -- then Line Spacing (or Ctrl-A -- then Ctrl-2)
- To Create a Header -- Go to View -- then Header and Footer
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MLA Style Guide Eighth Edition
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- What's new in MLA 8th Edition?
- Title of Container
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Title of Source. The title is usually taken from an authoritative location in the source such as the title page. It is the name of the source you are using. Capitalize the following parts of speech in a title: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, subordinating conjunctions (although, because, unless, after, until, when, where, while, etc.). Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, the "to" in infinitives if they appear in the middle of the title. A colon separates the title from the subtitle unless it ends in a question mark or exclamation. Titles should be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Titles that are independent and self-contained (e.g., books) and titles of containers (e.g., anthologies) should be italicized. Titles that are contained in larger works (e.g., short stories) should be in quotation s. Exceptions to the above rule are: 1) Scripture (Genesis, Bible, Gospels, Upanishads, Old Testament, Talmud, etc.) Titles of individualized scripture writings, however, should be italicized and treated like any other published work.(e.g. The Interlinear Bible) 2) Names of laws, acts and political documents (Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Treaty of Marseilles, etc.) 3) Musical compositions identified by form, number, and key (Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A, op. 92) 4) Series titles (Critical American Studies, Bollingen Series, etc.) 5) Conferences, seminars, workshops, and courses (MLA Annual Convention, English 110)
The title of the work follows the author and ends with a period . Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With the Wind . New York: Macmillan, 1961.
A sub-title is included after the main title . Joyce, Michael. Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture. U of Michigan P, 2000. Baron, Sabrina Alcorn et al., editors. Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007.
The title of a story, poem or essay in a collection, as part of a larger whole, is placed in quotation marks . Dewar, James A., and Peng Hwa Ang. "The Cultural Consequences of Printing and the Internet." Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. U of Massachusetts P /Center for the Book, Library of Congress, 2007, pp. 365-77.
Independent work in a collection When a work that is normally independent (such as a novel or play) appears in a collection, the work's title remains in italics. Euripides. The Trojan Women . Ten Plays, translated by Paul Roche, New American Library, 1998, pp. 457-512.
The title of a periodical (journal, magazine, or newspaper) is in italics and the title of the article is in quotation marks. Goldman, Anne. "Questions of Transport: Reading Primo Levi Reading Dante." The Georgia Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2010 pp. 69-88. Note: This rule applies to all media forms such as the title of a television series, an episode in a television series, a song or piece of music in an album, a posting or article on a web page. See examples below. Television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer . Created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Episode in a television series "Hush." Buffy the Vampire Slayer , created by Joss Whedon, performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, season 4, episode 10, Mutant Enemy, 1997-2003. Web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. So Many Books . 2003-13, somanybooksbkog.com Note: When giving a URL, omit http and https. Posting of an article on a web site Hollmichel, Stefanie. "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 April 2013, somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital- and-print/. A song or piece of music in an album Beyonce. "Pretty Hurts." Beyonce , Parkwood Entertainment, 2013, www.beyonce.com/album/beyonce/?media_view=songs.
Untitled Source In the place of the title, provide a generic description of the source without italics or quotation marks. Capitalize the first word in the title and any proper nouns in it. Mackintosh, Charles Rennie. Chair of Stained Oak. 1897-1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Comment or review of a title in an online forum Jeane. Comment on "The Reading Brain: Differences Between Digital and Print." So Many Books, 25 Apr. 2013, 10:30 p.m., somanybooksblog.com/2013/04/25/the-reading-brain-differences-between-digital-and- print/#comment-83030
Review of a title in an online forum Mackin, Joseph. Review of The Pleasures of Reading of an age of Distraction , by Alan Jacobs. New York Journal of Books, 2 June 2011, www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/ pleasures-reading-age-distraction.
Tweet Reproduce the full text without changing anything and enclose within quotation marks. @persiankiwi."We have report of large street battles in east and west of Tehran now. - #Iranelection." Twitter , 23 June 2009, 11:15 a.m., twitter.com/persianwiki/status/2298106072.
E-mail message Use subject as the title. Subject is enclosed in quotation marks. Boyle, Anthony T. "Re: Utopia." Received by Daniel J. Cayhill, 21 June 1997.
Introduction, Preface, Foreword, or Afterword Capitalize the term in the works cited list but do not italicize or enclose in quotation marks. The term need not be capitalized in in-text discussion. Felstiner, John. Preface. Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan , by Paul Celan, translated by Felstiner W.W. Norton, 2001, pp.xix-xxxvi.
Translations of Titles Place translations of titles for foreign works in square brackets in the works cited list. The translation appears next to the title.
Shortened titles The first time a title is mentioned in your work, it should appear in full. If the title is repeated in the work, it can be shortened to a familiar one (e.g., Skylark for Ode to a Skylark).
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