We’ve put together an overview of how to write a heading in MLA format, as well as providing a template, so you can make sure your headings are top-notch. Headings help readers quickly parse through the document and find relevant information. And they look professional and easy to read. So how do you write an effective one? You can see the full guide here!
The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is one of the most common and widely-used formats for writing research papers in the humanities. It is used by a variety of academic disciplines, including English, history, philosophy, and religious studies.
To write a heading in MLA, you must follow the four steps outlined in this guide. But you can adapt these steps to suit your topic, whether you’re writing a contemporary topic or an older one.
Note: If you’re more of a visual thinker, you can still use formats outline. However, keep in mind that it’s a more complex format as well, requiring more careful consideration of heading choices.
Use your first and last name or your subject title.
What makes this heading stand out? Think about what makes your name special to you and plug it into a personal story. You can also think about your academic, professional, or creative writing backgrounds and see what imagery or metaphors may resonate with you.
Give some context on the text you’re writing about (a little about who you are, your job, or your discipline).
Start with the sentence so that you have the reader’s attention.
What would you like to say in your introduction/foreground? Can you be brief and also use language that isn’t too technical? Are you able or interested to relate your words to something in your life?
What would you like the reader to take away from your introduction?
In the body of your introduction, describe who you are and what you do. What exactly are your qualifications? What can you say about your own work and teaching background?
What are the main ideas or message of your study, research paper, article, or study design document? What does the reader need to know in order to move forward in the read?
If you’re writing a research paper, you may need extra space for footnotes and bibliographies.
MLA headings are commonly used as a way to make your paper more organized and easier to read. They help the reader easily navigate through your paper and find the information they’re looking for. They also help the writer by providing them with a visual guide that outlines the structure of their paper.
Rather than attempting to formulate different headings in advance of writing your paper, jump directly into writing. It’s simpler that way. Go through each section of your paper and write your heading based on the most relevant and helpful point to make.
Heading 1: The headings in this section should specifically state what section the heading relates to. Why are you stating this now? Well, if you have a section title with a headword either
Heading 2: This is where you give an outline for what is to come next in this section. This will help the reader if they need to move through your paper, naturally. You can color code the sections so there is a hierarchy to them.
Heading 3: I hope your second example above was successful and you were able to take all that information and grab the reader’s attention. You have tips for the next section, or you can improvise. If your paper is over 100 pages long, you won’t have time for a subsection here, but this is your opportunity to make an impact! You can also provide extra information to the reader if it is of value to them to have.
Heading 4: This should directly follow or begin the information given in your previous heading. Consider this a cliffhanger or a spin-off for the reader to read on. This will draw them in and entice them to continue on your paper.
In MLA format, headings are placed in the text and not in margins. To cite a heading in MLA format, place the author’s last name and the page number in parenthesis. For example, (Smith 23).
Selecting a template can help you write an effective heading immediately. Shapiro’s provides a dash font, while Marcus Avenue’s has a bulleted list format. There are also free templates available if you hop over to The Grid — but keep in mind, these are pre-made. Because best practices for headings vary depending on the style pre-installed on your writing tool, you can always start with your own. Take the time to research this entry to make it fit into your style properly.
After you select your template, you can refine its color and font choices to ensure you get your point across. Next, make sure to check out these tips on writing an effective headline structure in order to make your writing more readable, and your headings as crisp and efficient as possible.
This guide goes beyond writing headings directly in your document. It walks you through three steps for using the Medium homepage as your daily driver to create engaging headlines. You can use this template to open your articles and tailor the fixings to make these headlines grab your readers quickly.
Firstly, you’ll want to pick a template that has an interactive read statement at its head. These will make readers more likely to finish your article because they’ll believe that whatever you’re leaving out is vital information — which is exactly what happens when you provide as much context as necessary.
Secondly, incorporate some deeply meaningful information into your headlines. “Deep” can mean many things, but we’re talking about decidedly personal, deep details here.
When you’re writing a paper in MLA style, you’re going to want to use subheadings in your paper to make it easier for your readers to follow along. For example, if your document is on nursing case study writing, a subheading like “A Closer Look: Nursing and ethics” can help break up a long nursing essay into digestible, break-down-free bites. It can also help shorten your paper when you have a long title like “The Perfect Writing Device,” or to represent an entire section like “How to succeed as a nursing major!”
Why would you want to do this? If you can break your paper up into digestible paragraphs, you will be able to improve the readability of your text. Besides, subheadings make your first draft much more memorable than a paragraph that just says “here we are.”
You can create subheadings by using a combination of sub-titles and sub-subheadings (as well as elsewhere within an article). Here’s how to do it in one easy step.
The link above is the acronym you’ll need for subheadings in this style. Type it in, then copy or paste it into your document.
Now, keep in mind what’s happening here. You are not adding a new paragraph, rather you are rewording an existing one — basically, you’re very simply making it easier for the reader to navigate to the next section. You want them to skip straight to the end of your article if they feel the need to.
The second step, makes sure your headings are effective. In the example at the top of the article, I created headings based on the one I found on the HR Knowledge Base, so I basically made my own blue pen state.
When you copy or paste things like this within your document, you are basically outlining what, where, and when you will reference those subheadings throughout the document.
To make your paper easier to navigate, it’s helpful to create a table of contents that includes the title of each section and the page numbers that the section begins on. You may also want to include the number of pages for each section of your paper. The Headline and Paragraph Stylesheet templates we’ve provided illustrate how to do this.
For each chapter/section you want to include in your paper, take a few minutes to write a captions block. This box allows you to give your reader a quick look through the chapter or section that you’re creating. When the reader hovers over a tag, they’re taken to the corresponding paragraph. This is a great way to keep your reader moving through your paper quickly and maintaining eye contact. Once they’ve finished your chapter or section, they can jump back to the captions box to continue their reading.
Speed is important as you’re writing your paper. If you want to include some keywords, that’s also a great opportunity to add those as keywords in the document headline and in your table of contents. When you do this, you’re ensuring your paper has as broad a scope as possible.
Try not to write too much in your first draft. You can always delete, edit, and rework drafts from time to time. And your reader won’t balk too much if you make some additions as you write.
You can apply a few different caption styles to your paper, including the standard bilocation style, the upright face style, and the figure of eight styles. Here’s an example of a paper using a standard face style.
Do try to stick with simple and consistent styles, though. When writing a heading in MLA, use only one font (think Times New Roman, Arial, or font-weight 0) for all your formatting and for all your text. Again, research will help you determine the most appropriate font for your paper.
It can be tempting to pack your paper with jargon/ambiguous terms — to describe the abstract in two columns, for example.
Keep your readers happy by providing an easy-to-read and attractive heading to break up your content with. And make sure to check out our guide on how to write an effective heading in MLA format!
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