MLA Headings and Subheadings


Headings and subheadings are required to help organize and provide structure to MLA papers and essays. However, MLA does not exactly set rules for formatting MLA headings and subheadings. It just has to be consistent with the general formatting guidelines of the MLA style.

Students may not be required to include section headings in their papers or essay. This is why it is important to ask your instructor or consult the assignment guideline to be sure. Therefore, if you are required to include section headings, then it is important to follow the guidelines in this article.

Do you need help with MLA style? We can help!

MLA running head

pointing hand Basic formatting requirements for MLA headings and subheadings

  • Font: any readable font most preferably Times New Roman
  • Font size: 12 pts
  • Line spacing: all the text should have a double line spacing
  • Paragraph indentation: each new paragraph after the headings and subheadings should have a half an inch indent
  • All headings and subheadings but be written in title case
  • There should be no period after headings or subheadings.

Download the MLA heading template

check markTitle

MLA format does not require a title page for essays and paper. However, the title of the paper and essay should appear on the first page as a heading. Plus, the title comes immediately after your information, your instructor’s information, course information and the due date

The title should be

  • Center-aligned
  • Written in 12pts font
  • Double spaced above the first line of the paper or essay
  • Written in sentence case

The title should not be italicized, bolded, underlined, put in quotation marks

For example

“The Beginning Of Revolution In Mid Africa”

Example of MLA heading

check markHeadings

The first level of headings in an MLA paper, which is usually reserved for the chapter title, is referred to as headings while the subsequent levels are referred to subheadings.

Headings should be

  • Center-aligned
  • Written in 12pts font
  • Double spaced above the first line of the paper or essay

For example

Literature Review

check markSubheadings

The subheadings in MLA format like that APA style has five different levels. The subheadings should be styled in order of their prominence.

The font styling is usually used to differentiate the levels of subheadings in MLA format. The consistency in the styling of the subheading is essential in letting the readers understand the structure of the paper or essay. Therefore, each level of subheading should appear in the same size, format, and style.

Additionally, the subheadings in an MLA paper or essay should be flushed to the left margin to avoid confusion with block quotations. Also, no internal level should have only one level. That is, if you are going to be having a level between 1 to 5, there must be more than one instance of those. For example, if you have one level 2 heading, you will need to have a second level 2 heading.

All headings must have text underneath them.

Levels of subheadings and their formatting

Level                                      formatting

  • bolded, flush or aligned with the left margin
  • italicized, flush or aligned with the left margin
  • bolded, centered on the page
  • italicized, centered on the page
  • underlined, flush/aligned with the left margin


Research methods – subheading 1

Sampling methods- subheading 2

Sample size – subheading 3

Sampling probability – subheading 4

Instrument – subheading 5


You may also be interested in our thesis editing service!

pointing hand When to Use the Different Subheading Levels

Using the right subheading level is important because it aids with the navigation of the paper as well as knowing the information to be added in the table of contents. This is why it is important to use

  • Subheading 1 for the first subsection after the chapter title
  • Subheading 2 for the subsections that are directly under the subheading 1
  • Subheading 3 for the subsections that are directly under the subheading 2
  • Subheading 4 for the subsections that are directly under the subheading 3
  • Subheading 5 for the subsections that are directly under the subheading 4

 You may also want to read Chicago Headings and Subheadings!



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