MLA Running Head – A Clear Guide

For most writing styles, a running head is the short version of the paper’s title that is written as the header at the top of each page. Also, if the paper includes page numbers, the page number is written at the top of the page, preceded by the running head.

In MLA style, the running head is referred to as the running header. It is one that appears on every page of your MLA paper or essay. Also, the MLA format was designed to be concise and straightforward to it can be used broadly. Hence, an MLA running head is one that usually includes the only author’s last name and the page number. Plus, all the pages of your MLA paper or essay should be numbered.

Running heads are always being required for practical reasons. For instance, if your paper is printed in hard copy and the various pages get mixed up with another author’s pages, the running head will help in identifying which paper is for which author. Also, the clear labels may help readers who are viewing the electronic version of your paper to know which is which when they are sorting through many documents simultaneously.

pointing hand Guidelines for Writing an MLA Running Head

  • Font: any readable font most preferably Times New Roman
  • Font size: 12 pts
  • Margin: half an inch from the top and 1 inch from the right
  • Line spacing: double line spacing
  • Alignment: right-aligned
  • The running head should include the author’s last name, followed by a space, followed by the page number.
  • Should be written in sentence case
  • Make sure you don’t use the abbreviation “p.” to depict page before the page number
  • Do not include a period or any punctuation mark in the running head
  • Do not leave an empty line after the running header before the text


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The running header of an MLA paper can be set up by following a few simple steps in common word processing programs.

pointing hand Creating an MLA Running Head in Microsoft Word

  • You have to make sure the page margin is in line with the margin guideline of the MLA format. Setting the margin of the page will make creating a running header that much easier.
  • Ensure that you choose double line spacing for the entire paper
  • Click the insert tap that is located at the top of the Microsoft Word page
  • Click on the page number icon.
  • A drop-down will appear, and you will select the top of the page.
  • Then you choose plain header three as your header format
  • The page number will then appear at the top of your document page been shaded.
  • You should then type your last name and leave a space before the page number
  • Make sure the text is written in Times New Romans
  • Then click on the area below the dotted line to return to the main body of the text.

pointing handCreating an MLA Running Head in Google Docs

  • Set the basic formatting for an MLA running Head
  • Click on the Insert tab. There will be a drop-down where you should select header
  • Make sure you change the font style and size to Times New Roman and 12
  • Align your running head to the right margin by clicking on the right align button
  • Type your last name and leave a space
  • Click on the insert tab then select a page number from the drop-down
  • Then click the top of the page option
  • Your header should be properly formatted

When done correctly, the page number in your running head should automatically increase on each page. Also, the running head should remain in the correct position at the top of the page.

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Related articles:

APA Running Head – A Clear Guide

MLA Headings and Subheadings