MLA Header vs. Heading

Both your header and your heading need to be correct to receive full MLA style points, and many instructors will refuse to accept upper-level essays with incorrect MLA style document formatting. Even those using APA or Chicago style can benefit from learning MLA style heading and header formatting as many style use similar expectations and it will instill the instinct to check or double-check your header and heading formatting, especially when switching between MLA and APA course/essay expectations.

sample first page of an MLA style essay


  • appears on the top left of the first page of your ESSAY
  • includes your first and last name, the class, your instructor’s name, the assignment name, and the date (month, date, year order)
  • double-spaced in the upper left-hand side of your document
  • only on the first page
  • here is an example document: Example Header and Heading


  • appears in the upper right-side of your essay–on all pages, including the first page and the Work Cited page
  • includes your last name and the page number of your document

 How to Add a Header, MS Word Directions:

  1. select the “insert” tab of your Word document–at the top left
  2. hover over the “page number” square (it “feels like” you should select “header” since that is what you’re trying to insert, but then you won’t have a page number) 
  3. from the drop-down menu, select the option that shows the number in the top, right side of the document
  4. type in your last name, hit the space bar
  5. double-click below the blue/gray dotted line
  6. you’re done with the header! but if you need to edit the header, double-click on it and it’ll “allow” you to change it. Then double-click below the blue dotted line again to “get back to your document”

How to Add a Header, OpenOffice Directions:

  1. go to “insert” and choose “header”
  2. type your last name in the header and while still in the header
  3. go to “insert” and choose “fields” and then choose “page number”