How to format subtitles in MLA form

Written by pennee struckman
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Modern Language Association (MLA) form is used for manuscripts and papers written in English. Subtitles, or section headings, improve the readability of the paper. The general style guide for formatting subtitles is that these be flush left. The remaining formatting for the subtitles depends on the type and subtext of paper written.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    For essays, MLA style calls for essay sections to be numbered using an Arabic number. The format is the number, a period, a space and the section name. For example, the first line would read: 1. In the beginning; second line would read 2. In the middle.

  2. 2

    The numeric format can be used to create levels within the paper. When using this format, MLA guidelines state that the number begin flush left, followed by a period and a space. Type the heading after the space. If there are subheadings for the numbered title, begin the subheading flush left, followed by the level, a period and the numeral of the subheading. A numeric format would include: 1. ; 1.2 ; 1.3 ; 2. ; 2.1 and so on.

  3. 3

    Alternate bold and Italic font for the first four headings in MLA style. Use the regular font and underline remaining headings. For example, headings would be formatted as Level 1 Heading: bold, flush left; Level 2 Heading: italics, flush left; indent Level 3 Heading: centred, bold; indent Level 4 Heading: centred, italics; Level 5 Heading: underlined, flush left. Level 1 and Level 2 are flush left, Level 3 and Level 4 are one indent from left, and Level 5 is flush left, aligning with Levels 1 and 2.

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