Practical Ideas on How to Properly Head a Paper

College provides numerous obstacles for students to overcome in different ways. The changes are very apparent, from the freedom to attend classes at your convenience to handling bulky assignments and study requirements.

The way you handle your research papers is also different from what you may be familiar with in high school. There are basic rules to follow in heading a college paper, and once you get those rules down, understanding how to head a paper becomes easy.

Of course, that is easier said than done. So, in this article, we provide you with simple and practical tips on how to properly head a paper.

What is the header for a paper?

A header is a line of text that appears at the top of a page. It usually consists of the author’s last name, the title, and the page number. Essay headers are often needed for different academic texts.

The page header appears at the top margin of every page of your research paper. It normally consists of the page number for student papers only. For professional papers, it consists of the page number and running head.

Headers for any page must be appropriately formatted. They should also be of similar fonts, sizes, and styles placed in the same position on every page. This is often at the top of the page, on the first line.

Why is research paper heading important?

Headers are crucial because they identify the information within the different sections of your paper. They should be as descriptive and concise as possible, with their main sections permitted to have very similar headers to describe each content accurately.

Secondly, headers make your writing look polished and organized. Moreover, a professor examining several student essays would find it easier to sort if the essay pages get mixed up.

Lastly, when writing a proper heading for paper, you may need to divide the content of some sections into smaller subsections. Doing this gives your research content clarity and makes the whole reading process less demanding. However, it is important to follow specific journal formatting styles.

How to write a header for a paper?

In learning how to write heading for your papers, some guidelines will help you along the way. Some tips for writing a good header for your paper include:

  1. Consider Paper Style

Often, the MLA style is utilised for most papers, including homework assignments. When using this format on your research paper, don’t skip lines between the initial heading. Your heading on each page should contain your last name and the page number in a right-justified format.

Your heading structure will differ from other paper formats you might use in college, such as American Psychological Association (APA) and Chicago Style.

  1. Understand Your Margins

After format consideration, your heading will often be placed in the upper left-hand corner of the page. Margin size and spacing differ in formatting styles and understanding your margins will enable you to accurately place your headings for any style.

  1. Use Standard Fonts

After considering your paper style and understanding your margins, use a 12-point font and a standard font style. The Times New Roman font is often used, but Arial, Modern, Lucina, and Palermo can also be used for headers because they are not script-style fonts.

  1. Writing Names

It would be best to always place your first and last names on the first line, then double space each line of the heading. All lines in the heading are typically justified at the left margin.

Next, put your professor’s name on the nearest line and use their first and last name preceded by Professor. For example, “Professor Eric Thomas” goes on this line. Afterward, place the name of your course on the next line.

The date usually enters the final line, and your first paragraph begins after double spacing.


In learning how to head papers in college or even in high school, you should take note of the guidelines above. Remember the paper format you’re asked to write in, and you don’t have to type a header for each page of your essay. Writing tools like Microsoft Word make it easy to write a header that appears in the correct format at the top of each page.

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