What Is an Essay Header?

An essay header is a continuous line of text that appears at the top of a page. It includes the author's last name or part of the title and the page number. Essay headers are usually required for academic texts.


A header makes your essay look polished and organized. Moreover, a professor working with dozens of student essays would find it easier to sort if the essay pages spilled or otherwise got mixed up.


MLA, APA and other styles have their own guidelines for creating headers for academic works. For MLA, use your last name and the page number, with no punctuation. For APA, use the first several words of the title and the page number, with five spaces in between. Find out which style guide is required for your essay, and follow that format.

Creating a Header

You don't have to type a header for each page of your essay. Software programs such as Microsoft Word make it easy to create a consistent header that appears in the correct position and format at the top of each page.

First Page

The first page of an essay does not require an essay header.


Occasionally an essay header may be forbidden, such as in a contest with a blind review process. Eliminating details about the author allows judges to evaluate each work impartially.

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