How to write an essay cover page

Essay writing is part and parcel of student life in college. For every essay you write, you are required to include a cover page. This is the first page of your paper the reader sees when looking at your work. When done correctly, an essay cover page tells the reader that the writer knows what he/she is doing. If you are new to essay writing, there are simple steps you can take to ensure you create the best-formatted cover pages for your essays. In this article, you will learn how to format cover letters for different essay styles.

What is a cover page?

Also commonly referred to as the title page, the cover page is the first page of any essay. It is meant to convey information about the author’s identity, the title of the essay, the institution the author represents (name of school), date of publication, and sometimes a running head. The purpose of a cover page is to give your essay a formal appearance, including relevant information that will provide the reader with an understanding of the author, what the paper is about and when it was written.

While cover pages are not always mandatory, most writing styles like APA, MLA, and Chicago require the essay to include a cover page. Most of the time, the professor includes in the instructions whether a cover page is required. Because most college essays are written in the three styles above, it is usually an indication of the need for a cover page.

The details required in a cover page depends on the style of writing recommended. An MLA style paper will have a cover page formatted slightly different from an APA paper. The same goes for a Chicago style essay.

Why cover pages are important

As mentioned earlier, the type of cover page is determined by the style of writing. It is important to avoid mix-matching cover page styles as some professors can penalize for this.  When you choose one cover page style, the format will determine how you write your paper from beginning to end. All cover pages should have, and not limited to, the title, author’s name, course name, and the date the paper was written.

Learning how to format your cover page is the best way to get into the habit of following formatting rules when writing academic essays.

The design of a cover page

A cover page design should be simple and very straightforward. This means that you need to use the same font, and avoid using colors or shadings that make the cover page seem flashy. Writing formatted papers comes with specific instructions for writing the cover page. It needs to consist of text only with no images or pictures. These are the standard rules of writing cover pages regardless of the style.

APA style cover pages

When tasked with writing an APA essay format, the cover page should include;

  • The title of the essay

  • The name of the author, 

  • Institution you are schooling.

It should also have a running header at the top of the page. The title of the page should be written in all caps on the running head.

APA style cover pages;

  • Should be written in the standard 8.5 x 11 paper size, and this page should be the first one on your essay.

  • The margins should be 1’’ on all sides (top, bottom, left and right).

  • The text should be double-spaced with Times New Roman as the most recommended font style in 12pt size.

Sometimes, professors can allow aerial font, though it is recommended to write in the Times New Roman. Ensure the whole cover page is double-spaced as the common spacing rule for all APA style essays.

When writing the title, it should be centered on the top half of the cover page as opposed to the center of the page. When the title is long, you can segment it into two parts to ensure they do not exceed five words for each. The two segments can include the main topic and the sub-topic separated by a colon. The first half of the title should be the information on the running head at the top of the paper in capital letters.

On the title, the words should have first capital letters excluding the prepositions (of, and, with, etc.). When writing the name of the author, do not include the titles. It should only comprise the first name, middle initials (not compulsory), and the last name. 

The final part of the APA cover letter is the institution and department. This is the name of the college or university and the course they are taking. If you are researching on behalf of a specific school, this is the name to include in the paper. You can include the professor's name after the author’s name and the course you are taking after the institution's name.

APA Cover page

MLA style cover pages

MLA style of writing does not require the author to include a cover page. Usually, the cover page information is included above the paper on the left side above the title of the paper. Some professors however, require students to include a cover letter for their MLA style essays. In this case, it is important to know how to format an MLA cover page correctly.

MLA cover pages are slightly different from APA cover pages. In MLA;

  • The name of the institution is placed centered at the top of the page.

  • Lower, in the middle of the cover page, you should include the title of the essay and the subtitle below the main title.

  • The student’s name and number, the name of the professor, and the date the essay is due should be placed at the bottom of the cover page.

The MLA style follows the margin, text, and spacing guidelines used in the APA style. The margins should be 1-inch on all sides, use Times New Roman font in 12pt, and include double-spacing throughout the cover page and essay.

MLA essay format does not include a running head, and the information is distributed in different parts of the paper. This is the main differences between APA and MLA styles. It is also worth noting that the information at the bottom of the cover page goes above the title of MLA essays that do not require a cover letter.

MLA cover page

Chicago style cover pages

Just like MLA, Chicago style of writing does not always require a cover page. All relevant information can be included on a cover page or the first page of the essay, above the title. When doing the cover page for Chicago, there are some notable differences when compared to MLA. In Chicago;

  • the cover page is made up of the title that covers the top half of the page.

  • The author’s name, course, and date are placed at the bottom half of the cover page.

  • The name of the institution and a running head are not required for the Chicago style of writing.

This makes Chicago the briefest academic writing style.

CMS cover page

Tips to remember when formatting cover pages

  • The title page is the cover of your essay. A well-written title page will make the reader more interested in going through your essay. When not formatted to follow the rules, the professor may lose interest in reading your essay, which affects your grade.

  • Always ask when in doubt. If you are unsure whether to include a cover page, it is always best to have one. You can also ask your professor whether the page is required. Lecturers cannot reprimand you for going the extra mile to include a page, but they can penalize you for missing a cover page when it was needed.

  • Do not include formatting outside the recommended formats for the different writing styles. The cover page should not be used to make your paper look attractive. It is meant to serve the purpose of informing the reader about the writer’s basic information. It should be formal and professional.

  • Remember the font, margin, and spacing basics. The format you use on the cover page should match the formatting for the rest of your essay.


The cover page is an essential part of any essay. While it may seem unnecessary, doing it right can make a difference, especially if your professor takes formatting seriously. With this guide and the templates, you are better placed to write the best-formatted essay cover pages for all your essays.








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Published on: 25, Aug 2020
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