How to Prepare Your Title Page Text Blocks

If you delegate your title page formatting to Word, you can save yourself time spent formatting.1 You can also end up with a title page that’s more precisely formatted.

One key step to delegate this formatting work is to properly format your title page’s text. Another important, related step is to properly segment this text.

That is, each title page block needs to be its own single paragraph. That means the multi-line class block (block 3) and author block (block 4) each needs to be one paragraph with multiple lines.2

Use Paragraph Breaks and Line Breaks

When typing your title page, you should use a new paragraph (i.e., press Enter) only at the end of your

  • Institution block (block 1),
  • Title block (block 2),
  • Class block (block 3), and
  • Author block (block 4).

The class block (block 3) and author block (block 4) require three lines each. But within these blocks, you should use line breaks and not new paragraphs.

To insert a line break after the first two lines in each block, press Shift+Enter rather than simply Enter.

Visually on the page, a line break might not look much different to you than a paragraph break.

But from Word’s perspective, there’s an important difference that you can use to vastly simplify the vertical distribution of these blocks on your title page.

Using line breaks will keep the class block and author block together as single paragraphs from Word’s perspective.

And because they’re single paragraphs, Word can then distribute them evenly along with the other one-line paragraph blocks on the page (blocks 1 and 2).

Replace Paragraph Breaks with Line Breaks If Needed

If you haven’t already used line breaks within your class block (block 3) and author block (block 4), that’s okay.

You can simply delete the extra paragraph breaks you inserted and replace them with line breaks.

To check or replace the breaks on your title page, it might be easiest if you show hidden characters either from the keyboard (Ctrl+*) or from the “Home” tab.

After you show the hidden characters, you should see the line break symbol (↩) after

  • Your instructor’s name,
  • “IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF”,
  • “BY”, and
  • Your name.

If you see a new paragraph symbol (¶) instead of a line break symbol in any of these places, simply delete that paragraph, and enter a line break instead (Shift+Enter). You should then see the line break symbol instead of the new paragraph symbol.

Then, in future title pages, you can use line breaks in these places from the start. That will keep you from having to correct the breaks later like you might have needed to do this time around.

Once you’ve traded out any new paragraphs for line breaks, you should still see the new paragraph symbol after

  • The institution block (block 1),
  • The title block (block 2),
  • Your course number and title (the last line of block 3)

After your submission date (the last line of block 4), you should not see either the line break or the new paragraph symbol.

Instead, you should simply see the section break that ends your title page if you’ve set up your document’s sections like I recommend.

Conclusion

Once you have your title page text formatted and your title page blocks prepared, all that’s left is evenly distributing these blocks on your title page.


Tired of fighting with Word? Want to be done with frustrated hours fussing over how to get the formatting you need?

My new guide shows you how to bypass all of this so you can let Word work for you while you focus on your research.

Garrett Thompson (PhD)

For students in any graduate program, mastering the full range of available research tools is crucial for efficient and consistent productivity. Dr. Stark has mastered these tools—the most important of which is Microsoft Word…. Students eager to take their work to the next level would do well to follow Dr. Stark’s in-depth guidance.


  1. Header image provided by Etienne Girardet

  2. In these comments, I’m assuming you’re trying to format your title page as specified in Melanie Greer Nogalski et al., Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition, ed. Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed, rev. ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), §§2.8, 3.1. For an overview of the four title page blocks that the Student Supplement requires, see “The Fundamentals of How to Format a Title Page.” In the steps illustrated here, I’m assuming you’re using the most current version of Word available via an Office 365 subscription. As of this writing, that’s 16.0.12624.20278. Any reasonably recent version of Word should work similarly. But increasingly older versions may have increasingly larger differences in how they match the steps I describe here. 

How to Actually Format Your Title Page Text

If you delegate your title page formatting to Word, you can save yourself time spent formatting.1 You can also end up with a title page that’s more precisely formatted.

To start delegating your title pages to Word, there are four basic steps. The first of these is to capitalize and center your title page text.

To illustrate how to format your title page text, I’m going to assume you’ve set up your essay’s title page in Word like I recommend.

If you’ve already done that, it will be that much easier to follow along. But even if not, you can still apply the process described below to your own document as you’ve structured it.

1. Ways to Format Your Title Page Text

According to the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, all title page text needs to be presented in capital letters and centered on the page.2

You can get your text capitalized in a few ways. First, you can turn on your caps lock and type the text.

Second, you can type the text and then format it as “UPPERCASE” from the “Font” section of the “Home” tab as shown below.

Or you can do the same thing through the “All Caps” option in the “Font” dialog box.

Third, you can adjust the “Title” style or create your own style to apply the uppercase font formatting.

With either of the first two methods, you’ll still need to separately center the text. But if you modify the “Title” style, you can specify center alignment for this style, as well as uppercase font.

Using the “Title” style also means that you can save your modifications of this style to reuse later in other documents. When you do so, you then get the bonus of bypassing the formatting work you’d otherwise need to redo.

2. How to Modify Your “Title” Style

To modify your “Title” style, follow the steps below. In these steps, I’m assuming that your “Title” style is exactly like it’s initially defined in the default Word template.

So , just keep in mind that you might need to tweak the exact steps shown below depending on exactly how your “Title” style is currently formatted.

2.1. Start Modifying the “Title” Style

First, come to the Home tab, and open the styles panel.

Second, find the “Title” style. Click the drop down arrow to the right of this style name, and choose “Modify….”

2.2. Modify the “Title” Style’s Font Face and Alignment

Third, on the right side of the “Modify Style” dialog box under “Formatting,” change “Latin” to “(all scripts)” if you might possibly use this “Title” style with Hebrew or other right-to-left text.

Then set the font face and size to be the same as you’re using in the main text of the rest of your document (e.g., Times New Roman, 12-point).

Choose to center-align the text by clicking the second button from the left under the font face name drop-down box.

In case you’re wondering, you’ll want to leave the line spacing at single spacing. This way, your class block (block 3) and author block (block 4) can be single spaced.3

If your title runs longer than one line, you can later format that block directly so that it’s double spaced.

2.3. Set the “Title” Style to Use All Capitals

Next, click the “Format” button in the bottom left-hand corner, and choose “Font…” from the menu that opens.

In the “Font” dialog box on the “Font” tab, find the “Effects” section toward the bottom. Then, check the option for “All caps” in the right-hand column.

2.4. Correct the “Title” Style’s Character Spacing

Next, switch to the “Advanced” tab. Here you’ll need to remove a default Word title style option that isn’t consistent with the Student Supplement.

To do so, under “Character Spacing,” change the spacing to “Normal,” and click “OK.”

This will bring you back to the “Modify Style” dialog box.

2.5. Save Your Changes to the “Title” Style for Later Reuse

Decide whether you want to use this same style formatting in other documents based on the same Word template.

If so, choose the “New documents based on this template” option at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box. Otherwise, leave the default “Only in this document” selected.

Press “OK” at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box.

Conclusion

If you haven’t done so yet, you can apply the “Title” style to text on a sample title page.

There are still a couple updates you need to make so that you can evenly distribute this text vertically on your title page.

But you can already start to see how your title page formatting is beginning to take shape in a way you can largely delegate to Word in the future.


Tired of fighting with Word? Want to be done with frustrated hours fussing over how to get the formatting you need?

My new guide shows you how to bypass all of this so you can let Word work for you while you focus on your research.

Garrett Thompson (PhD)

For students in any graduate program, mastering the full range of available research tools is crucial for efficient and consistent productivity. Dr. Stark has mastered these tools—the most important of which is Microsoft Word…. Students eager to take their work to the next level would do well to follow Dr. Stark’s in-depth guidance.


  1. Header image provided by Etienne Girardet

  2. Melanie Greer Nogalski et al., Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition, ed. Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed, rev. ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), §3.1. In the steps illustrated here, I’m assuming you’re using the most current version of Word available via an Office 365 subscription. As of this writing, that’s 16.0.12624.20278. Any reasonably recent version of Word should work similarly. But increasingly older versions may have increasingly larger differences in how they match the steps I describe here. 

  3. To review the title page text blocks that the Student Supplement specifies, see “The Fundamentals of How to Format a Title Page.” 

Why You Need to Delegate Your Title Pages

Perhaps the simplest way of distributing content vertically on your title page is simply to press Enter to create blank paragraphs where you need them.1

Unfortunately, using this method has three at least three problems.

1. Single Lines Are Rough Spaces

First, you can only space by one full line at a time. So, this method allows only for a comparatively rough spacing.

The Student Supplement to The SBL Handbook of style requires four text blocks on your title page.2

Each block is single spaced, except if your title runs onto more than one line. In that case, you’ll double space your title block.

I won’t go into the math here. But depending on how many lines are in your title, you’ll actually need about the following fractions of lines to distribute the four title page blocks:

Title LinesLines Space between Blocks
19.50
28.50
37.83
47.17
56.50

So if you do space your title page by using blank paragraphs, you’ll end up having spacing that’s slightly off unless you also create a good deal more work for yourself to correct the spacing.

By delegating your title page formatting to Word as much as possible, however, you’ll get a more precise title page with less time and effort spent coaxing the layout into line.

2. You’ll Have More Repetitive Formatting Work

Second, you’ll need to redo the spacing in each new document by pressing Enter however many times and judging whether you’ve gotten it about right.

You can cut some of this work by copying, pasting, and editing a title page from an existing document.

But even then, you may well still have some additional reformatting work to do that you could have avoided if you had let Word handle your title page formatting.

3. Changing Your Title Might Require Reformatting Your Title Page

Third, if you change your title you might end up lengthening it onto an additional line. Or you might end up shortening it onto fewer lines.

But if you’ve spaced your title page by manually entering blank paragraphs, you’ll then need to manually adjust the spacing to account for the change in the number of lines your title occupies.

When you do so, you’ll be investing additional time in the minutiae of your title page. But you can easily avoid this if you delegate your title page’s formatting to Word.

Conclusion

In any of these scenarios, you’re spending time and effort doing something you can instead delegate to Word.

But if you do delegate your title page formatting to Word, you can both save yourself time spent formatting and end up with a title page that’s more precisely formatted.

In order to delegate your title page formatting to Word, you need to take four basic steps. These are to

  1. Capitalize and center your title page text,
  2. Prepare your title page blocks,
  3. Vertically justify your title page blocks, and
  4. Check your title’s line spacing.

Tired of fighting with Word? Want to be done with frustrated hours fussing over how to get the formatting you need?

My new guide shows you how to bypass all of this so you can let Word work for you while you focus on your research.

Garrett Thompson (PhD)

For students in any graduate program, mastering the full range of available research tools is crucial for efficient and consistent productivity. Dr. Stark has mastered these tools—the most important of which is Microsoft Word…. Students eager to take their work to the next level would do well to follow Dr. Stark’s in-depth guidance.


  1. Header image provided by Etienne Girardet

  2. Melanie Greer Nogalski et al., Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition, ed. Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed, rev. ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), §§2.8, 3.1. 

The Fundamentals of How to Format a Title Page

The Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style has some specific requirements for your essay’s title page.1

Because it’s just the one page in your essay, you can handle these requirements manually.

But there are also some very simple steps you can take to save yourself time spent formatting title pages both now and in the future.

What the Student Supplement Requires

Before detailing those steps, however, it might be useful to review what the Student Supplement requires.2

On an essay’s title page, all text appears center justified and in capital letters. This text falls into four blocks:

  1. The institution block. This is just the name of your institution.
  2. The title block. This is the title of your paper. If your title runs more than one line long, you need to have those lines double spaced.
  3. The class block. This block gives information about the class for which you’re submitting the paper on three lines. Line 1 has “SUBMITTED TO” and the name of your professor(s). Line 2 has the text “IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF”. And line 3 has your course number and title.
  4. The author block. This block gives information about you as the paper’s author on three lines. Line 1 has “BY”. Line 2 has your name. And line 3 has the paper’s submission date.3

In terms of spacing,

  • The first block should be two inches from the top of the page,
  • Each of the blocks should be “approximately” two inches from any neighboring block, and
  • The last block should be two inches from the bottom of the page.

The reason for the “approximate” spacing of the blocks from each other is that, on an 11-inch high page, there actually isn’t quite enough space to accommodate all the required text and spaces at a full 2 inches. But you can get pretty close.

Conclusion

Probably the simplest way of distributing content vertically on your title page is simply to press Enter to create blank space where you need it.

Unfortunately, this method has several problems. But chief among them is that your title page layout is entirely something that Word can handle for you.

And by delegating your title page to Word, you free yourself up to put time and attention into more important work.


  1. Header image provided by Etienne Girardet

  2. Melanie Greer Nogalski et al., Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition, ed. Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed, rev. ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2015), §§2.8, 3.1. 

  3. According to the SBL Handbook of Style, dates are to be given in the day-month-year format (e.g., 1 January 2020). Society of Biblical Literature, The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd ed. (Atlanta: SBL, 2014), §4.3.7.1. But the Student Supplement’s title page sample gives “Month, Day, Year” as the format. Nogalski et al., Student Supplement, §3.1. Probably this comment is an erroneous hold over from the first edition of the SBL Handbook of Style and the student supplement for it (where the month-day-year format was preferred). But I have yet to see firm confirmation on this fact from SBL Press. 

The No-fail Way to Space Footnotes

Style manuals often require that footnotes be single spaced but have a blank line between them.1

This is true for SBL style if you’re a student.2 It’s also true if you use Turabian.3

You shouldn’t try to create this spacing by entering a new paragraph after each note. You also shouldn’t try to adjust the paragraph formatting for each note.

Instead, the best way to space footnotes is by altering the “Footnote Text” style.

Once you edit the “Footnote Text” style, the formatting you specify will apply to all footnotes in your document, regardless of when you create them.

How You Should Actually Space Footnotes

To edit the “Footnote Text” style takes just a few simple steps.4

First, from the Home tab, expand the Styles panel.

Second, scroll through the list until you see the style titled “Footnote Text.” Click the drop-down button to the right of this style title, and choose “Modify….”

In the “Modify Style” dialog box, choose “Format” in the lower left-hand corner. Then click “Paragraph….”

From here, change the spacing “after” to 10 or 12 points.

If you use 10-point font in your footnotes, use a 10-point space after your footnote paragraphs. If you use 12-point font, use a 12-point space.

Press “OK.”

This will take you back to the “Modify Style” dialog box.

Decide whether you want to use this same style formatting in other documents based on the same Word template.

If so, choose the “New documents based on this template” option at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box. Otherwise, leave the default “Only in this document” selected.

Press “OK” at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box.

One Thing to Watch For

At this point, your document should automatically create and format footnotes with the proper spacing after them.

The only time you should need to give additional attention to footnote spacing is if you have a long footnote with more than one paragraph in it.

In this case, you’ll first want to consider whether the footnote is long enough to make it more helpful for your readers to have any discussion in it in the main text of your document.

If so, you could potentially split up the larger footnote into more than one and use the notes more purely for citations.

If you decide you want a longer, multi-paragraph note, you’ll only want to have additional spacing between that note and a following note. You won’t want additional spacing between the paragraphs within that note.

In Word, however, the “Footnote Text” style and the additional spacing you added to the end of it will apply to each paragraph in your multi-paragraph note.

In this case, you’ll need to remove the extra spacing from all but the final paragraph in the note.

You can do this either by directly modifying the formatting of the particular paragraphs where you need to omit the spacing. Or you can create and apply a different style to the paragraphs that shouldn’t have extra spacing after them.

Conclusion

Whenever you’ve finished a document, you’ll want to proofread it carefully to ensure you’re satisfied with its content and formatting.

But by adjusting the “Footnote Text” style, you’ll radically reduce the amount of time and effort you put into massaging your footnote spacing.

And having gained this back, you can reinvest it into the people and projects that matter most to you.


Tired of fighting with Word? Want to be done with frustrated hours fussing over how to get the formatting you need?

My new guide shows you how to bypass all of this so you can let Word work for you while you focus on your research.

Garrett Thompson (PhD)

For students in any graduate program, mastering the full range of available research tools is crucial for efficient and consistent productivity. Dr. Stark has mastered these tools—the most important of which is Microsoft Word…. Students eager to take their work to the next level would do well to follow Dr. Stark’s in-depth guidance.


  1. Header image provided by Fabien Barral

  2. See the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, §3.3. 

  3. See Manual for Writers, 9th ed., §16.3.4.1. 

  4. I’m assuming you have a current version of Word via Office 365. These instructions are based on v16.0.12430.20198. They should work on other recent versions as well. But you’ll notice greater differences in the process if you have an older version of Word. 

Do You Make One of These Common Mistakes with Footnote Spacing?

Style manuals often require that footnotes be single spaced but have a blank line between them.1

This is true for SBL style if you’re a student.2 It’s also true if you use Turabian.3

You can insert this blank line a few different ways. Unfortunately, two of the more common ones can have undesirable side effects.

How Not to Space Footnotes

The two ways to space footnotes that might be most apparent are to:

  1. Enter an extra paragraph after each footnote or
  2. Format each footnote paragraph to insert extra space after it.

But each of these methods has downsides. These can cost you additional time if you want to avoid a mess at the bottom of a page.

What’s Wrong with Extra Paragraphs

If you decide to space your footnotes by inserting a new paragraph after each one (e.g., by pressing “Enter”), you can end up with a few different problems.

First, you have to manually enter the new paragraph after each footnote. So if you forget one, it won’t be there.

Second, your extra paragraph can move from after the last footnote on a page to above the first footnote on the next page.

This happens when there’s too much text on the page where the note starts to accommodate the full note and the extra paragraph that follows it. When this happens, you get an extra blank line that shouldn’t be there between the footnote rule and the first footnote on that next page (see below).

Third, Word uses a “continuation rule” whenever a footnote comes over from the bottom of one page to the next. By default, the continuation rule runs the full width of the page rather than just the first few inches.

So if your blank paragraph comes over from one page onto the next, you’ll also see the continuation rule when you shouldn’t. You’ll then get something that looks like this.

Fourth, in order to avoid these issues, you have to pay attention to the spacing after each footnote. As you edit, you may need to manually insert or remove extra paragraphs to avoid the problems they create.

All of this takes time and attention away from much more significant things you could be focusing on instead.

What’s Wrong with Formatting Each Footnote

You’re probably familiar with single or double spacing within a paragraph. But Word also allows you to insert extra space before or after a paragraph.

You can do this from the paragraph formatting dialog box. Footnotes are no exception.

You can even add spacing to all your footnotes at once with this method if you click into a given footnote, select all the footnotes (e.g., Ctrl+A), and then add the appropriate number of points after the footnote paragraphs.

If you space your footnotes using this method, you’ll get a lot fewer problems than you will with entering extra paragraphs.

In particular, Word will know that the extra space “attaches” only to the bottom of a footnote and so won’t allow just an extra blank line to roll over to the top of the footnote section on a following page.

The main downside of adding spacing via the paragraph dialog box is that your extra lines apply only once you’ve formatted each footnote paragraph individually.

In large part, you can avoid this being a problem by formatting your footnote to include extra space after them only in bulk when you think you’re finished editing.

But even then, if you continue editing and insert a new footnote, you’ll need to format that footnote as well.

So this method improves on the first but still requires you to “babysit” your footnotes more than you really need to.

Conclusion

In short, either of these common ways to space footnotes can get you a blank line between notes in a document.

They just require more hassle and cajoling than they’re worth.

Thankfully, there’s a better way to space between notes. This involves editing the style that drives those notes’ formatting in the first place.


Tired of fighting with Word? Want to be done with frustrated hours fussing over how to get the formatting you need?

My new guide shows you how to bypass all of this so you can let Word work for you while you focus on your research.

Garrett Thompson (PhD)

For students in any graduate program, mastering the full range of available research tools is crucial for efficient and consistent productivity. Dr. Stark has mastered these tools—the most important of which is Microsoft Word…. Students eager to take their work to the next level would do well to follow Dr. Stark’s in-depth guidance.


  1. Header image provided by Fabien Barral

  2. See the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, §3.3. 

  3. See Manual for Writers, 9th ed., §16.3.4.1.