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.


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), § 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. 

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