Writing tip: Academic title pages

Theresa Bell

Title pages are a standard expectation for academic essays, but the information on the title page may change, depending on the expectations of the instructor. For example, most instructors will expect a running head in the header, the title of the essay in title case, and the name of the author. Other information that may be presented includes (but isn’t limited to) the submission date, the instructor’s name, the course title, the program title, and the name of the university. In the case of a title page for a thesis or dissertation, additional information will be required, such as the names of the committee members and their titles and academic credentials.

When students start writing for a new instructor, it’s a great opportunity to ask the instructor what information and formatting he or she would prefer in the title page. Academic title pages are one element in the academic expectations for the work, so an instructor’s preference takes precedence over the APA Style rules. Pursuing clarification from the instructor before starting to write can help to avoid later frustrations, and instructors may have examples of their preferred approach that they can share with students.

When instructors ask students to format an APA Style title page, there may be a couple of elements of an academic title page that differ from the instructions provided in the APA Style manual on formatting a title page for a journal article manuscript. For example, the APA Style rules ask authors to start page numbering on title pages at "1"; however, the academic convention is for page numbering to start on the second page of the document at "2". If instructors don’t have a strong preference, either approach is acceptable; however, it’s a good idea to ask if you’re not sure what’s expected.

Another example where expectations may differ is the author note, which "appears with each printed article to identify each author’s departmental affiliation, provide acknowledgments, state any disclaimers or perceived conflict of interest, and provide a point of contact for the interested reader" (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 24). Author notes aren’t a standard item on academic title pages; in fact, "students should note that an author note is usually not a requirement for theses and dissertations" (p. 24). However, if an instructor requests one, please ask what information should be included. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to ask where the author note should be presented on the title page. The author note in the “Sample One-Experiment Paper” is presented beneath the other information on the title page (e.g., title of work and the author’s name); however, in the “Sample Published APA Article”, which shows the finished form of a published article versus the unpublished manuscript, the author note is presented in a footnote. The difference in that formatting reflects the publication process where an editor transforms the unpublished manuscript into the final published form, but since students are acting as their own editors, that final polish is the student’s responsibility. If an instructor requests different formatting than what is identified in the APA Style rules, students should follow the instructor’s direction. For more information regarding author notes, please see “Giving Thanks in APA Style” in the APA Style Blog.

Do you have questions about this writing tip or any other writing-related matter? Please contact the Writing Centre as we’d be pleased to assist you.

Theresa Bell
Writing Centre Manager


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.