This is the first thing your readers see. This is what makes the first impression – which, as it happens since the dawn of time, is most important. This is where it all starts.
It can be shocking. Bold. Moving. Creative. Thought-provoking. Imprudent. Compelling. Even stupid. But never – boring and trite. Just imagine how many papers teachers and professors check every day and how many similarly-titled essays they have to read. If you want your essay to catch a reader's attention at first glance, you must master the art of creating great titles. In this post, we'll explain inside out how to come up with a good title for an essay or any other academic paper whatsoever. Let's get the party started!
Why Good Titles for Essays Matter
Let's start with looking at the general purposes of every title, which are:
- Predict content.
- Give a reader a key about the angle/focus of the paper.
- Reflect the tone or slant of content.
- Catch the reader's interest.
Now, virtually every writing guide or themed blog post brags about the immense importance of titles. In some cases, the authors even drag in notions about short attention span in modern readers. Well, yes, attention span in young people today really is around 8 seconds (that's where the popularity roots of Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and their likes come from). However, these are teachers we're talking about here, it's their work to read dozens and hundreds of students' essays.
Furthermore, it is completely apparent why good titles are important for books, journal and newspaper articles – by attracting people's attention, they help to sell. But why the hell do you need a good title for your college essay or research paper if you don't need to sell it – a teacher will read it anyway?
If you combine the above-mentioned title's purposes and the fact that each teacher in high schools and higher education institutions across the country reads and checks thousands of student papers every year, you would be able to conclude that a great essay title is crucial for:
- Demonstrating that you have understood the assignment properly.
- Showcasing your skills and expertise from the very start.
- Creating a positive first impression and etching into the teacher's heart.
- Standing out from the crowd and, possibly, getting your name noted.
What Titles Are Made Of and How to Make an Essay Title Right
No one argues that creativity is always good when it comes to creating impressive essay titles. However, the best effect is achieved when creativity serves as a wrap for a proper structure tailored to the above-mentioned title purposes. At the core, a good essay title must include these components:
- Hook – a catchy, creative element, aiming to grab the reader's attention and make the title attractive and memorable. Ideally, the hook should be short and sharp like a shot. It can be located either at the beginning or at the end of the title, but never in the middle.
- Topic keyword(s) – the element, which states the topic or identifies the concept of your essay. Typically, a topic keyword or a key phrase answers the question 'What?'
- Focus keyword(s) – the element, which specifies subordinate circumstances, such as time, place, source, person, etc. Stated otherwise, focus keywords answer questions 'Where?', 'When?', 'Whose?', etc.
Your mission as an essay author is to combine these components in a cocktail, garnish it with a dash of creativity, and serve to the reader, drawing him or her in taking it up to the very last drop.
Eventually, if you put a title together according to the preferred structure, it should come out:
- Catchy – getting the reader's attention and getting your title noticed can greatly contribute to the success of this particular essay, as well as overall performance improvement.
- Concise – this is precisely the place where the 'less is more' and 'brevity is the soul of wit' principles must be fiercely applied. The shorter the title is, the less are the chances to confuse your reader.
- Accurate – grammatically flawless and implicitly specific, the title should provide 100% correct information, not leaving to be discredited due to some invalidities.
- Credible – no matter how creative your title is, it should provide a clear idea of what's going to be inside the essay. Never, never, never mislead your readers!
- Smooth – a good title must be easy to read, almost like a poem line. The reader eye shouldn't cling to sophisticated terms or complicated structures, it should flow from beginning to end.
How to Come Up with a Title for an Essay Using These Basic Rules
Here are some basic rules you must know and should follow if you're serious about your intentions to learn how to title an essay. We promise this would be the last theoretical section of our guide. So it goes – you gotta know the rules. At least, to know how to stretch them ☺ Here we go:
- Keep it relevant to the entire text, not just one or few parts of it.
- Keep it short. 7 to 9 words should be enough to make an impressive title. Increase to 15 words if necessary, but no more.
- Keep it in line with the tone and type of your essay.
- When given a chance, re-think and re-title the subject/topic provided by a teacher – mostly, this is merely a working title, a guiding point that you can creatively change.
- Avoid negative themes, unethical, offensive or immoral subjects, especially if they come from your own negative past.
- Don't get too personal, even if it's a reflective essay – you must develop the topic, not craft an autobiography.
- Use active voice, not passive. No time to explain, just do it.
- Never use notorious click-baiting techniques you can so often see on the Web.
- Always check the required style and format a title accordingly. A formatting mistake in the text wouldn't hurt your grade much; the one in the title – surely will.
- This one goes on the heels of the previous rule: no underlining or italicizing the title unless it's absolutely necessary.
- Confidently use a colon if you need to separate an eye-catching element in the title from refining and detailing parts.
- Have the courage to stop rewording and rephrasing the title once you see it complies with the requirements. Remember: done is better than perfect.
Okay, now when we're done with the theoretical part, we can move on to breaking down how to write a title for an essay from a practical perspective.
How to Create a Title for an Essay: Practical Tips
Now we're talking practice! Let's get right down to business:
- Title your essay after it's written, not before – that's a question of principle. The thing is, your views and conclusions might change dramatically once you examine all aspects of the issue and put them on paper. Titling the essay after you finished writing will let you keep it relevant and holistic.
- Develop subtitles for every section of your essay. You might not even use them in the end, but they will help keep your thoughts organized in the process. Moreover, one of them may eventually provide the basis for the final title or its part.
- The thesis of your essay might be another great foundation for the title – be definition, it should summarize the main point of your paper. Cut it to fit title requirements, add a hook – and voila, mission accomplished!
- Carefully choose words – they must be relevant, specific, and appropriate. Involve SEO techniques to define the right words – it's not rocket science. For example, google several keywords from your essay and check out search predictions (autocomplete suggestions that show up when you type your query) or related searches (they are displayed at the bottom of the page under initial search results).
- Sum up your essay in just three words. On the one hand, this will help you keep track of the main idea you must reflect in the title. On the other hand, you can just separate them by commas, put a colon, and add a more detailed headline.
- Employ idioms, clichés, aphorisms, quotes, relevant popular phrases. Movie, book, song titles work, too. You can use them as they come or adapt to better fit your purpose.
- Use the 'Yoda technique' and twist words – help create a unique title this can.
- Get help. Fortunately, it is so accessible thanks to the biggest blessing of civilization – the Internet. Sometimes, when you're mentally exhausted or simply stuck, all those online title creators, headline analyzers, content idea generators, thesauruses, and writing help services might turn really helpful.
How to Write a Title in an Essay Step by Step
Now, when we've examined every aspect of the title-writing craft, it's about time to finalize all the information in step-by-step instruction. Follow this guide and learn to crank out great titles one after another!
- Write your essay. Revise it.
- Come up with subtitles for the essay's sections.
- Sum up your essay in 3 words.
- Brainstorm ideas and develop several titles, considering the basic rules and purpose. Pick up to 3 best options.
- If you have time and opportunity, get an expert outsider's opinion about your title ideas.
- Review the best version of the title and revise it if necessary.
- Check the grammar and formatting.
- Pop the champagne (optional).
Titles Are Important. Content Is Too
By now, you should have clarified how to write an essay title from scratch and make this right. You also should have understood that coming up with a good title requires preparation and effort. At the same time, you must remember that no matter how great the title is, it doesn't actually entitle you to a high grade. Creating an awesome title for a mediocre essay is probably the worst thing you can do with your paper. Why? Because a spot-on title gives a teacher hope to read a great paper, and when expectations don't meet the reality check, comes probably the most dangerous feeling in the world – disappointment. Hence, you must do whatever it takes not to disappoint a person responsible for your essay grading. If you feel that you could use some help to hike up your writing, PaperHelp.org provides you with all the required tools and means. Crafting unique model papers from scratch, editing, proofreading, creativity injections, and much more – this is what you can get in just a few mouse clicks while keeping your seat. Be it a simple essay, extended research paper, or full-fledged thesis, you are entitled to get expert help in any academic endeavors.