Writing Titles For Academic Essays

Purpose and importance of essay title

An essay title bears great importance which is why a wrong headline choice can make or break the quality of the paper you submit. Why? The reason is simple, the title you choose has to intrigue your professor or other readers, make them want to start reading the whole thing to find out what you wrote and how you developed an argument (especially important for argumentative essay). That is why the words you use and how you craft a title is vital to the success of the entire work. While it is easy to assume that the text itself is the only thing that matters, to get positive feedback and a good grade, every part of your paper plays a big role.

The title is, in fact, the first thing your professor, client, or other readers see and your job is to get the “This seems very interesting” reaction, rather than “Oh God, this will be boring.”

Choosing a title that incents people to read your essay because they’re curious and want to find out more, also allows you to find a fertile ground to showcase your knowledge, wisdom, and writing skills at the same time. This is particularly important for freelance writers whose success depends on the number of people who open and read their essays, articles, and so on.

What are the qualities of good essay title

Before you start writing a title for your essay, it is always useful to know more about qualities that every headline should have. When you are aware of all characteristics of good titles, you’re bound to make wise decisions and complete this part of essay writing process successfully.

Since you’re, probably, wondering about the most important qualities the title of your paper should have, here they are:

  • Eye-catching – well, this is obvious. Think about it; do you prefer reading content or academic papers with boring titles or you’re more inclined to opt for something with interesting, eye-catching deadline?
  • Believable – most students and freelance writers make mistakes by trying to make their titles catchy in such a way they stray away from the truth, thus making the headline inaccurate or a complete, blatant lie. Nothing will anger your professor like a title that doesn’t deliver
  • Easy to read – nobody likes complicated and difficult-to-understand titles, not even your professor. Stay away from strange phrases, complicated structures, even some uncommon fonts when writing your headline
  • Active voice – if your title contains verbs, always make sure they’re in active, rather than passive voice. For instance, instead of Is regression of society caused by celebrity culture, you should write How does celebrity culture contribute to the regression of society?
  • Brief – whenever you can, make an essay title brief. Long headlines are confusing and don’t demonstrate your skills for concise writing
  • Accurate – regardless of the topic or niche and under no circumstances should you ever write an inaccurate essay title. You should give your readers a clear idea of what they’re going to read in an essay. Never try to mislead, that can only harm the overall quality of essay and your professor will not appreciate it

What are the components of essay title?

Just like argumentative or some other types of essays have their outline formula you can use to write a high-quality paper, building your title has its own formula too. Below are the main components of your essay’s title:

  • A catchy hook – introduces the paper in a creative way
  • Topic keywords – the “what” of your essay. This component identifies concepts you’ll be exploring
  • Focus keywords – the “where/when” of your essay. Together with topic keywords, these are vital for your headline and provide more info that make it professional

Example: Buy Me a Date: Consumerization and Theories of Social Interaction in 21st Century Online Dating Sites

Let’s deduce:

  • Catchy hook – buy me a date
  • Topic keywords – consumerism, social interaction, dating
  • Focus keywords – 21st century

How to create essay title

Now that you know the importance of essay titles and qualities they should have, it’s time to learn how to create them. If you’re struggling with the essay title, don’t feel bad about yourself. Even the most prolific writers experience a writer’s block when it comes to choosing an ideal headline, from time to time. The writer’s block isn’t the issue here, it matters how you overcome it and create the title. Here are a few ideas that you’ll find useful.

Write essay first, title last

It may seem logical to you to create the title first and then write your essay, but doing the opposite can be more beneficial. In fact, most authors never start with the title. Of course, you may have some working headline in mind and it allows you to focus, develop an argument, and so on. But, writing your paper first will give you a clear idea of what to use in your title. As you write and then reread your essay, you’ll know what to say in the title and intrigue your reader. You’ll experience your “Aha, I’ll write this” moment.

Another benefit of creating title last is that you won’t waste too much time. It is not uncommon for students to spend hours just on figuring out the proper title for their essay. That’s the time you could have spent on research, creating an outline, or writing itself.

Use your thesis

Here is yet another reason to leave the title for last. Good titles offer your reader (or more of them) the reason for reading your paper. Therefore, the best place to find that reason is the thesis statement you’ve already written in the introduction. Try working the thesis statement, or at least, a part of it into a title.

Let’s say your thesis statement is this: “The American colonies rebelled against Great Britain because they were tired of being taxed, and they resented British military presence in their lives and homes."

To create a title, you may use alliteration “Tired of Taxes and Troops” or you can opt for “Rebellion of American Colonies against British Rule: Taxes, Troops, and other factors”

Use popular phrases and clichés you can re-work

Popular catchphrases that apply to the essay&39;s topic make eye-catching titles too, particularly when the phrase is amusing or creates an interesting pun. Besides popular phrases, you can also go for clichés and make some tweaks to re-work and adapt them to the topic of your essay and title itself. For instance: “Fit to be tried: The battle over gay marriage in the courts".

Of course, the tone of your essay plays an important role in creating a perfect title. If writing about a serious topic, then don’t be witty, silly, or off-the-wall with your headline. If your essay is a personal statement and even contains some anecdote, then you can go for a witty, yet intelligent title. Always make sure the tone of title and essay match. Bear in mind that even in witty titles, you should avoid using jargon. Also, don’t use abbreviations in your headlines as well.

Use quote or central idea

This isn’t a general rule, but it comes handy when applicable. Your title can feature a quote or a portion of it about the specific essay topic you’re writing about. If appropriate and relevant to the subject, even a part of song lyric can serve the same purpose. In instances when your essay is about a book, you can take a fragment of a thought-provoking quote from the book. For example: “Toil and trouble: Murder and intrigue in Macbeth".

Sum up your essay in THREE WORDS     

This is a useful technique to create essay titles; all you have to do is, to sum up your entire essay or a thesis statement in three words and use them to build the headline, put a colon and then insert what your essay is all about.

Bottom line

The success of your essay doesn’t only depend on the argument you develop, research you do, the title matters as well. Most students struggle to find an ideal headline, but with a few easy tips and tricks from this post, you can forget about frustrations, save some time, and create a catchy and informative headline to intrigue readers.

The title is the first thing your reader will see, and most readers will make their first judgements of your work based on it. For this reason, it’s important to think about your titles carefully.

The most basic things to remember are that your title should be informative, striking, and appropriate. This article briefly discusses these titular qualities, turns to some title templates and examples, and then offers some tips and common title-pitfalls.

Informative, Striking, Appropriate

Informative title

Your title should, above all else, convey the topic of your paper. In other words, no matter how witty, clever, original, or otherwise appealing your title may be, it fails if it is not informative.

Decide whether you’ve given a sense of the paper’s topic and claims by comparing your title’s content to the most important aspect(s) of your dissertation statement or hypothesis and conclusions.

Striking title

A striking title is one that entices your audience to read, so know your audience’s tastes.

The analogy of cultivating sexual attraction in a prospective mate is useful here: some audiences will be enticed by a title’s edginess (as with, for example, V. Alneng’s “‘What the Fuck is a Vietnam?’ Touristic Phantasms and the Popcolonization of [the] Vietnam [War],” published in Critique on Anthropology); others will almost always prefer a more straightforward title (as with J.C. Henderson’s “War as a tourist attraction: The case of Vietnam,” published in the International Journal of Tourism Research).

You should be able to gauge how edgy your title can be by the tone of your discipline or the publication you’re submitting to, and your main concern should be forming a title that appeals to your readers’ specific tastes.

Consider also that a title that highlights the paper’s fresh insights will often be striking.

An endocrinologist, for example, might become very excited upon seeing the collaboratively authored article “Comparison of the effects on glycaemic control and β-cell function in newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients of treatment with exenatide, insulin or pioglitazone: A multicentre randomized parallel-group trial,” published in 2015 in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

This rather long title is more acceptable in the sciences, where what readers tend to find provocative in a title is the degree to which it reveals the paper’s specifics.

Appropriate title

Ensuring that your title is appropriate in a way of making sure not only that your audience understands it, but also that its appeal contributes to its meaning. To make sure the title will be understood, you need to consider how familiar your research topic will be to your audience.

In an academic essay, you can use highly technical terms in your title, but generally avoid terms that the average well-read person in your discipline might not know.

In any writing that has a broad audience, titles need to avoid language that is too sophisticated; a news article, for example, should be easily understood by all.

As a second consideration of appropriateness, make sure that your title does not entice without substance.

The title of Alneng’s paper, for example, does not use “fuck” merely to shock and therefore entice the reader; the uncommon use of a swearword here helps convey the topic of the article: more or less vulgar representations of Vietnam.

The same is true for other striking titles, such as Nancy Tuana’s “Coming to Understand: Orgasm and the Epistemology of Ignorance,” published in Hypatia.

The title’s sexually charged play on words (“coming to understand”) hooks the audience, but is not merely a hook. The pun is directly relevant to the essay’s argument, which is that sexual pleasure offers an important form of knowledge.

Tips

  • Use key terms. Find words that your audience can easily identify as markers of the topic matter. These will include, for example, terms that convey the field of research, central concepts, or subjects of study.
  • Identify the context (sometimes called “the location”). By context, I mean the source or the setting of the discussion, depending on discipline. In a history paper this might be a certain century or era; in literary studies a certain book or author; and in the sciences an organism or compound.

Title templates

The following is a list of title formats, with examples of each. I’ve given the names of the publications in brackets to give a sense of how different disciplines treat titles.

Note that these are not mutually exclusive patterns (i.e. it’s possible to have various combinations; e.g. General & interesting: Informative & specific). Note also that this is not meant to be an exhaustive list.

  • Striking: Informative – The Specter of Wall Street: “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and the Language of Commodities (American Literature)
  • Informative: Striking – Carbon capture and storage: How green can black be? (Science)
  • General: Specific – The issues of the sixties: An exploratory study in the dynamics of public opinion (Public Opinion Quarterly)
  • “Quotation”: Discussion (social studies) – “I’d rather not talk about it”: Adolescents’ and young adults’ use of topic avoidance in stepfamilies (Journal of Applied Communication Research)
  • “Quotation”: Discussion (literary studies) – “I Would Prefer Not To”: Giorgio Agamben, Bartleby and the Potentiality of the Law (Law and Critique)
  • Simple and precise – Methodological issues in the use of Tsimshian oral Traditions (Adawx) in Archaeology (CanadianJournal of Archaeology)
  • Topic: Method – Mortality in sleep apnea patients: A multivariate analysis of risk factors (Sleep)
  • Topic: Significance – LC3 binds externalized cardiolipin on injured mitochondria to signal mitophagy in neurons: Implications for Parkinson disease (Autophagy)
  • Technical and very specific – Single-shot quantum nondemolition measurement of a quantum-dot electron spin using cavity exciton-polaritons (Physical Review)

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