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How to Think of a Catchy Title for a Paper or Essay

Updated on January 3, 2013
Writing
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Great Titles for an Essay

While it is essential to understand how to come up with a catchy title for your paper, it is also important to know what not to do. If you've tried the above steps and still feel lost, perhaps these points will help:

  • Keep it concise: Try to keep your title as short as possible. Sometimes condensing it down to four words rather than six is much more ideal. For informative papers, however, making sure that the title provides all the necessary information is better than keeping it too short.
  • Avoid too much scientific language: Sometimes keeping it simple is much more appealing than using too much scientific language. This is also a great way to keep the title concise.
  • Use subtitles: When long titles are necessary, a subtitle might be just the thing to break it up so it isn't too long-winded for your audience. Furthermore, it is a way to have a catchy title followed by information that makes it specific to your essay.
  • Don't be offensive: Need I explain further?
  • Avoid "I," "you," and "we:" Using these words may make you're title look less professional. Avoiding them also helps you avoid generalizations.

Catchy Titles for Student Papers

It's the first thing your audience sees and may even be the difference between a great paper and a forgettable one but, even though it's just a few words, a title can be the most difficult part of your paper or essay. Luckily, there are a few strategies you can use to get that creative and catchy title of your dreams without having to stay up late into the night, staring blankly at your cursor and waiting for lightening to strike.

  1. Write your essay: Since your title is right at the beginning of your text, many students feel the need to start there before getting anything else on paper. However, writing your essay first is the best way to ensure that your title fits what you wrote and summarizes it best. Although you may feel like you know exactly what you are going to say, your essay may go in an entirely different direction as you write. Furthermore, you want to get the most time-consuimg part of your essay, the actual text itself, out of the way, rather than sit there trying to think of what you want to title it.
  2. Stick to what it's about: Try and make a title that is specific for your argument so that the reader is prepared for what you are about to talk about. Generalizations are boring. The more specific you are, the more potential your title has to be attention grabbing for your audience.
  3. Determine your audience: Who are you writing this for? Perhaps your professor loves humor or wit as opposed to bland and scholarly ones. Keep in mind what type of title would be most appealing to who you are writing for. One semester I had a professor who always asked for the most creative titles while another preferred straight-forward titles that were more specific to what the text was about.
  4. Re-Read your essay: Of course, you've probably read your essay a million times by now but, instead of proofreading, try and reread the text for specific phrases or word choice that would work for your title that captures your audience while relating to your essay's thesis.
  5. Use quotes: Sometimes using quotes from the author can help make your title a little more attention grabbing. However, don't just use a quote and leave it at that. Make sure to add your own words alongside the quote that relate it to what you're talking about in your essay.
  6. Use facts: Sometimes incorporating an interesting fact can help catch your reader's attention and draw them into your paper. Many newspaper articles use this for their titles, especially when the facts include numbers.
  7. Look at other titles: Look around at other titles and try and recognize what makes those titles stand out. Going to a magazine stand at a grocery store or a book store can help you with this, as well as browsing through articles on the internet. Try and emulate what you see without copying.

© 2012 LisaKoski

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    • Traveler29 profile image

      Joshua Hartzell 4 years ago from Indiana

      I enjoyed this article. I love to write, and have even published a few books. To this day my most difficult task, whether it's a book title, or trying to think of a title for an essay now that I'm going to school is thinking of one that is just write. I found your article very helpful, and as simple as your suggestions are, I can't believe I just simply haven't tried it this way.

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Make it rhyme,

      Make it shine,

      Make it roar like a mouse,

      Or a little bit outrageous.

      Make it sing,

      Make it zing,

      Give it sass,

      Get in your car & shake the overpass.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 4 years ago

      I may very well be the master of coming up with catchy titles in my

      poe-tree readings - lol - yes the title (like the profile photo/avatar) is the first thing which catches the 'eye' ..... so it's an essential part of your promotion here at the Hub....... thank you for directing me in new directions with your research and hard work here - it's good to learn something new everyday and I certainly have learnt something from you - sending you warm wishes and good energy from lake erie time ontario canada 6:09am

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      The one thing I do appreciate hubpages provides you with some titles on your subjects.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You provide some helpful hints for a task I so often stumble with. I have taken to waiting until the article is done before titling it, as you have suggested.