Generating High-Quality Titles in Academic Writing

Time to read: 5 Minutes
Titles-Definition

A title can make or break your entire essay.

So how exactly can you come up with an eye-catching title that inspires people to read the paper? Find out in this guide.

Titles – In a Nutshell

Titles are very important in academic writing. They indicate what the essay is about and draw the attention of the reader.

A good title should be:

  • Precise
  • Relevant
  • Catchy
  • Easy to read.

It shouldn’t be unnecessarily long and shouldn’t contain any unnecessary jargon. Titles for academic essays also need to be written in active voice as this helps to make the meaning of the heading clearer.

Definition: Titles

Titles are words or phrases that help the reader determine the subject of a text. It is meant to attract the reader’s attention and forecasts the tone of the writing to follow.

Since the title is what the reader will see first, it is important to make it effective and attention-grabbing. Here is a checklist that can help you determine whether your paper has a good title:

Is it relevant?

  • The title must have information related to the content of the essay and should capture the most interesting aspect of the paper.

Does it contain catchy words?

  • While the title needs to be informative and relevant, you won’t inspire people to read it if it doesn’t contain catchy words. Remember that catchy words should be used in an informative title and shouldn’t work as clickbait headings.

Is it easy to read?

  • Your title shouldn’t be difficult to understand and shouldn’t contain unnecessary jargon or complicated phrases.

Is it unnecessarily long?

  • Lengthy titles can be confusing and won’t achieve the goals of a heading. Keep it as short as possible.

Is it written in active voice?

  • The heading should always be written in active voice, as this makes the meaning clearer for your readers.

Here are some things you should avoid when generating your title:

  • Negative themes, unethical issues, and immoral subjects
  • Negative personal stories or anything that can be deemed too personal
  • Issues that aren’t relevant to your field
  • Neglecting the requirements of your teacher
  • Cliches that are essentially meaningless2

The 3 main components of titles

To generate an effective title, you should consider the three main components of headings. These are:

  • The hook
  • Key terms
  • The source

The hook in titles refers to the first few words that are meant to grab the attention of readers. You can use a colon to separate the hook from the rest of the title. Let’s look at the hook in the following essay title:

  • Just Do It: Risk-Taking in Collaborative Video Games

In this case, the words “Just Do I” work as the hook as they can grab the reader’s attention.

The key terms are words that explain what the essay is about. Let’s examine the following essay title:

  • How Important Textbooks are to Teenagers

The key terms in this heading would be “teenagers” and “textbooks”.

This is also known as the location of the title, and it refers to the place under discussion.

The source could be:

  • A geographic location
  • Apiece of writing
  • An individual
  • An existing discussion3

Tips for composing titles

1. Consider your audience

  • When crafting the title, you should consider what your audience is interested in and which jargon they are familiar with.

2. Use keywords

  • It is essential to create a list of keywords that need to feature in the title as these will explain to the readers what the essay is about.

3. Reread the assignment instructions

  • You should also take the time to go through the essay instructions since your teacher may have specific guidelines for the titles.

4. Evaluate the context and setting

  • The context of the paper will help you determine the tone you will use when writing the essay title

5. Revise your work

  • It is good practice to write the essay title after finishing the paper. You should take the time to revise your work as this can give you inspiration for the heading.

6. Rewrite your titles

  • You should also rewrite your titles to see which wording would sound best. When rewriting the titles, it is essential to always use active voice.4

Examples of titles

Let’s look at some examples of excellent titles for academic essays.

  • This would be a suitable title for an argumentative essay.
    • Why Euthanasia is Unethical
  • This is a great title for a persuasive essay.
    • Love and Allergies: Why You Should Avoid Flowers in Spring
  • This would also be a great title for a persuasive essay, as it covers the subject adequately.
    • Hiring a Candidate with a Smoking Habit: The Pros and Cons
  • This is a short, precise, and catchy title that is sure to grab the attention of your readers.
    • Steve Jobs: Genius or Insane?
  • This is an argumentative essay heading that is written in an interrogative format
    • Does Alcohol Destroy the Brain?
  • This is another example of a catchy title. In this case, the key terms are “school children” and “uniform”
    • Why School Children Should Stop Wearing Uniforms

FAQs

Here are some examples of great titles in academic writing:

  • The Importance of Building Strong Relationships
  • The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade: A Closer Look at the Event

To create a catchy title, you’ll need to keep it short, simple, and to the point.

Also, make sure you use catchy words or phrases, as these will attract the attention of your readers.

You should be clear about the subject of the essay and appeal to your readers’ hunger for knowledge.

Headings are words or phrases that introduce a reader to an academic paper or essay.

They are used to organize the material and lead the reader through different parts of your academic paper.

We can place titles in three main categories:

  • Question titles
  • Statement titles
  • Topic headings.

Statement headings form a complete thought and contain a noun and verb, while topic headings feature a word or phrase that doesn’t form a sentence. As you can tell from the name, question headings use the interrogative case.5

Sources

1 S., John. “How to Title an Essay, Complete Guide” August 4, 2022. https://essaypro.com/blog/essay-title.

2 Edusson. “How to Title an Essay?” Accessed November 15, 2022. https://edusson.com/blog/how-to-title-an-essay.

3Arbor, Ann. “How do I write a great title for my academic essay?”

4 Hansen, Athina. “How to come up with an Eye-catching Essay Title” September 29, 2020. https://www.gradehacker.com/blog/how-to-come-up-with-a-successful-essay-title/.

5 Nichol, Mark. “3 Types of Headings” Accessed November 15, 2022. https://www.dailywritingtips.com/3-types-of-headings/.