How to Title an Essay

Most writers have difficulties adding a title to their essay. Whether you are just about to start writing or have finished the essay, the inspiration for the title may not be there. You can't simply title your essay “Essay 01” or “Fourth Essay?” because no matter how good the content is, even the most enthusiastic reader will surely be bored by just the sound of the title - or absence of it. The title of your essay can partly determine the quality of your paper and the kind of reception it will receive. Why so? The title you choose for your essay will be the first words your professor or reader will look at, and it should invite them to read on. 

How to Write an Essay

Qualities of a good essay title:

  • Catchy. This determines the kind of interest that the reader will have in your essay. A good, catchy title will automatically bag the interest of the reader. If you are still clueless as to what this means, answer this question: when choosing a book, article, or piece to read, do you look for the content right away or do you prefer a title that quickly catches your attention? A good essay title identifies the subject quickly. 
  • Easy to read and relatable. Do not pick a complex, hard to understand title that reduces the attention your essay will get. Choosing a cryptic or ambiguous title is likely to shoo away the reader. 
  • Brief and straightforward. You may notice that even the great works of literature have very short titles (e.g. Lolita, Atonement, The Great Gatsby). The shortness of the title translates to easy recognition. Also, it gives the reader interest, therefore, immediate insight. Note that brief does not necessarily mean boring. Therefore, choose your essay title with care. 
  • Predictive tone. Since the title should express to the readers what the essay is about, it should also dictate the mood. For example, a very direct title is good for a serious topic. A good example is “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell. It is about the narrator being made to shoot an elephant during the time of colonial Burma. On the other hand, you can place a pun on your title if the essay is about something lighter and less serious. A good example is the Jonathan Swift’s satirical “A Modern Proposal,” which proposes that poor parents should eat their children or sell them as food for money. 
  • Appeals to the intended audience. You must consider the audience or at least your professor’s nature. A serious title appeals to a serious professor while a humorous, witty one appeals to a witty, less serious professor.

Additional tips:

  • Do not force it. If you cannot think of a title yet, do not try very hard to come up with a title before writing. 
  • Proceed to write. Once you think of some possible ones while in the middle of writing, list them down and once you have finished, pick out what you think is the best-sounding. 
  • Finished but still without a title. Try to read the entire essay with emotion and once you come upon the word or phrase that catches your attention, you may choose that as your title. 
  • Subtitles. If you think your title is not good or catchy enough because the topic is quite ordinary, try using subtitles as it will give a boost the reader’s interest. For example: Toys: How my Toy Cars Saved My Childhood. 
  • Be influenced. Try to search for a list of great essay titles and their content and observe how and where the author picked the title. How do you title your essay? It is easy and difficult at the same time. But with these tips, we hope we have been helpful. If you think you need assistance, we can help.

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