4 March 2014
Coming up with the ideal title for an essay, especially a really important one, can be a daunting task for most. There’s a fair amount of pressure involved and because of the near limitless potential people can get completely stuck. In this post we’re going to first investigate how critical titles are and then talk about how to go find the perfect one.
Before we do though, something needs to be said. Listen, in reality the substance of your essay is what will determine your grade, not the title. From the grading perspective it doesn’t carry much power. You honestly could come up with a crummy title and if it’s a quality essay still pass with flying colors. Get it?
With that said, the key to coming up with decent titles in only a couple minutes is not taking them too seriously. Ideally you really shouldn’t even worry about the title until after you’ve written out the first draft anyway. Then you can keep these four things in mind and it should be smooth sailing.
First Ponder: “What’s in a title?”
The answer to this timeless question is…pretty much everything is in a title. It’s the top of the proverbial thought-pyramid. It’s the touch-off organizational point. It’s the unique selling proposition (USP) or elevator pitch. Let’s look at it from a bullet point perspective just for fun:
Your title is a provocative prediction that forecasts the content of your essay. Don’t take it lightly.
It’s candy for the intellect. Shoot for engaging and interesting over generic whenever possible. An impressive title sets the mood, so make sure it’s a captivating one.
In other words, you’re setting the tone for the writing. See, I told you the title is everything.
Your title should be composed of or at least have 2 to 3 solid and exceedingly relevant key words in it.
Don’t think you can master the art of coming up with titles in minutes right out of the park. Most people neglect their creative mind too much to do that. It takes practice. You’ll learn in time, so relax and enjoy the process. Wait, process?
It’s a Process, not Spontaneous Creation
Oftentimes newer students think they can just magically come up with an ideal title out of thin air based on limited knowledge. Like, they know the topic they have to write on so they just look at a few blogs and conjure something randomly relevant.
Sometimes that can work, but it usually doesn’t. Instead, loosely follow these rough series of steps:
Write out a word cloud of about 20-30 relevant keywords or phrases to the topic at hand.
Start to organize them in your mind or on paper and construct sentences that are either questions or statements. The questions should be direct and the statements penetrating.
Choose some sort of object or theme from within the essay itself (if it’s been written already) that you use to inject sensuality. In other words, something they can hear, taste, see, smell or feel.
Start with longer titles and then chisel them down to only the most relevant words. Any word in the title that isn’t necessary, meaning it will still make sense without it, should be removed.
Wherever there is generality, add specificity.
If you are experiencing writer’s block and the deadline is approching, you can consider the option of our writing service.
The Grammatical Aspect of Titles
Let’s get the rules of the game dealt with now. There isn’t too many of them so relax. The Devil’s in the details ladies and gentlemen, so remember to pay attention.
First, make sure you use proper capitalization. A basic rule of thumb is that unless we’re talking about the first word in your title, you shouldn’t capitalize pronouns, conjunctions or prepositions. It just looks sloppy. Secondly, don’t underline the title either or put it in quotation marks. That’s just flat out embarrassing.
That’s it pretty much. Make sure you get an idea of how formal the essay has to be because if the professor is down for informality and artistic expression you can use all kinds of grammatical signals to enhance your title like colons or the triple-period…
Consider Your Audience
If the only person who will be reading this essay is your professor, then you need to ask yourself what you know about them. I mean actually KNOW, not assume. Never give professors what you think they want to hear, because that oftentimes lead to disaster. Are the more conservative or artistic? Do they appreciate self-expression, or are they more kind to those who strictly follow the rules?
Have you grappled with essay titles before? What’s your recipe for awesome titles that engage, get the point across, set a good tone and lead into the essay in a way that keeps your particular audience captivated? Spread the knowledge!
Useful samples and examples: