How To Title an Essay: Useful Tips and Advice

Essay paper writing

Academic writing


Writing an essay title might seem to be an easy task when you have completed similar essay assignments, while it is not the case if it is your first task of that kind. However, regardless of whether it is your first essay or not, the question of how to properly title your work could still be quite critical. For some people, it might constitute a considerable difficulty, even if they have a good grip on the subject matter. But some others would name their essays quite elegantly, with an appealing heading and well-placed semantic charge, even though the body of their essays might be comparatively weaker.

Why does it happen? How to create a title for an essay? Is there a secret for writing a good, properly working title? In this article, we are going to share some experience and give you useful tips and advice about the art of titling your work. Don’t be surprised - indeed, it is the art which has a lot to do with how your reader perceives your heading and how this heading connects with the basic agenda of your work.

Why Your Paper Heading Format and Title are So Important?

A right paper heading format and a good title present your work to the reader before one even starts to read. Such a presentation works like a piece of visual art. It tells more, conveying additional meaning through the way it looks rather than through what is written. That is why a title itself is not only a paper heading. It is perceived as a whole, giving your reader an impression and setting ones expectations. Having looked at your apa essay heading format and having glanced at your title, the reader would already know whether your paper is going to be interesting or boring.

Essay Heading Format

MLA (Modern Language Association - a leading professional association in the US for those who study language and literature) recommends the following way to format your essay heading. To see how these easy-to-use and suitable essay heading format guidelines work, please refer to the sample provided beneath the following list.

  • Fonts: 12-point Times New Roman
  • Double Space: with your entire double spaced essay body should contain no single spacing and no extra spacing anywhere in the text. Don’t extra place space between paragraphs either.
  • Heading: type your name in the upper left corner, the name of your supervisor, class, and date.
  • Margins: one-inch on the top, bottom, left and right.
  • Page Numbering: make sure your last name and the page number are shown in the upper right corner of every page, beginning from the very first page. The best way to do it is to insert your name and page number as a header. Remember not to type name/page# where the text body of your essay should be.
  • The Title: Place it above the first line of your essay, and center it under the heading. Use the same font for the title as for the rest of your writing - no bold, no italics, no underlining or quotation marks.
  • Indentation: Indent the first line of every paragraph - ½ inch, or five spaces, or by pressing [Tab] once.
  • Alignment: align your text left to make it look even at the left margin but not at the right one - use “align left” text formatting option in your Word, do not choose “justify”.

Here is the sample MLA-recommended formatting we promised to provide:

                                                                                                                    Perkins 1        

Your Name

Mr. Springfield

ENG 1002-07

9 March 2019

                                    “To Be Or Not To Be: Main Dilemmas of The Hamlet” 

You may use these recommendations as your college paper heading format. Your properly formatted essay title page presents your discipline and knowledgeability about simple requirements and guidelines and earn you a positive attitude of your reader in advance. If your assignment implies other formatting standards, follow them carefully, too.

How to Write a Title in a Paper

It comes without saying that the main body of your essay should be great, but a wrong title can be rain on a parade as it can damage the quality of your work. The title gives your reader a strong hint on how your argument is further developed - and this is essentially important for argumentative essays, which constitute a large portion of essays that students write.

The title will help to get your reader on your side, inducing a well-disposed interest to your work and wish to find out more about your reasoning. This reader’s mood allows you to better showcase your writing skills and your knowledgeability about the agenda concerned. For the students, this positive attitude of a reader is a nice part of the educational process. But in further life, it would be hard to overestimate the importance of your ability to get your readers on your side before they start reading.

For example, the success of freelance writing fully depends on how many people get interested to read what you wrote after they have seen the title only. Office memorandums, email campaigns, page promotion in social networks and other modern media, opinion journalism, and serious long read articles - all these kinds of writing and content creation are successful only if your title works. In other words, if you pay a lot of attention to writing your titles, you will never regret it.

How to Make a Good Essay Title

First, you need to be critical and to know a good essay title from a bad one. Train your eye to spot the important features of the titles that might come to your notice. Ask yourself numerous questions about the titles:

  • Is this title eye-catching? Would you like to read on once you have seen it?
  • Is it believable? Doesn’t it look like a hard-to-believe, untrustworthy statement? This is a mistake many writers still make, titling their papers like “The City of Atlantis is Found” or “The Problem of Cancer is Solved”. Don’t do that. It can anger your reader. And the angry reader is not what you like to have around.
  • Is it easy to read? Isn’t it too complicated? Nobody likes to trudge through a difficult-to-understand title. A title is supposed to deliver the writer’s point instantly. That is why such things as strange phrases, obscure meanings, long and complicated structures, etc. should be avoided.
  • Are the title verbs used in active voice? Is there a way to change passive voice into active, of to re-word the title to make it a question? What title is better: “...environmental impact caused by household waste...” or “...household waste cause an impact on environment...”?
  • Is this title reasonably brief? While too-short titles are quite rare, too-long ones are left and right. They are often confusing, and, on top of that, they discredit the writer’s skills.
  • Is the title accurate? Yes, that is what happens, too: a wrong title can mislead the reader, giving him a wrong idea about what he is going to read in the paper. People aren’t fools, they could figure that the title was irrelevant, and get angry about it.

The Components You Need in Your Title

  • A catchy hook. A title is a great place for a touch of creativity - it always induces the reader’s interest. A creative way to introduce your paper is to use a catchy phrase or a question followed or preceded by a related counterpart. “Who Stands Behind? New Casinos Opening Up in the USA”, or “Cry Me A River, Trump Enablers” represent a good example. You could easily find many examples of creative titles for essays in the Internet. Or better, find a page with many titles aggregated, and go through them, picking the best creative examples yourself - just another good exercise for you to become more proficient in the art of titling.
  • Topic keywords. These are the words representing the semantic kernel of your essay and telling what your writing is about. The article you are reading now contains “title” and “essay” in its own title, and that is the subject we are exploring.
  • Focus keywords. Don’t confuse them with the topic keyword. Back to the headline of this article: “How To Title an Essay: Useful Tips and Advice, you could see focus keywords “how to” and “useful tips and advice” to give you the idea of this paper’s focus.

How To Create An Essay Title

Once you have understood the vitality of essay titling and trained your eye for dos and donts of this art, you can further concentrate on how to properly title an essay. Don’t get disappointed if a good title does not surface right away. Even the best writers might have problems with choosing a perfect headline. We can give you some advice here, too.

Essay Should Come First, Title - Last

Writing from the beginning to the end is just an ideal concept. In practice, it is often better to write your essay and then to ponder on the headline - if only you are not given the title in the beginning as an assignment with no option to alter it. Most authors create the title having completed their writing or most part of it. This approach allows to develop a clear idea about the topic and focus keywords to be used in the title. Write your essay, re-read it, and get your creative insight about the best title for your work.

Otherwise, you could find yourself spending too much time, ransacking your brain in the attempts to give a name to a not yet written article. Actually, many people make this mistake.

Make Use Of Your Thesis Statement

When your essay is written, weighed, measured and counted, and your introduction contains a clear straightforward thesis statement, you could have a better idea about the title. Take your thesis or better a part of it, add a hook and a focus, use your creativity and voila! - here is your best title. Creative titles for a paper would stream through your mind when your paper is finished.

For instance, your thesis statement is “Time travel is even theoretically impossible because it creates multiple unresolvable paradoxes”. Then your title can be “Mission Impossible: Time Travel To Create Multiple Paradoxes”.

Popular Phrases To Work in Good Titles for Essays

It is exactly the case: “Mission Impossible” cliché refers to the well-known series of American action films. Such clichés or popular phrases could make good hooks once adapted and to your need and properly used. But be careful with possible wrong allusions: “Here We Go Again: Time Travel To Create Multiple Paradoxes” is a sort of misleading your reader, taking him away from your thesis statement.

Mind the Tone of Your Essay And Your Title

It is very true that the way your title sounds might be even more important than what it actually means. A title should resound. But make sure that the tone of your essay and the tone of its title should resonate with the same vibes. A serious topic article may not have a witty, eccentric or zany headline. You may demonstrate your sense of humor in the main body of your essay when appropriate and applicable, including a joke or even an anecdote, but your headline should be more restrained anyway, with no jargon or anything low-style.

Be Careful With Catchy Titles For Essays

Don’t go over the top trying to create interesting titles for essays as a too eye-catching title may ward your readers off with the scent of yellow journalism. Yellow-press-titles still sell, but with a declining trend (as the audiences become more educated worldwide). And you should definitely avoid this style in your educational process.

Use A Good Quote

Sometimes you may want to feature a popular quote as a hooking part of your title. Bonne chance. Just make sure it is handy and relevant to your subject and thesis statement. If you are crafting an essay about a well-known literary writing, you can use a famous quote from it: “To Be Or Not To Be: Main Dilemmas of The Hamlet”. But again, be careful and reasonable with your hooks.

Try To Sum Up Your Writing in Three Words

While the title you end up might be much longer, a Three Words Title exercise is very useful to prime your mind for the creation of a good title. You could find it quite difficult to sum your entire essay or even your thesis statement in just three words. But once you come up with these words it would be much easier to build your perfect title on them, adding the hook, modifying the focus etc.

How To Pick The Right Title

It is very often that students are given the option to choose the topic for their essay. This task can be somewhat difficult, too. Look for a meaningful and captivating topic that offers you a chance to write a good persuasive or argumentative essay. A workable and attention-grabbing topic certainly helps your future essay to stand out and to earn you higher marks.

The Conclusion

Never underestimate the title of your essay. Follow our recommendations, do your homework as advised, work it all out.  And get surprised with your headway in essay writing and titling!


Essay paper writing

Academic writing

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