How to Title an Essay

Would you want to read an article, essay, paper, blog post, or other pieces of writing with a boring title?
Kelly Spancer
7
min read
Dec 28, 2020
Table of contents

Well, neither does your teacher, professor, or boss. The difference is that they don’t have a choice and have to. A good title helps you stand out, and that’s part of the reason why a title is so important. Just knowing the right way to title an essay can boost your grades! 


A good title has to grab the reader’s attention. It’s the first thing someone sees, so think of it as your first opportunity to impress. The title needs to be catchy but focused on the content of your essay. A good title is simple yet informative. Sounds tough? Don’t worry, this article will cover all you need to know about how to title an essay perfectly. 

How to Choose a Good Title for an Essay

A good title makes a reader think “Yes! I want to read the rest of this!” but a title also has to accurately reflect the content of the paper. It’s not just students, one of the differences between an average writer and an expert is how well they can write a title. If you want to work in social media, advertising, or any kind of content writing, learning how to write a title for an essay is an essential skill to have. 


There are two main components of a good essay title.


Catchy Hook

Anyone that’s ever written anything knows that having a catchy hook in your introduction is a requirement, but most people forget that you can include a hook in the title itself. Remember, you want to stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition. 


Key Words

There are a few places to hunt for keywords to fit into your title. The essay prompt or research question is a good place to start but using words in your thesis statement ensures that your topic accurately reflects the main point of your essay. The use of keywords like this ensures that your title reflects what the essay is about. You’ll know you’ve found the right keywords if they seem like two or three word summaries of the main point of your essay. 

How to Come up With a Title for an Essay

How to create a title for an essay in a way that makes it stand out from the crowd requires creativity, hard work, and time. That may seem like a lot just for a title, but it’s worth it. Follow these bits of advice and craft the perfect title!


Write your title at the end

Just because the title is the first thing someone reads doesn’t make it the first thing you should write! Coming up with a good title is tough and requires a deep understanding of the content of the paper. That means it’s usually better to write the title at the end after you’re done with a couple of drafts of your paper. 


Though it’s good to write according to a plan, often, new thoughts can take your essay in an unexpected direction, this is another reason why its good to start with a working title as a placeholder and go back to write the final title at the end. 


Use your thesis 

A good title hints at what the thesis statement will be. A thesis statement is a summary of the main argument and purpose of the paper, so use your thesis statement as a source of inspiration for your title. This makes sure that your title has predictive power since it’s drawn from the thesis statement itself. 


Simple but not too simple

There is no rule about how long a good title should be - there are benefits to short titles and benefits to long titles. Short titles are direct and clear and better suited for simpler, straightforward essays. Longer titles may be more appropriate for complex or very specific essays. No matter what though, make sure that your titles are easy to understand. 


Make sure your title is specific

A title that’s too general may seem like it’s describing your essay, but it isn’t. Is your essay just about “Mobile Gaming in 2020” or is it about “The Impact of Coronavirus Lockdowns on the FTP Mobile Game Industry”? The first title may be short and to the point, but it doesn’t give enough specific information about the content of the essay. Remember, a good title hints at what the essay is going to be about, but also intrigues the reader. Generic and broad titles don’t do that. 


Your title needs to be believable 

Just because a lot of titles you see on the internet are clickbait, doesn’t mean that you need to write an over the top title as well. Especially if you’re writing a paper for academia, make sure your title doesn’t over-promise what you’re going to cover in the essay. 


Write your title in the active voice

Write your title in the active voice, that is, the subject acts upon the verb rather than the subject receives a verb's action. Writing in the active voice uses fewer words and is more concise and engaging - perfect for writing a catchy title. 


Rewrite famous movies, books, quotes, phrases, quotations, etc. 

Creativity is an important element of coming up with a catchy title. If you can find a famous phrase that you can rework into the perfect title for your essay, go for it! For example, a paper about mitosis and meiosis (cell division) can be titled “Live Long and Prosper”.


Match the style and tone of your essay

It wouldn’t make sense to have an amusing title for an essay about a refugee crisis. Make sure that your title reflects the tone of your essay. Some titles work better depending on the essay style. For example, the title of a persuasive essay would be different than the title of a reflective essay. 


Who’s the audience?

Of course, how you title an essay depends on who you’re writing it for. A blog post targeted towards your friends or prospective followers is going to have a different title than an essay for your stuffy old history teacher. Your young science teacher who loves memes and blows up things in class might appreciate a different type of title. A university application essay usually needs to be more formal. Try and find out as much as you can about who is going to read your essay and cater both your essay and title to them. 


To use or not to use: Colons in essay titles

Using a colon to separate an essay title into two sections used to be the norm. It became so common in fact, that now they are considered cliche. There may be a few occasions when using a colon is just perfect, but avoid overusing it. The best way to use a colon is by inserting a creative phrase or clever quote behind the colon. For example, the title of this section. 


Use evocative imagery

An easy way to make your title catchy is by using imagery. If you can make the reader imagine something in their mind based on your title, you’re starting off with a win. “Stepping into the void: The first spacewalk” is a much better title than simply “The first spacewalk. 


These tips should help you answer how to come up with an essay title!


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Common Titling Mistakes

The deadline is racing towards you and you still don’t have a title! After panicking and writing whatever pops into your head, check to make sure you don’t do any of the following.

  • Either bold your title or underline it  -  Doing both is overkill and rather than stressing the title, makes it look cluttered and messy.
  • Don’t make your title too short - A good title should let the reader predict what the essay is going to be about.
  • Don’t make your title too long.- A long title might give more information about the essay, but it can be cluttered and overloaded with dense information.
  • Don’t use slang, jargon, or abbreviations - You want to make sure that the title is clear. If the teacher has to look up a word in your title, you’re starting off badly. 
  • Don’t get too personal - Your title should entice the reader. Whatever strong arguments you want to make should be made in the body of the essay. 

Make sure your title reflects the content of the essay - This often happens when the title is written first and then the essay. Start with a placeholder title and after the essay is done, work on creating a title that accurately reflects the main purpose of the essay. 

Improved Essay Titles

You might have an idea about what the title should be as you’re working on your essay, but there are still things to watch out for. Sometimes the perfect title pops into your head fully formed, but more often than not, a good title takes thought, effort, time, and several rewrites. Make sure to set aside some time just to work on the title. 


An Exploration of the Best Way to Spend Time During Lockdown Based on Personal Experience

This title might do a good job of explaining what the essay is about but it’s too long and wordy.

Better title: My Lockdown Chronicles: What to do With Unexpected Free Time


An Analysis of Avengers: Endgame

This title is too broad. The topic is interesting but there’s no hook to engage the reader.

Better title: Why Avengers: Endgame is Modern Storytelling at its Best 


Badly Breaking the myths about drug overdose 

This title seems forced. The topic is very serious, so trying to use a pun in the title can come across as incongruent. It also depends on the reader knowing the show Breaking Bad and making the connection. Depending on the audience, this might be the perfect title though, so make sure to consider your audience when writing and titling an essay. 

Better Title: An Analysis of Drug Overdose Deaths in the 2010s


The Best Colorful Birds

This title doesn’t give any specific information or talk about what the reader can expect to learn from the essay.

Better Title: Why Birds of Paradise Evolved to Become the Brightest Birds

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Essay Title Ideas

Catchy essay title examples

A catchy title can start your reader off intrigued, entertained, and overall, just in a positive state of mind. That’s a good way to get noticed and boost your grade on the essay! Here are some examples of attention-grabbing essay titles.


Underage Romance: An Analysis of the Ages of William Shakespeare’s Characters 
An Alien Among Us: What if Superman Was Real?
The Day the Planet Caught a Virus
The Rise and Fall of the Alpha Male
Memes Before the Internet


College Essay Title examples

When answering a college essay, make sure you read and follow the instruction carefully. Not following the often very strict requirements is. Generally speaking the tone of the essay, and therefore the title should be more serious but don’t be afraid to let your personality come through. Have a look at these examples.


Why Building Houses in a Third World Country was Unsatisfying
The Daily Struggles of an International Student
Energy Equals MC Hammer: My First Day of Dance Class
A Showdown Between William Shakespeare and Hamilton
Mahatma Gandhi’s Disobedience Without Violence


Argumentative Essay Title Examples

An argumentative essay is an opportunity to convince the reader about your view on a topic. Since the goal of an argumentative essay is to make an argument using facts, research, and logic, your title should state your position on the issue. These examples should steer you in the right direction. 


Artificial Intelligence Will Not Matrix Humanity
The Best Soup Is Your Grandmother’s
Oh, the Humanity: Why the Death Penalty Should Be Abolished
Scientific Backing for the Benefits of Video Games
Trial and Error: Better Than the Scientific Method?


Persuasive Essay Title Examples

A persuasive essay appeals to emotions to influence the reader. The main difference between an argumentative essay and a persuasive essay is that an argumentative essay uses facts and research while a persuasive essay relies on emotional appeals. How do these title examples make you feel?


A Glamorous Path to Self Hatred: Modern Beauty Standards
Surreptitious Racism and Why It’s More Difficult to Erase
Saving the Planet, One Tree at a Time
The Natural Way to Heal: Ayurvedic Medicine
Testing the Uneducated: Medical Testing in Third World Countries


Narrative Essay Title Examples

Narrative essays can be thought of as short stories. They ask a writer to share an experience clearly and concisely while making a clear point. The titles of these essays can be more playful and ambiguous. Take a look at some examples.


The Pleasure of Discovering an Amazing New Anime
A Missed Opportunity: Why I Didn’t Attend My Uncle’s Funeral
When my Teacher Became a Father Figure
How Being Bullied Made Me a Kinder Adult
Bloody Victory: My First Mixed Martial Arts Win


Research Paper Title Examples

Research papers test your ability to find credible sources and synthesize complex information into a well-structured format. These are almost exclusively academic, and as such, have formal titles. The first versions of these titles often end up being very long, so spend some time whittling away any extra information. Take a look at the examples below. 


The Effects of Caffeine on Attention and Sleep
Experimental Evidence for the Use of Music in Boosting Agricultural Yields
Not Stinky: Bathing Culture in Ancient China
The Impact of Western Media on 13 to 30-Year-Olds in Asia 
The Marvel Cinematic Universe: A Guide on How to Plan Ahead


English Essay Titles Examples

Writing a title for an English essay doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, if you’re studying literature, you should take the opportunity to flex your creative writing skills. Don’t overdo it though! Titles still need to be predictive, comprehensible, and engaging. Examples down below. 


Akala: A Modern Day Shakespeare
Why We’re Already Living in the Brave New World
The Impact of Foreign Writers on Modern English Literature
The Terrifying Origins of Folk Tales
The Times They Are a-Changing: Analyzing Mark Twain’s Writings in 2019

Quick Recap

A great title piques the interest of the reader and starts their journey at a high point. Whether it’s online or for school, you have to find a way to stand out from the very beginning. A good title takes time and effort, but coming up with the perfect title can also be fun, and it absolutely makes a difference to your grade. 


Ask these questions to make sure that your title is good. 

  • Does the title predict what the paper is about?
  • Does the title use keywords effectively?
  • Does the title accurately reflect the tone of the essay?
  • Is the title appropriate for the audience?
  • Is the title interesting?

Remember these tips when brainstorming an essay title. 

  • Think of an interesting hook
  • Use keywords (Your thesis is a good place to look)
  • Write your title after you’ve written the essay, not before
  • Simple but not too simple, it should be predictive
  • Use as few words as possible while being informative and interesting
  • Keep it believable
  • Match the tone and style of your essay
  • Think about the audience
  • Use imagery
  • Rework a popular phrase
  • Use active voice
  • Avoid unnecessary words and jargon
  • Avoid abbreviations

The title is depend on you topic, that's why we created an article with 300+ essay topics collection for your inspiration!

If after hours of struggle, you still don’t have a catchy essay title, or if you need any help at all with your essay, reach out to the experts at Studyfy. They’ve helped thousands of students with their essays and can guide you to the perfect title!