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How to Title an Essay: Basic Guidelines With Examples

When writing an essay, a student should take the time to consider the best title. Basically, such a title should reflect the content of a paper with the idea expressed in a thesis statement, being a critical component. For example, there are several rules and strategies that students should consider when titling their works. Moreover, these rules include using an academic tone by avoiding jargon and abbreviations, keeping a title simple and straight-to-the-point, writing a title in bold, and avoiding capitalizing or italicizing a title. In turn, other strategies include brainstorming and discussing ideas about an essay title with a friend, colleague, or mentor. Hence, students need to learn how to title an essay to make it interesting for readers.

General Guidelines of Titling an Essay

Titling is a critical step in essay writing that students must master if they are to produce an excellent document. By definition, a title is a word or phrase that a writer provides at the beginning of their texts, such as an essay, article, report, chapter, or other work. In this case, the purpose of titling an essay is to provide the audience with an idea about the content of a document. Moreover, an essay title is important because it identifies the subject matter, captures the readers’ attention, and determines the tone and substance of the entire writing activity. Sometimes, a title has a subtitle, whose function is to amplify a message expressed in a specific title. Based on this definition, a writer must use a title when writing any document targeted at a specific or even general audience, such as essays, theses, dissertations, books, and journal articles that must have a topic.

How to title an essay

Constructing an Essay’s Title: Step-by-Step Guide

When writing any academic text, students observe specific writing conventions to make their work impressive and credible. Basically, some of these rules include formatting and following a detailed essay outline. Although there is no particular rule that guides on the titling of academic texts, students must learn how to construct a topic for their essays. When titling an essay, authors must consider the audience and the content of their papers. In other words, writers need to create a title or rethink it after completing an essay. During the process of perfecting an essay, writers should confirm that a topic is relevant to the content and specific or general audience.

Step 1: Skeleton of an Essay Title

As mentioned in the previous section, a title can be a word or a phrase, which can stand alone or have a subtitle. Like the content that follows an outline, a title should have a structure that is not necessarily visible like the introduction-body-conclusion outline. Moreover, the structure of an essay title denotes the impact that it has on the audience and involves a catchy hook, topic keywords, and focus keywords. Then, the goal of the catchy hook is to get the readers’ attention. For example, a title is an element that introduces an essay to the audience, and a good paper should have a hook that grabs the readers’ attention immediately. In turn, topic keywords help an essay to answer the “What?” question that the audience may have when reading written works. On the other hand, focus keywords answer “When?” or “Where?” questions too.

Step 2: Altering an Essay Title for Different Purposes

When titling an essay, students must consider the structure described above to make the topic impactful on the audience. In essence, three components described above — a catchy hook, topic keywords, and focus keywords — indicate a general outline of an essay title. Basically, students should learn how to tailor the title of their work to the content and needs of the target audience. Moreover, such needs include having a paper that lacks jargon and is straight-to-the-point. Then, writers can alter the title to meet these requirements. Ideally, it is the discipline area that determines the approach that a person should take when titling an essay. For example, when writing about “climate change,” a student uses a different catchy hook, topic keywords, and focus keywords. However, in all contexts, the goal is the same: to grab the readers’ attention immediately to make them interested in reading the entire paper.

Template of an Essay Outline

Standard papers have a template or essay structure that writers should follow every time they have an essay writing assignment. Basically, template components enable writers to emphasize three main features of an essay topic described above. In essence, the body part is longer compared to introduction and conclusion sections because students have to elaborate on the topic or idea expressed in the title. Hence, a simple template structure of an essay looks like:

I. Introduction
II. Body Paragraphs
III. Conclusion

Content in Each Section

As indicated, three sections of an essay enable writers to emphasize three features of a title — a catchy hook, topic keywords, and focus keywords. In this case, the introduction part is where authors introduce their topics and provide background information. Also, the highlight of this section is a thesis, a statement that defines the purpose of the text. Then, the body is the section where students elaborate on the idea expressed in the topic and exemplified by the thesis statement. Here, scholars should use several paragraphs to emphasize the themes expressed in the introduction. In turn, the conclusion section allows writers to summarize their texts. Here, students restate the thesis, summarizes the main points, and make a concluding remark.

1. Tips for Writing an Introduction Part

  • Provide background information.
  • Create a thesis.

2. Tips for Writing a Body Text

  • Use several paragraphs.
  • Use the topic and concluding sentences in each paragraph.
  • Use supporting facts.
  • Observe the Sandwich Rule.

3. Tips for Writing a Conclusion Section

  • Restate the thesis.
  • Summarize the main points as captured in the main text.
  • Do not introduce new information.
  • Provide a concluding remark.

Rules for Titling an Essay

  1. Title the entire document. Before writing or after writing an essay, a student should title their work by using a word or phrase.
  2. Title every section of the text. When writing an essay, a student should create interesting headings and subheadings to give the main text (body) an identity. 
  3. A title must express the text’s central theme. Authors must choose a title that summarizes an essay. 
  4. Use capitalization as necessary. Scholars must use a title case when titling an essay. In this case, it means capitalizing the first letter of every word in the title. Also, students must not capitalize pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions.
  5. Write the title in bold. Writers should write the title in bold for purposes of emphasis.
  6. Do not underline or italicize the title. Authors should avoid underlining or italicizing the title because this aspect might lead to overemphasis.
  7. Review the title after completing the first draft. After completing the first draft, students should read and reread their work to ensure any mistakes are noted and corrected. These mistakes include formatting errors, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors, such as missing or wrong punctuation. It is during this stage that they should review the title to ensure it aligns with the message (the main text) of the text. Thye should confirm the title is catchy enough to grab the readers’ attention immediately and arouse their interest to read the entire paper.
  8. Include a subtitle for a long title. Authors should shorten the title of their essays by including a subtitle. Here, they should use a colon after the title and then indicate the subtitle.
  9. Avoid jargon or slang when titling an essay. A writer should maintain formal language when titling their work. In turn, the use of jargon or slang is a turn-off for many readers, especially those conversant with academic writing conventions.
  10. Put the title in a title page. When writing an essay, a student should indicate the title in the title page – the page that precedes the paper’s introduction. Also, headings and subheadings should appear from the introduction to the conclusion.

Strategies for Creating an Essay Title

  1. Title an essay after finishing writing the text. Writers should consider the title of their work after completing the first draft. At this time, students know the structure of their papers and the content in each section. Moreover, they understand how the entire paper emphasizes the central theme captured in the thesis statement. With this understanding, it becomes easy to create a topic that reflects the message of the text.
  2. Emphasize on an academic tone. When titling an essay, writers should maintain the academic tone that permeates the entire document. In this case, language or words they use must be strict, informative, and persuasive. However, it must also be catchy and warm to arouse the readers’ interest.
  3. Highlight several keywords. Using keywords or phrases in an essay title optimizes the writer’s work. Basically, this strategy that bloggers use to make their works attract higher online traffic. Moreover, writers should appropriate the same technique to attract the attention of their audience, whether it is an instructor or a college admissions board. In turn, students must ensure that keywords are strict to the point.
  4. Follow the expert’s opinion. When writing an essay, students should consider the formula expressed by academic experts. For example, when titling their essays, writers should start with creative introductory words followed by a line that directly states the purpose of a paper.
  5. Identify a quote that corresponds to the essay’s central idea or one of its themes. When titling an essay, a writer can identify a quote that emphasizes the thesis or one of the central themes of a paper and use it to create a title.
  6. Rewrite the title of a famous book, movie, or album. When titling an essay, students can take the title of a well-known work, such as a book or movie, and rewrite it to make it reflect their works. Moreover, the message of the text must align with themes expressed in such a work, whether it is a book, movie, or album. As a result, this approach makes the title catchy, which is right in the eyes and minds of the audience.
  7. Answer What, Who, When, or Where questions. One way of making the title of an essay is to take the inquiry approach. In this case, writers must create a title that answers “What?,” “Who?,” “When?,” or “Where?” questions. Also, it is another strategy of making the title catchy and straight to the point.
  8. Talk it out. When creating a title for an essay, a student can discuss ideas with a friend or mentor. Basically, this approach is effective when it comes to titling an essay that is informative or argumentative.
  9. Brainstorm. When reviewing the first draft, authors can write down some of the ideas they get about the topic of their works. From the list, students can judge the best title for their works based on the content and the central message.
  10. Free write. Scholars can write down topics and starts writing their essays. Basically, this approach means that authors begin with the topic and lets ideas come into their heads about what to write. Moreover, this approach is suitable for personal narratives but not essays that require research, such as informative essays.

Examples of Essay Titles

1. Child or Spouse Abuse

When writing an essay about domestic violence, a writer can use “Child Abuse” or “Spousal Abuse” as a topic. In this case, authors would spend their time narrating how children or spouses are the primary victims of domestic violence in society. To make a title catchy, they can include a subtitle that species the kind of abuse, such as sexual violence or emotional abuse.

2. Poverty

Suffering is a broad topic. When writing a sociology essay, a writer can use the title “Poverty” to show how a lack of the means to afford basic life amenities creates suffering for a majority of people in developing countries. Here, students can choose a community, country, or region as their target and capture it in the title. Moreover, writers arouse the readers’ interest, seeking to understand more about that environment and how poverty leads to suffering.

3. Plastic Surgery

When writing on themes of beauty, a writer can use the title “Plastic Surgery” to denote the extent to which individuals are willing to go to look “beautiful.” Here, students can select a demographic population, such as celebrities, and show how many people have undergone surgical procedures to alter their physical appearances. Also, writers can elaborate on how this tradition is the basis of the celebrity culture where fans see their idols as role models in the body of their essays.

4. Stress

When writing on themes of emotional health, students can use the title “Stress” to emphasize the adversity of emotional strain. Here, authors can link stressful circumstances to adverse health outcomes, such as anxiety and depression.

5. Procrastination

When writing on subjects of personal discipline, authors can use the title “Procrastination” to denote counterproductive habits. In this case, students can provide a personal anecdote of an instance when procrastination affected an area of their life and use that story as the basis for discouraging the habit.

6. Illegal Immigration

When writing about politics, a writer can use the title “Illegal Immigration” to exemplify issues that have become politically sensitive in recent years. Moreover, students can highlight the complications of applying for refugee or asylum status as the reason for the growing numbers of illegal immigrants in America and European countries.

7. Racism

When writing an essay on mental health, students can use the word “Racism” when titling their essays. For example, the term “Racism” becomes a significant theme of a paper expressed in a title, and the writer’s mission is to link it with mental health. In this case, authors can show how experiences of racism have affected the mental health of African Americans and other minority groups residing in the United States.

8. Tattoos

When writing an essay about culture, a writer can use the topic “Tattoos” to indicate the recent trend of people getting tattoos in their body. In this case, students can try to link the pop culture to this trend.

9. Teen Pregnancy

When writing an essay about the abortion debate, a writer can use the title “Teen Pregnancy” to support or oppose calls for the legalization of abortion. Moreover, if authors support the legalization of abortion, they can show how teen pregnancy jeopardizes the lives of millions of young girls who become pregnant unintentionally. As such, abortion would grant them an opportunity to complete their education. On the other hand, if writers oppose the legalization of abortion, they can argue that young girls can give birth and still go back to school. Also, students can mention the foster care program and its benefits to those who are not ready to become responsible parents.

10. Homelessness

When writing about public policy, students can use the title “Homelessness” to write about how governments have failed in their solemn duty of providing housing to citizens. In this case, authors can pick a city with high numbers of homeless people and use it as an example of a failure by legislators to pass essential laws and policies.

Summing Up on How to Title an Essay

Essay writing is an essential academic exercise for students, as it provides opportunities for perfecting critical thinking skills. More importantly, it helps students to put into use what they have learned in a semester or calendar year. Then, one of the most vital aspects of essay writing is titling an essay. Ideally, it is a title that provides readers with an idea of what a paper is all about. As such, writers of essays need to learn basic rules and strategies of titling an essay. Hence, the following tips are vital:

  • pick a theme from the draft and use it to create the title;
  • let the title answer What, Who, When, or Where questions;
  • use an academic tone by avoiding jargon and abbreviations;
  • keep the title simple and straight to the point;
  • write the title in bold;
  • avoid capitalizing or italicizing the title;
  • use a title in every section of a paper.