Coming up with an effective title is perhaps the most difficult part of an essay. A good title has the power to elevate your assignment above that of others and provides the reader with insight into the content, point of view, and perspective of the essay. To craft an intense title, you need to focus on the three standard elements: the hook, the keywords, and the source or location. This structure applies specifically to academic essays, but you could also implement it in a narrative one.
Understand the structure of an essay title
Make a hook. Most degrees have the same basic structure, especially if it is academic. The hook is the creative element that attracts the interest of the reader. This is a catchy phrase that lets you let people know what topic your essay will focus on.
Pick one or two keywords. These words or phrases that you apply in the subject are crucial, and they give the reader an idea and point of view about the content of the work. They should be like a one or two-word summary of the essay. Keep in mind that good titles never mention obvious things and don’t contain generic terms or phrases.
Cite the origin or location. This is the final part of the title that lets the reader know where the content takes place or how the essay will be arranged. Depending on the subject, the source material could be another piece of writing, the name of a text, a geographic location, or a person.
Think about the tone of the essay. Is it an academic and direct essay? Is it a free-writing narrative? If the essay is about the Great Leap Forward of communist China in the late 1950s, the title may not be humorous or light-hearted. It would be more informative and straight to the point.
Simplify your work in three words or less. You could also simplify your essay thesis to three words or less. Get a sheet of paper and write them down. Then see if it makes sense to add commas or colons to each other to create a title.
Choose two or three keywords from the introduction or conclusion. The introduction to a traditional five-paragraph essay should include the thesis and general ideas. The conclusion should also reaffirm the thesis and simplify the writer’s analysis. Both sections are good for finding keywords that will serve you well in a strong title.
- Look for two or three keywords that are short, descriptive, and clear. Consider if the words fit together in any way or if they are very different. For example, the introduction of China in the late 1950s might have keywords, such as “industrialization,” “collectivization,” and “collapse.” So a title might be: “The Collapse of Collectivization in China in the late 1950s.”
- In an essay on Shakespearean Comedy Mores, the tone would be less serious or stiff, and you could search for light-hearted or humorous keywords. For example, the conclusion might have keywords like “lovers,” “obstacles,” “unlikely,” or “supernatural.” A title for the essay might be: “Lovers in an Unlikely Situation: The Mores of Shakespeare’s Comedy.”
Use a strange or unique image. Describing an image will give the reader a visual idea, which in turn will frame the rest of the essay. Think of a bold or surprising image that is simplified to one or three words.
- For example, a work on a volcano could be titled: “The day the Earth bled: The eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Look for a key phrase or quote in the essay. In a well-done essay, quotes and phrases from references and sources are used. Read those that have a deep and intense meaning and look for which ones encompass the essay as a whole, highlight the central theme or the idea of it.
In other words, express a cliché. Think of a very common phrase or statement, known as a cliché, and rearrange it to fit the title of the essay. Use short cliches or familiar phrases that are one to three words long.
- In an essay on Shakespeare’s comedy, you could use the cliché “the best medicine is laughter” and change it another way to fit the text. A title could be: “Laughter is the Best Medicine: The Mores of Shakespeare’s Comedy.”
Choose to use a play on words or an ambiguous phrase. A clever play on words could give the title just the way to get creative. Use a current phrase and play with the words or add a new twist to it.
- For example, an essay on missionaries in West Africa during the colonial era might have a title that plays with two keywords, such as: “Prophets and Gains: The European Colonial Invasion of West Africa.
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