What’s in a name? Would a paper by any other title read as well? Titles are one of the trickiest parts to writing, especially when that work is designed to be presented in a formal or academic capacity. There are many considerations to take when thinking about the appropriate title of your paper, including the tone, style, and setup for the work which is to be presented. Here are some qualities that good titles can possess. Not all of these elements can be incorporated, but their presence can lead to a strong title, and encourage the reader to dive in.
So, what factors should you consider for the title of your paper?
The best titles invite the reader to join you as you walk them through new ideas, or new interpretations of ideas. This is an important factor to consider, when coming up with a title to suit your reader, and accurately reflect the work you wish to present.
The best titles are sharing a clear idea, thought, statement, or question with the reader, allowing them to understand what is ahead. Many have found that summarizing a topic can be a good place to begin, followed by narrowing down the summary to its most basic components, and then finding words to represent the very core nature of what you wish to express.
Truthfulness in titles in incredibly important, and readers are entering into the paper with an expectation that should be met. No reader wants to find themselves drawn to a work by the title, only to discover that they have been misled, and that their desired topic will not be covered. Give yourself and your reader a truthful title, however boring, over a title which does not accurately share the truth of the paper’s contents.
Inspiring the reader with a question or a statement is a great way to engage the reader before your opening paragraph. The words within do not have to possess a concrete, solid answer with no room for questions or ambiguity, but these titles should encourage curiosity, and foster a desire to learn more about the topic presented. This is your chance to urge readers to turn to page 1.
Take what time and knowledge you have to come up with something original. Depending on the context and tone required, some papers might benefit from a more humorous tone or wordplay, while others might be best served with an exclamation or bold statement. Think of what you’ve read in your research, and consider working to develop a title that is different than what has been presented.
In a perfect world, all titles will have engaging, inspiring, fresh and simple words which accurately represent the paper’s contents. These titles will strike a chord and invite the reader to learn, while not relying on lengthy and busy tricks to stay engaged. Simple titles are generally preferred, allowing the work to speak for itself, and offering the reader an invitation to discover more. Keeping it brief and to the point will often allow your work to stand out from the rest.