How to Write a Compelling Essay Title That Hooks Your Readers

A typical situation in any student’s life — you’ve been assigned an essay, and you know for a fact that your professor will open the document you submit. So, it does not make any sense to work hard on a title — after all, it’s not a news headline, right? Wrong! Because coming up with a good title is one of those points that add up to your final grade. So, even if you have written a compelling, interesting, and perfectly structured paper, a boring title may still lose you some points, resulting in a lower grade than you deserve.

Good titles should be informative, creative, and attention-attention-grabbing. They should reveal the main points of your paper — but not too much. They should make the reader want to read the rest of your paper. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that so many students see coming up with titles for their papers as one of the most challenging stages of essay writing.

So, we’ve gathered the main tricks any student should know to come up with truly impressive titles for their academic papers. Read on to find out how a creative title secures you a high grade, and how you can come up with a title that urges your professor’s interest.

Simple hacks to come up with creative essay titles

Often, students believe that when dealing with complex academic assignments, especially research papers, creativity is not something that can boost their grade. Of course, a title for a narrative essay will be way different from that of a research paper, but still — a little bit of creativity will not hurt. If however, the latter is not among your strong skills, here are some hacks that should help:

  • Think about a hook. Do you know that the best way to start an essay is with a hook sentence? Most of the time, people strive to place it in the first sentence of their introductory paragraphs, but you can also hook your audience with a title. For that, think about an interesting quote or a stat. Sure, you cannot use someone else’s citation as your paper title, but you can think of restating it in your own words.
  • Summarize your paper and highlight the keywords. If you already have the paper written, analyze its main words and key phrases. Which do you use the most? Which are the most relevant for your work? Create a list of these keywords and think of how you can link them into one meaningful sentence. Note, however, that toying with keywords may lead to generalization. Try to avoid it — a creative title cannot be general, so use your imagination and be specific.
  • Learn from the best. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you still can get inspired by other people’s work. Read a couple of essay samples on a similar topic. Go through several journal publications to see how other writers formulate their paper titles.

Things to remember when creating an essay title

All of the above tips should give you some general idea as to what your title should look like. Still, to formulate a truly impressive one, you will have to make a note of the following rules:
  • The title is an essential part of any text. You may think that in academic writing titles do not play a huge part — not as huge as they would in newspaper and magazine articles — but that’s an understatement. Essay titles are as important because they reflect on the authors and their personalities. One can say a lot about essay contents by its title.
  • The title is a reflection of an entire text, not just a topic. This is one of the most common mistakes when working on essay titles. Most students think that it’s enough to merely highlight their topic, while in reality, a title should line up with the main idea of your paper. For example, “Symbolism in Great Gatsby” is a poor title example because it only has to do with the topic. On the other hand, “American Dream and Its Flaws Through Great Gatsby’s Symbols” is a better formulation because it gives more insight into what the paper is actually about.
  • Minding the required format is a must. Different schools use different academic formatting guidelines, yet one thing is certain — a title is always capitalized. No matter if you’re formatting a paper in MLA, APA, or Oxford style, each word of your title (unless it is a preposition or an article) will start with a capital letter. Also, you should not underline or highlight your title in bold — this is another requirement absolutely all formats have in common. Next, a title is centered and belongs on a separate line of its own.
  • A colon is an excellent means to make your title informative. Have you ever noticed that plenty of newspapers and magazine publications have a ‘double’ title? That is, they separate two related thoughts with a colon, essentially creating a title that consists of two sentences. This is a great stylistic device that can make your title both interesting and informative, so you should give it a try. For example, “Government Initiative of Homeless Shelters: Will it Help People without a Roof Over Their Heads?” While this title may seem a bit long, it’s highly informative and also — a bit provocative. At the same time, it falls in line with academic writing requirements, so you can (and maybe even should) use a structure like this.
  • Questioning yourself may lead a long way. It’s always a good idea to reconsider your title once you have it ready. If you have the time, just let a couple of your best options sit for a day or two and come back to them later. Do your chosen titles still look impressive? Another tip would be to run these titles by your friend or relative. Ask them, would they be interested in reading a paper with such title? If yes, you’re on the right path. Still, do not take all praise (as well as criticism) too close and too literally. After all, you’re the author — and the title, just like the rest of your paper, is for you to choose.

Common mistakes with academic titles

We’ve already briefly touched upon on the subject of common mistakes in title writing. Let’s point out more of them to make sure your paper truly shines.
  • Insensitive or unethical formulations. Sometimes, students get so carried away thinking over thought-provoking, catchy titles that they forget they’re writing for the academy, not some infamous magazine. So, they use politically and ethically inappropriate language, which negatively affects their final grade. To write a proper title, you always have to remember who you are writing for. Use neutral, objective language — there is a way to make your headline stand out without offending anyone.
  • Getting too personal. Another mistake that has lost students plenty of points, especially on essay types that do not call for personal descriptions. While the title should reflect your personality and your position on a certain subject, it can’t be about you. It still has to be about the subject and your position on this subject.
  • Ignoring your required essay type. This point is directly related to the previous one — while working on an essay title, you always have to keep your assigned essay type in mind. What’s OK for a personal narrative, is not fine for a literary analysis or research. It’s true that some titles may allow more personal detail, but most of the time, you have to be more specific and objective than that.
  • Ignoring essay prompts. Another mistake that will inevitably be reflected in your grade. Often, students get so carried away by their creative ideas on a particular subject that they completely ignore their prompts. In practice, the key to writing an A+ paper is usually hidden in the prompt itself. Well, not exactly hidden — you just have to read the assignment properly. Most of the time, essay question will already have a perspective on the subject — and your goal is to make this perspective visible in your paper and, consequently, its title.

Make your paper a good reflection of the title

The above tips should be more than enough to help you come up with a great title. Still, our final suggestion would be to pay extra attention to the paper as well. Of course, a meaningful, creative title is very important. Yet, it will not get you far — not unless your essay contents are as impressive. Here are just a few words of advice to keep in mind:
  1. Make sure your intro explains your title choice. As you know, an introduction is here to introduce the topic and highlight its importance. It may also act as a hook, making your audience want to read further. Still, you have to remember that apart from hooking the readers in and introducing the topic, a good intro should also justify your title choice. So, don’t bury the lead and make it clear why your essay has this particular title, not any other.
  2. Stay on topic as you write. Since your title highlights the main idea of your paper, it’s also important to stay on track as you write. Do not stray away from a chosen subject — even if you come up with new ideas in the writing process. Usually, an outline helps with that.

More help with essays and their titles

We do hope that our tips will inspire you to come up with a truly impressive title and get the highest grade you deserve. Often, however, the problem of coming up with a good title has deeper reasons — students are simply not interested in writing a paper, so they cannot think of an impressive angle to showcase in their work. This is especially so for minor subjects that still require a lot of time and effort — time that you’d rather spend on courses that count for you, personally.

If this is your case, no need to despair. Our custom writing service employs hundreds of professional graduates — and some of them will be highly interested in your paper subject. Since we assign all works to experts in their niche fields, you can stay confident that your final paper will be highly informative and 100% original. Even on the tightest of deadlines, we are here to help!

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