How to Choose a Catchy Title for your Essay

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A catchy title captures the attention of the reader and draws their interest to the contents of the essay. Readers can easily decide to read or not to read an essay, based on the title. Therefore, coming up with a catchy title is one of the most important yet challenging tasks in essay writing. It is therefore important to focus on the structure of the title and the techniques that can be used in formulating a strong title.

The structure of a Title

In order to come up with a catchy title for your essay, you will need to focus on three important elements that make up the structure of the title, namely:

  • The hook

The hook is the element that mainly catches the reader’s attention. It can be a vivid description of an image, a number of keywords from your essay, a quote from your essay or from other sources, or a play on words. The hook should be effective enough to reveal to the reader what the essay is all about without being too obvious.

  • The key terminologies

These are either words or phrases that briefly summarizes your essay in two to three words. Key terms play a critical role in determining the theme of your essay, which should also reflect on your title. As such, they should be strong enough to illustrate the content of your essay. In addition, they should not be too general but rather, should be specific enough so that the title gives an idea into the content of your essay.

  • The location or source

This part of the title describes the setting of the essay, that is, where the content of the essay will be based on. For example, when writing about the fall of the Roman Empire, during the 1400s, the title can be: “Things Fell Apart: Roman Empire in the 1400’s”.  In this example, Things Fell Apart is the hook, while Roman Empire in the 1400’s is the location. The location or source is the last part of a title.

Tone of the Essay

Once you understand the structure of a title, it is important to consider the style of your essay, and the tone used in the essay. To identify the tone, you must consider whether the essay is a serious one or not. Academic essays are more serious than free form essays, and as such, the title should reflect the tone of the essay. For a less serious essay, the title can be a bit humorous but for a more serious essay, the title should be direct and enlightening.

Formulating a Title

Once the structure and tone of the title have been put into perspective, you can adopt various techniques in coming up with a catchy title, as illustrated below:

  1. Keywords

You can use keywords from either your introduction or conclusion to come up with a catchy title. The introduction gives the general points, including the thesis statement of your essay, while the conclusion gives a recount of the general points and the thesis statement at the end of your paper. For the keywords to qualify in title formulation, they must be descriptive of the content, and concise. For example, the keywords in the introduction of the fall of the Roman Empire could be collapse and oppression. As such, a probable title could be: “The collapse of an Empire: Oppression in the Roman Empire”.

Additionally, the summation of your thesis statement is another source of keywords that can be used in the formulation of a title. This can be done by using three or lesser number of words, to sum up your thesis statement, which is a short sentence that summarizes the main idea in your essay. After you come up with the three words, arrange them or punctuate them well enough to fit as a title. For example, if your thesis statement on the fall of the Roman Empire focused on corruption and civil wars as the main causes, then the title can be:  “Civil Wars and Corruption: The Failure of a Great Empire”.

  1. Use an Image

This involves describing an image, which captures the reader’s attention and gives them an overview of the content of your essay. The image should be intriguing enough and should be described in less than three words. For example, if the main focus of your paper is volcanoes, the title of your paper can be: “The Bleeding Earth: The Eruption of Volcanic Mountains”. This describes the image of a volcano that has erupted with the words “bleeding earth”.

  1. Use Key Phrases or Quotes

Key phrases or quotes can either be from your essay or from other sources.

Key Phrases/ Quotes from Your Essay

While writing your essay, it is very likely that you will use various phrases or quotes to make it strong and captivating.  To come up with a catchy title, pick key phrases or quotes from your essay and rearrange them so that they make a sensible title. The key words and phrases should be strong enough and should give a summation of your essay.

Key Phrases/ Quotes from other sources

These are key phrases or quotes that have not been used in your essay but are in line with your essay’s main idea and can thus be used in formulating a title. Utilization of the Search Engine (SE) will be very beneficial at this point. This involves selecting keywords from your essay, then typing them into the search engine. The selected keywords must have the word “quote” at the end while typing them into the search engine. Select the most suitable quote and pick part of the quote and use it in the formulation of the title.  For example, “unchecked power corrupts” is a quote used in reference to the fall of the Roman Empire. A possible title can be: “Unchecked Power: The Failure of a Great Empire”. Thus the title has borrowed part of the quotes derived from the search engine to make it catchy.

Additionally, you can use a phrase or quote that has been commonly used by people and express it differently. The phrase or quote should be rephrased in a way that is in line with your essay’s main idea and should be less than three words. It is important to remember the tone of your essay before picking a common phrase, to ensure that you maintain the tone even in your title.

  1. Play on words

You can play on words to come up with a creative and catchy title. This can be done by changing words in an existing phrase and replacing them with creative ones.  You can also use double entendre to formulate a title. For example, if you are writing an essay about the fate of people in corrupt nations, you can play on two words “live or leave”.  A possible title can be “Live or Leave: Survival in a Corrupt Nation”.

In summary, the title of your essay comes after you have written the essay so that you can benefit from the various techniques for formulating a catchy title. The tone should be maintained and only keywords or phrases should be used.


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