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How To Title An Essay?

10 Nov 2021

It is a natural instinct of a reader to be attracted to an interesting title, either it is a book or an essay. Title forms the basis of any piece of literature. The very first thing to be noticed by a reader is the essay title, which makes it significant and necessary for us to make it appealing.

The formation of an essay title is a task in itself. Every day we come across various essays and pieces of literature, but only a few stand out due to their unique and attractive titles. Sometimes it might feel like we are selecting a title, but in reality, we create one. A perfect title can only be created by taking into consideration the proper essay title format.

Essay title formats

The strength of a building can only be judged by its foundation, and the same goes for an essay title; an essay title is as powerful as its format, which forms its base. We will discuss two popular essay title formats:

APA Format

APA, also known as the American Psychological Association, is an organization that formulated a format for the research papers, essays, and thesis of students and researchers especially associated with the fields of sciences. This format is followed worldwide by various institutions.

As we have been focusing on the essay titles, we will take a deep look into the title formation and title page formatting according to the APA format guidelines.

The title page of a paper or an essay should include six main components according to the APA format, which are:

  • Title
  • Name of Authors
  • Name of department and institute
  • Course name and number
  • Supervisors/Instructors name
  • Due date

These components form the basis of the APA format title page.

Next, we need to make sure that the text is centered on the title page, and it should be in the “Times New Roman” font. Font size will remain the same for the whole text present on the title page that is 12 with a double line-spacing. The title will be placed about 3 to 4 lines below the top of the page, and a one-inch margin will be used for the borders of the page. It should be noted that only the title of the essay or paper will be bolded, not underlined, or italicized, and no other text shall be bolded, underlined, or italicized.

Now let us focus on the formation of the title. The APA format demands the title to be “short and sweet.” A title that focuses on the main idea and grabs the attention of the reader is considered to be the appropriate one. Abbreviations should be avoided, and one should refrain from adding irrelevant words that serve no purpose.

MLA Format

This format is also developed by an organization that goes by the name of the Modern Language Association or MLA. This format was developed specifically for the language and literature students to establish a uniformity in their papers and assignments, which further makes it easy for the reader and the writer to analyze and organize the paper or essay. The MLA format, which was specifically made for the language and literature students, soon became popular among other fields as well and is widely used all around the globe.

MLA format doesn’t have specific formatting for a title page, but it does have a set of rules to put in headings and then the title of your paper and essay.

The order of the heading is as follows:

  • Full name of the researcher/student
  • Instructors name
  • Name of the course/class
  • Due date

After putting these headings, then comes the title of your essay or paper.

Again, the title should be concise, containing the main idea of the literature. It should be centered with the same font size and font style as the rest of the text. As this is a simple formatting method, it doesn’t allow the title to be bold, underlined, or italicized. Any type of font style with the 12-point font size can be used.

Title An Essay

Essential components of an essay title

Every essay title has a few basic components, which are essential to it and fulfill the purpose of making the title catchy. These components can be categorized as follows:

  • Captivating power

The title must have a captivating nature, which will help grab the attention of the reader. A catchy or captivating title acts as a hook that holds the reader to the essay and makes it attractive. It is a bait that is given to the reader in order to make him/her start reading the essay.  

  • Topic-related keywords

The topic-related keywords help define the main idea of the essay. It further helps in building the main concept of the essay but in a brief style. These keywords contribute to instigating the interest of the readers.

  • Focus-related keywords

These keywords focus on the questions of when? And where? Focus keywords describe the dimensions of age, time, and place of the topic. These words included in the topic make it more professional and distinctive in its own nature.

  • Example

“Learning beyond boundaries: Digital learning in the Age of Information and technology.”

Captivating Power: Learning beyond boundaries  

Topic-related keywords: Digital learning  

Focus-related keywords: Age of Information and Technology

Important tips for essay title and headlines

  • Write the title and headlines at the end

Formulating a title and headlines is best to be done at the end, as the last job while writing the essay. The writer should always focus on writing the essay first, so the main job can be done without wasting any time. After writing the main body of the essay, it’s easy to develop the title and headlines as various catchy and interesting phrases can be figured out of the body of the essay. The essay also helps in summarizing the main idea of the essay, which further helps in the development of the title and headlines.  

  • Use of phrases and quotes

Quotes and phrases help make the title interesting; they act as bait, which grabs the reader's attention. Naturally, readers are attracted to the phrases and quotes; this makes the topic more attractive. They can be picked from various works of literature, and using these makes the title influential and persuasive.  

  • Tone/Type of the Essay

Always try to correlate the title and headlines with the tone of the essay. An argumentative essay will have a different type of title, while a descriptive essay will have a different one. The title and headlines always go according to the type of essay. Readers can also lose interest if the title is not according to the tone of the essay.

  • Simple and decent

The title needs to be understandable for the masses, for that one needs to keep it simple and decent in its nature. A simple title is easy to understand and to form, while a complex title can put barriers for the readers.  

  • Make it unique

Use words in a different way, make it unique by putting your own voice in it. Try to use your own ideas to make your essay stand-out. Put in your own tone to make it different from other authors and writers.

  • Avoid using abbreviations

Abbreviations are short forms and contracted words that we tend to use in everyday English language. One should try to avoid the use of abbreviations in the title to make it more moderate and balanced. The use of abbreviations is also against the rule of essay writing format.

  • Right words

The right words are always the right choice to make. Unnecessary words should be avoided at all times, which do not go with the main theme or the tone of the essay. The writer should always have a balanced approach while using the words for title and headlines.  

  • Use a summary of the essay

The summary of the essay gives a clear picture of the main theme of the literature. The main idea can be derived directly from the summary of the essay, which assists in building the right title and right headlines.

Things to avoid

  • Avoid sensitive topics

Try not to write about sensitive and controversial topics because they might offend a reader. Topics with controversies can cause an uproar in the masses and might portray a negative image of the writer.

  • Avoid being personal

Your personal life or personal thoughts should not be reflected either in the literature you have written and or in the title you have chosen. The reader should not get any hint related to your personal life with your literature.

  • Avoid being offensive

The writer should always maintain a balanced and neutral approach while writing a title and as well as the essay. Biased opinions should be avoided at every instance, and one should always refrain from promoting any kind of extremism. A good writer is the one who takes into consideration the sensitive opinions of the audience to which he/she is addressing.

  • Avoid skipping the Instructors' Instruction

The instructions provided by the instructor should never be avoided at any cost. All the instructor’s requirements should be fulfilled, whether it be the title or the main body of the essay.

Academic essay titles

The academic essay titles are slightly different in nature than the regular essay titles, which we have previously discussed. When talking about academic essay titles, we are focusing on the research-based papers and thesis which various university students tend to opt for during their graduation and post-graduation courses. Following parameters are considered essential while creating an academic essay title:

  • Purpose/Aim of the research
  • Type of research
  • Research methodology

Working title

The final title is usually developed at the end of the research. The author writes down the main body of his or her research before creating the final title as the literature summary, and the main theme can help in deriving the right topic at the end. However, a working title is created at the beginning of the research to keep the author focused and intact to the main theme of his/her research. A working title plays the same job as the research problem, which anchors the author to the main purpose of the research.

Final title

The final title of an academic essay has various characteristics, which makes it different from another kind of title. These characteristics can be described as followed:

  • The subject and scope of the study should be indicated precisely
  • All kind of abbreviations should not be used
  • Positive and interest stimulating words should be used
  • The nomenclature from the specific field of study should be kept in mind
  • Both the dependent and independent key variables should be identified
  • Reflects the organization structure of your paper
  • Should be of nature which relates the variables which support the major hypothesis
  • Try to limit it between 10-15 words
  • Avoid including "study of," "analysis of" or similarly structured words
  • Titles can be in the form of phrases and as well as in the form of questions
  • Always use the correct grammar, and it should be checked that all the first words and last words are capitalized, including the first word of a subtitle. It should be made sure that all the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that appear between the first and last words of the title are also capitalized.
  • In academic papers, try not to use the exclamation mark in the title or subtitle


Subtitles help organize the literature. They help the author remain focused and keeps him/her on track. Following points explain the need to use subtitles in any piece of literature when creating a title:

  • Source of additional context

It provides an additional explanation to the title, which further helps in understanding the main theme of the research and essay. It further explains the topic of building the base for it.

  • Source of substance to the title

It adds substance to the literary, provocative, and or imaginative title. It provides meaning to the topic and gives it more weightage.

  • When? & Where?

Subtitles answer the questions regarding when and where the topic/research is taking place. The dimensions of time and space are defined by the subtitles attached to the topic.

  • Focus on theories, ideas, and personalities

We often come across subtitles that shed light on various personalities, scientists, and researchers. They help in recognizing the work of renowned researcher with connecting it to the new research problems. Various theories and ideas can be presented through subtitles which define the research and as well as the topic of the literature.

  • The temporal and geographical scope of the research

The temporal and geographical scopes of the research can be highlighted and categorized by the help of the subtitles.


Forging a title is not an easy job; it takes hard work, dedication, patience, and a lot of brainstorming. What seems a simple and easy task to some; in reality, it is nothing like it. A title defines the whole piece of literature; it grasps the reader’s attention and helps him/her to at least give a look at your essay or literature.  

Creating a title is just like forging a metal, one needs to put his/her hard work with all the strength and the has to wait patiently till the end to get the best results. The title also acts as the icing on the cake, the cherry on the top, which might look small but beautifies the cake like nothing else.

The author should always keep all the rules, tips, and formats in mind while developing the title. Always remember to keep it short and sweet, the attraction is the key to success when it comes to the title.

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