What's in a Title? 4 Tips for Phenomenal Essay Titles

You’ve written the perfect essay, cited all your sources correctly, and even read it aloud to make sure it was truly awesome. Your teacher is going to love it! Best of all, it’s going to be turned in with plenty of time to spare.

It’s time for the finishing flourish, the icing on the cake, the home run hit out of the park… it’s time to give your essay a title.

“My Essay”

No, that certainly can’t be it.

“An Essay on Hamlet

Better, but still pretty bland.

“An Essay on Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet

Okay, let’s take a look at how an essay title can really top off an award-winning essay. You see, an essay title is the first thing that your audience (and your teacher) looks at. You want it to prepare them for what they’re about to read. Think of it like the title of a newspaper or blog article. Your goal with your essay title is to get them reading. Remember how you just finished the best essay of all time? Let’s make a title that captures that and captures your reader’s attention and curiosity.


Go Beyond Just Summing Up Your Essay

image by Nic McPhee

Take our example title about Hamlet. Sure, it might sum up the content of the essay, but we can do so much better, can’t we? Use your essay title to show off what’s important about your essay or why it’s worth reading. Let’s jazz up our example a bit to see how it works: “How Shakespeare Revolutionized the World of Writing For Centuries with Hamlet


Take Advantage of Subtitles

Adding a subtitle to your essay gives you the chance to add that little extra punch to your title. It can add clarification or build upon the idea. It can even give you that scholarly feel that will impress your teacher. Here’s our example reworked with a subtitle: “A Revolution in Western Literature: Shakespeare’s Hamlet Through the Ages”


Draw Your Audience in with a Question

Can you ask a question in your title? Of course you can! This type of title is almost guaranteed to create that curiosity in your readers, because they’ll want to dive in and find the answer. Making your title a question also sets the tone that your essay will really explore a subject and delve deeper into the ideas. Want to see how it’s done? “What was Shakespeare Thinking? Hamlet as a Voice of Madness and Reason in Western Literature”


Use a Dramatic Quote from Your Source

Sometimes, especially when you’re writing an essay on literature, you’ll find that part of the story or poem perfectly sums up your essay. Now, this doesn’t mean you should have a quote from your source alone as your title. But when you combine that perfect quotation with a subtitle, you can really do clever things that will wow your audience (and your teacher). It can show off how well you’ve digested the literature, but also that you have that flare for creativity. Here’s our reworked example: “‘To be, or not to be: that is the question’: How Shakespeare’s Hamlet was Almost Lost Forever But Still Changed the World”

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K. with WWDComment