How to Title an Essay

Have you ever skipped past reading an article, an essay, a post or any other writing just because the title didn’t inspire you? Ideally, we’d only form an opinion on a certain piece only after reading and analyzing it in its entirety, but the reality is, the title is very important in determining one’s opinion, even on whether or not the potential piece is worth reading. This counts for essays too, and although you’re usually writing it for a class or a client, and you have the title given to you, sometimes you need to create your own essay to prove your writing skills. So how do you do it? We’ll teach you exactly that below.

The importance and purpose of an essay title

Every part of the paper holds a huge importance in getting good feedback or a high grade, and the words you use in your title make no exception to that. They are absolutely vital to your entire work’s success, having the ability to grab your professor’s (or other readers’) attention and make them go through the entire essay to fully grasp your arguments, get a proper feel of the subject. A wrong choice can undermine the perceived quality of the work you submit by not grabbing the audience’s attention, so you should give it its due importance.

It’s the first thing any reader sees and helps form the initial opinion, so their reaction can easily go from super interested to completely put off. You’re eager to showcase your writing skills, to highlight your intelligence and knowledge on the given subject, and a good title helps you with that by arousing curiosity in the reader’s mind and making them open to your arguments. This is especially important for freelance writers, whose entire livelihood is based on the popularity of their work.

What makes a good title

Before you formulate the title, it’s important to know what specific characteristics a good title should have. After you know and understand these, you will be ready to make the right choice and successfully complete this initial but crucial part of your work.

So without further ado, here are the most important characteristics of a good title:

Attention-grabbing – We start with an obvious one. When faced with the choice of reading any kind of content, a boring title will attract far fewer users than an eye-catching heading. So even before exposing your ideas, make the reader is curious about what you have to say.

Realistic – a common mistake in freelance or academic writing is making the title so over the top in the attempt to make it catchy, that the whole idea of the paper strays far from the truth. This, in its turn, makes the message hard to deliver and, as a result, leaves the reader unsatisfied and annoyed. We established that grabbing attention is crucial, but try not to base the heading of your essay on false premises.

Accessible to the reader – Over-complicating your title with difficult phrases, structures or strange fonts will put everyone off, including your teacher. Make your title easy to understand; this will convey your paper topic at a glance.

Use an active voice – Try to avoid using a passive voice when creating your title. “Is superficiality caused by social media” sounds far less attractive than “How does social media influence superficiality?” The reader must ask these questions in his or her mind.

Short – Long titles are hard to follow and may put off some readers, so whenever you can, make sure you write a short title.

To the point – No matter what you write about, you must always make sure the title reflects the general idea of your entire paper. Misleading your audience with over the top statements and having them believe the theme is different than it really is would only harm your credibility and appreciation for your work, so do your best to keep your title short and straight to the point.

Components of an essay title

Just like the essay itself can be created with the help of different formulas and techniques to properly convey your points, the same can be told about the title. Here’s what the main components of an essay title should be:

  • A curiosity-inducing hook – a creative way to introduce the paper to the reader, similar to a “hook” used in a song.
  • Words related to the topic – showing all the different topics you will be expanding throughout your work and identifying all the stories and ideas you’ll be exploring in your essay.
  • Keywords to focus on – they are an absolutely vital component of your headline, as they show the Where and When to the reader. Together with the topic keywords, they’ll give your writing a polished and professional image, while providing the reader with even more vital information regarding what they are about to read.

Example: That’s not good for you: the do’s and dont’s of healthy eating in the 21st century

Curiosity-inducing hook: That’s not good for you

Words related to the topic: healthy eating, do’s and dont’s

Keywords to focus on: 21st century.

Creating your essay title

Now that we’ve covered the importance and the necessary qualities of good essay titles, we can learn how to create them. If you’re having problems with crafting a good title for your work, rest assured in knowing that many experienced and prolific writers have struggled with this from time to time. So everyone, no matter how long they’ve been doing this or how appreciated their work is, sometimes gets writer’s block, but the key is learning how to overcome it and create the title you want.

Write the essay before the title

Writing the title before the actual essay may seem like a natural thing to do, but most authors do the exact opposite. Of course, you have a general idea of the essay theme and some words you will use in the title, but writing the piece beforehand will inspire you, and most times the title will write itself.

It also helps to save time, as you’ll get right to work and not waste precious minutes (or even hours) on figuring out what the best title is. So start writing your piece, get your arguments and ideas together in a coherent and professional order, and watch the title appear in your mind.

Rely on your thesis statement

Another reason for leaving the title behind the actual work is that, on many occasions, you will find the perfect title in the thesis you’ve written in your opening statement. This way, you’ll also be sure the paper will be perfectly in line with its title. So, you will not mislead the reader, while also saving time on finding the perfect headline.

For example, a thesis like ” One of the most magical and charming winemaking areas is Tuscany, with the best Tuscan wine coming from the area of Chianti, home to some of the most appreciated wines in the world.” can create the title “Magic and charm: the winemakers of Chianti.”

Use play-on-words and cliches

An amusing phrase or an interesting pun related to the essay topic can make an interesting title. Also, different cliches that can be manipulated and correlated with the topic will help make your title eye-catching. Charm your reader from the get-go, and your work will get the recognition it deserves.

Correlate your essay tone with its title

The overall tone has a very important role in choosing your title. If the topic is serious, using a silly, funny or extravagant title will hurt your credibility. If however your writing is more on the personal side and is written in a friendly tone, feel free to have a funny, witty and informal title. Correlating the tone of your paper with its headline will help. Still, remember that it’s best to avoid using jargon or abbreviated words.

You can use a part of the essay or its general point

This does not universally apply, but it’s easy to use when it does, which will spare you a lot of time and thought that you would have put into finding a great title. You can even use a quote if the topic allows it, like a part of a song lyric if that’s what you are writing about. The same goes with writing about a book, sometimes using a fragment or an intriguing short quote makes for the best title.

Use three words to sum up the entire essay

This is another useful technique, just try and find the three words that represent the main point of an essay, put a colon after them, and add a sentence that sums up what the essay is all about. That’s it – you’ve managed to create the perfect title.


Your essay is not only made or broken by your arguments, writing style or quality of the research; always remember that the title plays a crucial role. Most freelancers and students find it hard to find the perfect headline to showcase their work, but using these tips you’re sure to save time and find the perfect attention-grabbing title that will intrigue your readers.

Finally, if you’re still having trouble figuring out the best title for your essay (or even struggle with writing the whole paper), remember that there is no shaming in contacting professional essay writers for help. There are plenty of custom writing services that can help you write an essay or polish up the one you already have, and most of them offer very reasonable prices for the help they offer.