B. Titling Your Paper

SUMMARY:

  • Choose a punchy title that introduces your topic and sticks in your reader’s mind.
  • Video
  • Lesson plan

Your title is a key part of your paper–splashed across the top of your soon-to-be glorious piece of writing. It has to both introduce your topic and grip your reader.

Some people prefer to title their paper once they’ve finished writing the body of it. That’s OK. It doesn’t matter when you write it, as long as it’s punchy.

The title, “A Discussion of Symbolism in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream” gets the most basic job done–tells the reader about the purpose of the paper–but it’s pretty banal and doesn’t exactly put your reader on the edge of his seat.

Instead, try something like “Sensuality, Sensationalism, and Scenery in Shakespearean Comedy”. It’s much more interesting and will leave your reader wanting more. Additionally, this title uses alliteration (repetitive use of the same sound), which adds interest.

It is generally acceptable to use more colloquial language when you’re writing your title compared to the rest of your paper, which should be written in an academic voice (see next section, “Audience and Academic Tone”). Therefore, it’s usually OK to use a catchphrase in your title: “Boys Will Be Men: An Analysis of Greek Childrearing Depicted in The Aeneid“.

Note this title’s use of the colon. The first title is the catchy, interesting one. But alone, it doesn’t tell you what the paper is about. The subtitle is more academic and reveals the subject of the paper. The colon is useful if you’re concerned that the meaning of your first title may confuse your reader.

 

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