Thinking of a catchy title may be the hardest part of writing an essay. A title should identify the topic of the essay and make the reader want to keep going. Long, boring titles are likely to put your reader to sleep, so keep them as short and as sharp as possible. Coming up with catchy titles is a skill to be developed. Like playing musical scales, the more you practice the more proficient you become.

  1. Think outside the usual square box. Let your mind wander to free-flow thinking where you aren’t concentrating on the essay, and an idea may suddenly come to you. Focusing on the title for too long can lead to blank thinking and mental overload.
  2. Decide what sort of title is appropriate for the subject matter. Being too clever may backfire on you if it alienates your reader. For example, “Do the Hoochie-Koochie with Quantum Physics” doesn’t look good on a Ph.D. dissertation that will be in the permanent collection at the university.
  3. Discuss your essay with friends and classmates. Start from the premise of “I’m writing an essay about . . .” and in the course of the conversation something may spring to mind.
  4. Play with the words. Sit down at the computer or with a paper and pencil and make a list of possible titles. If nothing jumps out at you, leave the list for 24 hours and come back to it with fresh eyes.
  5. Carry a pencil and notebook with you at all times. Immediately write down any clever title ideas. Keep the notebook beside your bed and jot down any witty titles that jolt you out of your sleep at 2:35 a.m. If you leave it until the morning, the idea will be gone and you will have to start all over again.
  6. Give yourself a deadline for thinking of a catchy title. Handing an essay in late because you couldn’t think of an eye-catching title isn’t a good idea. Settle for the best of the worse titles that you have come up with and chalk it up as a learning experience.
  7. Keep trying. Don’t despair if you don’t come up with a brilliant “Eureka!” title the first few times. There will be more essays to help you perfect your catchy titles technique.

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