You’ve completed your article and now, it’s time to come up with a title. Here, we’ll go over what you need to know about how to write an article title.
Often, writing takes on a mind of its own. Even if you start with a title in mind for your article, book, research paper, or journal article, it’s often not the right fit when the piece is complete and ready for your reader. Figuring out the right title for your work can be tricky. It’s crucial that your title conveys the subject matter of your writing and grabs your reader’s attention without being showy or over-the-top.
If you’re struggling to develop a title for your work, don’t worry–many writers struggle to figure out exactly how to convey what they want to say to their potential readers in just a few words. It usually takes some trial and error to figure out the best title for an article, paper, or story, and figuring out how to grab the reader’s attention is all part of the intricate puzzle of creating your best work.
Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to write an excellent title for your article.
- Creating An Article Title: Your How-To Guide
- 1. Know When To Develop Your Title
- 2. Use Article Title Capitalizations Correctly
- 3. Choose A Publication Type
- 4. Double-Check Your Grammar
- Creating An Article Title: Quick Tips
- 1. Use Search Engine Results Optimization To Your Benefit
- 2. Follow A Style Guide: APA Style And MLA Format
- 3. Avoid Plagiarism: What You Need To Know
Creating An Article Title: Your How-To Guide
1. Know When To Develop Your Title
First things first: if you’re not done with your writing yet, don’t worry about a title. As your research paper, book chapters, or short story come to life within your mind, and on the page (or on your computer), ideas for titles will likely come and go. When you’re hit with the idea that feels like it might be a winner, jot it down somewhere, and hold onto it for later. Don’t simply change the title of your work, as you may realize later that you had the perfect title idea a few days prior–but can no longer remember it.
If you’ve completed your writing, revised your piece, and it’s finalized, that means it’s time to think about a title. Brainstorming can be an intelligent way to get your creative juices flowing on your title creation. Remember, there are no wrong answers when brainstorming–write down whatever comes to mind. If you have the time, let your brainstorming list sit for a few days before you decide on a title, as it’s likely that you’ll come up with new ideas as you glance over the words and phrases that come to mind when you think about the themes of your work.
Asking a friend or family member to read over your work may help you develop a title. First, ask them what stood out to them about your work. Then, use their insights to direct you in your quest to develop the perfect title for your piece. Finally, write down any suggestions that your first readers have for a title, and keep their ideas in mind as you develop the right name for your work.
If you’re struggling to come up with anything, it’s ok to have a working title when you submit your piece. This means that your editor is aware that you may come back and change the title at a later time.
2. Use Article Title Capitalizations Correctly
Your publication, professor, or teacher may have rules as to whether you’re to capitalize all the words in the title of your work. However, according to the experts at Grammarly, the first and last words of a title should always be capitalized.
In addition to capitalizing the first and last words, you’ll also want to capitalize nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs. If it’s important to your title that certain words do not follow standard formatting rules, feel free to make an exception to these general rules, but don’t do so without cause.
You may also want to consider the length of your title when deciding what to capitalize. For example, if your title is only three or four words, it may make sense to capitalize every letter in the title.
3. Choose A Publication Type
It’s key to consider the type of publication you’re creating when developing your title. For example, if you’re writing a creative piece or an article that pertains to your personal opinion, it may make sense for you to use a creative title that leaves the reader wanting to learn more about what you have to say. However, there’s no need for a creative piece to give away the story’s point in the title. Instead, the title is used to draw readers in and make them want to learn more.
Academic writing, however, is different. If you’re writing a research paper or journal article, your title should be straightforward, giving the information you will present to the reader. There’s no need for your title to be long or drawn-out, but it should paint a clear picture of the knowledge your reader will gain through your work.
4. Double-Check Your Grammar
If you’re writing a news article that includes a quote or a proper noun (such as the name of a book or a movie), it can be tough to figure out exactly how to format the quote or proper noun in the context of the title.
Most writers use a single quotation mark to indicate a quote or proper noun within a title. This is vital because when your article is quoted by another writer (in a paper or another news article), they’ll need to put the title of your article in standard quotation marks. If you include standard quotation marks within your title, it can be difficult for readers to understand where the title begins and ends.
If you come across a word or term that you would generally italicize or underline in standard writing and want to use it in the title of your article, book, or story, use a single quotation mark instead.
Creating An Article Title: Quick Tips
1. Use Search Engine Results Optimization To Your Benefit
Your article title plays a significant role in determining whether your article will be seen by people searching for the topic you’re writing about. Make your title specific, and include keywords related to your story, news, or research.
Websites, blogs, and online news sites depend on popping up near the top of a search engine results page to get eyes on their material. Therefore, it’s essential to use search engine optimization, or SEO, techniques to get your work in front of readers. Use a free SEO tool to help you discover what keywords are most important to include in your title if you want to get your work noticed by as many people as possible.
2. Follow A Style Guide: APA Style And MLA Format
Suppose you’re completing academic work for a high school, college, or graduate school class. In that case, you’ll likely be asked to work in either American Psychological Association (APA) or Modern Language Association (MLA) format. These formatting options offer standardized guidelines for writers to follow regarding style, punctuation, and formatting. In addition, they can offer tips to help you decide the correct way to format your title.
3. Avoid Plagiarism: What You Need To Know
It can be tough to come up with a title that hasn’t been used by someone else, but you must work hard to avoid plagiarism. In addition to being against the accepted code of ethics for writers, academic institutions and publishers have strict rules against plagiarism.
When you’ve decided on a title for your piece, do a quick online search to find whether the title has been used for another piece. If your title is just a few words, you may find some other books, articles, or academic works that have the same title as your work. While this is not necessarily a problem (as some titles can apply to many types of work), try to rework your title to be more original (especially if the subject matter in similarly titled articles is close to the work you’re discussing in your piece).
If your title is longer (as is usually the case for journal articles and research papers), you’re less likely to find another word with the same title you’ve chosen for your piece. If you find a paper with the same title, rework your title slightly to ensure that you have a unique sequence of words.
If you are interested in learning more, check out our guide on how to write an article.