Congrats, you just finished writing your essay!

How to title an essay? Now, all you’ve got to do is add the perfect cherry on top.

How to title an essay: A robot is placing a cherry on top of a gingerbread house

These 3 effective tips will get you closer to the A+ mark you deserve!

Why is a Title So Important?

The title serves as the reader’s first preview of your essay. It lets readers know what to expect without giving everything away.

A woman says,

An effective essay title should:

Flaticon Icon Grab the attention of the readers

Flaticon Icon Give a clear, accurate description of the essay

Flaticon Icon Be concise and easy to read

Flaticon Icon Reflect the topic and tone of the essay appropriately

The general structure of an essay title is composed of a hook, topic keywords, and focus keywords.

1. Create a Catchy Hook

The hook introduces the readers to the essay. It has to be creative to draw their attention.

A woman is eager to learn more about what's being said. She says:

Hooks can include:

✔️ Quotes

✔️ Pop culture references

✔️ Play on words

✔️ Questions

✔️ Imagery

Take a look at this scenario:

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Jerry needs to write a title for his essay about the philosophical themes found in The Beatles’ songs.

He's considering different options for his hook:

A. List the names of The Beatles to grab the attention of their fans

B. Include the title of one of The Beatles’ top songs, “Let It Be”

C. Use adjectives to vividly describe The Beatles

D. Omit creative hooks altogether to get straight to the point


Which is the best way for him to write a strong hook?

2. Include Topic Keywords

Topic keywords are 1-2 crucial words or phrases that contain important concepts of the essay.

They usually answer the question:

Michael Scott from The Office asks:

Topic keywords are:

  • Specific to the content and angle of the essay

  • Not general or generic (like "An Essay About The Beatles")

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Let It Be: Philosophical Themes in The Beatles’ Top Hits

In this title,the phrase “philosophical themes” serve as topic keywords for this title. 

3. Add Focus Keywords

Focus keywords provide information about the origin or setting of the essay topic.

A person looking through a set of binoculars. They smile when they focus on the object in the distance.

This usually answers the questions: What? and When?

Focus keywords can be in the form of:

  • The title of a literature text or piece of media

  • Name of a person, animal, or place

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Let It Be: Philosophical Themes in The Beatles’ Top Hits

In this title, the phrase "The Beatles’ Top Hits” informs the readers of the focus keywords (the band's catalogue of hit songs).

More Tips on How to Title an Essay!

Flaticon Icon Write your title after writing your essay

As you write and review your essay, you will get a better understanding of your key message and naturally come up with a few possible titles.

Flaticon Icon Consider the tone and audience of your essay 

Make sure to match your title to the tone of your essay and the knowledge level of your audience.

Flaticon Icon Avoid jargon or abbreviations

Jargon and abbreviations can make the title more difficult to understand. 

Flaticon Icon Follow Style Guides

Some classes may require you to follow a style guide (ex. APA, MLA, CMS, etc.) for your titles. 

Check Your Knowledge

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Jerry has finished writing his essay on the reasons behind the popularity of Christmas movies by Netflix. All he needs is to find a catchy hook for his half-finished title: "Common Themes in Netflix Holiday Movies That Make Them So Popular."

Which of the following would be the best hook for this title?

A. Christmas Movies and Streaming

B. Ho, Ho, Ho!

C. Netflix and Chill

D. How Netflix Stole Christmas


Choose an answer below.

Take Action

Finding the perfect cherry on top of your essay doesn’t always have to be so hard. Follow these steps to be an essay title master in no time!

A happy baby making a thumbs up sign with the caption saying:


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