If your essay doesn’t have a title, you do not give your audience any reason to be interested in starting to read your essay. When writing a college application essay, you need to make sure that the admissions officers are motivated to read your paper by curiosity and not by necessity.
Imagine a newspaper that has all the articles without the titles. How will you be able to choose an article you want to read? Of course, newspaper without articles is a ridiculous idea. The same applies to application essays. Your readers want to know what they are going to read in your essay, so coming up with the interesting college essay titles is very important for your application.
The goal of a title
We made it clear that title is necessary for your essay. But what does make it effective? First of all, think about the goal of a title:
- A good title should hook the attention of your readers
- When seeing a title, your readers should want to read your essay
- The title should give information what your essay is about
As for the last point, keep in mind that the title does not need to be very detailed. Sometimes you can find academic essays that have very long titles such as “Photography of Julia Cameron: Studying the Application of Long Shutter Speeds to Reach a Spiritual Effect.” For an app essay such a headline will be ridiculous, over-written, and pompous. Imagine the reaction of your potential reader when he or she sees very long title. When you offer too many details in your title, the admissions officer will not feel like reading the essay itself.
What is a good title?
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There are no clear rules on how to make a good title. Interesting titles can be of various forms:
- A title can be straightforward and concise. There’s no need to include alliteration and wit in your title. It is very effective to use direct and simple language. Do not play with words or show great wit. Instead create a simple title that would reveal the essence of your paper.
- A title can be provocative. If you write about a shocking, humorous, or embarrassing event in your life, it should be easy for you to come up with a title that would grab the attention of your readers.
- Title can play with words and be clever. For example, the title “Porkopolis” does not make any sense but it works perfectly for an essay about how you became a vegetarian. However, do not try to be too clever. Otherwise it may have an opposite effect.
Your title should provide at least a little sense on the subject matter of your essay and it should motivate the readers to keep on reading.
Mistakes in titles
There are some common mistakes that candidates usually make when coming up with college essay titles. They include:
- There is nothing more embarrassing than a misspelled headline. Imagine that you have made a tiny mistake in one word of your title. For example, instead of “it’s” you wrote “its” or instead of “patience” you wrote “patients.” Everyone makes mistakes but pay extra care to your app essay and make sure to double check it before submitting it. A mistake in the headline will definitely remove any confidence your readers have in your writing skills.
- Clichés. If you use clichés in your title, there is a high chance that you are writing about the experience, which is commonplace and unremarkable. Do not create the impression that you have nothing unique to say in your essay.
- Difficult vocabulary. Efficient essays are usually written in accessible and clear language. When you try to sound too smart by adding unnecessary syllables to each word it becomes difficult to read your essay. Using overblown vocabulary in the title will kill the readers’ desire to read even a work, which is 600 words long.
- Unnatural cleverness. Be careful when you want to play with words in your title. Not everyone is a fan of puns. In addition, your title may seem ridiculous if the audience does not understand your clever allusion. It is good to show cleverness but before submitting your paper check the headline on your friends and family to ensure it works the way it is intended.
- Vague language. If your essay is titled something like “A Bad Experience” or “Four Things That Are Important to Me,” it sounds very banal. “Bad” is the meaningless word and “things” rarely adds any value to an essay. Do not be vague. Be concrete and precise.
- Too broad language. Do not try to cover too much information in your title. Examples of using the broad language include “My Life Story” or “My Personal Growth.” Such titles suggest that you will be discussing years of your life in 600 words. Such attempts are doomed to failure and your readers will be doubting whether to read your paper at all.
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Using a sample title
A lot of students start their essays with the title and after finishing writing the essay they never change it. But chances are that the first title you create will be vague or may not fit your paper well, which will lead to a failure. When you start writing a paper use a sample title and come up with the final variant in the end of your writing process. Remember to proofread the title and the rest of the essay carefully before handing it in.
Find two main terms from your essay and combine them to create an effective title. For example, a paper about toxic food additives can have a title such as “Environmental Toxins and Bad Health Habits.”
When you ask a question in your title, it can increase the interest of readers as long as the answer to the question is in the main part of your paper. Also, you can use the technique that includes offering the answer provided in the essay after the question in the form of a more detailed subtitle.
Debating the focus
When you work on a persuasive or an argumentative essay, you have a great opportunity to create a good title. These types of papers require you to have a point of view on a certain issue or a topic. For example, if you’re working on an essay about citizenship for illegal immigrants, you can emphasize the pros and cons of the issue and create a title like “Citizenship for Everybody or Closed Borders.”
Coming up with a title
You can see titles everywhere – at the beginning of the book or story or at the description of the product. Titles usually start things. However, there are cases when students submit their essays without a title.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Many good essays do not require a title. In addition, some papers are best if left untitled. And of course, there’s nothing worse than a bad title. It is better to have no title at all rather than name your essay “My Trip to Italy.”
However, titles can be eye-catching and informative, and they can bring the essay together. Most of the papers you compose in college have titles. In most cases, your college essay should have a title to.
So how can you come up with an interesting title for your college essay? The first thing to do is to wait. Yes, titles should start your essay but you should begin writing your essay before considering the title. It is often much easier to name a work after you have written the whole thing. Titles can summarize what you have written in a few words or draw attention to a certain part in your writing that you wanted to emphasize. However, you can’t sum anything up if there is nothing to summarize yet. Therefore, it is recommended first to complete your essay and then start coming up with some title variants.
Once you are done with your essay, you can start brainstorming for ideas. This is the stage when you need to write down everything that comes to your mind. When coming up with a title, you may include the following in it:
- A couple of important words from the body of your essay
- Relevant proper nouns
Whatever ideas come to your mind keep listing them. When you’re done, choose a couple of title options that you think are the best and ask someone you know to tell you what they think.
A good title is the one that accurately reflects what your paper is about without highlighting wrong ideas or giving away too many details. Good titles can’t even add something to your essay.
It is important to choose the title that gets you excited and speaks to you. When you choose a title you like, you can proceed to the boring things:
- Make sure your title does not use the words you do not know the meaning of
- Make sure the title does not have typos
- Make sure it is appropriate for your audience
- Make sure it doesn’t say anything you do not intend to say
If you have done everything right, you have found the perfect title.
How to choose a good title
There are many variants when choosing a good title. These are some of them:
- Insert a catchy line from the material. It is important for the phrase to reflect the essence of the essay.
- Getting rid of the set idioms (i.e. phraseological sentences) and the creation of new lines with new paradoxical meanings as a successful method to attract the readers’ attention.
- The contamination (i.e., alteration) of meanings is also effective in forming headlines. Combining creativity and humor is the base for such titles. They are perfect for all types of essays.
- The application of unique combinations of letters and characters in the headline.
Keep in mind the following:
- There is no need to worry a lot about coming up with the perfect headline. The most significant part is the content of the article.
- If it is not required by the task, avoid the application of pronouns in the headline since these are informal words, and if your headline contains them, it won’t look professional.
- The title you select should not be repellent. There should be no profanity or rude expressions. Reveal yourself to the admissions officers from the best side.
- If you discuss your favorite book, attempt to skip mentioning its title in the headline.
- Make your headline as informative and short as possible.
Other advice to pay attention to
Don’t make the title long. If it is possible to tell the essence of your work in three words instead of five, it will be wonderful. However, you do not need to make a choice in favor of a short but uninteresting heading, if there is an eye-catching but longer title variant.
If a genre of the work doesn’t require it, avoid difficult scientific concepts.
Include subheadings. If you have a catchy but not informative title, include a subtitle where you will describe the essence of the essay.
Both the novices and experienced writers have difficulties coming up with an interesting title for their work. It is recommended to write your essay first and then once you shape your ideas, go back and work on the title. Also, do not be afraid to seek help with your title. Brainstorming for ideas with friends and family can often help you generate better title options than the ones you would think of on your own. It is important to get your title right because it is going to make an immediate impression on the admissions officers who are going to read your paper.
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