It’s Tricky

Have you ever written a paper that you believed was almost perfect, but there was something about it that did not feel quite right? Well, I have been there before, and it is not enjoyable; however, I know something that might help. In those instances, you should look at the title of your paper. Now, your title can be direct and state the exact topic of the paper or it could be indirect and hint at the subject. When I was in high school, my teacher always asked for creative titles that pertained to our topics. For example, if I wrote a research paper on the consequences of stray dogs in neighborhoods, then my teacher would enjoy a title like The Ruff Life. She loved when students created a clever title that pertained to their topic because it showed they put thought into the paper.

Clever titles are a fun way to grab the reader’s attention, but you must know some of the rules to ensure it is grammatically correct. When writing a title, you must capitalize all words except: prepositions, conjunctions, or articles unless they are the first word of the title. In the previous example I provided, I capitalized the because it was the first word of the title.

When writing a clever title, there are a few errors that can be avoided to make it stronger. For example, you should not put quotation marks around the title unless a quote is actually found within it, nor should you underline the title. Additionally, as illustrated in my example, you should never place a period after the title of your essay.

Now, say that you are writing an essay over the book, Great Expectations. It is better to create a unique title that is not simply the title of the book. Lastly, try to steer away from titles that are not original. If it is a title that has been used in numerous essays or papers, then think outside of the box. I always find it to be a fun challenge.

After coming up with a title, it is important to place it in the right area of your page. For MLA, the title should be dropped in your heading and centered on the first page before your introductory paragraph. In APA format, it is centered on the first line of the title page and on the first line of the paper, while Turabian format requires it to go on the title page underneath the university’s name. Although this might seem confusing, the UWC has resources available within the office and online to clarify any questions you might have. I cannot wait to read some of your clever titles when you stop by the University Writing Center!

Written by Trisha

For more information on writing a title and other writing subjects, check out our Writing a Title handout and the Quick Reference Flyers page of our website!

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