A title that has become an idiom.
The idiom 'Catch-22' was coined by Joseph Heller in his 1961 novel bearing the same name. In this novel, the character feigns madness in order to avoid dangerous combat missions, but his desire to avoid them is taken to prove his sanity.
'The' Tantrum Totem, Strange Sine qua non, Enfant Terrible, Nae Notability or The real McCoy? Intrigued? Couldn't these be the titles of an essay on a person describing himself or herself? As you can see, an interesting title is essential to catch the reader's eye. Your essay might be very informative or convey a deep meaning, but if it doesn't look good prima facie, you might just fail to get the message across. Here are a few tips on how to come up with a good title for a compelling essay.
▶ Brainstorm Ideas
Write down all the words, phrases or maybe even lyrics that come to your mind related to your topic. Try to weave a coherent pattern amongst them and come up with the most unique heading.
▶ Avoid long titles.
"Brevity is the soul of wit", remarked Shakespeare. Though your essay might be full of information, opting for a long title for the sake of making it descriptive is not a good idea. Keep the mystery alive. A short title would serve the purpose.
▶ Use a sub-title, if you must.
For example, if you are writing about the progressive era in the U.S., and you want to highlight the fact that your essay is about reforms in this time, then an apt title would be: 'The Progressive Era: Progressive Reforms of this Time'. Do not write a long title like 'Radical Reforms of the Progressive Era'. A break up of the title looks better.
▶ Write the content of your essay first.
As they say, content is king. You might have a brilliant title in mind, but if it is not relevant to your essay, it is of no use. Know the flow of your whole essay first, at least have a rough outline ready, only then start thinking about the title.
▶ Target your audience
What would attract specific age groups to your writing? Maybe a reference to a current sitcom or a song which was a rage olden times. The ball is in your court.
▶ Why not use an important phrase from your source material?
"Excellent", I cried. "Elementary", said he, is a catchphrase from the Sherlock novels. You could use something like this for a title, but remember to add your own little twist, like "Excellent you cry. Elementary say I!".
▶ Writing a title for non-fiction
Identify the argument in your thesis sentence and think about the function of your title. Decide if you want the title to be descriptive or you wish to ask a question through it. For example, 'What is Surface Tension?' or 'Surface Tension and its Practical Applications'. Respect conventions like keeping the first letter of every word in the title upper case. Material sourced from your literature should be in italics, like the title of a book.
▶ Writing a title for fiction
Write the title a la your genre. Again, you could seek inspiration from you own writing, and use a catchphrase from your own essay. Else, there are always movies and books to draw parallels with. Your title should contain the hook, the key terms and the source.
▶ Your title should set the tone of your essay
A serious topic, like a medical discussion, cannot have a humorous title. Plan the tone of your title accordingly.
▶ Think out of the box.
Try to combine an ordinary title with some thing unusual. Like "The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy". Ask a quirky question: "Who moved my Cheese?". Keep the suspense alive: "Who is John Galt?"
Thus, a good essay title can prove to be icing on the cake for an already well-written discourse. But do not make up something pretentious just to grab attention. In the famous ad guru David Ogilvy's words " Tell the truth. But make the truth fascinating."