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Getting Catchy Titles for Essays when You’re Just Not in the Mood

Getting Catchy Titles for Essays when You’re Just Not in the Mood


You have struggled through writing that essay or paper. You are tired of the topic and just want to slam a title on the thing and get it turned in. Being creative with a title for an essay is just not high on your priority list now — sleep probably is.

Here’s the thing about a title for an essay: It is the first thing your instructor will see. If it is dull and rather boring, that sets the tone for the entire piece. On the other hand, clever titles for essays and papers will set an entirely different tone — they will make that instructor sit up and take notice.

Here’s a simple example of the difference. The novel Moby Dick is a pretty dark tale. Melville did insert his own brand of humor, however — it too was dark and ironic. If you were to write an essay on the humor in Moby Dick, you could title it “Humor in Moby Dick” (boring and dull), or you could brainstorm for a catchy title for an essay, as one student did: “A Whale of a Laugh.” This title carries the irony that is in the novel and sends a message that you took some of these ideas for essay titles to be creative.

First: How to Title an Essay

Before you worry about what is or isn’t clever enough, it’s important to know the basics. Specifically, how to write a title for an essay: What should you keep in mind before you begin your attempt to create a title that isn’t just attention-grabbing but also passes academic muster?

Start with the basics. Know the rules for essay titles. These can vary a bit depending on your citation format. For example, essay titles in MLA may have different rules for capitalization than another format such as Chicago or Turabian. Do your research so you know when to italicize, or follow other guidelines. Google something like ‘APA title examples’, and you should receive plenty of great information.

Now you know how to write and punctuate essay titles according to the rules. What’s next?

Learn What Makes an Essay Title a Winner

As you learn how to come up with a title for an essay, remember that what works in one situation may not in another. For example, titles should always be interesting, but a funny essay title isn’t always appropriate. Always use your common sense. It is better to write a relevant and persuasive title than to try and be clever only to have the effort fall flat.

How Do You Get Catchy Titles for Essays?

How Do You Get Catchy Titles for Essayssource

It’s hard. Clever titles for essays and papers do not just pop into most students’ heads. And the more they seem to try, the harder it becomes. You can do a few things to get “a clever title for my essay” though. You might want to try some of these tips.

  • Use your thesis statement for inspiration — but don’t copy it

  • Add a number

  • Consider the audience

  • Stick with the overall tone of the essay

  • Keep it brief

  • Don’t overcomplicate things

  1. Find a Comparison

Sometimes, ideas for essay titles can come from comparisons, often called analogies. Here’s an example of this type of title: “Student Loan Debtors — America’s Indentured Servant.”

Using an analogy for a title for essay pieces can spark interest and sometimes some intrigue. In the title above, a reader will certainly be intrigued by the comparisons you will be drawing between these two groups. 

You also have the opportunity to be a bit controversial here. That can be a risky choice. However, it is also a great technique to get people intrigued about your paper. Even if they strongly disagree with your comparison, they may just want to read and find out more.

  1. Put Your Opinion in the Title

Sometimes, clever titles for essays can be created by including your opinion, if you are writing a persuasive or argumentative piece. You may, for example, have the opinion that the “War on Drugs” has been a miserable failure and has only served to fill up our prisons. A title for college essay writing on this topic might be: “The War on Drugs — Another Great Experiment Gone Wrong.” (the first Great Experiment, of course, was Prohibition).

Just be aware that this approach sets the bar really high. Now you must deliver an essay that really proves your opinion is based on something solid.

  1. Use Media References

Witty titles for essays can sometimes be found from using a popular television show or type of show. For example, you may be writing an essay on the “Dumbing Down of America.”  You might want to pick a title such as, “America’s Game Show — How Dumb Can We Get?”

  1. Present a Problem and its Consequences

Writing a title for an essay can be as simple and direct as stating the thesis right in the title. Usually, this will involve some type of problem that an individual or society faces and the serious consequences of not being solved. Here is an example: “America Wins First Place — the Most Obese and Unhealthiest Nation on the Planet.” Catchy titles for papers really can be this easy and engaging.

  1. Provide a Personal Response

Especially when creating titles for reflective essays, giving a personal response in the title can be effective. For example, “Journey into Darkness — Reflections on a Prison Field Experience.” You may not have the most creative titles for reflective essay writing, but you can still engage a reader with a genuine response in the title. This approach would work very well with narrative essays or other writings where you are asked to share your experiences or opinions.

Title Examples Can Help

As you learn how to make a good essay title, remember that you aren’t alone. Many other student essay writers had come before you and figured out some great techniques. Don’t forget that you can get some great information from books, magazines, and newspapers.

Look around for examples. Start by simply searching Google for your topic. You will find plenty of examples to help you learn how to title a paper that is custom-tailored for your particular subject.

What About Generating College Essay Titles Automatically?

Believe it or not, you can find a title generator online. The question is, should you use it. The answer is maybe. These tools can be somewhat helpful. There may even be times when you get the perfect essay title. Just keep in mind that these tools are not precise. They tend to miss a lot of subtleties, and many don’t provide you with a perfectly proofread title. However, they can be fun. You can also use them to get some new ideas or inspiration.

How to Write a Title in an Essay: Getting Help

There’s no shame in asking for some help as you learn how to make an essay title. If you have questions about how to punctuate essay titles, take a look at your school’s writing center website. Do you wonder if your essay title page format is correct? In that case, check with your instructor, and refer to your assignment rubric. If you aren’t sure if your title is catchy or funny, run it by your study group.

Getting that Title is Just One Step

Catchy titles for papers can motivate a reader to move into reading your piece. But if that piece is a disappointment because it is not well-researched, does not flow well, or contains grammar mistakes, your title is worth very little. Don’t become so hyper-focused on how to title a college essay that you neglect more important aspects of your paper.

If you have concerns about any of the aspects of writing your essays and papers, especially when topics are assigned that you dislike or find difficult, you will want to get some help, perhaps from a professional writing service. To find the “good guys” in the business, check out the best college paper writing service reviews that will score services based upon their quality of products.