Everyone must have heard the metaphorical phrase – ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’. But when it comes to actually choosing a book, we go by its cover. It is human tendency to be attracted towards things that catch our attention. Be it a book, a research paper, or a blog, the number of eyeballs your writing attracts majorly depends on how catchy your title is.
Choosing the perfect title is one of the most important parts of writing, but, more often than not, people tend to underestimate the power of a catchy title.
Before we dive into the ‘How-To’s’ of writing the perfect title, it is essential to know about the different styles of titles. Here are 7 widely used styles:
- The Question Title
One of the easiest ways to make a dull headline catchy is by asking an intriguing question. An article with a simple title like ‘Ways to get rich’ can be made really appealing by turning the title into ‘Do you want to know the one trick that will make you rich and wealthy?’.
- The ‘How To’ Title
Another popular style of headline is to offer tips and solutions to one’s problem by adding ‘How To’ in the title. It is also SEO-friendly as many students search using the ‘How To’ keyword followed by the query. For example: ‘How to improve your grades in college’ sounds much better than ‘Improve your college grades today’.
- The Listicle
Listicles are a huge hit among the millennials and they trend on social media sites as well. If your article/blog has multiple points talking about the topic of the write-up, then a listicle can be a great headline for you. For example: ‘9 must read books this summer’ or ‘7 styles of titles to choose for your blog’.
- The Interesting Facts Title
People often stick to conventional styles of title writing without realising what one little interesting fact mentioned in the headline can do to their article. If you have some mind boggling statistics or some lesser known facts in your write-up, you can use it as a surprise element to grab more eyeballs. For example: ‘ 3 out of every 10 US students drop out from college every year’.
- The ‘Why’ Title
Nothing stimulates the human brain more than the quest to know why things happen in a certain way. We are always driven to find the motive behind every action. So it is not a bad idea to include a ‘why’ in your title. For example: ‘Music is good for improving memory’ can be turned into an infinitely better headline by adding why – ‘Why music is good for memorization’
- The Claim and Proof Title
One way to attract readers is by writing a title that claims something that is against the popular opinion of the masses. Controversial headlines work wonders as they play on the beliefs of the reader. It is a tricky style of title writing as it may backfire if you don’t have enough proof to support the claim in your copy. For example: A headline like ‘Charles Dickens was sexist and his writings are a proof of his misogyny’ can raise a few eyebrows and certainly attract readers.
The age of internet and social media has given rise to one of the most frowned-upon styles of titles – Clickbait. A clickbait is nothing but unnecessary sensationalization of a title by adding excessive adjectives and slang words such as OMG,WTF, SHOCKING, etc. Clickbaits are known for misrepresenting information in order to get clicks. Students are widely discouraged to use clickbaits in the titles of their blogs, articles, etc. For example: A headline reading ‘10 unknown facts about Star Wars (8th one will blow your mind)’ will make you want to click on it immediately. But if they contain lousy facts that every Star Wars fan already knows about, then you are bound to feel cheated. This is why clickbait is bad!
- The Question Title
Now let’s move on to how to choose the perfect title for your article, blog, essay, assignment, etc. In order to zero in on the perfect title, one needs to go through the following steps:
- Write the first draft: If you wish to write a great headline, then you must give up on the habit of writing the title before you write the copy. When you write the first draft, you not only write the ideas you have in mind but also use your creativity to improvise. Once you write the first draft, you get a clear idea of what you want to say and, thus, can come up with better titles.
- Note down the major themes in your writing: Once you have your write-up in place, observe carefully and make a note of themes that are present in your writing. If your write-up talks about misogyny and patriarchy, make a mental note of it. If your essay is about human nature, then keep that in mind. You can use these words in the title to highlight the theme of your essay, blog etc.
- Know your audience: Recognizing your target audience is necessary for not just writing the copy of your article but also for finalising its title. Depending on the age, race, nationality, social status, and personal interests of your target audience, you could come up with titles to pique their interest. If teenagers are your target audience, then you could use one or two cool slangs in the title. If your readers are professors, teachers, and educators, then you might want to stick to a more formal title.
- Research on Keywords: If you are writing for the web, you need to be aware of certain keywords that users search for, while looking up for topics similar to that of your write-up. Research extensively on which keywords rank for the topic of your article and make sure to use them in your title in a creative way.
- Decide how much you want to convey with your title: A title can be as informative as the writer wants it to be. By just reading the title, one can not only guess the topic of the article but can also identify the tone and style of writing to follow in the copy. It is not always necessary to reveal as much as you can in the title. Some writers like to conceal their write-up by using satirical and ironic headlines. So it is up to the writer to decide how much he/she wants to convey through the title.
- Avoid long titles: If your title is more than ten words, it is considered to be too long and can be a big turn off for the readers. In order to avoid long titles, edit it ruthlessly by removing less important.words. If the essence of your write-up can be conveyed in lesser number of words, then there is no point including superfluous words.
- Look for facts, quotes, and controversial lines in your writing: In order to ditch the conventional boring title, one needs to be brave enough to experiment with different styles of titles, like The Interesting Facts title, The Claims and Proof title, etc. Once you are done writing, reread your write-up thoroughly to find out any interesting facts, quotes, or controversial statements that can be turned into an interesting headline.
- Write multiple headlines and try it out on your peers: Before you zero in on a title, make sure that you have a plethora of options to choose from. Try creating a couple of headlines in each of the above-mentioned styles of titles and bounce it off your peers. Based on their response and your personal judgment, finalize the title that perfectly fits your write-up.
Try out these steps to find the title that suits you the best. Your research paper, blog, or article will probably be read more number of times if you have a good title. Get creative, get cracking.