Skip to Main Content

Getting Your Paper Noticed

Learn how to make your paper stand out through strong titling, graphical abstracts, search engine optimization, and academic networking.

choosing a title

Choosing a Title

Choosing a strong title for your paper is important as the title is the most read part of the paper and it is usually read first. There are two approaches to creating titles, one that is more informative, and another that is more creative. The first is most often used for academic papers, though some disciplines allow for more creatively titled papers. This guide focuses on the informative type.

Strong titles for academic papers contain the fewest possible words that describe the contents and/or purpose of your research paper. In general, the answers to the following questions can help you create a title for your paper:

  1. What is the purpose of this research?
  2. What is the scope of this research?
  3. What methods were used in this study?
  4. Is there something new or exciting about your topic?

Tip: Don't wait until you are done writing your paper to come up with a title. A good title can help you stay focused in your writing just like a good thesis statement can.

Subtitles are sometimes used in academic research papers and are more common among the social science disciplines. 

You may want to include a subtitle in order to:

  1. Explain or provide additional context
  2. Add substance to a literary, provocative, or imaginative title
  3. Qualify the geographic scope of the research
  4. Qualify the temporal scope of the research
  5. Focus on investigating the ideas, theories, or work of a particular individual

General Tips for creating a strong title: 

  • Indicate accurately the subject and scope of the study
  • Rarely use abbreviations or acronyms unless they are commonly known
  • Use words that create a positive impression and stimulate reader interest
  • Use current nomenclature from the field of study
  • Identify key variables, both dependent and independent
  • Suggest a relationship between variables which supports the major hypothesis
  • Limit to 5 to 15 substantive words
  • Do not include redundant phrasing, such as, "A Study of," "An Analysis of" or similar constructions
  • Use a question or declarative statement
  • Use correct grammar, capitalization, and check publication style for additional parameters 
  • Do not use an exclamation mark at the end of the title

Examples of strong titles for academic papers: 

  • The Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of Populations of the Bacterium, Escherichia coli
  • Listen to What I Say, Not How I Vote: Congressional Support for the President in Washington and at Home
  • The Geopolitics of the Eastern Border of the European Union: The Case of Romania-Moldova-Ukraine
  • The Machine-Language of the Muscles: Reading, Sport and the Self in Infinite Jest

Maps and Parking