How to Write the Title for a Research Paper


A title is very important for your research paper because it is the first thing the person reading the paper will see. A good title catches the reader's attention immediately and makes them want to know more. Remember to take into account your topic, the message you are attempting to convey through your title and the intended audience for your paper. Effective titles generally do not include jargon or acronyms that would not be immediately familiar to your audience.

  • Brainstorm to come up with memorable titles. Begin brainstorming when you start researching or writing the paper to give you more time to decide and, if necessary, continue until the paper has been completed. Reflect on the main points of the paper and the research.

  • Make a list of all possible titles you have come up with. It is a good idea to have many different options from which to choose. Also, try different approaches and formats -- humorous options, subtitles and "short and sweet" options. An effective title should contain between 15 and 20 words. Depending on the intended audience, more technical wording may also be appropriate.

  • Narrow down your list of possible titles to between five and 10 of your top choices. This narrowed list should be based on the titles you find to be the catchiest/most memorable, the ones you think convey the research the best and which ones you simply like the best.

  • Ask your friends, family and colleagues for their opinions on your top choices. Explain your research project to them or allow them to read your paper to get a better idea of what the research project is all about. If possible, choose people who have some knowledge of your subject or are representative of your intended audience.

  • Decide which one of the options you think is the best. Take into account the ideas you have brainstormed, the opinions you have received, your intended audience and the impression you are trying to make with your title.

Tips & Warnings

  • It may take some time to create the perfect title, so remember that your research paper can have a "working title" up until the time it is turned in. You can also include a subtitle for your research paper; this is typically a descriptive phrase that further clarifies a shorter phrase. For example, in the title "First Impressions: Creating an Effective Research Paper Title," the phrase following the colon is a subtitle.
  • Avoid offensive language. Also avoid generic words or phrases such as "a study of," "research project" or other similar wording. Every word of the title should be important and not just filler. Humor is sometimes used to make a title more memorable, but keep your audience in mind and do not say anything that might be considered risque or offensive.

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