Always give your essay an interesting and informative title. Your title is the first chance you have to grab the reader’s attention. So ask yourself if your title would make someone want to read your essay.

Simply stating the essay’s number (“Essay #1” or “Essay 2”) or the topic for the assignment (“Compare and Contrast Essay” or “Hamlet Essay”) is not sufficient.

There are three general types of acceptable titles for academic papers.

Topic Titles
State the topic of your essay in a specific and engaging way. Think of topic titles as a headline version of your thesis statement.

“Aliens Cause Global Warming”
“The Shakespearean Actor as Kamikaze Pilot”
“Why Nerds Are Unpopular”

Question Titles
Use the critical question your essay addresses for your title. Your thesis will be the answer to this question.

“Is Sugar Toxic?”
“Who Owns Intelligence?”
“What Do Spoilers Spoil?”

Title: Subtitle
Many academic essays have a title and a subtitle separated by a colon. The title is an attention grabber or a mystery phrase designed to peak the reader’s interest; the subtitle explicitly states the essay’s topic. (The subtitle is like a topic title.)

“Boring from Within: The Art of the Freshman Essay”
“Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood”
“Tense Present: Democracy, English, and Wars over Usage”

Title Capitalization

Always capitalize the first and last words of titles and subtitles.

Capitalize every other word in the title with the following exceptions:

Use lowercase for articles — a, an, the.

“On Keeping a Notebook”
“Shooting an Elephant”
The Taming of the Shrew

Use lowercase for prepositions — such as in, on, of, by, to, and so on.

North by Northwest
One Hundred Years of Solitude
“Sight into Insight”

Use lowercase for coordinating conjunctions — and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet.

Antony and Cleopatra
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Truth or Dare

You can generate a correctly capitalized title here:
Title Capitalization Tool

Page Last Updated: 12 December 2013