Helping Students to Write Successful Paper Titles

by Ode Ogede (Author)
©2013 Textbook 107 Pages


All who treasure great literature recognize the pivotal role played by a title. But, until now, at both the undergraduate and the graduate level, no book-length study has devoted detailed expert attention to the subject of academic paper titling. Helping Students to Write Successful Paper Titles is the first attempt at an extended exploration of this subject, breaking new ground by confirming the significance of a title as an apparatus for scholarly endeavor. Academic writing’s dependence on the title imparts pre-eminence to the part of the paper that bridges the gap between its contents and the reader, making the title more than just another component of the work and investing the paper with an identity. Through systematic examination of a variety of paper titles, the study offers a cohesive picture of the function of the title in academic writing and guides students in the art of effective title making.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • 1. Commonalities and Differences in Titling: The Academic Paper/Term Paper/Thesis/Dissertation Versus the Creative Work
  • 2. The Nuts and Bolts of the Academic Paper Title: Qualities of Suitable Titles Contrasted with Unsuitable or Poor Ones
  • Model Paper 1
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 1
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 2
  • Model Paper 2
  • Work Cited
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 2
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 3
  • Model Paper 3
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 3
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 4
  • Model Paper 4
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 4
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 5
  • Model Paper 5
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 5
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 6
  • Model Essay Paper 6
  • Notes
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 6
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 7
  • Model Paper 7
  • Work Cited
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 7
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 8
  • Model Paper 8
  • Work Cited
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 8
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 9
  • Model Paper 9
  • Work Cited
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 9
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 10
  • Model Paper 10
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 10
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 11
  • Model Paper 11
  • Notes
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 11
  • Opening Comments on Model Paper 12
  • Model Paper 12
  • Work Cited
  • Detailed Comments on Model Paper 12
  • 3. How Not to Write Academic Paper Titles
  • Non-Model Paper 1
  • Detailed Comments on Non-Model Paper 1
  • Opening Comments on Non-Model Essay 2
  • Non-Model Essay 2
  • Detailed Comments on Non-Model Essay 2
  • Notes
  • 4. Inventing Titles: Steps to Crafting Suitable Academic Paper Titles
  • Notes
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Index



To begin with, I would like to affirm that teaching is a learning experience, and all the insights I have garnered over the years come from my students and colleagues. The support and encouragement of these persons mean a lot to me, especially the great conversation and generous sustenance of my wife Shianyisimi and our children, Ochuole, Ogede, and Michael—the best students and teachers I have. My thanks are extended as well to all the other formal students who showed the courage to agree to have their work subjected to the public display of scrutiny. I owe a large intellectual debt to every author whose interest in this subject has enabled mine. Finally, I am much beholden to Dr. Carlton E. Wilson, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for his big-hearted support. ← vii | viii → ← viii | ix →



This is a book about the function of the title in the critical approach to the literary work. The book aims to define, establish, and stress all aspects and every type of use made of titles within the genre of the formal essay, research paper, literary analysis/commentary or interpretation, thesis and dissertation—all herein collected under the umbrella designation “academic paper”—thus opening a window onto a subject on which no prior academic textbook exists.

The contents of a text are minted in the coin of title, and the academic paper is no different; indeed, the only way a paper can pass muster in the academic sphere is by having an appropriate title. As a signaling apparatus, the title is the part of an academic paper that sets forth its agenda both for the writer and for the reader, giving hints of the drift of each work’s argument and its concerns. With a vibrant title an author begins the process of marking off the boundaries of a text, profiling what’s on offer. A catchy title is therefore the one thing that a writer will need, sooner, rather than later, when he or she is hit by the lightning bolt of inspiration, when idea after idea comes surging forth—not merely to hold the current in check; not just to allow the thoughts to run uninterrupted, but to channel their flow—enabling them to gather momentum. Thus, as with any other apparatus of this nature, a title confers roles, duties, expectations, and obligations in the literary arena, too. ← ix | x →

Selecting a suitable title for an academic paper can be the difference between success and failure, but students have not received much instruction on the all-important role that a title plays within the academic paper’s overall structure. How is one to explain this paradox? How much importance should students attach to the business of naming their works in the academic study of literature and languages? What titling options are there for students? And what are the indices for evaluating them? Where did the general idea of titles come from? How can a title entirely suitable for one genre of writing be totally inappropriate for another? Why are certain titles more befitting than others? How can one make sound judgments about academic paper titling? This book will explore these and similar questions, helping students to discover the skills of vibrant academic paper title-making: paying attention to detail, avoiding clichés, and reflecting deeply on why words matter. It will introduce students in all fields of study in literature and languages to that important subject, acquainting them with the history of the form, familiarizing them with the different uses to which it has traditionally been put, and leading them to discover the techniques for creating titles that latch perfectly onto the texts, just as doors with good hinges fit into their frames. The essentials are for students to understand the importance of finding appropriate headings for the academic paper and to grasp why a title cannot merely be conceived as an attention-grabbing device or nametag attached, whether casually or deliberatively, to distinguish one product from others. Rather, it should be conceptualized as a forum that provides a vehicle for structuring a paper’s central focus and an instrument that gives notice about its main concerns explicitly or implicitly.

It is hoped that during the study of illustrious paper titles appropriate conclusions concerning a good title will be formed, and that by analyzing samples of fine titles students previously lacking experience in the practice of academic paper titling will learn how to write well themselves. The academic paper that packs a punch always incorporates the basics of scholarly argumentation, as teachers tirelessly instruct their students: a catchy title; a compelling introduction; a strong thesis statement; sharp topical sentences; good use of supporting evidence; sound transitions; and a solid conclusion. Thus, many books in numerous fields of study in literature and languages offer students guidance on several aspects of these areas of academic writing. Issues routinely and adequately covered concerning the academic paper include finding and exploring topics, conducting library research, generating ideas and organizing them, as well as finding sources both on primary and on secondary literature. Evaluating and documenting sources; reading strategies (by way of note-taking, summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, interrogating or questioning, ← x | xi → and annotating a text); planning and drafting; revising; paragraphing—these are all areas of writing on which there is no shortage of critical materials. Nor is it surprising that there is an abundance of resources for writers covering such salient qualities of good writing as coherence, clarity, development, succinctness or economy as well as felicity of expression, unity, and organization; rhetorical strategies; grammar; and mechanics (e.g., punctuation and spelling).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2012 (October)
reader variety identity
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2013. 120 pp.

Biographical notes

Ode Ogede (Author)

Ode Ogede is Professor of English at North Carolina Central University. A fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Society, he previously taught at the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria Nigeria.


Title: Helping Students to Write Successful Paper Titles