A Quick Guide to Writing an Effective Journal Title

Writing an excellent journal article title is like writing a blockbuster movie title: it’s an art and an important skill to learn. The process of crafting a good journal article title is not one to be taken lightly. Your title should have just the right amount of intrigue and creativity to hook your audience and spark their interest. And to get them to read your article to the end. You’re in the right place if you want to know how to write a journal article title.

Search engines use the titles of articles to determine if the content is relevant to the user’s keyword. The title of an article is what makes readers find it and decide whether to continue reading. It is the first filter readers use to determine whether your research is what they want. This guide suggests best practices for writing the best journal article titles.

Tips for Writing the Perfect Journal Article Title

While the title of your article should say what the article is about, it should also capture potential readers’ attention. Titles impact the traffic to your site — the more the first few words hook readers, the more chance it has of success.

Whether you are writing a journal article or peer-reviewed academic article title, there are a few things to consider. Some of them are as follows:

1. Keep It Simple and Concise

The title of your piece is like its ‘label’ that makes it ‘stand out.’ An essential requirement of a title is simplicity.

A good title summarizes the journal in concise, powerful words that draw the reader’s attention and persuade them to read the full text. Even an uninitiated reader should understand a title, so avoid overly-complicated vocabulary.

Words that do not add meaning to the title but increase its length will only distract the reader from your message.

The fewer words a title has, the more impact it will have. APA’s recommended length of a title is no more than 12 words. Lengthy titles are difficult to remember and can be easily misinterpreted, so it’s best avoided.

2. Include Keywords and Phrases

Many researchers ‘scan’ titles to search for information relevant to their needs. Incorporating keywords and phrases in your title is a way to make search engines consider your article as relevant.

The words in your title should include key phrases that effectively highlight the article’s content for retrieval. This will help readers understand the content of your piece and prepare them for what is to follow in the article. Including main key phrases in your title will make it unambiguous and descriptive, increasing visibility and readership.

3. Spell Out Acronyms in the Title

If you use acronyms in the title of your journal, ensure to spell them out. Readers unfamiliar with the meaning of acronyms may skip your article even if it’s relevant to their search.

Ensuring readers understand what the acronym stands for will ensure your article gets read. Don’t assume that your readers are familiar with the meaning of the acronyms – spell them out.

4. Avoid Humor, Irony, and Puns

Humorous phrases or statements may attract readers but should be avoided since not everyone will understand your jokes. Including such in your titles will make your readers view your piece as “a joke.”

You also don’t want to replace critical key phrases with humorous phrases. If you do, your piece will appear less often in search engines. Stick to only keyword phrases that help your readers learn about your content.

5. Write in Sentence Case

A title filled with errors will likely lead to a low click-through rate. Titles should be written in sentence cases, i.e., the first word of the title, proper nouns, and genus names should be capitalized.

A title written in the lower case can be a total turnoff to the reader even if your content is relevant to them. Remember your aim: to grab the reader’s attention and inspire them to read the full text. You won’t achieve this without proper capitalization of your title.

How to Write a Journal Article Title

Writing the perfect title for your article can be overwhelming. Here are a few easy steps to write a compelling title that stands out.

1. Start With a Draft

Begin with outlining the general and specific purpose of your article. Create a list of the keywords and phrases relevant to your topic. You might need to carry out research to discover which words work for search engine optimization.

Using the information you’ve gathered, write a draft title and focus on the remaining article. Once your entire text is ready, you can return to your draft title and fine-tune it in a way that summarizes the whole piece.

2. Choose Your Title Type

There are at least 13 different types of journal article titles. Understanding the most common formats is essential to writing an impeccable title. Here is a list of the most common formats.

  • Declarative titles. Such titles state the main findings or conclusions of the article. (e.g., A daily exercise routine increases metabolic rate for a year).
  • Descriptive titles. These titles describe the article’s subject but do not reveal the main conclusions (e.g., The Effects of Drug Abuse on Youths).
  • Interrogative titles. Such titles introduce the subject of discussion as a question (e.g., ‘Does Exercise Have a Role in Tackling Obesity?’).

The format you choose will depend on the information you want to convey to your audience. Declarative titles convey the largest amount of information and are commonly used in research articles. Interrogative titles are most suitable for literature review articles and are less common. Descriptive titles are the most common and are used in journals and academic writing.

3. Write a Few Variants

Write a few titles and experiment with different types of formulations. This way, you’ll analyze how they function in reality and possibly generate a new idea. You could also combine the best aspects of two or more titles you’ve written to develop a better one.

person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

The title of your journal article is as important as your article itself. Use the title to catch your readers’ attention and give them a sense of your paper. Your title should be relevant to your topic, giving the reader a glimpse into what to expect. It should also be concise and easy to understand.

If you’re having a hard time crafting the perfect title for your journal, write out a draft and proceed to write the full text. Once you’re done writing the text, edit your article with your topic in mind for a more professional and persuasive result. This article answered the question of how to write a journal article title. Follow the tips here to create a title that’s effective and makes your paper stand out.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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