Revising Your Title
After you’ve revised your introduction to situate your work within a tradition of past argument or analysis, and have described the essence of your claim and approach to the matter at hand, you are ready to revise your title. The least useful kind of title is one that anyone knowing your assignment could predict from the language of the assignment. If the assignment is, “Discuss the logical structure of the Declaration of Independence, particularly those assumptions on which Jefferson based his argument,” do not create the title:
The Assumptions behind the Logic of the Declaration of Independence
A useful title tells the reader what the central conceptual elements in your paper are. These elements are most likely to appear in your work in the language of your central claim, or in key terms that appear in the body of your work. Remember that your title functions as a preview to your claim, giving readers a sense of your stance on an subject or issue, and offering them a taste of how you will approach that matter. Some readers will make the crucial decision of whether or not to read your work based just on this information. A revised title, then, could be:
Logic in the Declaration: Timeless Ideals and Immediate Realities
The first line ends in a colon. The second line can be longer or shorter than the first, but typically mirrors the pattern of generalization: key specifics. The reason for writing a two-part title is twofold: 1) you are able to preview your special approach to an issue or subject that has been or might be approached differently by others; and 2) if you don’t get it right in the first part, you might get it right in the second.