Titles with Pizzazz

The title of your article or story is as important as its beginning. The title is what you use to hook the reader, so it must be eye-catching. Many readers buy a magazine because an article title piqued their interest. Some readers thumb through a magazine, checking titles and reading only the articles for which the title grabbed their attention. Likewise they surf the Internet, looking for titles that pique their interest.

Titles need to be accurate. They should express specifically what will follow in the article. The reader doesn’t want to feel cheated because he thought he was getting something totally different than what your article delivered. If your subject matter is serious, make your title serious, also. Example: “A Cry for Acceptance.” If your material is humorous, you can make the title funny, too. Example: “Turning Frogs into Princes.”

Titles are usually concise. A good rule is to keep your titles five to seven words. Use active verbs, specific nouns, and descriptive adjectives to grab the reader. Also try to draw in the reader, so he feels actively involved in your article. He needs to feel there is something in it for him. Stories for the Heart is a good example.

To create a good title, look for key phrases that seem to sum up the article. Watch for sentences that catch your eye as you read through—perhaps they will captivate your reader, too. I wrote an article about a man who escaped from Vietnam. He felt his escape was made possible by the providential hand of God, so I named the article, “The Providential Escape.”

Another way to catch the reader’s attention is by reversing words or by changing one word in a common saying to create your own saying. “Forget and Forgive” is a devotional I wrote on forgiveness. Using “Forgive and Forget” would be overuse of a tired cliché. “Take This Job and Love It” is another example of a good play on words.

If you are writing a mystery, use words that show intrigue. Anonymous Tip and Final Witness are book titles that do this well. The reader wonders, Who will be the final witness? Be careful, however, not to tell too much in the title. “John Overcomes Cancer to Win the Race” probably doesn’t leave much for the reader to learn from reading the story.

Titles should be easy to pronounce and yet have pizzazz. The more memorable your title, the more apt your article is to be read and remembered. Experiencing God is an excellent example that is simple, memorable, and meet’s the reader’s needs.

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