When Is Your Title Right?
How can you know when your title is right? The acronym “ACE” will help you create a memorable title.
“A” is for accurate. The title must truthfully reveal the focus of the article and also fit its tone. You wouldn’t put “Buffalo Bob Bites Bullet” on a serious crime story any more than the President would turn up for a televised press conference in a sweat suit.
“C” is for concise. Five to seven words are a typically good length. Active verbs, specific nouns, and bright adjectives help tighten the message.
“E” is for eye-catching. You have just a few words to convince your readers you can provide what they want. So you appeal to their felt needs, whether that is for information, inspiration, consternation, or confirmation. One study showed the use of pronouns (“you,” “I,” “they”) and the “how-to” approach made for stronger titles.
Put a lot of thought in a title before sending your manuscript to an editor. The first person you need to impress is at the publishing house, so they will publish your article or book.
The title of your article or book is as important as its beginning. The title is what you use to hook the readers, so it must be eye-catching. Many readers buy a book on impulse by looking at the title. Many readers buy a magazine because an article title piqued their interest. Some readers thumb through a magazine or browse a website, checking titles and reading only the articles for which the title grabbed their attention.
Titles need to be accurate. They should express specifically what will follow in the article. Readers don’t want to feel cheated because they thought they were getting something totally different than what your article or book delivered. If your subject matter is serious, also make your title serious. 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 your readers. Also try to draw in readers, so they feel actively involved in your article or book. They need to feel there is something in it for them. All Cracked Up: Experiencing God in the Broken Places is a good example.