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Ron Cooley, English Faculty

Good Title

How do I write a good title?

I would say you take your thesis statement, you make it slightly less assertive so that in a certain way the thesis statement becomes an answer to a question that the title might have raised. You have to condense it, make it even more brief and compact than your thesis statement is, and you have to squeeze in there some reference to the author or text that you're studying. So if it's a very concise thesis statement that is slightly less emphatic and mentions the text, then you're doing well. So if you're writing about John Donne's "The Flea," and the title of the essay might be the female voice in John Donne's "The Flea," the trick with that is there really isn't a female voice in the poem as such, the only speaker in the poem is male, and yet the woman in the poem still manages to assert her role, her independence, her will, and we hear about that through the comments of the male speaker in the poem Absolutely! If you think about a title that grows out of your thesis statement that is the most effective, and the title is therefore almost the last thing you write because you want to make sure that the thesis of the paper is really what you're arguing, and you haven't changed it along through your multiple drafts before you slap a title on it.