Titles that Engage

Are you interested in maximizing reader engagement? Drawing folks in to see your map? If so, focusing a bit of effort on the title you give that map is essential. (Note that some people aren’t exactly interested in doing anything except telling it like it is in the title. You’ll just have to use your judgement given your audience and your aspirations for your map).

I’ve just been browsing through the Esri Map Book Online Volume 26. The map titles that are most likely to quickly get a map reader’s attention are:

OS Vector Mapping — Your Way
Terror in Afghanistan
GIS Bathymetry Analysis Helps Protect Threatened Ramsar Wetland Site
Thinking Outside the Blocks — Exploring Alternatives to Traditional Neighborhood Design
Footprint of a City
What Can One Do with Geoinformation and GIS? Plan Windmills from Behind the Desk!

Most of the other titles in the collection are descriptive only. I know that some people prefer them that way. But if you are at all interested in gaining the most map readers possible, you’ll want to put some thought into creating an engaging title instead. Or, if you aren’t comfortable with a 100% catchy title, you can compromise and create what I think of as a double title: start with the descriptive bit, then hook the map reader with the engaging bit (much as in the first example on this list). Sure, not every map title needs to read like a small-town newspaper headline, but surely you can give it just a bit of zip to stand out.

Here’s a good example of combining a serious component with an engaging component: Toward a Multipurpose Regional Environmental Network. No one could argue against the seriousness of the content of this map. But at the same time, we can tell that the title was constructed in such a way as to draw us in. The reason? Using a verb/adjective at the beginning makes it much less dull than if “Toward a” were removed.

By the way, what’s the title in this collection that is the least likely to get someone to stand and gaze at your map? “City of El Cajon Sewer System Atlas.” *

*Hey, I have a right to joke about this. Much of my recent work has involved analyzing and mapping sewer areas and other wastewater infrastructure.

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