Penning Titles

*****Note: This was originally posted on 10/31/2010. I’m going to start repeating some of the earlier posts on occasion. The Colors For Maps booklet referred to in this post, is, of course, finished. You can find it and it’s companion ebook here. Those two ebooks are now part of a real-book as well. Link to that is to the right.*****

The titles of maps, presentations, and papers have many flaws.* Does anyone stop to think more than two seconds about the title of their work? Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. The major flaws in titles these days are twofold:

They don’t tell you about the work


They are boring

The problem with the first flaw is that you waste half your audience’s time because they thought they were going to look at, listen to, or read something different than what is actually being presented. Also, half the people who might have been interested are not paying attention because the title doesn’t tip off the subject matter adequately.

The second flaw is an aesthetic issue. A boring title does not necessarily guarantee a low audience count but a very interesting title, without a doubt, will increase the audience count. This is probably caused by the inordinately large number of instances of boring titles that audiences are bombarded with, making the audience somewhat immune to them but also thereby making the interesting ones stand out all the better.

A boring title is not necessarily bland. It might contain too much jargon or too many words, for example. A simple title that gets straight to the point is not necessarily boring. Some of my titles that I am particularly keen on include:

Remember, a good title leaves no doubt as to what the content is about. A great title hooks the audience. Have you heard any good titles lately?

*I know someone is going to think that papers in journals can’t possibly adhere to these guidelines. I really wish journal papers could have more interesting titles. Don’t you?

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