Scholarly essay titles often follow a very clear pattern. They should give the reader a good sense of what the scholarly paper’s substance is, and therefore are best settled upon near the end of the essay-writing process.
Study the examples of titles below:
  • Workers and the Wild: Conservation, Consumerism, and Labor in Oregon, 1910-30
  • Good Bye, Lenin! Free-Market Nostalgia for Socialist Consumerism
  • Buy Me a Date: Consumerization and Theories of Social Interaction in Online Dating Sites
  • Happiness or Living Hell? Consumerism and Home-making in American Suburban Narratives
  • The Poet in Society: Art, Consumerism, and Politics in Mallarme
Notice that all of these titles have:
  • A catchy “hook” that introduces the paper in a creative way
  • Specific keywords that identify the concepts the scholar will be exploring (in the examples above, “consumerism”)
  • The “location” where those keywords will be explored (this may be a period, place, text/s, or theory)
Also, notice the following grammar rules for titles:
  • They are generally made up of nouns and noun phrases, not sentences
  • The two parts are divided by a colon “:” (unless there is a question or exclamation mark at the end of the hook)
  • Lists take “and” before the final element
  • The first letter of all nouns is capital. However, prepositions (like “in”), conjunctions (like “and”) and articles (“a/an/the”) are not capitalised unless they begin a sentence.
Because scholarly essays often evaluate ideas, your title may also suggest the stance you will take. The following “action” words may be useful:
  • analysis (breaks a system into parts to see how it works)
  • evaluation (judges clearly how good/useful a position is)
  • exploration (looks at many possibilities to find the best)
  • discussion (evaluates two/three sides to an argument)
  • critique (mainly attacks the problems with a position)
For example:
  • Freedom and Consumerism: A Critique of Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociology