How to write a strong title

The first thing the reader sees is the title. If it sparks curiosity, they’ll continue to read the manuscript.

The catchy title

A snappy title is the best trick to attract attention, especially for reviews. The primary topic of your work should be reflected in the title. An article titled Depression During Pregnancy and Postpartum sets expectations well. Conversely, Discovering the Truth Beyond the Truth is vague and necessitates reading the abstract-many potential readers won’t bother.

Mention the area of research, the hypothesis and/or the major finding. Including the methodology could also catch people’s interest. Palliative Medicine editor and Lancaster University professor Catherine Walshe proposes that the ideal title should include all of these elements. In practice, it can be difficult to find a compromise between a detailed description of your work, a catchy title and complying with the recommended character limit.

Useful tips

  • Be concise (e.g. replace “in an attempt to” with “to”); omit unnecessary adjectives (e.g. “robust expansion of cells”).
  • Active voice is preferable over passive voice.
  • Avoid using uncommon abbreviations in the title-leave them for the main article.
  • A catchy title should be short, preferably one line.
  • Titles that end with a question mark can be catchier (e.g. Opioid Receptors: Drivers to Addiction?).
  • A colon is useful as long as it’s not followed by a long list. A good example: Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Women: How Promising Is the Use of Probiotics?
  • A common figure of speech can engage readers (e.g. Finding the Safe Place Between the Hammer and the Anvil: Sounding the Depth of Therapeutic Immunosuppression). It shouldn’t be too obscure.
  • Include keywords to enhance searchability.
  • The mechanism of action (e.g. apoptosis via DNA damage) or the study type (e.g. RCA) can be mentioned.

Final thoughts

Your title has to be catchy while conforming to the publisher’s style guide requirements. Seeking your peers’ views on the title and manuscript can be very helpful-they may suggest improvements or rephrasing.

Originally published at




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Stgilesmedical London & Berlin

We are a medical writing, research and health education company motivated to advance all aspects of healthcare.

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