Essay Titles & Dissertation Title Page Help

(Updated on July 16, 2017 by Michelle Williams)

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A dissertation title requires considerable deliberation.  Every academic paper must have an interesting and informative title, and dissertations are no different.  Without exception, every dissertation should be clearly identified with a compelling, suggestive title that both informs prospective readers about the general topic of the document and incites reader interest.

Essay Titles & Dissertation Title Page HelpA dissertation title is different from a research paper title in that it must not only be indicative of the content of the text, but also assist researchers in locating the document.  Unlike research papers, which typically go unpublished unless transformed into journal articles, most dissertations are published via a dissertation and thesis database known as "UMI."  UMI gathers dissertations from most universities in the US and many universities from around the globe so that researchers can browse through the scholarship of doctoral candidates from around the world.  UMI requires that each dissertation in its database has a brief abstract that indicates what the document is about; it's through that abstract and the dissertation title that researchers determine if the thesis is one that's relevant to their search.  Therefore, dissertation titles should clearly indicate what the document's focus is so that researchers have a general idea about the content.  Not surprisingly, dissertations with clear titles get downloaded and read more often.  

In order to be both compelling and informative, dissertation titles often make use of a two-part structure: a primary title that cleverly names the work, and a sub-title that details what the thesis is truly about.  These two elements are frequently separated with a colon.  Therefore, a standard format for a dissertation title can be [compelling title]:[indicative sub-title].  Typically, the indicative sub-title will be considerably longer than the compelling title, as it must inform the reader of the content of the report, which may be quite complex.  Furthermore, the sub-title should strive to include words that reflect the type of document the thesis is (analysis, research study, etc.) and the primary object of its investigation.  For instance, if the dissertation were a literary analysis of Henry James' The Golden Bowl that focused primarily on symbolism in the novel, the sub-title would be something like "An Analysis of Symbolism in James' The Golden Bowl."  That way, if a researcher were seeking literary analyses focusing on symbolism, they would immediately know that the report in question was related to their search.  Other researchers who were simply interested in analyses of The Golden Bowl or discussions of work by Henry James would also know that such a dissertation is prime reading for them.

Making a dissertation title compelling is much less formulaic.  This will require the writer to think creatively to determine a catchy title that will attract prospective readers.  Sometimes, the best way to come up with such a title is to solicit feedback from other students and advisors in order to generate creative ideas.

Essay Title

For many learners, creating an essay title is one of the most difficult parts of the writing process.  An essay title introduces the reader to the topic and the nature.  Essay titles are also the first things that readers will see when the look at an essay.  Therefore, the report title should be well-written after thoughtful consideration into the topic.  

There are several steps that students should take as they try to find the perfect essay title.  First, learners should be sure that they understand the project requirements before they even begin the researching and writing process.  Often, the report title will come directly from the project requirements and instructions.  

For example, if a student needs to complete an essay on the ubiquitous of the Fibonacci sequence in nature, he/she should focus on nature and mathematic correlations as they relate to the specific Fibonacci sequence.  The title should reflect this specific project requirement, but it can only reflect this project requirement if the student has actually written a paper on the Fibonacci sequence in nature.  

Next, the student needs to do an adequate amount of data collection.  Often, learners will refine their topic even further into one sub-topic.  If a student does refine his/her assignment topic to a sub-topic, the title should reflect the sub-topic.  However, the student can only complete an appropriate title after he/she has performed his/her research.  

Because of all of the requirements involved with developing an essay title, many professors believe that students should only create the title after they have completed the document.  However, some professors also believe that students should create the title after they have completed an outline, but before they have completed the document.  These professors believe that the title will influence the direction and focus.  

Even though the report title may influence the direction and focus, learners shouldn't confuse the title with the thesis statement, which is a one-sentence assertion that provides the basis for the document and states the point of the research.  While the title provides the basis for the report, it doesn't necessarily provide any indication of the conclusion, like a thesis would.  

The essay title also appears first on the cover page.  However, the thesis appears in the introduction as the first or last sentence.  Therefore, the thesis is part of the integral body of the document, whereas the title only appears once on the cover page.

Thesis Title

The thesis title is a very important part of all thesis documents, as it introduces readers to the nature.  Many professors recommend that students create their theses titles only after they have completed writing their theses so that they can be sure that the title accurately reflects the content of the theses document.  Other professors recommend that students begin the entire thesis with the thesis title and use the title as a method of directing the content.

In order to understand the nature of the thesis title, it's important to understand what a thesis is, in general.  A thesis is a written work that a learner will create after researching a particular subject in depth.  Most students spend an entire semester working on their paper papers.  In some cases, such as in a graduate degree program, the thesis is the single document that may help a learner to graduate or that may require that a student stay in a particular course longer.  

Thesis titles are important because they rest on the homepage of every thesis and introduce the reader to the report's subject matter.  In many cases, thesis titles also have to be located on the top right corner of every page, just in case the reader loses the thesis binding and has to reassemble the thesis.  

Some professors require that thesis titles are descriptive.  In such a case, the thesis title may be many words or lines, including a main title as well as a sub-title.  Other professors merely want a simple thesis title that's easy to read.  Students can discuss thesis title options with their professors in advance before they work on their own thesis titles.  

Just like a report, thesis titles often have to be edited for accuracy and consistency.  In some cases, students may spend days trying to decide on just one thesis title.  In such a case, the student may want to conduct a survey to decide which thesis title best resonates with readers.  

While the thesis title describes the content, it isn't the same as the topic.  Of course, thesis titles may hint at the topic, but the topic is a broad idea or set of ideas about which the entire thesis will be written.  The thesis titles don't necessarily summarize the topic, but they incorporate the topic so that readers will know that the paper is related to the topic in some way.

Title Page for a Research Paper

Both MLA and APA styles require that students create a title page.  The title page for a research paper should contain basic information that enables a professor to quickly reference which student wrote the paper, what the document is about, and the course/class for which the paper was completed.

Many students follow a specific guideline when they create their research papers.  For example, they use the correct font, format, and section titles.  However, often the title page for a research paper gets overlooked when the student goes to format the report because the title page is usually the last thing that a learner will create.  Some professors don't mind when the title page isn't the same as the rest of the report in terms of the style.  However, other professors are very strict about it.  

For both MLA and APA style, the title page should be in size 12, Times New Roman font.  APA style is a little more relaxed, though, as students may choose to use size 10 font and any typeface that's similar to Times New Roman.  

In APA style, students need to include the page number (one) on the title page for a reference project.  The also need to include a short summary of the title of the report at the top of the title page for a reference project.  This short summary should be left-justified.  Beneath the summary, the student should include the title and his/her name in the center of the page about one third of the way down.  At the bottom of the page, the student should include the course and the date.  

In MLA style students need to center everything on the title pages for reports.  They should include the title and his/her name about one third of the way down the page.  Usually, students only need include the date of the report at the bottom of the page.  

The title pages for research papers are different from the first pages of research papers.  The first page of the project is usually where the student needs to have the introduction along with the first part of the body of the document.  Some professors only require a first page and not a title page.  However, if a professor doesn't specify, the student should always create a title page.

Title Page of a Term Paper

The title page of a term paper is the first page that a professor will see when a student hands in the document.  The title page for a report is also known as the "cover page," as it doesn't contain the introduction or body of the document.  Generally, title pages for term papers contain only the title of the report and the student's name.  

When a student has to complete a report, he/she will use a specific style in order to create the report in the format that the professor prefers.  The two most popular styles are MLA and APA style.  Even though the title page for a term paper doesn't fall within the body of the document, the student still needs to use these styles when creating the title pages for reports.

APA and MLA styles look very similar in the body of the text.  However, in the title page, they have very different formats.  For example, APA title pages for term papers have a brief summary of the title of the report (even if the title is only two words) as well as the page number for the title page (which will be "one").  However, MLA format is much simpler and only contains the title, author, and date of the document.  

APA and MLA title pages for term papers do have the same type of font, in most cases.  Both doormats require that students create the title page for a report and the body of the document in 12-point, Times New Roman font.  However, APA style may allow students to use size 10 and an equivalent typeface.  

The title page for a report is usually required by most professors.  However, if a professor doesn't want a title page, the learner will simply need to include the title of the report and the student's name on the first page of the document.  This first page may also contain the introduction and part of the body of the document.  When a professor doesn't specifically address the issue of the title page for a report, the student should include a title page by default.

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