"Titles distinguish mediocre, embarrass superior and are disgraced by inferior."
George Bernard Shaw
It may seem trivial to tell you to choose a good title for your next written work, but importance of this task should not be underestimated. A good title may be difference between a reader choosing to look at your work or passing over it.
Many readers will learn of your work while surrounded by other documents that are competing for their attention. For example, they may see it while:
* scanning printed documents on a bookshelf;
* looking through titles in a printed index;
* looking at a bound collection of documents; or
* searching Internet.
A good title can help your work to stand out from crowd. Here then are some guidelines for choosing a good title.
TITLE GUIDELINE ONE
USE THE FEWEST NUMBER OF WORDS THAT EXPRESS WHAT YOU WISH TO SAY
When choosing a title, avoid generic phrases like 'An investigation of...', 'A study into...' and 'Observations on...'. These are implied anyway and add little value.
Compare these two titles:
A study of effects of chaos as a source of complexity and diversity in evolutionary processes
Chaos as a source of complexity and diversity in evolution
The first title takes seventeen words, second one ten. The first one contains extra words that convey slightly more information (study, effects and processes) but at cost of making title notably longer and less memorable.
Here is another example:
A description of a variety of different tools for creating an interactive virtual-cinema environment
Tools for interactive virtual cinema
The first title clearly employs more words than are needed (fourteen versus five). It does contain more information, but at cost of being wordier, harder to remember and burying key words at end of sentence.
Indeed, in first title, key word virtual-cinema is thirteenth word in sentence, You have to read almost entire title before finding out what paper is about. This leads us to our next guideline ...