Guide to Titles: Book Titles, Article Titles, and More

You’ve written something: A book, a blog post, an article, a listicle, some work of written art. And now you’re about ready for the world to read it, but one thing is missing: the perfect book title, article title, or novel title.

The Ultimate Guide to Book and Blog Post Titles

Your title will either grab your readers attention or be another phrase they glance over. It is the deciding factor of whether or not they read your work of art.

After running and working on various blogs and books over the last few years, I’ve learned a few things that grab readers’ attention. Here are my best tips to writing the perfect non-fiction book title, blog post title, or novel title.

How to Come Up With the Best Titles for Books and Blogs

Book titles and blog post titles are often very different. Depending on what genre you are titling, you’ll use different tactics. In this post, we’ll go through several

Non-Fiction Book Titles

When titling a non-fiction book, it’s best to be very clear about what your book is going to do for the reader. In non-fiction, we aim for simplicity and clarity.

Some of my favorite non-fiction book titles are: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and our own, Let’s Write a Short Story.

All of those bestselling books have titles that make it very clear what is inside their covers. They are upfront with what they plan to teach and offer you.

Novel Titles

With fiction, we’re allowed to have a little more fun.

Some of the best fiction titles are the ones that you don’t understand until the middle or end of the book, like Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies.

A fun exercise for fiction writers is to go to your local bookstore and walk through the fiction aisles. Pick out the books that seem interesting to you, write down those titles, and see what they have in common or ask yourself why you picked them.

Blog Post / Article Titles

I’m going to share one of my best-kept secrets for titling blog posts. It’s a hilarious website called, Portent Title Maker that generates funny and sometimes inspiring titles (check it out here.)

They’re not always the best titles, but they can get you thinking and give you a good laugh.

portenttitle

A few good things to remember when writing blog post titles are:

  • Numbers (e.g. 12 Tips to Make Better Sandwiches)
  • Buzzwords (e.g Currently including: confessions, open letter, and Taylor Swift)
  • “How To” (e.g Everyone Likes learning)

Blog post titles follow similar rules to non-fiction titles, but have the same creative freedom as fiction titles. When people are skimming the internet, they have the world at their fingertips, any piece of information is just a click away.

Blog post titles need to have clarity, but also enough creativity to set them apart from the hundreds of other blog posts on the internet.

The Most Important Question When Considering a Book Title

As I write this, I’m sitting at a bookstore, staring at a hundred books and their titles. Some of them I want to read more than others, but each book title connects with me in a different way.

Some titles connect to our sense of adventure, some to our past, and others to our dreams.

The most important question to ask is: How does my title connect to the reader?

As you are titling your most recent novel, blog post, or short story, ask yourself that question.

What have you titled recently? Let us know your thoughts on titles in the comments below.

PRACTICE

Choose three of your favorite fiction and non-fiction books. Pick one of each and try re-naming them! Let us know the before and after titles in the comments below. Remember to use some of the concepts from this post!

Happy titling!

About Kellie McGann

Kellie McGann is the author of the soon-to-be-released memoir, Undeserved Grace. Be sure to check out her blog, kelliemcgann.com, and follow her on Twitter (@McgannKellie). She contributes to The Write Practice every other Wednesday.

  • Beth

    ‘How domestic violence is making the world a better place’ – is what I got.
    Hmm, click again.

    ‘Why domestic violence is hotter than Jennifer Lawrence’

    ‘Save your marriage using only domestic violence’

    …….. I think, maybe not those titles.

    For a long time I wanted to call my novel ‘Unaware’; as basically the abusive character is so charming that nobody ever suspects he could possibly want to hurt anyone, and they are unaware of what he does to my main character when nobody is looking.
    But for the past few months I’ve really wanted to call it ‘The Beautiful Wallflower’, I’m not exactly sure why, but I just feel drawn to it.

    • JD

      From your post, I wonder if “The Wallflower” would be enough… the
      meaning is held in the one term where the power of the bloom is
      initially unrecognized, but then surprises with strength in a beautiful
      fragrance. The actual flower is a favourite in our gardens where they complement but are not showy relative to other flowers, yet coming close, the fragrances is simply wonderful.

      • J Arias

        I agree. I like The Wallflower – it’s more mysterious and open to interpretation.

        • Beth

          Thanks for your feedback.
          This is sort of the whole ‘less is more’ situation.
          🙂

    • Kellie McGann

      Yeah, portent is much better for funny titles. Domestic violence isn’t.
      I like the idea of the wallflower, sounds like it fits the description of the book well. Maybe you could add a description to the wallflower that alludes to the abuse. Like bruised or something?
      Sounds like an good story-line, let us know what you choose!

    • Euan Aird

      Although the subject matter was a bit sick and twisted, the very same idea of a conflicting theme never usually paired together is always interesting.

    • rosie

      Yeah, “The Beautiful Wallflower” sounds great! I think the other stuff (“Save your marriage using only domestic violence”) could sound too sensational and insensitive. It sounds like a great story that could change people’s lives: I’ve come in contact with abuse and abusive people, and there’s too much shame around the subject.
      Stories can change the way people see things, and writing a good, sensitive story about it could make all the difference.

  • J Arias

    I’ve been writing a trilogy for a while now. These are the current titles that I came up with on the fly. Open to suggestions and helpful feedback. 🙂
    Series title: Second Silence
    Book 1: Calling Crow
    Book 2: Burning Bright
    Book 3: Imperial Dawn

    Thank you! My personal favorite is Imperial Dawn, but it would be cool to see what others thought as well.

    • Kellie McGann

      Hmm, these are all really interesting. It’s hard to tell what the books are about exactly, but they do peak my interest.

  • I recently wrote a blog post but- since it’s really still a blog that’s just starting out- I worry if I titled my most recent post too long. Sorry if this comment is lacking in grammar but I just got up and have a lot to write right now.

    • Kellie McGann

      Heather, what was your title? I’ve been finding that longer post titles are becoming more accepted depending on their flow. And since you’re still starting, there’s no pressure to have the perfect titles. It’s fun to try out different ideas and see what works best for you!

      • The latest post title is.
        “David Tennant- People Who’ve Inspired Me”

        Apparently it’s been giving my FB fan page a big boost in reach- which I’m pleasantly surprised by (even if my page views are relatively low)

  • Lilian Gardner

    Original book title: Through the Narrow Gate.
    My title: The Wrong Choice

    Original book title: When the Lion Feeds

    My title: My Beloved Africa

    Original title: The Minaturist
    My title: An Extraordinary Gift

    Like you, Kelly, I’m looking at heaps of book titles on the shelves around me. I tried renaming the three original titles with mine, but I can’t match them at all.
    I’m still not satisfied with the title of my NaNo story. I know it will come to me as I edit, so I’ll wait for it to pop up.
    I am drawn to books by their titles and covers.
    It’s never easy for me to choose a ‘killer’ title, and so I play around with Lulu Titlescorer. It’s fun!
    Thanks for your post.
    Lilian

    • Kellie McGann

      Lillian, thanks for sharing your re-named titles. So fun!
      It’s funny how so often our titles just come to us when we least expect it.
      Looking forward to hearing what you come up with!

  • What I title most often are songs, and there is a whole different set of rules for titling those. I’ve titled an article, “When words failed me” on my blog, an article about an experience I had with an atheist on Facebook. My most complicated experience with titling was my novel. I went through four names in four years before finally settling for one: “Things Unseen”. I’ve spoken about my novel on here before, and it’s based on Hebrews 11:1, ” faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (But I thought changing it to “Things Unseen” was more captivating of a title)
    My friends have always kidded with me about my indecisiveness when it comes to naming my book, but to me, title is everything. I really agree with this article, and I’ll definitely reference it in the future!
    “Whatsoever ye do, do unto the glory of God”
    Reagan

    • Kellie McGann

      Reagan, sounds like you have lots of titling to do. I’m SUPER indecisive too and always struggle sticking with something. My books title has changed 3 or 4 times and I’m still not sure!
      Glad you liked the article!

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  • LaCresha Lawson

    Good to know! Thanks!

  • Sarah Bourgeois

    I have personally no problem with coming up with titles for my novels. They seem to just come to me and I write them down. Some of my book titles are as follows:

    1. Diana: Daughter of Darkness
    2. Saving Superman: Shadow of the City ( Book one in the Shadow Savior Series)
    3. Never Let Go: Letters To God
    All of these are copyrighted so no stealing!! lol

  • Kairu

    I heard from someone else that appropriating some famous and classical stories can work too. One example would be a story that I did on Wattpad using my friend’s advice was about a god-like spirit getting free. When most people think Gods, they think of either Judeo-Christian gods, or Mythical gods. But religious themed stories have been done to death, so that leaves the mythical god themed stories and what are the most famous mythical gods? The Greek Gods!
    Now there aren’t very many classical stories about gods, but there are some famous poems, like Prometheus Unbound by Mary Shelley, which pays homage to the man who stole fire from the Olympians.
    The story is a good pick too, because the title word is ‘Unbound’ which refers to when something is freed or unleashed. The story I made revolves around that, the spirit is called Vajra, so there was the title: Vajra Unbound! 😀

    • Kellie McGann

      Kairu,
      Sounds really interesting! I like the premise. That title is just simple enough so that the reader gets a good idea of the plot, but just mysterious enough to get them to pick the book up! Great job!

  • A very good article all round, but made extra-special by the link to ‘Portent Title Maker’ –– I could lose hours playing with that!! Thanks, Kellie 😉

  • Ai-tama

    The story I’m currently working on is one about a young Japanese-Greek girl living in Ancient Greece, and the hardships that arise from her differences. When I came up with it, I wanted her to be much more active than the women in Greek Mythology–which I’m a big fan of, because myths are fun–generally are and really have an impact on the world around her. Sure, Atlanta (or “Atalanta,” if you want to get technical) was a huntress-turned-Argonaut, and Ariadne helped Theseus through the Labyrinth–but their triumphs were overshadowed by the men in the stories. Heroines always played second-rate, bit parts in the myths, with a few exceptions.

    Clearly, ancient men wouldn’t want to hear stories of “dainty” women who kicked butt; they wanted to hear stories about handsome, burly men ripping apart monsters and getting all the girls. They certainly wouldn’t want to hear stories about a quarter-Japanese girl saving Greece (or the entire world).

    So I came up with a title that highlighted this: “The Heroine’s Lost Tales.” I think it suits my protagonist well. :3