Stunning Title

What did you think of my amazing title? Did it capture your attention, draw you in like student to extra credit in the last week of class? Titles are important. Yes, your teacher probably won’t grade your title. Yes, your teacher has to read your paper regardless of how unattractive and dull your title may be.

Still, after spending all those hours over your assignment till it shines like the literary gem it is (or that you hope it is), it’s a shame to finish it off with a boring name. It would be as if Vincent Van Gogh, after painting Starry Night, decided to call it Oil Painting of a Town in the Dark Using Lots of Blue Pigment and Swirly Strokes.

Now while a great title will not save your grade if your paper is awful, a good title does start your paper strong. You’ve all heard how first impressions are important. Well, your title makes the first impression on the reader. If your title is mediocre but the introduction is brilliant, you can still recover from that initial lapse, but wouldn’t it be so much better if your reader was impressed from the very beginning?

So the next time you’re about to turn in that writing assignment you finished in the wee hours of the morning, take a moment and look at the top. What’s the title? What is the first thing your teacher will read when they start to grade your paper, the thirteenth such they’ve looked at that day? Is it ordinary and banal like “Aural Influences of the Late Eighteenth Century,” a name that says, “Come read me, all insomniacs”? Or does it have flare like, “Classical Music: Tunes Written by Dead Guys”? Which would you want to read?

What’s the Word Frequency Value?

Students frequently make the mistake of using the same word frequently in their paper which frequently makes the writing sound rough. Did that sentence sound bad? As you’ve probably guessed, it’s because I used the same word three times in a single sentence.

This problem relates to a concept I call word frequency. Every word has a frequency with which it can be used in a given length of time. If you use it more often than that, a signal goes to your reader’s brain that says, “Hey, I just read this word one line ago.” This causes your reader to start thinking about your writing when they should be thinking about the amazing insight of your message.

While few students violate this rule to the extent of the opening sentence of this post, it’s not uncommon to see essays with sentences like, “I had a great week last week.” Although this sentence is grammatically correct, it sounds clunky because it uses the word “week” twice within a three-word space. A better wording would be, “Last week was great.” Now, you’re only using “week” once, and you’ve reduced the sentence by almost half.

So now, you understand the word frequency rule and can be sure never to violate this rule again. Better yet, you can read through articles about this rule and laugh at the author when they repeat the same word three times in their concluding paragraph.