Mistake 49: Choosing Bad Titles

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70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Novice writers often create titles that won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t read through the piece. First and foremost, the title should invite the reader into the book, article, or essay.

The solution:
Titles should do at least one of the following two things: They should give the reader a very good idea what the book or piece is about. And/or they should intrigue the reader by juxtaposing two things that don’t belong together. For nonfiction, titles consist of two parts. The enticing title and the subtitle that clearly tells the reader what the book is about. The best thing to do is go to the bookstore and study titles. Look in the section of the bookstore where your book will be racked when it is published.

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For magazine articles, do some research into your target publications. How do they title their features and columns? Do they use numbers? Is the benefit to the reader clear? Title your work accordingly.