Jot down the main themes in your story or essay. The themes are the main subjects your paper deals with, such as love, relationships or politics. Themes can also be the message of your paper, such as the negative effects of war or dealing with the loss of a loved one. Summarize or describe the themes in a few short phrases or even single words.
Search for apt quotes. Often academic papers begin with a quote relevant to their theses, followed by a colon and a brief description of the paper, such as "'To be, or not to be': Philosophizing in 'Hamlet.'"
Pick a significant theme or motif from your text. Usually stories or narrative essays incorporate images or symbols meaningful to the main character or expressive of a central theme or idea. Including one of these in the title helps unify the story.
Craft the ideas you have accumulated into a title of anywhere from one to 10 words. Academic or research papers often follow the "Quote: Theme" format, while creative writing titles can be as short as one word. Effective academic essay titles succinctly summarize and leave no doubt as to the topic of the paper. Story titles, on the other hand, can be a little vaguer to peak reader interest.