The American Psychological Association (APA) format for a research paper mainly consists of four sections: the title page, abstract, main body, and references. Most of the time, the researchers are busy writing the main text of the paper, overlooking the importance of choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper.

Little importance is given to the title and abstract in a paper while the keywords are almost ignored and written in a hurry at last. This is a dangerous thing to do as these three—the title, abstract, and keywords—are essential for publication success.

Choosing Effective Title and Keywords: Why is it Important?

Choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper is extremely crucial in helping someone find your research. Without these, most papers will not be read or found by readers. This is because most search engines, websites or databases use the words found in the title, abstract, and keywords to display the paper when someone searches with a keyword. Thus, the title of the paper, keywords and the abstract decide whether the paper will be found and cited by another researcher or reader.

In most cases, the title and abstract are freely available in the internet. Therefore, the title and abstract determine whether the reader will continue to read the paper and want to buy it.

Choosing an Effective Title

A good title should be around 10-12 words and should only use words and phrases which correctly highlight the content of the research paper. An effective title will help search engines to categorize and rank the paper for better viewership.

While writing the title, it is necessary to search for those keywords that properly describe the paper. The title should be self explanatory, correct and comprehensible. The title in an APA format research paper is center aligned at the top of the page and is not bold, italicized or underlined.

After the title, the author(s) name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) as well as the corresponding author and contact details are presented.

Some Steps Towards Writing an Effective Title in APA Format Research Paper

  • Choose vital keywords from the paper.
  • Then frame a sentence with those keywords.
  • Delete unnecessary words and rephrase if needed to form a meaningful sentence.

Choosing Effective Keywords in APA Format Research Paper

Keywords are written after the abstract in an APA paper in a particular format. Around 5-6 keywords should be listed (the number might vary according to journal specifications). They are written after an indent, as if starting a new paragraph. The word ‘Keywords’ is italicized, followed by a colon mark, and is left aligned. The keywords are written in lower case with a comma separating each key word. There is no full stop after the last keyword.

While writing keywords, you must think what words you could have given while searching for your own paper.

Therefore, for better exposure and publication chances, care must be taken while choosing effective title and keywords in an APA format research paper.


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    Do you think all title should be formatted correctly? I do.

    June 5, 2013
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