The title is critically important because it is the very first thing that a reviewer or reader will see. It’s your chance at a great first impression. The title is also what is generally used to decide what review or study group will have the opportunity to score your application. For these two reasons alone, much attention must be paid to creating an informative and exciting title.

  • The title should emphasize the product of the research, the payoff you expect to give the agency at the conclusion of the project.
  • Do not use generic titles that could describe any number of projects in your field.
  • Do not have the future in mind when you write your title.
    • This does not apply to future grant applications or research. This is the current, fresh off the copier, warm in your hands, still smells like the copy paper box, grant application that is going in to the reviewers this week. What are you going to call the project this specific stack of papers encompasses?
  • Renewal applications sometimes have a different title than the original grant proposal.
  • The title should immediately convey the mission-relevant payoff from the research.
    • Reread your objective statements and the description of your expected contribution from the significance section of your research strategy, you may find a topic sentence in those paragraphs that will immediately work as a title.
  • The title should also convey that your project is novel and exciting.
  • Titles are usually restricted to 200 characters and spaces including punctuation.
  • Brainstorm:
    • Create a list of words and phrases that contain important information, significance, or uniqueness.
    • Pay attention to what you have highlighted or bolded in your application.
    • Are any of the words or phrases on your list buzzwords or have standard abbreviations/acronyms that are widely understood?
    • Arrange the words or phrases into combinations that do not exceed the 200 characters.
    • Create as many titles as you can in an hour, then reduce the number to the “Top Ten.”
    • Show the list of titles to all of your colleagues, those related to your field, non-academics, and neighbors for their opinion. Ask them to pick the most informative and exciting title.
    • Refine the final potential titles list down to three possibilities and ask your team which one stands out clearly above the others.
  •  Your title should be succinct and compelling, and convey what the payoff of this research project will be.