OnePageCloser to… Punctuating Your Titles

The ampersand otherwise known as (&) has made it’s rounds in book paragraphs and thanks to twitter the at sign (@) is making’s it’s way to internet fame. Now seems to be the age of punctuation. Even with all this use of punctuation, there is one place where punctuation can be used and almost never is… the book title. (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish being the exception).

Yet another way Dr. Seuss was ahead of his time.

Yet another way Dr. Seuss was ahead of his time.

It’s a given that writers want a unique and wonderful way to introduce their characters to the world, but why not let the reader judge your book by it’s cover a little bit. Enhance that title with a dash of grammatical personality. Below I have some suggestions of punctuation, standard and non-standard for the really adventurous, which can easily be incorporated into the title of any upcoming book releases.




As seen on: Twitter and telephone keypads

Since the hashtag and the internet are best friends, putting a hashtag into a novel title almost instantly creates a tie to the millennial audience. Readers will call to mind social media instantly with the inclusion of a hashtag in the title. This kind of punctuation works well on tech books, young adult fiction, and books that want to link themselves into the current cultural landscape.

Book Title Suggestions:

mat copy

Even though it’s a movie and not a book I think #Matrix would work well together. #Business works for a book about internet business. For those who love all things involving internet irony #Hashtag would serve as a perfect title. Lastly, if you want to remix a classic and you are currently writing a book about improprieties in a chat room #Lolita cuts straight to the point.





As seen on: Math problems

This choice is a bit odd, but it is an easy fit into book titles because the ÷ sign already represents a word. Instead of using the word divide, the symbol can shimmy right into its place. Since the idea of numbers is tied into the concept of division, readers will make a connection that steps completely away from the terror of classroom pop quizzes.

Book Title Suggestions:

I mean you already have the infinity sign. Perfect fit.

I mean you already have the infinity sign. Perfect fit.

Any place where divide is used, pop in an obelus. ÷ and Conquer , Beyond the ÷, Deep ÷, and if you’re writing a book about a man who wants to steal his friend’s girl ÷ for the Sake of Multiplying would make an amazing title.



Scare Quotes

“” but not really

As seen on: Surly know-it-all teenagers and surly know-it-all adults

Scare quotes are placed around words to imply that the contents may not mean its apparent meaning. While they look like quotation marks, usually you can tell the difference because scare quotes reek of skepticism. These work perfect for getting readers to question a character right away. For example, if you title your book The “Gentleman”, readers question if the male character is really a gentleman. Boom! Then you hit them with the misdirect. So many layers.

Book Title Suggestions:

Any great books. The “Great” Gatsby, several moments during Fitzgerald’s masterpiece make you question just how great Jay Gatsby is. Also, All “Quiet” on the Western Front by Remarque comes to mind because absolutes in titles almost never stay absolute throughout the novel.




As seen on:

I like to call ellipses drama dots. One main use for ellipses is indicating a pause in a sentence. These three little dots insert so much life and intrigue into your title. If you’re writing a murder mystery this is almost the dum dum dum sound going off in readers minds.

Book Title Suggestions:

Ellipses add some more depth to Agatha Christe’s novel …And Then There Were None making it seem like something important has happened that the reader doesn’t know about yet. While this punctuation also works  with Kazuo Ishiguro When We Were Orphans… giving the impression of something to come.

 mat3 copyBut who does it toll for?



Now for the extra adventurous:



As seen on: Nothing almost no one uses this…yet

The interobang showcases excited questions. That shocked WHAT you yell out when someone tells you something shocking deserves an interrobang not a question mark or exclamation point (you can use any or all of the three this is a grey area).

Book Title Suggestions:

She’s Pregnant ‽ or She’s “Pregnant” ‽  if you’ve paid attention to the earlier part of this list.  







As seen on: Boring lists and not so boring lists

The bullet is used for listing points. I think if you have three or more objects in your title bullets can be a different twist than using the reliable comma.

Book Title Suggestions:

  • The Lion
  • The Witch
  • The Wardrobe

If you’re really a minimalist, the following title gets the point across:

  • Beginning
  • Middle
  • End

If you can think of any other books that need the punctuation treatment write them in the comments below.


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