Do I Need Chapter Titles?

When you first open a book, you more often than naught find a Chapter List shoved in between the pages before the first official page. The list of chapter names gives you an idea of what is going to happen within the book. Some people prefer this; some people believe it isn’t necessary since the summary on the rear cover should sell it. It honestly depends on what the author wants to do. Here are some of the pros and cons to help you decide for yourself.

Pros

  1. Your reader has an idea of what to expect for the book.
  2. Your book looks organized and professional on first glance.
  3. Some readers memorize the last place they’ve read by chapter number or chapter name. By listing it in the front of the book, the user can skim through the list to find the exact page number with ease.
  4. It’s normally expected. For book clubs, it makes it easier to keep track of where everyone’s progress should be after a certain amount of time. They will not thumb through a book to guesstimate this information for themselves.

Cons

  1. You thought naming the book itself was difficult. Now you have to name each and every chapter without giving away the entire story!
  2. Your reader knows too much about what happens in the book.
  3. You have yet another extra page between the cover and the first official page for the reader to begin the book. Being an extra page, it gets overlooked by some of the average readers who just want to begin reading.
  4. Extra pages also add extra costs to your book overall.

If these aren’t enough to convince you to sway either way, here is another brief article on the topic. Let me know your opinions in the comments!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Do I Need Chapter Titles?

  1. I don’t think a chapter listing at the beginning of the book is necessary. And now that I think about it, I rarely see a chapter listing page in recently published books… but a number of older books do. So I think that particular aspect of chapter-titling may have fallen out of fashion.

    Chapter titles themselves, though… I think it depends on the author or the individual story. I agree that some chapter titles hint at what happens during each chapter. But authors like Patrick Rothfuss, Laini Taylor, and Erin Morgenstern have done a wonderful job of titling chapters in a way that hints at something important but without being spoiler-ish. Maybe it’s an important phrase that stands out in the dialogue or exposition, or an abstract or “heightened vocabulary” word that summarizes the “big picture” of that chapter and fits the writing style of the story. In those cases, chapter titles are almost an additional aesthetic quality to the book that can make you love it more.

    In my own experience, my previous WIP didn’t have chapter titles, since I didn’t see the need to have them. But with my current WIP, which is more literary in style, I decided, “Why not title them?” So it could also depend on whether chapter titles seem to “fit” the overall ambiance of the story.

    1. I agree, it’s really the author’s preference. In my opinion, it looks much cleaner when using “Chapter One” or even just an elaborate font number to indicate it when doing the overall formatting. As for a Chapter List, for e-books with the hyperlinks, it’s really nice as sometimes my Kindle apps don’t link up. For the paperback, unless it’s an anthology or a collection, there isn’t much use for it in my mind.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s