Titles, Abstracts & Keywords

The title of your manuscript is usually the first introduction readers (and reviewers) have to your work. Therefore, you must select a title that grabs attention, accurately describes the contents of your manuscript, and makes people want to read further.

Additionally, Most people rely on electronic search engines to find articles. Usually they search through databases that contain only the title, author list, and abstract of articles, excluding any keywords attached to the article by its authors. It is therefore important to include in the title and/or abstract the words that potential readers of the article are likely to use during a search.

An effective title should:

  • Convey the main topics of the study
  • Highlight the importance of the research
  • Be concise
  • Attract readers

Writing a good title for your manuscript can be challenging. First, list the topics covered by the manuscript. Try to put all of the topics together in the title using as few words as possible. A title that is too long will seem clumsy, annoy readers, and probably not meet journal requirements.


  • “Does Vaccinating Children and Adolescents with Inactivated Influenza Virus Inhibit the Spread of Influenza in Unimmunized Residents of Rural Communities?”
    • This title has too many unnecessary words.
  • “Influenza Vaccination of Children: A Randomized Trial”
    • This title doesn’t give enough information about what makes the manuscript interesting.
  • “Effect of Child Influenza Vaccination on Infection Rates in Rural Communities: A Randomized Trial”
    • This is an effective title. It is short, easy to understand, and conveys the important aspects of the research.

Think about why your research will be of interest to other researchers. This should be related to the reason you decided to study the topic. If your title makes this clear, it will likely attract more readers to your manuscript.


Selecting the most important information

The abstract must outline the most important aspects of the study while providing only a limited amount of detail on its background, methodology and results. Authors need to critically assess the different aspects of the manuscript and choose those that are sufficiently important to deserve inclusion in the abstract.

Once the abstract is ready it can be helpful to ask a colleague who is not involved in the research to go through it to ensure that the descriptions are clear. After you have drafted the manuscript, you should go back to the abstract to check that it agrees with the contents of the final manuscript.

Abstracts should have a structured format, serving several purposes: it helps authors summarize the different aspects of their work; it makes the abstract more immediately clear; and it helps peer reviewers and readers assess the contents of the manuscript.

The abstract structure varies between journals and between types of articles. Authors should check that the abstract of their manuscript is consistent with the requirements of the article type and journal to which the manuscript will be submitted. 


Keywords are a tool to help indexers and search engines find relevant papers. If database search engines can find your journal manuscript, readers will be able to find it too. This will increase the number of people reading your manuscript, and likely lead to more citations.

However, to be effective, keywords must be chosen carefully. They should:

  • Represent the content of your manuscript
  • Be specific to your field or sub-field


  • Manuscript title: Direct observation of nonlinear optics in an isolated carbon nanotube
    • Poor keywords: molecule, optics, lasers, energy lifetime
    • Better keywords: single-molecule interaction, Kerr effect, carbon nanotubes, energy level structure
  • Manuscript title: Region-specific neuronal degeneration after okadaic acid administration
    • Poor keywords: neuron, brain, OA (an abbreviation), regional-specific neuronal degeneration, signaling
    • Better keywords: neurodegenerative diseases; CA1 region, hippocampal; okadaic acid; neurotoxins; MAP kinase signaling system; cell death
  • Manuscript title: Increases in levels of sediment transport at former glacial-interglacial transitions
    • Poor keywords: climate change, erosion, plant effects
    • Better keywords: quaternary climate change, soil erosion, bioturbation

Next: Introduction, Methods & Materials

For further support

We hope that with this tutorial you have a clearer idea of how the publication process works and feel confident in responding to editor and reviewers. Good luck with publishing your work!

If you feel that you would like some further support with writing your paper and understanding the peer review process, Springer Nature offer some services which may be of help.

  • Nature Research Editing Service offers high quality  English language and scientific editing. During language editing, Editors will improve the English in your manuscript to ensure the meaning is clear and identify problems that require your review. With Scientific Editing experienced development editors will improve the scientific presentation of your research in your manuscript and cover letter, if supplied. They will also provide you with a report containing feedback on the most important issues identified during the edit, as well as journal recommendations.
  • Our affiliates American Journal Experts also provide English language editing* as well as other author services that may support you in preparing your manuscript.
  • We provide both online and face-to-face training for researchers on all aspects of the manuscript writing process.

* Please note, using an editing service is neither a requirement nor a guarantee of acceptance for publication.