How To Come Up With Outstanding And Original Essay Topics

Coming up with an outstanding and original essay topic can be one of the hardest parts of the assignment.  The first step is to make sure you understand what your teacher is asking for clearly.  If they haven’t assigned a specific paper topic, they may have provided some guidelines for what kinds of topics are acceptable.  Be sure to choose one that fits these guidelines.

Start with a broad topic

You’ll want to start with a broad topic then narrow it down to something specific.  Depending on what class the paper is for, a broad topic could be a person or historical event, or it could be a literary work or a scientific theory.  Once you’ve chosen a broad topic you’ll need to narrow it down. A big part of narrowing down a topic is asking a specific question about it.  This is also a key to an excellent paper topic—you don’t just want a list of facts, you want to offer some new insight into the topic.

Then ask yourself:

How available are sources on the topic?

It’s important to check this before you get too far into the paper.  If your essay requires sources, and there aren’t very many sources or very good sources available for the topic you’re thinking about, you may want to change to a different one.  You’ll end up spending way too much time searching for sources, not leaving yourself enough for the paper itself.

What is interesting about the topic?

Narrowing down on what you find most interesting about the topic will not only make writing the paper more enjoyable for you, it will probably make reading it more enjoyable for your teacher.  If there is a particular person involved or thing that happened, focus in on that. 

Have you ever wondered something about the topic?

If you’ve ever wondered something about the topic, like why a certain part of it happened or how it might have been different, these questions can lead to a great paper topic. Chances are if you’ve wondered them, so has someone else, so you may even be able to find sources to answer your question.

How does the topic relate to other relevant topics?

Comparing and contrasting your topic to other topics, or exploring how two topics relate, can make an excellent essay topic.  Sometimes these comparisons are obvious, like comparing two figures from the same historical events, but sometimes they are less obvious like comparing two figures from different centuries.

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