Titles: Impossible and Important

This post was written for VIU’s 5X5X25 Challenge.

VIU’s Registration Centre produces a brochure every semester that outlines various deadlines and guidelines pertinent to students attending classes.  This brochure goes through several drafts and revisions by members of the Registration Centre before it is sent to Marketing, Advertising and Design  to be produced and printed.  Normally, I am not a part of the creation of this brochure but due to staffing issues at the time of production, I was asked to take part in the meetings, make the necessary changes to the drafts, and bring them back for further review.  One change that is made with every new publication is the title of the brochure.

Now, as any writer knows, it can be incredibly difficult to come up with a title that is both clever and informative.  Titles should be succinct but provide enough information about the subject at hand.  Titles should be eye-catching and look interesting enough for someone to pick up the book, essay, brochure, and say, “Gee, I really want to read this.”  For a writer or editor, this can create a lot of pressure.

As it turned out, after several drafts, no one had been able to come up with a good title for this brochure.  Previous incarnations of the brochure were called “A Helpful Brochure,” “This is Actually Pretty Useful,” and, my personal favourite, “This Will Be On The Test,” featuring a chalkboard-green cover with yellow lettering that looked like chalk lines.  These were titles that were proving to be hard to beat.  Suggestions from other members of the team ranged from uninspired to frightening, none of them appropriate or interesting enough for this certain audience.

In an attempt to just hurry the process along, I entered the following suggestions into the header, playing on the popularity of hashtag statements in social media: “#readthisbrochure” and “#viurocks” I highlighted the titles several times and make several notes to the team that these hashtags were just a placeholder until we came up with something else to print.  I had every faith in my coworkers that we would, indeed, come up with something else to print.

As luck would have it, I was soon removed from the remainder of the revision process as I had other responsibilities that required my attention.  The semester carried on and I was vaguely aware that at some point the publication had been completed and been printed.  As usual, we had hundreds and hundreds of these brochures printed for distribution.

It wasn’t until weeks later that there came a situation in which I needed to refer to the new brochure.  I hunted one down in the Registration Centre and stopped short at the sight of the title in heavy bold font on the shiny paper.

#readthisbrochure #viurocks

“This was supposed to be replaced with the real title,” I lamented good-naturedly to anyone who would listen.   “I put this in as a joke!”

From that time, I made sure to follow any project I was involved in right through to the very end #youknow #justincase


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