I want to give a presentation in which I want to use the title of famous books as some of the titles of my slides to add some taste to it. Am I allowed to use for example (Great Expectations) in the title of a slide regarding the copyright?

  • 4
    Titles aren't copyrighted. They may be trademarked, but usually aren't. Go for it.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 2:45
  • 1
    If you are still a student, I would probably stick to a more conservative approach, instead of using pompous titles in your slides.
    – Alexandros
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 11:18

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you want to use these titles to help build sort of a humorous narrative. From a legal and ethical perspective, this is totally fine: you're using only a few words and in a manner that is clearly referencing the original in a transformative manner.

From a practical perspective, however, I would generally advise against this sort of humor in presentations. The reason is twofold:

  1. This sort of "cute" idea is often distracting from the main narrative.
  2. Different people have different senses of humor, and this is especially true with the extremely diverse cultural range that you are likely to encounter in academia. Thus, jokes are likely to fall flat with some parts of your audience.

Still, some people can make it work, and if you're a student giving a relatively low-stakes presentation, you should feel free to experiment.


Legally there are no problems. In reality I have seen successful talks including good results, bad results and ugly results, or "Do you feel lucky, punk?". I have also seen such attempts fail pretty badly, especially when the speaker referred to the same joke over and over again.

One rule which I try to follow with jokes that you must always pretend that you did not make a joke or reference.

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