Singular and plural form in a section title

5

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This is a quick short question, but it hinders me every time when I write a section title. For example, if I want to use a single word 'question' as a section title, should I use it in a singular form ('question') or in a plural form ('questions')? I assume the same rule goes for every other case.

PS. The supposed 'question(s)' section will contain a number of questions.

Gwangmu Lee

Posted 2017-06-06T10:03:03.833

Reputation: 787

If you have more than onequestion then I do not understand why you think that you have to use the singular form for plural. Please, explain your doubt:) – Judicious Allure – 2017-06-06T10:16:51.573

Oh, I just had the doubt because I have heard that we don't use articles in section titles, such as 'Number of items' instead of 'The number of items', for the sake of simplicity. I thought this rule could go for the singular/plural form. :) – Gwangmu Lee – 2017-06-06T10:19:37.697

There is no "rule" that prevents the use of the articles in a chapter or section title. Titles should be descriptive; if there are multiple questions in a section, Questions (or Some Questions or The Questions) will serve perfectly well as a title. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica – 2017-06-14T00:35:35.143

Answers

1

For a form, the title of a section containing multiple questions will generally have this format:

→ Questions

→ Questions concerning/about [noun phrase]
e.g. Questions concerning duration of residence

→ [noun phrase] questions
e.g. Homeownership questions

In a book or academic paper, you might use a determiner and/or an adjective:

→ Some questions concerning/about [noun phrase]
e.g. Some questions about the status of pronouns

→ A few more difficult questions

This would be seen as somewhat more conversational and prosaic, rather than official and formulaic.

Note that a playful website might also have something along those more conversational lines:

→ A few quick questions about your background

Luke Sawczak

Posted 2017-06-06T10:03:03.833

Reputation: 5 832

1

If there is just one question, it is normal to just put a short form of the question in the section title.

If there is more than one question, Luke has three good suggestions:

  • Questions
  • <Topic> questions
  • Questions about <topic>

Some writing style guides suggest using "Sentence case" in section titles. Other writing style guides suggest using "Title Case" in section titles.

Jasper

Posted 2017-06-06T10:03:03.833

Reputation: 23 316

Some academic journals strongly discourage putting questions in section titles. Instead, they encourage putting brief answers in section titles. – Jasper – 2017-06-14T19:38:47.527

0

You can give the title whichever name you want, however, notice that depending on the name you give the reader will think different.

You can, for instance, give such a name:

  • Questions
  • The questions
  • A whole lot of questions
  • A number of questions
  • Certain questions
  • Many questions

Or some other way.

Edit:

  • A saucerful of questions
  • A pocketful of questions.

SovereignSun

Posted 2017-06-06T10:03:03.833

Reputation: 23 612

"A question and a question more" is ungrammatical today (it could mean "a question and another question" very archaically), and the rest of these are not suitable for a section title except "Questions". – Luke Sawczak – 2017-06-14T15:13:39.827

@LukeSawczak An author can give whichever name they want, it's for them to decide. There's no wrong or right. – SovereignSun – 2017-06-14T15:48:32.470

No argument here, but if a person's asking what people generally do and what would be expected in their own writing, I would rather cite standard usage. Of course you can fancifully title a section "Some things I've been wondering lately" (or your "saucerful" and "pocketful") or whatever else if the mood strikes you. :) That's why I tried to indicate the genre for the different wordings in my answer. – Luke Sawczak – 2017-06-14T15:53:48.730

@LukeSawczak By throwing such standards you corner the guy, yet, I agree, this is what most would do, however, it's okay not to be like others. – SovereignSun – 2017-06-14T16:27:33.927