© Ugur Akinci
Titles are sometimes also called “headings”, “headlines” or even “headers” (mostly by technical writers coming from a journalism background).
Subtitles are sometimes also referred to as “subheadings” or “subheaders.”
But a title is used only once in an article or a document: in the very beginning. That’s why an article, a book, or a document would have only one title.
Headings and subheadings, by contrast, are used to separate sections from one another and group similar procedural tasks for easier reading. That’s why a single article or document might have many headings and subheadings.
This is why it is wrong to assume that a title and a heading or subheading are interchangeable. They are not. They mean different things and they are used for different purposes.
A subtitle further explains and expands on the main idea expressed in the title. Usually a subtitle further defines the SCOPE and INTENDED AUDIENCE of the document.
“Technical Analysis: The Complete Resource for Financial Market Technicians”
- “Technical Analysis” is the TITLE, defining the main subject of the book.
- “The Complete Resource for Financial Market Technicians” is the SUBTITLE, defining the SCOPE (“The Complete Resource”) and INTENDED AUDIENCE (“Financial Market Technicians”) of the book.
Again, every article or document would have a single subtitle (if at all), coming right after the title and usually separated from the title by a colon (“:”). Technical articles or documents do not need to have a subtitle but it helps comprehension if they do have an appropriate subtitle.
Titles and subtitles do not terminate with a period (unless you are… The Wall Street Journal).
WSJ’s highly unusual period that follows the title.
Titles are usually written with a capitalization rule that does not apply to most other text.
Usually, every noun and verb in a title is capitalized: they are spelled with an uppercase first letter. However, try to resist the urge to capitalize every pronoun or article in a title.
FOR EXAMPLE: “How the West Was Won” would be a more appropriate title than “How the West was won”.
Most of the time it comes to a judgment call. Here are some real titles from The New York Times:
“A Push to Defuse Crisis Between Egypt and Israel” (The conjunctive “and” is not capitalized.)
“As Farmers’ Markets Go Mainstream, Some Fear a Glut” (The indefinite article “a” is not capitalized.)
“U.S. Scrambling to Ease Shortage of Vital Medicine” (“To” and “of” are not capitalized.)
Find the errors in the following titles:
“A Push to Defuse Crisis Between Egypt and Israel.”
“As farmers’ markets go mainstream, some fear a glut”