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What are the rules for the use of articles before titles beginning with articles? Which of the following sentences is correct?

  1. I went to the The New York Times office this morning.
  2. I went to The New York Times office this morning.
  3. I went to the New York Times office this morning.
  4. I am reading a The New York Times article.
  5. I am reading a New York Times article.

Are "the The" and "a The" grammatical? If not, which is the article that should be dropped? Or is it simply a question of style?

According to Google, there are 90.3 million instances of "the The New York Times" on the Internet including 340,000 hits within the nytimes.com domain. I'm sure that there are plenty of false positives, but there are genuine cases too such as in the following sentence:

Writers from the The New York Times Dining section share Thanksgiving memories.

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2  
Can't let this one go without plugging one of my favorite bands, the The... youtube.com/watch?v=a1US5G9GMM8 –  MT_Head Feb 1 '13 at 6:09
    
For one thing, the choice of the example 'The New York Times' is not entirely suitable, it is more commonly referred without the article in its name, other than perhaps in very formal or legal writing. "I am reading a The New York Times article": I do not call it 'The New York Times' in this case, perhaps, not even 'New York'. "I am reading a Times article" in actual practice. –  Kris Feb 1 '13 at 6:22
    
@MT_Head: I'm with you on that one! I've always thought one of the reasons The The aren't as well-known as they should be is because they chose a name that isn't really compatible with computerised indexes (Google, music library searches, etc.). Lots of goodies on Infected, but This Is the Day on Soul Mining is my favourite (I always love a squeeze box!). –  FumbleFingers Feb 1 '13 at 17:34
    
@FumbleFingers - Matt Johnson lost me with "Naked Self" - I bought it the day it finally became available, but I don't think I've listened to it all the way through more than once - but what a glorious run it was while it lasted! Also, "Hanky Panky" turned me on to Hank Williams (Sr., NOT Jr.!), for which I remain grateful. –  MT_Head Feb 1 '13 at 19:18
1  
@MT_Head: I don't actually have Hanky Panky, but you're making me think I should. Per my somment, it'd probably be so awkward to search for a "bent" copy on P2P torrents that I might as well bite the bullet and go for a secondhand $0.58 copy. I just get irritated when the shipping costs are so much higher than the item price itself! –  FumbleFingers Feb 1 '13 at 19:39
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2 Answers

Anytime that the title of a publication has the definite article in it, then you can omit the use of a second one. For example, "Bob sent a letter to The New York Times office."

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From grammatical considerations, some thumb rules for convenience could be applied. However, the question is largely one of style and less about grammar.

Firstly, when the title begins with an article, it is not always necessary to cite the article of the title. 'The New York Times' is referred to as the 'New York Times' in practice.

I went to the The New York Times office this morning.

Secondly, when the title beginning article is the same as the article required before the title, it need not be repeated.

I went to the The New York Times office this morning.

Thumb rule (2) provides an alternative to (1) so you may chose between capitalizing the article and not.

In the case of different articles as in

I am reading a The New York Times article.

use thumb rule (1). Here the grammatical requirement of an article is more important.

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What's a 'thumb rule'? –  Mitch Feb 1 '13 at 12:59
    
@Mitch + 1 uptick: Why the doubt? What exactly is meant by that? –  Kris Feb 1 '13 at 15:30
    
I've just never heard the phrase 'thumb rule' before. It sounds like a funny kind of ruler whose measuring distance is in units of 'thumbs'. But Of course on rereading I think you are referring to 'rule of thumb'. I've never heard 'rule of thumb' transformed like you do to 'thumb rule'. A google search shows that it is rare, but does appear. It's just very unexpected. –  Mitch Feb 1 '13 at 18:10
    
@Mitch Hope there aren't many more things that "you've just never heard". You should use this excellent tool before offering comments: google.com (in the event you've just never heard of that one.) –  Kris Feb 2 '13 at 6:12
    
Closer home: stackoverflow.com/q/10612203 –  Kris Feb 2 '13 at 6:17
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