Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am writing a scientific paper and confused with choosing the correct form to use as the section title.

Which one is the correct one?

How it works

or

How does it work?

share|improve this question
add comment

3 Answers

Either of the two is okay; I would however recommend replacing "it" with the actual object under consideration if that is to be a section's title.

share|improve this answer
    
@JM, thanks for answering. Good answer! –  xport Dec 16 '10 at 2:41
add comment

As J. M. wrote, both are correct. However, using a complete sentence as a section heading (“How does it work?”) sounds more friendly/casual/informal than using a noun phrase (“How it works”) to me, and it may be good or bad depending on the style of your paper.

I also agree to J. M. that using “it” in a heading may not be the best choice.

share|improve this answer
    
"how does it work" sounds informal? Really? –  xport Dec 16 '10 at 2:40
    
Huh? Why the downvote? :o Anyway, I upvoted this. –  user730 Dec 16 '10 at 2:50
1  
"How it works" is certainly more formal, at least in my opinion. I would avoid using a question as a heading in formal writing. But then, this is a matter of preference. –  Jimi Oke Dec 16 '10 at 3:00
    
I don't know why I downvote this answer. OK. I upvote now :-) –  xport Dec 16 '10 at 3:00
1  
@Jimi: as always, a matter of ear. ;) FWIW, I've seen both forms in the scientific literature. –  user730 Dec 16 '10 at 3:41
add comment

It depends on the flow and the titles of the immediately previous sections. For example:

Introduction

The new cure for the disease[...]

How it was Discovered

It all started with some mold on a petri dish[...]

How it Works

Magic.

Versus:

Introduction

[...]

Why is this important?

[...]

How does it work?

[...]

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.