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Questions about the compressed style of English commonly employed in newspaper headlines.

Headline English is a highly elliptical register of English particular to newspaper headlines, whence its name.

Some of its charactersitics include

  • Omission of determiners, especially articles and possessive pronouns
  • Omission of all forms of the verb to be, whether serving as auxiliary or copula
  • Preference for the simple present tense; use of the infinitive to indicate future conditions
  • Indication of quotation with punctuation instead of verbs of speech.
  • Replacement of the conjunction and with a comma or semicolon
  • Heavy stacking of noun adjuncts instead of adjectives
  • A preference for short, colorful words
  • Intertextuality, such as referencing titles or tropes in popular culture

The origin of the academic study of headlines is credited to Heinrich Straumann and his 1935 Newspaper Headlines: A Study of Linguistic Method. Straumann used the term block language to refer to the highly compressed style characteristic not only of newspaper headlines (headlinese), but also of telegrams (telegramese), diaries, notices, and classified advertising. The style persists today not only in news publications but in media such as cookbooks and SMS text messages.

The purpose of telegraphic style is covered in the question Why do newspaper headlines use strange syntax rules?. Additional questions with this tag may relate to the conventions of the style, historical changes, contrasting grammatical and typographical considerations, or analyzing ambiguity in phenomena such as crash blossoms.

What is or is not acceptable in a headline is largely a matter of style, and questions that ask whether or not a particular construction is "correct" are likely to be closed as opinion-based or general reference unless they clearly identify a point of grammar or usage that cannot be deduced from commonly available references.

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