I am writing a paper for a conference, and I am a bit worried about correctness of the title that I chose. The title is "Energy Functions of X and their Existence Conditions" Where X is long scientific term.

The meaning that I want to convey is as following: We defined energy functions for X, and we also investigated existence conditions for those energy functions.

Does the title convey the same meaning, or is it ambiguous?

  • 1
    As a layman, that doesn't seem ambiguous to my ears! Am I missing out on some scientific background that would help me understand the ambiguity?
    – Sayan
    Jan 18, 2013 at 8:56
  • @KeyBrdBasher The X is plural, so I wonder if the following interpretation is possible: "Energy functions of X and energy functions of existence conditions of X"
    – Sunny88
    Jan 18, 2013 at 9:01
  • For heaven's sake, it's not possible to give concrete advice unless the question is concrete. Using "X", the sentence is fine. Using something else, it may not be (as you seem to think it isn't). What actually is "X"?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:49
  • True @jwpat7, Later I found out the error. Going to remove the erroneous comment.
    – Mistu4u
    Jan 18, 2013 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


As the title of a paper, “Energy Functions of X and their Existence Conditions” (where X is a long scientific term) indicates clearly and relatively unambiguously that the paper is about energy functions for X and existence conditions for those energy functions.

The title does not explicitly indicate that you defined energy functions or that you investigated their existence conditions. A title that did indicate all that might well be long, cumbersome, and pretentious in appearance, as well as not necessarily increasing interest in your paper.

You might also consider titles of forms like “X: Its Energy Functions and their Existence Conditions” or “X: A Study of its Energy Functions and their Existence Conditions”.

  • Is it better if I put comma between X and "and"? Like this: "Energy Functions of X, and their Existence Conditions".
    – Sunny88
    Jan 18, 2013 at 9:08
  • @Sunny88, it depends on X. A comma might be good if X is more than a handful of words. Try reading your title aloud. Where a pause is needed (or helps) put a comma Jan 18, 2013 at 9:15

It doesn't seem so, though it could be if your "X" contains a conjunction or something else to introduce ambiguity as to whether "Energy Functions of" applies to all of X as a noun phrase, or only part of it.

I would imagine that even if this is the case, it would still be reasonable, especially if the abstract immediately clarified the meaning.

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