Washington Post November 29 issue reports Pope Francis has been encouraging Vatican’s charity activity under the headline: Pope ramps up charity office to be near poor, sick. It begins with the following sentence:

“Pope Francis has ramped up the Vatican’s charity work, sending his chief alms-giver and a contingent of Swiss guards onto the streets of Rome at night to do what he usually can’t do: comfort the poor and the homeless.”


Is it common to spare “the” or “people” in front, or after “poor” and “sick” like this in journalism English? To me you can not save much space by sparing 'the,' and ‘to be near poor, sick” sounds like “feel like being poor and sick.

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    It's "headline English", using a minimum of words (especially function words) so what's left can be set in larger type – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 2 '13 at 0:43
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    What Stoney says: it is not used (and not acceptable) outside headlines. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Dec 2 '13 at 1:28
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    @StoneyB Headline or any English, this is unacceptable, when the meaning is not preserved anymore. Poor is not the same as the poor. And poor is not a noun. – Kris Dec 2 '13 at 6:13

Here are some relevant portions that might help from an educational article about writing headlines:


What is a headline?

A headline is an abstract sentence

Usually it is only five to ten words

It is a complete thought


Don't use the articles a, an and the. They waste space unnecessarily.

So while articles would be required in written or spoken English, headlines are specifically an exception to the rule.

| improve this answer | |
  • "Don't use the articles a, an and the." Only so long as add nothing to the meaning, or not change the meaning. – Kris Dec 2 '13 at 6:14

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