It''s quite common for academic papers and such to have a short title intended to catch the casual browsers's interest, followed by colon and a longer more explanatory alternative.

I know this is a lousy example (I couldn't easily find a better/shorter one), but even so I'm sure this Catchy Title : Longer version conveying more information about the work format is also used in fictional works.

Is there a standard name for that secondary title. It's not really an "alternative title". The only thing that comes to mind for me is byline, but I know that's not right either.

  • You may have been thinking of strapline when you wrote "byline."
    – user1579
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 0:36
  • @Rhodri: Yes! Thanks for that! I knew there was something akin to byline that I couldn't recall. Though I had a sneaking suspicion even if I could, it wasn't going to have exactly the meaning I wanted. I feel another question coming on now though... Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 0:45
  • Note: titling has taken a turn for the bizarre. Exhibit A: the Die Hard film series. #2 film was called simply Die Hard 2, and featured a by-line of "Die Harder" on the movie posters and most other promotions. Die Hard 3 was officially titled "Die Hard with a Vengeance", frequently with a colon in it, making "with a Vengeance" a by-line, but it had other by-lines as well. #'s 4 and 5 reversed their formula, ending with "Die Hard" instead. All that is just to say that the line distinguishing title, subtitle and by-line is not at all clear.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Oct 15, 2013 at 22:24

2 Answers 2



a secondary or subordinate title of a literary work, usually of explanatory character.

I know we usually think of that word in the "I prefer to read my foreign movies" context, but this is definition #1 and, I suspect, the original meaning.

  • Brilliant. I'm very used to subtitles in the movie context, on account of always needing to find them for my nonagenarian father who's getting a bit deaf but still loves watching old westerns. But - yes, this probably was the original meaning, given chronology and the advance of technology. Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 17:43

I would probably said it was the "long title". The "Catchy Title" is called the short title, and provides an easy name to call it by, then the "long title" provides a more comprehensive description of the article.

  • Nah. It's definitely the subtitle. Even though that word is now familiar with a totally different meaning to half the non-English-speaking world as they watch their pirated Hollywood blockbusters. Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 23:30
  • I know it is a subtitle or a sort of subtitle, I am just providing the specific name for it, as I have learned.
    – Thursagen
    Commented Jul 4, 2011 at 23:35
  • 2
    Intriguing. The specific names I learned are title and subtitle. Long title and short title are just noun phrases to me, without anything like the specificity you are giving them.
    – user1579
    Commented Jul 5, 2011 at 0:33

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