I need to fix a title of an article: which sentence is correct?

  1. History of Wall Calendar Design
  2. History of the Wall Calendar Design
  3. History of the Wall Calendar
  4. History of Wall Calendar

where the article talks about the story of how the design of the wall calendar has evolved thru history...


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This question can be answered with another question: What are you trying to say?

Let us assume that you are writing for a museum, and in that museum there is a centrepiece, the wall calendar that is somehow notable, you are writing an article about it and you would correctly title it «History of the wall calendar». You would use «the» in the title because we should already know which specific wall calendar you are going to talk about.

However, more likely possibility is that you are writing about the whole concept of wall calendars, and how that conceptual wall calendar has changed through the years (decades, centuries). In that case I would use the «History of wall calendar» since there is no one specific calendar that has survived all that time, but the concept of putting calendars on walls has.

If we were to search for «History of Calendar» on Google Scholar, we would find some examples, however, «History of the Calendar» is a significantly more popular phrase.

However, a similar phrase that we can consider is «Breeds of Horse», consider:

The observed variation corresponds to the results of Marklund et al. (1995),
who detected extensive mtDNA control-region polymorphism within each of five
breeds of horse using PCR-SSCP [...]

This quote comes from Lister, A., Kadwell, M., Kaagen, L. M., Richards, M. B., & Stanley, H. F. (1998). Ancient and modern DNA in a study of horse domestication. Ancient biomolecules, 2, 267-280.

  • the latter, you are correct. but what about title #1 ? i want to be sure the subject of the article (for a design magazine) is about the design evolution... not the use of it in people's life... – Francesco Oct 10 '18 at 3:12
  • History of wall calendar is ungrammatical. If you are going to drop the article, it should be history of wall calendars (plural). I also disagree that the definite article can only refer to an identified, instantiated object. You can still say history of the wall calendar and be talking about wall calendars in general. Actually, if referring to an specific centrepiece, the article would most likely read history of this wall calendar.) – Jason Bassford Oct 10 '18 at 6:47
  • ok let's focus on the design part. forget #3 and #4. which one is correct between #1 and #2? the article is centered around DESIGN, around calendar design, not calendars ad object – Francesco Oct 10 '18 at 14:30
  • @JasonBassford «History of wall calendars» says something different, it says that you are studying different individual calendars as they have appeared in history, not the evolution of the concept itself. Compare «Opposition to war», «Opposition to the war», «Opposition to wars». – v010dya Oct 11 '18 at 5:58
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    @v010dya Similar examples, from Jason's thousands, are "The history of the motor car" and "The anatomy of the horse". Neither of these refers to a specific vehicle or animal and if the titles were "The history of motor car" or "The anatomy of horse" they would be grammatically incorrect as neither car nor horse is a mass noun. You could have a book called "The chemistry of sand" because sand is, usually, a mass noun. You can't count sand. – BoldBen Apr 8 at 7:34

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