Which expression should be used as a section heading of an academic paper: related work or related works? This is a question that has been bothering me for years, as googling shows that both have a large number of usages.

5 Answers 5


What is the context?

If the heading refers to things you produced in the same or relevant subject area, then work is uncountable, and the heading should be Related Work.

If the heading refers to your oeuvre or the output of a fellow artist, then work is countable in this case, and the heading should be Related Works.

  • 6
    +1 Works tend to refer to an individuals works, whereas work to a subject area. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 9:10
  • 1
    I've never seen this section named "Related Works" in a paper, ever. But maybe this is depends on the field of the paper.
    – bitmask
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 0:34
  • @bitmask Precisely; works are "something produced by a writer, painter, musician, or other artist."
    – Gnawme
    Commented Jan 26, 2012 at 0:50

Related Work

However, there are at least three cases where a distinction may need to be made.

  1. If it is a list of literary items (works), then it could be plural: Related Works.
  2. If it is a paragraph on other related work done by the author, then singular: Related Work.
  3. If it is a list of engineering projects, then plural: Related Works.

In general it is singular: Related Work.

See also, some random examples from Wikipedia:
Australopithecus afarensis


If would depend on the context of the writing in question. If you want to pluralize work to works it should be in the case of referring to the body of work as multiple discrete items (ie works of art).

In the case of writing --


John had done a great deal of writing for clients in the past on these same topics. His related works included a blog post on Engadget and a magazine article for Wired.


John had done a great deal of related work writing on these same topics in the past.

This gets back to @Gnawme's point about the work being either countable or uncountable. If you can substitute stuff or another amorphous noun, then use work.


It would depend on whether your use of the word "work" in context refers to a countable work or not. If you're talking about books, paintings, or other things that are referred to as "works", then use the plural. If you're talking about uncountable work, like "I've also worked in engineering and medicine", then it's probably uncountable and thus you should use the singular.

The distinction is not necessarily consistent. A list of books you have written would be called "works". But a list of software products you have written would probably be called "work". That is, it is common to say, "The author of 'Economics of Tibetan Agriculture', Mr Jones, has three previous works in this field ..." and then list the titles. But no one says, "The author of 'Tax Prep Pro version 4.2', Mr Smith, has three previous works in this field ...".


According to Google Ngram Viewer, the capitalized forms (as would be typical for section headings) are both used, but Related Work is considerably more common.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.