Considering the description of a method in a research paper, which is the most natural way to express how we refer to the method? Is there a rule about when to use named vs labeled?

  1. In this paper, we will describe our new method named "KICK".

  2. In this paper, we will describe our new method labeled "KICK".

  3. In this paper, we will describe our new method called "KICK".

  4. In this paper, we will describe our new method, "KICK".

  • 2
    I don't know of any rule myself, but "named" sounds more natural here. – user730 Dec 15 '10 at 12:02
  • "christened" could work... :D – user730 Dec 15 '10 at 12:22
  • @JM - I'd use 'christened' informally, but not in a formal research paper. God only knows who would be up in arms about the use of such words. [See what I did there? ;) ] – CJM Dec 15 '10 at 16:38
  • 1
    "dubbed" would also probably be appropriate. – user730 Dec 15 '10 at 17:56
  • Thanks for all the answers. But as RegDwight and Eric pointed out, "called" is also an alternative. I edited my question accordingly. – xmoleslo Dec 16 '10 at 11:27

A name is different than a label.

Name: a word by which a person or thing is known

Label: an identifying or descriptive marker that is attached to an object

So a label might have your name on it, but often it has something else on it, such as a warning, or description, or classification.

A rule of thumb is that names are unique(ish) and labels are not.

In the example question, it looks like the word you want is "name".

Consider this website: the question's name is the question headline itself: "Is the usage of 'labeled' preferred to the usage of 'named'?". The question's labels are its tags: "usage".

Edit: I just noticed your edit to this question. The third and fourth sentences carry the same meaning as "named". You are "called" by your name, usually. I'd use "named" or go with the fourth option, which just names the method. There are lots of synonyms for "name" but, importantly, "label" isn't really one of them.

Edit 2: Google's built-in dictionary defines label as

a classifying phrase or name applied to a person or thing, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.

This strengthens the notion that while labels are related to names, names are not a subset of labels (though labels might be said to be a subset of names).

  • 1
    "names are unique(ish)" - I'd emphasize the "ish" myself... :) – user730 Dec 15 '10 at 16:03
  • @J. M.: Yeah, it's pretty ish, but it depends on the domain. Drug names, for example, tend to be unique in a country, but the warning labels on the bottles are certainly generic. Class names in computer programing must be unique within their namespace but there's no guarantee that someone somewhere else didn't use the same classname as you; however you probably will never see their code. etc. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Dec 15 '10 at 21:05
  • "Drug names, for example, tend to be unique in a country" - nowadays, yes, but at least about two decades ago, no. Witness "acetaminophen" versus "paracetamol" and "albuterol" versus "salbutamol"... – user730 Dec 16 '10 at 13:19
  • a name is a label – Unreason Jul 7 '11 at 14:27
  • @Unreason: In some cases I'd agree that a name is a label. But in many cases I'd disagree. 'Label' and 'name' don't have the same connotations at all, so much so that I'd say it'd be wrong to say that when my parents named me, they labelled me. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jul 7 '11 at 15:26

Named is preferred in your example, since you are formally giving a name to your method.

Labelling (beyond the literal) generally infers that someone else has suggested an alternative name for something.

Microsoft named their browser 'Internet Explorer', but it's often labelled as 'Internet Exploder'!

Edit: Labelling is something you do when you categorise something informally; that is, you are attaching a virtual label to it, some meta-data, if you will. For example,

Critics have labelled Project X a disaster from start to finish


  • Does that mean that "labelled" should be used when you call something by a name that is not "official" or known in the domain? – xmoleslo Dec 15 '10 at 15:36
  • "when you call something by a name that is not "official" or known in the domain?" - I'd use "nicknamed", but that's just me... – user730 Dec 15 '10 at 16:02
  • @xmoleslo: I'd agree with JM that 'nickame' is probably more descriptive in that example. I've updated my post to provide a different (better?) example. – CJM Dec 15 '10 at 16:35
  • Definitely 'called'. – Eric Dec 15 '10 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Eric: 'Called' was not one of the two alternatives offered by the OP. – CJM Dec 16 '10 at 0:29

Pardon the brevity of this answer, but I would say "named" is preferred within the context of your example. Thus:

In this paper, we will describe our new method named "KICK".

Better still, you can omit "named" or "labeled" altogether for succinctness:

In this paper, we will describe our new method, "KICK".

The comma before "KICK" is sometimes treated as a matter of preference.


Name is a better choice than label if you are giving a name to something new. The latter is used when you want to describe or give information about something instead.

For example, we say name the baby but not label the baby, don't label me as stupid but not don't name me as stupid, and label the medication with this sticker but not name the medication with this sticker.

  • What if KICK is an acronym that would be descriptive enough, so that one would know more or less what kind of method it is? – Eldroß Dec 15 '10 at 12:09

You should actually use neither. The implication is obvious:

Here we discuss our new method "Fantastic Method".

To draw a parallel:

Here we discuss our child named Thomas.


Here we discuss our child labeled Thomas.

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