Is it OK, to use indefinite article in the title of a paper? Should it be omitted? Or even replaced by the definite article?

Here is the title: "A Fuzzy Event for a Set of Events".

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    I agree 100% with Peter Schor's answer. For this title, I'd use both indefinite articles & see what the editor & reviewers say. (The doesn't work here.) If they don't like it, they'll "ask" you to change it. My judgment is that the title's short enough so that they won't complain, even if they'd prefer "Fuzzy Event for a Set of Events". But I can't imagine why they would. I always challenge editors & reviewers by doing things like that. They can't be bothered to deal with such a minor issue. But there are always anal pedant reviewers out there who think their opinions are infallible.
    – user21497
    Dec 23, 2012 at 3:40
  • It absolutely should not be replaced by the definite article. If omitting it makes it an inaccurate description of what's in the paper, then don't omit it. I have read several papers with "a(n)" or "the" in the title.
    – Billy
    Dec 23, 2012 at 5:14
  • @BillFranke: if it's accepted for Physical Review, the title will certainly be changed to "Fuzzy Event for a Set of Events." After you've changed the titles of Nobel Prizewinners, I expect it's quite hard to make exceptions. Dec 24, 2012 at 18:29
  • @PeterShor: One of the realities of the politics of publishing is that authors are suppliants and publishers only tentative & often imperious benefactors ("Do it my way or I'll publish someone else's article instead: We reject 100 articles for every one we publish"). Like the rest of the modern world, their "service" has been commodified, monetized, and bureaucratized as much as possible. Administrators are the contemporary power brokers.
    – user21497
    Dec 24, 2012 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


It depends on the journal. If you have a journal in mind for this article, look at the table of contents.

In what I think is a misguided style decision, Physical Review removes all articles from the beginning of titles (but they are fine later in the title). On the other hand, in the first issue of Annals of Mathematics I looked at, there were three articles beginning with a or an.

Journal article titles are not governed by the same style rules as newspaper article titles; even for Physical Review, an article is fine if it is not the first word.

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