In English, when writing single-word subheadings, it is normal to omit the article and use plurals unless the word is for a pluralized category.

For example:


Geopolitics is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations


The study of the past and all past events.


Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe


Musicians are people who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented.

Natural Disasters

Natural Disasters are a major adverse event resulting from natural processes of the Earth.

In the above History & Science don’t use plurals, because the words refer to a group. None of the subheadings use an article, because an article would make it refer to a specific reference rather than a general reference (e.g. "The musicians" would refer to a specific group of musicians rather than the general concept of musicians).

Do the same rules apply to Spanish? For example, in Spanish would the subheadings be as follows:





Desastres naturales

When I look these words up in SpanishDic, it lists them with articles and without plurals, so I am not sure if I should be following that format in subheadings. Is SpanishDict just doing that because it is providing dictionary definitions and not subheadings, or is the use of articles a rule in Spanish?

1 Answer 1


As can be seen in this sample inluded in APA standards, which are usually followed to write scientific articles, headings can take the definite article while subheadings usually don't:


The definite article thus highlights the importance of the main title.

I don't think there are strict rules, and it all comes down to the style manual you are following. As a general rule, I'd recommend using the definite article in headings -- not in subheadings -- especially when the noun is followed by a prepositional phrase, for example: El mercado en la actualidad (The market at present) / El mercado de derivados (The derivatives market)

  • «Cada palabra iniciando en mayúscula» — I hate that sooooo much Jul 23, 2020 at 18:53
  • @gen-zreadytoperish So do I. I'd follow the rule as to the presence or absence of articles, not when it comes to capitalizing open-class words, as is the case in English.
    – Gustavson
    Jul 23, 2020 at 19:00
  • @Gustavson In your answer, you have talked about articles. What about plurals? Is there are rule for them, or does it not matter (see opening question, above, for examples). Thanks!
    – big_smile
    Aug 13, 2020 at 14:41
  • 1
    I'd use the article if the NP were inclusive of all the possible instances, and no article if I wasn't sure whether there may be more or not. For example: "Los problemas del mercado" (this seems to indicate that a thorough list of all market problems will be provided); "Problemas del mercado" (only some problems might be included).
    – Gustavson
    Aug 13, 2020 at 14:54

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.