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I came across this headline:

"Bernard Arnault Once Again The World’s Richest Person After Jeff Bezos Loses Nearly $14 Billion In One Day"

I think there should be an "is" in this sentence like this:

"Bernard Arnault is Once Again The World’s Richest Person After Jeff Bezos Loses Nearly $14 Billion In One Day"

Which one is correct and why?

This is from a major media outlet.

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  • It is not a sentence. Notice there is no end punctuation, and the Titel case capitalization. A title is not usually a sentence. Aug 1 at 2:53
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News headlines have their own rules, and are usually abbreviated more than standard English grammar. This wikipedia article on "headlinese" has a list of the unique traits that are common in headline writing, including dropping articles and forms of "to be."

A standard prose sentence would need "is."

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If it were a normal sentence then it would include the "is" (and wouldn't have nearly as many capital letters, and would have a full stop at the end). However, that's a headline.

In a physical newspaper, you have limited space and you also want to be able to have your headlines as large as possible to grab attention. This led to the development of "Headlinese".

Even though space isn't an issue on online platforms in the same way, the same style of writing headlines is still used to draw people into the articles.

There are quite a lot of characteristics of Headlinese. They're generally written in capital letters and have limited punctuation. For interest and some examples:

It tends to use

  • abbreviations (hubby instead of husband)

Daily Mirror front page. Headline "KATE HUBBY OUT OF HOSPITAL"

  • short words (jet instead of aeroplane, booze instead of alcohol). This also uses a noun (bust) rather than any verbs (e.g. caught in a sting)

The Sun front page. Headline "JET PILOTS IN BOOZE BUST No2"

  • is nearly always written in the present tense (demands instead of have demanded)

The Daily Telegraph front page. Headline "Universities demand extra cash to teach more students"

  • will stack words (love cheat football star rather than football star who cheated on his wife)

Daily Mail front page. Headline "NOW LOVE CHEAT FOOTBALL STAR SUES TWITTER"

  • As you've noticed, the verb "to be" is usually the first to go, along with articles such as "the" or "an" (First UK City put... rather than The first UK city is put...)

Daily Mail front page. Headline "FIRST UK CITY PUT BACK INTO LOCKDOWN"

These are generally all designed as to save space, but the stacking also shows the other function of Headlinese — it sounds more exciting, and is designed to draw you in and make you want to read the article. Headlines also make use of

  • puns (This is a story about the Honours list in the UK. One of the people being knighted was a member of the Bee Gees, who had a hit with the song Saturday Night Fever.)

Daily Mirror front page. Headline "SATURDAY KNIGHT FEVER"

  • alliteration

Daily Mail front page. Headline "BORIS BOUNCES BACK TO GET UK MOVING"

  • rhyming

Norwich Evening News front page. Headline "Drink-driver is caught by saliva"

You should see that none of those examples are written in standard English. It's designed to be understandable at a glance, and make the most of the limited space, but invites you to read further to get the whole story.

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  • Overdone. A mention of the deletion of "be" verbs in headlinese with a link to a list of other common traits would suffice, as with Katy's answer. As it is, it takes longer than necessary to get to the part that answers the OP's question.
    – gotube
    Aug 1 at 3:38
  • 1
    I've made sure all the answer is at the top now. It gave me a good grounding in inserting pictures, alt text etc which will hopefully help me to write higher quality answers in the future, even if there were a few too many! Hopefully some people will like seeing real life examples, but if not they can just stop before them now :) Aug 1 at 14:33

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