Say I'm reading a research paper that has introduced a new technique for cutting down trees, and the authors named it "Super Cutting".

Now, in my own paper, when I refer to this technique, which alternative should I use:

(1) That paper presents a Super Cutting technique.

(2) That paper presents the Super Cutting technique.

(3) That paper presents Super Cutting technique.

1 Answer 1


You would not use sentence 3. You would use 1 or 2, depending on your context. From your description, it sounds like you should be using 'the'.

  1. The author presents a Super Cutting technique

The author is presenting a technique that is a type of Super Cutting technique. You are not uniquely identifying the specific technique.

  1. The author presents the Super Cutting technique

The author is presenting a technique called 'Super Cutting'. You are talking about a specific algorithm, not one of a group called 'Super Cutting'.

In your paper, you should refer to the algorithm with 'the' if there is only one algorithm that is known as 'Super cutting'. Here you would be refering specifically to a particular algorithm so you use the definite article ('the').

You would use 'a' if by 'Super cutting' you meant that the author is presenting a new algorithm that is part of a wider familiy of Super Cutting algorithms. In that case you are using the indefinite article. You are saying that the author is presenting one of the algorithms in a family, but not refering to one specifically at this juncture.

Why not sentence 3?

I'm not 100% sure but I would wager this is because you use the word 'technique' in your sentence which requires the article.

  1. The author presents Super Cutting technique

In this configuration, Super Cutting is a description of technique, not a proper noun stating the 'name' of the technique, which is not what you're aiming for.

  1. The author presents 'Super Cutting Technique'.

However, if 'technique' was part of the proper noun for the technique e.g. like the word 'syndrome' is in 'Stockholm syndrome', this would be correct. It would be the same as saying 'I am reading Animal Farm'. The reader understands because of the context of 'reading' that 'Animal Farm' must be the title of some reading material.

Continuing on this line of thought, as you've mentioned in the comments about dropping articles before describing titles of books we'll move to a couple of different examples:

  1. I am reading 'Animal Farm'. | I am talking to MarcAndreson.

These are both correct, the writer assumes you know what they are talking about by 'Animal Farm' and MarcAndreson.

  1. I am reading 'Animal Farm' book. | I am talking to MarcAnderson user

These are both incorrect as they are missing articles. You are using 'MarcAnderson' and 'Animal Farm' as a compound nouns or as adjectives which they aren't, at least not in this context.

  1. I am reading the book 'Animal Farm'. | I am talking to the user MarcAndreson

These are both correct. You are stating the thing/person you are talking about and then introducing what you call them. It is clear that 'Animal Farm' is the title of a book you are reading, even to someone who is unfamiliar with the book.

  1. I am reading the 'Animal Farm' book. | I am talking to the MarcAndreson user.

Here you are using 'Animal Farm' and 'MarcAndreson' as part of a compound noun or an adjective.

  • How about "The authors present the technique Super Cutting". Is this one correct? It sounds strange to me, but sometimes I put a name after the noun. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:35
  • You could get away with: 'The authors presents the technique, Super Cutting'. You just need some punctuation between 'technique' and 'Super Cutting' and an added 's' on 'presents'. I would probably write it with 'technique' after 'Super Cutting' as you had before, as it is clearer that the technique is called 'Super Cutting'.
    – amblina
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 14:56
  • Why (3) is invalid? I see very often this approach in research papers. I also heard that one can drop an article, e.g. when referring to the title of a book, and actually I thought (3) is the correct one Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 15:35
  • I have adjusted the answer, is this clearer?
    – amblina
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:06
  • oh, I didn't know about componud nouns, I will never understand when to say "to the user MarcAndreson" vs. "to the MarcAndreson user" (I thought it is always an adjective that comes before a noun), but thanks, I understand that if "Technique" is a part of the name then I could/should drop an article Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 16:13

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