I read an article which has a title (but it's now changed):

India fisherman killed as Pakistan navy opens fire at two boats off Gujarat Coast

My questions are: Which word is correct in this context, 'India' or 'Indian'? Why?

Thanks for your help.


2 Answers 2


The title is written in headlinese, a specific style for newspaper headlines. Headline writers often pick a noun where an adjective would've been more logical (in a general-purpose text).

As the article in WIkipedia states, "Country names are often used instead of their adjective form."

  • 5
    This is the first time I encountered the term headlinese. Thanks for the info!
    – shin
    Sep 18, 2015 at 12:33
  • 17
    @shin - you're welcome! "StackExchange user encounters headlinese, impressed". (0: Sep 18, 2015 at 12:34
  • 1
    Indian media can prove this incorrect! You may find them using 'adjective' in the headline and 'noun' in the body! (pun intended!)
    – Maulik V
    Sep 18, 2015 at 12:55
  • 8
    Since the headline now reads "Indian fisherman ..." it would appear that it was written in typoese. Sep 18, 2015 at 22:29
  • 1
    Yeah, as a native speaker, "India fisherman killed..." just looks incorrect, no matter what the style may be. Sep 19, 2015 at 3:52

I agree with CopperKettle's answer, and wanted to provide some more information. English language newspaper articles are a unique genre of English language writing, whose style is generally dictated by the Associated Press Stylebook. This guide not only defines headlines, but also what words are appropriate for use, how sources should be cited, and much more.

  • 1
    and to add more information - for some nations - if you were to try and describe the person's nationality via ethnicity you might end up either offending (some) people from that country, or being too specific and your readers don't know what you're talking about. It's easier just to list the country. Sep 18, 2015 at 19:33
  • 1
    "[The style of] English language newspaper articles [...] is generally dictated by the Associated Press Stylebook." Is that true, outside the US? Also, by "dictated", I think you mean "informed". Sep 18, 2015 at 22:14
  • 2
    Dictated is reasonable when talking about style manuals, because generally organizations involved in publishing will adopt a style manual and instruct their writers to follow it. The style manual does dictate, because you must follow the rules or face criticism or even disciplinary action.
    – barbecue
    Sep 19, 2015 at 2:56

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