Quite a lot of questions concern the difference between two specified words (often with an example sentence, where OP wants to know which to use).

It's much easier to search for an existing Question about some given word-pair if you know the format that question is likely to be in. I personally would prefer the 'minimalist'...

word1 vs word2

...and I don't really care whether Vs is capitalised or followed by a period, since that doesn't affect searching.

  • I am slightly inclined towards minimalists titles; but I don't really care, as long as the title is easy to read. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 21:57
  • I just noticed the fact that I capitalised Word1/Word2 is potentially an issue in itself. Since I'm taking the minimalist stance, I've changed them to just "words". Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 22:08
  • Haha... but surely you would capitalize word 1? It looks better that way to me. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 22:10
  • 1
    I'm not sure elegance of appearance is that important, and I think the primary purpose of titles is to quickly indicate what the Question is about, not to serve as exemplary sentences in themselves. For example, “all of you” vs “you all” seems natural to me. Capitalising the first A seems a bit pedantic. But I don't care that much - to be honest, I'd rather see people more assiduously capitalising "Question" and "Answer" when they mean those specific entities on EL&U. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 22:19
  • @Fumble: why on earth would I need to capitalize "question" and "answer"?
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 23:13
  • @FumbleFingers: Capitalizing the first letter would look far more polished and literate to me. From a question on Stackoverflow or something, I gathered that Joel agrees. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 23:34
  • @Martha: Maybe I'm just a lazy reader. I find it easier to see by the capitalisation whether they're just being used as words in their normal sense, or 'proper nouns' in the context of the post. Like I prefer OP to op, only apparently whereas you presumably agree on that one, you don't on the Qs & As. Commented Jul 28, 2011 at 4:04

3 Answers 3


In principle this is a discussion thread, but if there are only going to be a few suggested alternatives it may be handy to have them explicitly set out as Answers so it's easy to just upvote if there's one you agree with. So I'll just set out my stall.

I'm all for maximum minimalism, if that's not an oxymoron. Inter alia that means favouring any existing tendency, in which context I'll point out that searching for tag:versus gives 120 results, and tag:vs gives 379.

  • I think vs wins out there, and I see no reason to capitalise or put a period after it.

  • Capitalisation of terms doesn't seem important to me; I wouldn't bother.

  • Double quotes for phrases (optional for single words).

  • No other words, punctuation, or format controls should be needed.


I'd like to take a quick look at this old topic again, or more specifically:

Are we against using full sentence question titles in favor of the 'word1' vs 'word2' format for purposes of simplicity?

Ignoring the topic of "vs" vs "versus", "Caps" or "lowercase", quote type, or other punctuation, I want to know if we discourage:

What is the difference between "word1" and "word2"?

"word1" vs "word2"

The reason I'd like to know is that Stack Exchange is generally encouraging full titles to make them easier to read, but I feel that in this case, the non-full question form is easier.

  • Bizarre. You've only just posted that, and already it's got an upvote. You favour "vs", so presumably your upvote for my answer is the only other on this page. In two months no-one else has even expressed much of an opinion, let alone proposed anything - good luck trying to spark some response! Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 21:54
  • @FumbleFingers I may have posted it in chat, and my posting an answer bumps the question, so fingers crossed we get some more community feedback.
    – waiwai933
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 21:56
  • I think people with higher rep ought to be biased in favour of "vs" because we're supposed to find dup Q's, and that should make it easier. And I don't think new visitors would necessarily notice or care about those extra two letters if they'd just typed, say, enquire inquire into the search box, and a question titled "enquire" vs "inquire" turned up. Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 22:01

My opinion with regards to using the X vesus Y approach:

  • Each word should be wrapped in double-quotes
  • "vs" should be replaced with "versus"
  • Only the first word should be capitalized
  • No trailing punctuation


"Sky" versus "canopy"

"Cake" versus "cakes"

The other option is to replace the minimalist approach with a real question; I will let someone else propose that answer.

  • @MrHen: Maybe you're the fifth-columnist accounting for 226 hits for versus as against 684 for vs. Personally I approve of minimalism, all other things being equal. Anyone familiar with versus will also understand vs, but I accept that plain v is pushing it. In the same spirit, I personally wouldn't bother with quotes when both alternatives are single words. Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:12
  • @Fumble: The quotes around the words thing is more of a separate issue that just happens to bleed into this topic. I don't like "vs." because of the period and think "vs" is of questionable correctness. Adding four characters isn't really an issue and I think it looks nicer. (But don't really care a whole lot and would be happy with any consensus at all.)
    – MrHen
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:24
  • @MrHen: Yes, I think we are of like mind. Actually, it looks like there is a broad concensus for at least using the basic Word1 [vs|versus] Word2 format, so I will probably start applying [my preferred version of] it from now on. And maybe swap to your preference or some other if future posts on this page indicate a strong concensus. In the meantime I can live with searching for versus, if vs doesn't find anything. Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:36
  • Actually, I don't think there is such a broad consensus. I see edits going back and forth from one style to the other. One of my recent questions was edited away from this style into a real question question title.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 16:53
  • Well I just leafed thru last 100 Q's. About a dozen were in this format. One of the two that could have been (but weren't) was where OP remonstrated with me for changing his title, so I reverted. It may not be unanimous, but for me it's enough of a concensus that I won't feel diffident about editing non-standard Q's. Commented May 25, 2011 at 17:15
  • differences shows quite a variety. Of the 355 there, 58 have "vs" and 16 have "versus". While vs/versus may be winning, I hardly call that a consensus. Give this meta question a few days to pick up some other thoughts.
    – MrHen
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 17:48
  • I'd never even noticed those "Advanced Super Ninja Search Options" before, so thanks for that. Anyway, I shan't be rushing to do anything at all. It's quite possible some people with potentially useful input to the issue may only visit once or twice a week, and others may wish to mull it over for a few days before opining. I'm not trying to outflank your position - so far as I'm concerned, any broadly-supported standard is better than none, and I don't feel that strongly about the exact details. Commented May 25, 2011 at 19:54
  • 3
    My two cents. 1, 3, 4: check, check, check. 2: meh. Personally, I use "Word" vs. "word", but a spelled-out versus doesn't bother me. Distinguishing use from mention is much more important IMHO, so I will always add quotes in titles (because there's no italics support, so quotes are the only way), and not just in questions of this type. In short, I will certainly edit Word Vs Word, or word VS word, or Word v. word., or what have you, but either "Word" versus "word" or "Word" vs. "word" is perfectly fine with me.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 11:22

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