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From my understanding, editing question titles to correct the spelling or fix the grammar is acceptable, while the substance is to be left alone. However, just now I stumbled upon this question. Its title is

How do I use LaTeX to create table of contents (chapter headings, subsections etc) for a set of pdf files which I am merging into a single large pdf?

which takes up three lines when displayed on the starting page. I regard this as overly verbose and somewhat distracting from the other questions. Therefore, I would like to shorten the title to two lines (say, by discarding the bracket term).

Am I oversensitive or is it acceptable to abridge verbose question titles?

  • 1
    I think it is acceptable (be careful though, some posters add vital information only in the title). – Caramdir Mar 5 '11 at 21:38
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    @Caramdir: I agree -- such information would have to be either added to the question proper or preserved by adding appropriate tags. – lockstep Mar 5 '11 at 21:41
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Martin has made a good point: "This can be done after talking to the OP". What I'd do (and indeed already have done) is to suggest the OP to change the title, possible with a specific formulation, and first wait some time and give the OP the chance to make the edit himself.

  • I couldn't agree more. Suggesting edits is perfectly acceptable in situations where unilateral edits may be misunderstood. The suggestor should point out that the edit will make the question more readable, more findable, or more answerable. And to be useful, the edit should of course do this. – Matthew Leingang Mar 8 '11 at 11:54
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I also think it is reasonable in this case. I would also remove the first-person reference and change 'table-of-content' to PDF bookmarks, because this is what th OP is talking about.

My suggestion:

"How to use LaTeX to create PDF bookmarks for a set of PDF files merged into a single large PDF?"

This can be done after talking to the OP and explaining to him that it will improve his question.

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    I don't like that suggestion. It's not idiomatic English. "How to use X?" is quite common for nonnative English speakers, but really stands out. "How does one use X?" is correct, but might look overly formal (but is how I would be most likely to write it). "How do I do X?" seems just fine to me. – TH. Mar 6 '11 at 13:07
  • Thanks @TH, my English isn't perfect :-) I don't mind "How do I do X", but the "which I am merging" afterwards doesn't sound well. – Martin Scharrer Mar 6 '11 at 13:13
  • If the title is a question it should be an English sentence, and "How to do X?" isn't. – Matthew Leingang Mar 8 '11 at 11:57

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