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How do I write a good title?

What format for question titles is preferred, if any, of these two?

  1. How to do something with something
  2. Doing something with something

These should be interchangeable at all times, at least in a post title, right? I'm not a native speaker though, so I might be missing a slight difference.

  • 1
    Fun fact: If you want to write such a title, there's a good chance that your question shows a lack of research effort or qualifies as not a real question. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 8:19
  • 2
    Additional fun fact: If your question is basically only the title and you only repeat it in the buddy, I know a few people which would like to have a talk with you...and by "you" I mean your question...and by "talk" I mean downvotes...lots of downvotes... Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 8:20
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    @UnicornifiedBobby I understand that, I merely wanted to know whether it's appropriate to edit such titles when revising questions. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 8:29
  • @MikulasDite: Then you should have stated that. What I wanted to express that those titles are a smell for bad questions...and not-so-good-titles, too. If you edit a question with such a title, please replace it with the most meaningful you can come up with. Commented Sep 25, 2012 at 8:32
  • For those like me who've never heard of a gerund: a gerund is a verb-ing word that "forms a verb phrase where a noun phrase could have been used". Is there no simpler term for what you're trying to define? Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 14:16
  • I've voted to re-open this question because the community has never been asked about it alone. At meta.stackexchange.com/posts/10648/revisions the revisions on a highly upvoted FAQ answer indicate that its advice in this regard was altered to the opposite from Rev 20 onwards which was probably after most votes had been made.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


At first glance, I think the "how-to" question title is going to come off as the asker is looking for a step-by-step how to manual, whereas the gerund format does not have the same connotation.

But personally, I don't think it matters too much, it mostly depends on the content of the question, the technologies involved, and how well it is written, (and of course how well it follows the Help Center). In a very unscientific search, I found 22 of the top 100 historical questions use a variation of the "how-to" format, and 8 of the same 100 are using some variation of a gerund.

If you are asking for which is more proper English, the guys at English.SE are probably better at answering, but from my perspective, I think either is fine and you shouldn't worry about editing a title just to change this.

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