SPECIAL CHARACTERS IN TITLES
By: Penny, EzineArticles Managing Editor
The title is an important determining factor in the overall performance of your article. To ensure that each article you write performs optimally, it’s crucial that you focus your energy on creating working titles.
It’s also crucial to understand and follow the Editorial Guidelines established for titles (Section 2.a). This section lays out what types of characters are allowed and which ones aren’t. As HTML has evolved over time, the list of restricted special characters has grown. In this Blog, we’ll discuss a few of those characters and why they are restricted.
Titles Placed in Article URL
Did you know that the TITLE of your article comprises the unique URL for that article? Well, titles (and the URLs generated from them) are primarily made up of individual characters on the alphanumeric scale (A-Z and 0-9). Some special characters are also allowed in titles, like the single dash (-), the colon (:), the question mark (?), and the exclamation point (!). However, there are other characters that perform special functions in HTML code and would make an otherwise good URL, not work properly. For this reason, these characters aren’t allowed in article titles. Here’s a quick summary of those special characters and what they mean in HTML:
- Greater Than/Less Than Symbols (< and >) are the building blocks of HTML code. When these are placed in a URL, they cut off the URL. Elements of HTML are enclosed in <> pairs (a.k.a. tags) that surround sections of text to give the text formatting, style and other traits. For example, to make a section of text italics, you place italics tags around that section. This:
This Text is in Italics
… becomes this:
This Text is in Italics
- Ampersands (&) represent the word “and,” but in HTML they point to a new stream or begin a new reference of information. When a web browser or RSS reader detects an ampersand in your title URL, it interprets the symbol as independent and a new command is then followed. Because the follow-up command isn’t present, the URL errors out as you just confused the browser on where your HTML code begins and ends.
- The Pound Sign or Hash (#) allows links to particular sections of a webpage, not just the page in general. For example, each EzineArticles Blog post has a Comments section that you can click on directly from the Blog homepage. Clicking on the Comments link for each post brings you to that area of the page, like for this post from last week:
Instead of linking you to the top of the page, the hashtag directed you to the comment on that page. You can see how this would confuse the browser when added to your article title.
- The “At” Symbol (@) is commonly associated with email addresses but is more often used in text language or shortened less-formal writing styles to replace ‘at’. When the @ is added to a URL, the web browser or RSS reader interprets the symbol as part of an email address rather than a web address. So, a web URL with the @ symbol won’t translate properly.
MORE special characters, like tildes (~), pipes (|), and asterisks (*), aren’t allowed for similar reasons. When your browser tries to interpret the URL with any of these special characters, the intended URL gets lost in translation. Most web browsers are sophisticated enough to correct and know the difference. However, you don’t want to chance that your title may or may not work.
Characters Not On Keyboard
Some special characters are restricted from use in article titles because they aren’t on the standard keyboard. If you use a word processing program to write an article, you may be able to add some of these special characters in that program. However, when you copy and paste that article with special characters into the EzineArticles Submission Form, the special characters won’t display properly. Writing your articles in a plain text editor will ensure that any special characters are not present in your submission.
Special characters that fall in this category include foreign language characters (e.g. é, í, ó, ú), Microsoft SmartQuotes, © (Copyright), ® (Registered Trademark), ™ (Trademark), € (Euro), £ (English Pound) and other related symbols.
Other Title Tips
- Avoid putting quotation marks around the entire title. The quotes will confuse readers on whether your title is original and where it came from. If you add them, we will remove them.
- Don’t end your title with a period. (.)
- The placement of an ellipsis (…) means some piece of information is being left out. Don’t use ellipsis as it creates confusion and unfinished thoughts. Be clear.
- Stick with the alphanumeric range of characters and other common characters when writing titles.
Do you have any effective title writing strategies? Leave a comment and share them with the rest of the EzineArticles community.