I am wondering if section, subsection, or sub-subsection headings can be formatted as questions. I am working on my masters thesis (Economics) and am following the Chicago Manual of Style Guide (17th ed.).

I have a section (call it Section 3). Section 3 has three subsections (subsections 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3). Now, 3.2 and 3.3 will have four parts each. I only need 3.2.1 - 3.2.4 to have headings phrased as questions.

Section 3 Heading

3.1 Subsection Heading

3.2 Subsection Heading

3.2.1 Heading Phrased as a Question? (e.g., Why does the ABC program do X?)
3.2.2 Heading Phrased as a Question? (e.g., Is Z the appropriate indicator for the purpose?)
3.2.3 Heading Phrased as a Question?
3.2.4 Heading Phrased as a Question?

I want to know if anyone has formatted their section, subsection, or sub-subsection headings as questions in their thesis/dissertation/etc.


I came across this question in Writing SE but it is more than 5 years old and has only one answer. This post does not work for me because (1) the answer seems to be one dimensional, (2) I have seen many published journal articles with fancy titles (some are formatted as questions), (3) there are no other answers or comments to see what others think or have done, and (4) I just don't feel that the answer is 100% accurate and applicable for all disciplines. I also don't like how the answer says "A great title gives away the ending." To me, interesting titles are what makes me wonder and want to find out the answer.

  • It's surely a matter of style? Maybe take a look at: writersperhour.com/blog/… – user2768 May 3 at 10:27
  • (1) Sure, why not? (2) Ask your adviser! (If they are happy with it I see no problem whatsoever; and if they dislike it it would seem silly to pick a fight about it?) – Jakob May 3 at 10:27
  • @Jakob Well, my supervisor works in the US (full-time). They are not in the same country as me. And they are incredibly busy to answer small questions like this over email. The only thing I email them is my drafts and they give me feed back on the content. I don't want to bother them with this. – RoundHouse May 3 at 10:38
  • @AIQ who is the person who will be examining/marking the thesis? Ask them. – astronat May 3 at 10:51
  • @astronat If there was someone I could ask, then I wouldn't have spent the time to write this question here. I don't have that option. – RoundHouse May 3 at 10:53

This likely a matter of personal taste. There is no definitive rule or style guide that applies to every Master's thesis written in the world. Your department or university may have its own guidelines, but I doubt the formatting you suggest would be prohibited.

Write the section titles as questions and send the draft to your supervisor. They might recommend you change it, but if they're not in the same university as you they will probably also tell you to ask someone local who will know if there are any guidelines that you should follow. That person may be your personal tutor, department head, course director, librarian, or academic skills tutor.

Often this type of information is also available on your institution's website or virtual learning environment.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.