I wish to cite a research paper by B. L. van der Waerden from 1928 that is titled (very) slightly differently in the front/back matter of the journal versus the first page of the article: in the front/back matter the title is given as "Beweis einer Baudetschen Vermutung" and on the first page of the article it is given with an apostrophe as "Beweis einer Baudet'schen Vermutung".

My guess (since my German is very rudimentary) is that the apostrophe is a typo because the German language apparently does not use the possessive apostrophe. But, even if the title of a paper contains a typo I would prefer to cite it along with the typo as per the advice in this related post: How to refer to a source with typos in the title?.

However, in this case, I am not even sure which one is the official title of the article since there is a (slightly) different title in the front/back matter. What is the preferred method of citing the article in this scenario?

Admittedly, the difference is not so great that it will cause trouble for anyone looking up this article using either title, but I am interested also in the general case where the difference in the title between the first page and the front/back matter is more drastic than a deviant apostrophe.

Is there a standard practice regarding which one to consider as the "official" title to quote in a citation? If not, what is the preferred method to deal with articles having different titles in this manner?


3 Answers 3


Note the inconsistency.

The exact way of doing this will depend on the style or publication guide you are using. This idea comes from the APA Style Blog, where Timothy McAdoo suggests noting an unintentional typo using a footnote:

Linn, L. (1968). Social identification and the seeking of pyschiatric1 care. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 38, 83–88. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1968.tb00558.x

1The published article includes this typo.

Similarly, if there are two forms of the title given, you could include a note that says something like this: "In the front and back matter of the journal, the apostrophe in Baudet'schen is absent from the title." Doing that, rather than messing with [sic] or assessing whether it's a typo, will give readers accurate information on the title as it is printed.

  • 4
    Though the user kase's answer provides valuable information regarding the specific case I encountered, I find your answer useful for the general case, especially as you mention how a popular style guide handles a related scenario. I could indeed mention that two versions of the title appear in the journal by using a footnote. +1
    – user134891
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 17:40

Without sufficient reputation, I cannot post this as a comment; so here we go in an answer... I apologise!

'Beweis einer Baudetschen Vermutung' is orthographically incorrect, as 'Baudetschen' is an adjective and should therefore be written using a lowercase 'b' as 'baudetschen'. If this adjective, however, is derived from a name, it can be written as 'Baudet'schen' to emphasise it origin from the name 'Baudet'.

We can conclude that the title of the article itself is correct, whilst front and back matter are incorrect. The title of the book 'Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde' does not look German to me (the cover lists Amsterdam and Groningen, two cities in the Netherlands), and indicates that is was not necessarily compiled by editors sufficiently proficient in German.

So this problem is actually not comparable to the potentially related question mentioned by OP and in the comments, as this book has a misspelling solely in its table of content, but not the article itself. Therefore I suggest to just quote the article by its correct title 'Beweis einer Baudet'schen Vermutung' and not to copy the editors' mistake 'Beweis einer Baudetschen Vermutung'.

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    Thank you very much for explaining the German! I can affirm that you are correct on both counts: the word "Baudet" is indeed derived from a name, the conjecture being attributed to Pierre Joseph Henry Baudet, and the journal Nieuw Archief voor Wiskunde is a Dutch journal, though it publishes articles in German and English as well.
    – user134891
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:43
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    I do not think that your German is correct. Hilbertscher Basissatz, Goldbachsche Vermutung, etc are all spelled without apostrophe (and uppercase, of course; I think abelsch and euklidisch are the only exception to the uppercase rule?)
    – Jakob
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 22:33
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    @Jakob Actually, the spelling reforms between 1996-2006 now dictate hilbertscher Basissatz or Hilbert'scher Basissatz. Before the spelling reforms, there would usually be no apostrophe, capitalized if part of a name of a method, theorem, principle, etc., and written with a small letter for a general adjective. Of course that means that in practice you'll find seemingly random spellings — because age of the author, age of the book, influence by such persons/books on younger authors all come into play. But the explanation in the answer agrees with the currently correct orthography.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 10:49
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    @Earthliŋ et al: I’ve asked about this on German stackexchange. If any of you have sources for your preferred rules, I’d be grateful if you could answer with them there. Most sources I could find support the Baudet’sche/baudetsche forms over Baudetsche, e.g. german.stackexchange.com/questions/5316/… ; but I couldn’t find any sources that seemed quite definitive.
    – PLL
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 11:40
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    @Jakob et al: We must not fall prey to false equivalency. 'Hilbertscher Basissatz' and 'Goldbachsche Vermutung' are fixed terms and are therefore used with definite articles ('der [= the] Hilbertsche Basissatz'), whereas 'eine [= a] Baudet'sche/baudetsche Vermutung' is one of potentially many 'Baudet'sche Vermutungen' and hence requires an indefinite article.
    – kase
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 12:46

For a research manuscript with a digital object identifier (DOI), associated metadata may provide a title. Alternatively, and for research manuscripts without DOIs, a publisher's table of contents, index, etc. may provide a title. The actual title assigned by the author(s) may differ, and a publisher's usage may vary, hence, there's no "official" title. Ultimately, a citation is used to identify a source and the absence of an official title doesn't matter.

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