I suspect that part of my problem is that I am not a native english speaker but here it is. I have a table with column header labels. One of these columns contains the "number of messages received". Another, the "number of messages archived", etc. How should I label these columns ?

option A: "messages received", "messages archived", etc. option B: "received messages", "archived messages", etc.


  • I assume the table isn't solely describing messages, so you couldn't just have "Received" and "Archived" as column headings?
    – Matt Obee
    May 19, 2014 at 8:47
  • yes, it is not solely describing messages
    – mathieu
    May 19, 2014 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


I'd recommend going with the first, and placing the stress on the nouns. This is more natural for English speakers, from your name I suspect you might be French-speaking and inclined to reverse the order of adjectives and nouns?

For guidance, check out Google Images with some samples, you will see clearly the stress on nouns:


It's also the use of the participle - by placing it before the object the reader is looking instinctively for a subject. By placing the noun first, the missing subject does not cry out for attention in the same way.

  • yes, I am french, but, no, I was leaning towards the first (the UI is currently using the second but it bothers me and I can't tell why)
    – mathieu
    May 19, 2014 at 7:50

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