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 '14 at 8:47
  • yes, it is not solely describing messages – mathieu May 19 '14 at 11:50

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 '14 at 7:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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