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Alternate titles:

I know Eugene disapproves of funny article titles, and I tend to agree. Nonetheless, sometimes you just come up with a title that someone, even if not yourself, can use.... So, if your title is, say, "An Analysis of Intermunicipal Competition, 1980-87," you might consider renaming it to "Seven Years in Tiebout." Similarly, if your title is "How the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Crusade Against Toy Balls Violates Consumer Freedom," you might consider renaming it to "The Road to Nerfdom." (See also "The Road to Smurfdom.")

M.E. Lopez:
I actually used a "funny title" to get something accepted for publication (it's almost expected these days that it will be catchy and oh-so-clever, with the obligatory ":") and then scrapped it as one of the last steps in the editing process.

I went from modern and trendy to dry and accurate in about the time it took to tell the Editor of the journal "good morning" and it felt great.
9.15.2006 11:09am
anonVCfan:
I hope that those "witticisms" don't actually help one's chances of publication. Most of those puns should be dragged out and shot.
9.15.2006 11:45am
Hank:
My vote for the best ever: Note, Port Noise Complaint, 6 Harv. CR-CL L. REV. 61 (1970)
9.15.2006 11:52am
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I agree with anonVCfan's sentiment. See the Harvard Law Review note (not by me, but by a friend of mine) called "No Bad Puns:[fn1] A Different Approach to the Problem of Personal Jurisdiction and the Internet," 116 Harv. L. Rev. 1821 (2003). The footnote reads:

[fn1] See, e.g., Tracey Angelopoulos, Case Note, Pavlovich v. Superior Court: Spinning a World Wide Web for California Personal Jurisdiction, 39 San Diego L. Rev. 1019 (2002); Michele N. Breen, Comment, Personal Jurisdiction and the Internet: "Shoehorning" Cyberspace into International Shoe, 8 Seton Hall Const. L.J. 763 (1998); Brian E. Daughdrill, Comment, Personal Jurisdiction and the Internet: Waiting for the Other Shoe To Drop on First Amendment Concerns, 51 Mercer L. Rev. 919 (2000); Daniel V. Logue, Note, If the International Shoe Fits, Wear It: Applying Traditional Personal Jurisdiction Analysis to Cyberspace in Compuserve, Inc. v. Patterson, 42 Vill. L. Rev. 1213 (1997); Christopher W. Meyer, Note, World Wide Web Advertising: Personal Jurisdiction Around the Whole Wide World?, 54 Wash. &Lee L. Rev. 1269 (1997); Comment, Personal Jurisdiction and the Internet Quagmire: Amputating Judicially Created Long-Arms, 35 San Diego L. Rev. 619 (1998).
9.15.2006 12:07pm
Helen (mail):
A number of years ago, I published study comparing my results in large-scale bioreactors with a scaled-down model system in shaken erlenmeyer flasks. The engineering journal requested my suggestion for a shorter version of my title to use as a "running title" on each page. I suggested "Shaken, Not Stirred," but they wouldn't use it.
9.15.2006 12:54pm
lsu (mail):
Unbuckling the Fourth Amendment: Atwater v. City of Lago Vista (unpublished)
9.15.2006 1:29pm
Hank:

"Shoehorning" Cyberspace into International Shoe

A word of advice: metaphors do not require quotation marks. As an editor with a legal publication, I see this all the time and have concluded that lawyers must feel that they must indicate (apologize?) when they write in a way that is imaginative or colorful -- as if they should always be literal.
9.15.2006 1:53pm
A2 Reader:
On roads not taken:

I clerked for a judge willing to indulge a pun or two and helped with an opinion on a case involving a police officer who arrested and punched a court security officer after the CSO told the officer that the officer couldn't park in a space designated for a judge (another judge!). In the process of writing it up, we mused how 'disappointing' it was for us that there wasn't a general meele because we could then have entitled the factual section: The Space that Launched a Thousand Fists.
9.15.2006 3:33pm
elChato (mail):
I wanted to lead off the title of an antitrust article with "You Will Not Do, Brown Shoe." I have no idea if someone else used it.
9.15.2006 3:39pm
Steve:
One respect in which I disagree with Sasha is that when I hear "bad pun," I actually take it to mean a good pun. Most of the puns identified in Sasha's footnote are not bad puns. They are just bad.
9.15.2006 3:48pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Two favorites of mine: (1) "One Hundred Years of Privacy," which communicated the article's essence (a look back on the privacy tort a century after Warren and Brandeis first proposed it), and humorously alluded to the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude."

(2) "A RFRA Runs Through It," echoing the title of the movie "A River Runs Through It." People who are familiar with religious freedom law know that RFRA is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, commonly pronounced "riff-rah," not that different from "river." The article's thesis was that after the enactment of the federal RFRA, the entire U.S. Code should be read as if RFRA had amended each statute, and changed the policy balance struck by the drafters of each statute -- hence RFRA runs through the entire Code, so the joke is apt. Plus the article was published in a symposium conducted by the Montana Law Review, and the movie was set in Montana.

Not so good, perhaps because the underlying subject doesn't seem to lend itself that well to jokes: "Creole and Unusual Punishment: A Tenth Anniversary Examination of Louisiana's Capital Rape Statute."
9.15.2006 4:18pm
Stryker:
Helen,

Can I modify the title? We were Upsclaing tobacco cells from flasks to Carboys and 70L bio-reactors?
9.15.2006 4:21pm
liberty (mail) (www):
"Creole and Unusual Punishment"

Ugh! That's just painful...
9.15.2006 4:42pm
Goober (mail):

Most of those puns should be dragged out and shot.

Shooting's too good for them. They ought to be drawn and quoted.
9.15.2006 6:06pm
Thief (mail) (www):
Overheard from a law professor:

"If I never have to see another paper on tolling that doesn't make a bad pun on Hemingway or John Donne in the title, I will die a happy man."
9.15.2006 6:30pm
Helen (mail):
Stryker:

Give the title a try if you like. It didn't work for me with Biotechnology Progress. And I wasn't about to withdraw an accepted paper over the issue!
9.15.2006 6:30pm
M.E. Lopez:
A huge part of the cute-and-trendy title trend is, of course, due to the fact that law journals are run by law students, a large portion of which are people who *want* to be in the MLA but also want to own a house.
9.15.2006 7:38pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Steve: Note that I said that law review note was NOT by me.
9.16.2006 2:32am
Tom Tildrum:
I don't have a link, but I once saw one titled, "From Here To Attorney's Fees."
9.16.2006 9:49am