February 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 2
During less hectic days back in 1961, two editors at the New York Times got to wondering how that unawed newspaper might have handled some of the more momentous events since time began. They decided to try their hand at writing conventional one-column, two-line “heads” for a number of such incidents. Because of space limitations, a one-column headline is always a difficult chore; in Times practice, the task becomes all the more complicated because of a rigid rule against splitting infinitives or separating an adjective from its subject. Lampooning the headline-writer’s stock of banal verbs, nouns, and phrases, the editors came up with the following typically understated Times headlines, reprinted here with the permission of the newspaper’s employee magazine, Times Talk . We can hardly wait for the day when we’ll read: NOTHING HAPPENS; WORLD VERY HAPPY .