Fan Fic Header
While the format may vary depending on the conventions of the place where the fan work is posted, the typical header contains most, if not all, of the following items:
- Character(s) and Pairing(s) (if applicable)
- Word Count (for fic)
- Media used (for fanart)
- Format (for example: drabble, short story, WIP)
- Type: Standalone, prequel to ___, sequel to ___ , series of stories it belongs to:
- Archive (either yes/no, to say whether the author gives permission for the story to be archived, or to indicate what archive it will appear in - this was seen in fan works passed on mailing lists, years before directly posting in fandom archives became the norm)
- Content Warnings
- Spoilers/Timeline -- when a story is set; what episodes you should have already seen to enjoy the work.
- Author's Notes
- Thanks to the Betas
Headers are a relatively recent convention within fandom, dating from the Usenet era around mid 1990s. Before that, authors of fan works distributed thorough fanzines and early mailing lists rarely gave information beyond title and fandom, and, occasionally, a vague "age statement" to inform that the following fan works could have "Adult Concepts" (usually meaning Lemon and Slash stories) to cover their asses in the case that some worried parent attempted to sue the fanzine creators for providing their dear children smut. As fandom expanded in the internet and fan works became to increase in number, it became a necessity to identify and provide information about the work in question, making the fanfic header a promotional tool. In the years before blogging, headers also served as a communication tool between the creator and other fans, since authors used the initial notes to convey personal information, inside jokes, thanks to other fans, and even insight about their own work and creative process.
Most fan works archiving sites (like Fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own) have automatized the standard headers by including most of the information necessary for the fic in the uploading form and them embedding it in the work page. Fandom communities in blogging sites usually have a header template to be used by any of the members when posting fan works. For other sites, there is a Fanfiction Header Builder tool that easily create headers to be posted in standalone webpages, blogs, and other social media.