Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages

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Disambiguation pages ("dab pages") are designed to help a reader find Wikipedia articles on different topics that could be referenced by the same search term, as described in the Disambiguation guideline. Disambiguation pages are not articles; they are aids in searching.

This style guideline is intended to make the search more efficient, by giving disambiguation pages a consistent look and by avoiding distracting information. In brief, the pages should contain only disambiguation content, whether or not the page title contains the parenthetical (disambiguation). (This guideline does not apply to articles that are primary topics, even if the articles are prefaced by a "See also" hatnote or the like at the top of the page.)

Page naming[edit]

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In general, the title of a disambiguation page is the ambiguous term itself, provided there is no primary topic for that term. If there is already a primary topic, then "(disambiguation)" is added to the title of the disambiguation page, as in Jupiter (disambiguation). For more on how to title a disambiguation page, see Naming the disambiguation page.

At the top of the page[edit]

The first line of a disambiguation page should be the introductory line (see below) unless there is a link to Wiktionary using the templates shown below, in which case that should be the first line. If there is a link to the primary topic (see below), that line should appear before the introductory line, but after the Wiktionary link. Each of these three should begin its own line (the Wiktionary template creates a box on the right side of the page).

Linking to Wiktionary[edit]

When a dictionary definition should be included (see What not to include), rather than writing a text entry, create a cross-link to Wiktionary, one of the Wikimedia sister projects. To do this, use one of these Wiktionary link templates on the first line:

  • {{Wiktionary}} – {{wiktionary|WORD|WORD2|...|WORD5}} – up to five optional parameters; useful for linking dictionary entries with multiple capitalizations (star, Star, and STAR) – without parameters, defaults to using the current page's name without capitalization.
  • {{Wiktionary pipe}} – {{wiktionary pipe|WORD|optional display name}}

Be sure to check the links created by these templates, as Wiktionary's case sensitivity sometimes differs from Wikipedia's. (On the first letter, Wiktionary uses proper capitalization for its entries, unlike Wikipedia's use of an uppercase first letter for each page name.)

Linking to a primary topic[edit]

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When a page has "(disambiguation)" in its title – i.e., it is the disambiguation page for a term for which a primary topic has been identified – users are most likely to arrive there by clicking on a top link from the primary topic article, generated by a template in the {{otheruses}} series. For example, the article School contains the hatnote:

For other uses, see School (disambiguation).

The primary topic is the one reached by using the disambiguation page title without the (disambiguation) qualifier. Capitalisation differences matter, so there will only be one primary topic for a title.

Since it is unlikely that this primary topic is what readers are looking for if they have reached the disambiguation page, it should not be mixed in with the other links. It is recommended that the link back to the primary topic appear at the top, in a brief explanatory sentence. For instance:

A school is an institution for learning.

School may also refer to:

  • School of thought, a number of individuals with shared styles, approaches or aims
  • School (fish), a group of fish swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner
  • . . .

When the ambiguous term has a primary topic but that article has a different title (so that the term is the title of a redirect), the primary topic line normally uses the redirect to link to that article:

A cosmonaut or astronaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft.

Similarly for an acronym, initialism or alphabetism:

HP is Hewlett-Packard, a technology corporation.

In some cases it may be clearer to link directly to the redirect target:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) was a famous composer during the Classical period.

instead of the more awkward

Mozart was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), a famous composer during the Classical period.

Introductory line[edit]

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The term being disambiguated should be in bold (not italics). It should begin a sentence fragment ending with a colon, introducing a bulleted list:

Interval may refer to:


John Smith may refer to:

or

John Smith is the name of:


ABC may refer to:

or

ABC may stand for:

Where several variants of a term are being disambiguated together, significant variants may be included in the lead sentence. For example:

Bang or bangs may refer to:

or

Bang(s) may refer to:

Arc or ARC may refer to:

Angus McKay, MacKay or Mackay may refer to:

However, it is not necessary to mention minor variations of capitalization, punctuation or diacritics. For example, AU may refer to: is preferable to "AU, au, Au or A-U may refer to"; and Saiyuki may refer to: is preferable to "Saiyuki, Saiyūki or Saiyûki may refer to".

Individual entries[edit]

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After the introductory line comes a list of individual entries – lines which direct the readers to Wikipedia articles on the various topics which might be referenced by the term being disambiguated. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of the disambiguation page is to help people find the specific article they want quickly and easily.

Example:

Interval may refer to:

Apply the following rules when constructing entries:

  • Preface each entry with a bullet (an asterisk in wiki markup).
  • Start each entry with a capital letter (unless it begins with a link to an article marked with {{lowercase}}, like eBay).
  • Use sentence fragments, with no closing punctuation unless it is part of the description (e.g., a description that ends in "etc." would end with the period)

  • Include exactly one navigable (blue) link to efficiently guide readers to the most relevant article for that use of the ambiguous term. Do not wikilink any other words in the line. For example:

or

but not

  • Do not emphasize the link with bolding or italics, although titles (such as for books and movies) may need to be italicized to conform with the style guidance on titles. If the article's title contains both a title and a clarifier, use a piped link to quote or italicize only the part requiring such treatment, as opposed to the entire link (see below). E.g.: Dark Star (film).
  • Keep the description associated with a link to a minimum, just sufficient to allow the reader to find the correct link. In many cases, the title of the article alone will be sufficient and no additional description is necessary.

In most cases the title of the target article will be an expansion or variation of the term being disambiguated (as in the example above). If this is the case:

  • The link should come at the start of the entry.
  • The article title should appear exactly as it is on the target page; the link should not be piped except to apply formatting (see below).

In some cases, however, the target article title is not an expansion or variation of the term being disambiguated.[clarification needed] For these cases see Red links and Items appearing within other articles below.

Note also the following points when constructing lists of entries:

  • An entry with no links at all is useless for further navigation. (See "red links" below for cases in which no article yet exists.)
  • A disambiguation page should not be made up completely of red links or have only one blue link on the entire page, because the basic purpose of disambiguation is to refer users to other Wikipedia pages.
  • Never include external links, either as entries or in descriptions. Disambiguation pages disambiguate Wikipedia articles, not the World-Wide Web. To note URLs that might be helpful in the future, include them on the talk page.
  • References should not appear on disambiguation pages. Dab pages are not articles; instead, incorporate the references into the target articles.

Examples of individual entries that should not be created[edit]

Do not include entries for topics that are not ambiguous (according to the linked article) with the title. Use list articles for lists of related topics if needed.

On a page called Title, do not create entries merely because Title is part of the name (see Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Partial title matches).

Common examples:

  • Title City
  • Title Hospital
  • Title University

The above does not apply if the subject is commonly referred to simply by Title. For instance, Oxford (disambiguation) should link to University of Oxford and Catalina might include Santa Catalina Island, California. If there is disagreement about whether this exception applies, it is often best to assume that it does. When multiple articles contain Title but are not referred to by it, {{look from}} and {{in title}} templates may be added in the "See also" section.

You may want to create entries on the same page for:

  • TITLE and Title
  • Title town and Title township
    • An example is Willow Valley, which lists a town of that name as well as "Willow Valley Township" in another state.

Given names or surnames[edit]

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"MOS:DABNAME" redirects here. For the guideline regarding how to name disambiguation pages, see Wikipedia:Disambiguation § Naming the disambiguation page.

Persons who have the ambiguous term as surname or given name should not be in the same section of the disambiguation page as the other links unless they are very frequently referred to simply by the single name (e.g., Elvis, Shakespeare). For short lists of name holders, new sections of Persons with the surname Xxxx or Persons with the given name Xxxx can be added below the main disambiguation list. For longer lists, create an anthroponymy list article and link to it from the disambiguation page. If it isn't clear that the article includes a list, consider mentioning that in the description.

For example:

  • Marilyn (given name), a female given name (including a list of persons with the name)
  • Hunter (name), a given name and a family name (including a list of persons with the name)

Articles only listing persons with a certain given name or surname, known as anthroponymy articles, are not disambiguation pages, and this Manual of Style does not apply to them. Anthroponymy articles follow their own style standards. For those articles, do not use {{disambig}} or {{hndis}}, but {{given name}} or {{surname}} instead.

Misspellings[edit]

Common misspellings should be listed only if there is a genuine risk of confusion or misspelling. These cross-links should be placed in a separate section entitled "Common misspellings" or "See also". For example, in a page called Kington (disambiguation), a link to Kingston (disambiguation) would appropriately be included in the "See also" section.

Piping and redirects[edit]

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"WP:PIPING" redirects here. For the Wikipedia how-to, see Wikipedia:Piped link.

Piping and redirects are two different mechanisms, both having the effect that the displayed text of a link is not the same as the title of the article at which readers will arrive when they click that link.

  • Piping means concealing the actual title of a linked article by replacing it with other text, often to suppress parenthetical expressions in an article. For example, instead of showing the full title of Moment (physics) in a normal article, it will usually be presented as [[Moment (physics)|moment]] to display as a single word: moment.
  • A redirect is a special page used to "jump" readers from one page title to an article with a different title. For example, a redirect is used at the title 9/11 to send users who navigate there to the article at September 11 attacks.

Subject to certain exceptions as listed below, piping or redirects should not be used in disambiguation pages. This is to make it clear to the reader which article is being suggested, so that the reader remains in control of the choice of article. For example, in the Moment disambiguation page, with the entry for Moment (physics), " (physics)" should be visible to the reader. In many cases, what would be hidden by a pipe is exactly what the user would need in order to find the intended article. However, raw section and anchor points should not be displayed. See section and anchor point linking for the handling of these cases.

Exceptions[edit]

Though piping and redirects should generally not be used in disambiguation pages, there are certain cases in which they may be useful to the reader:

Where redirecting may be appropriate[edit]
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  • A redirect should be used to link to a specific section of an article if the title of that section is more or less synonymous with the disambiguated topic. This indicates a higher possibility that the topic may eventually have its own article. For example:
Delta may refer to:
  • (correct) Delta Quadrant, in the Star Trek universe ([[Delta Quadrant]], in the ''Star Trek'' universe)
  • (incorrect) Delta Quadrant, in the Star Trek universe ([[Galactic quadrant (Star Trek)#Delta Quadrant|Delta Quadrant]], in the ''Star Trek'' universe)
  • (incorrect) Delta Quadrant, in the Galactic quadrant of the Star Trek universe (Delta Quadrant, in the [[Galactic quadrant (Star Trek)#Delta Quadrant|Galactic quadrant of the ''Star Trek'']] universe)
The above technique is used when the link is the subject of the line. For description sections, redirects or piped links may be used; follow the normal Wikipedia:Redirect and Wikipedia:Piped link guidelines.
  • Linking to a redirect can also be helpful when both:
  1. the redirect target article contains the disambiguated term; and
  2. the redirect could serve as an alternative name for the target article, meaning an alternative term that is already in the article's lead section.
For example:
James Cary may refer to:
  • (correct) James Carrey or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor ([[James Carrey]] or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor)
  • (incorrect) James Carrey or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor (James Carrey or [[Jim Carrey]] (born 1962), Canadian actor)
The above example of a redirect is only appropriate because James Carrey is indicated as a name in the lead section of the Jim Carrey article. If it were not, then the second example could have been used instead.
Where piping may be appropriate[edit]
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Switch may refer to:

  • "Switch", a song by Siouxsie & the Banshees from The Scream ("Switch", a song by Siouxsie & the Banshees from ''[[The Scream (album)|The Scream]]'')
  • When a disambiguation page is linking to a specific section of an article, rather than an entire article, piping may be used for linking to that section via anchor points or section linking. This technique is used commonly for piping to the track listing section of an album; a further example, from E (disambiguation), is that the piped ESRB ([[ESRB#Ratings|ESRB]]) is preferred to simply linking to the top of the target page ESRB.
  • When piping is used on a disambiguation page to link to an article section (compare with #Items appearing within other articles), the link should be in the description, and should avoid surprising the reader. The text of the link should not be the title of a different article. For example:

Ten may refer to:

  • (correct) Ten or Tenshinhan, a character in Dragon Ball media (Ten or Tenshinhan, a [[List of Dragon Ball characters#Tenshinhan|character in Dragon Ball media]])
  • (incorrect) Ten or Tenshinhan, a character in Dragon Ball media (Ten or Tenshinhan, a character in [[List of Dragon Ball characters#Tenshinhan|Dragon Ball]] media)
Section and anchor point linking[edit]
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Section and anchor points in links should not be visible to the reader (e.g., [[Galactic quadrant (Star Trek)#Delta Quadrant]]). If an anchor-point link is needed:

  • For linking the subject, link to a redirect to the anchor point (or leave the subject unlinked and move the link to the description).
  • For links in the description, link to a redirect or use an anchor-point link with piping to display text similar to the article title.

When creating a redirect to a section, add the template {{R to section}} on the redirect page.

Specific entry types[edit]

External links[edit]

External links do not belong on disambiguation pages; they should not be used.

Foreign languages[edit]

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For foreign-language terms, be sure an article exists or could be written for the word or phrase in question. Usually this means that the term has been at least partially adopted into English or is used by specialists.

Tambo may refer to:

Avoid adding foreign words or phrases that are merely translations of an English term. For example, do not include:

  • Tambo, a Japanese word (田んぼ) for rice paddy

Instead, consider linking to Wiktionary.

People[edit]

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For people, include their birth and death years (when known), and only enough descriptive information that the reader can distinguish between different people with the same name. Keep in mind the conventions for birth and death dates—see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Dates of birth and death. Do not include a, an or the before the description of the person's occupation or role.

John Adams (1735–1826) was the second President of the United States.

John Adams may also refer to:

Places[edit]

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For places, it may only be necessary to write the name of the article.

Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida.

Jacksonville may also refer to:

It may be appropriate to add the country after the link. Leave the country unlinked.

Kimberley may refer to:

Red links[edit]

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A link to a non-existent article (a "red link") should only be included on a disambiguation page when an article (not just disambiguation pages) also includes that red link. Do not create red links to articles that are unlikely ever to be written, or are likely to be removed as insufficiently notable topics. To find out if any article uses the red link, click on it, and then click "What links here" on the toolbox on the left side of the page.

If the only pages that use the red link are disambiguation pages, do one of the following:

  • Unlink the entry word but still keep a blue link in the description. Red links should not be the only link in a given entry; link also to an existing article, so that a reader (as opposed to a contributing editor) will have somewhere to navigate to for additional information. The linked article should contain some meaningful information about the term.
  • Start a new article for the red link, using the description on the disambiguation page.
  • Make a redirect to a page where the item is described (see Piping and redirects above).

In the following (made-up) example, the architectural motif is judged to be appropriate for a future article, but the noodle is not; therefore, only the entry for the architectural motif includes a red link (and this assumes that the fictitious "flibbygibby" entries are described in their respective linked articles):

Flibbygibby may refer to:

Synonyms[edit]

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If the link is to a synonym, simply use it as it is named:

Serving spoon may also refer to:

Items appearing within other articles[edit]

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If a topic does not have an article of its own, but is mentioned within another article, then a link to that article should be included. In this case, the link does not start the line, but it should still be the only blue wikilink. For example:

Maggie Anderson may also refer to:

It is often useful to link to the relevant section of the target page (using the #anchor notation) and conceal that by making it a piped link. For examples, see "Where piping may be appropriate" under Exceptions, above.

If the title is not mentioned on the other article, that article should not be linked to in the disambiguation page, since linking to it would not help readers find information about the sought topic.

Acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations[edit]

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Many pages serve primarily to disambiguate short letter combinations that can represent various acronyms and initialisms. When considering articles to include in the list, it is important that each individual entry is referred to its respective abbreviation within its article. For example:

BSA may refer to:

The second entry is incorrect because the article that it refers to, the British Soap Awards, does not mention that it is abbreviated "BSA", and therefore is unlikely to be searched for by that letter combination. The Boy Scouts of America page, however, notes that the organization is abbreviated "BSA", and would thus be a likely candidate for someone searching that initialism.

Organization[edit]

Order of entries[edit]

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The following generally describe the appropriate ordering:

  1. The primary topic should be placed at the top. In cases where a small number of main topics are significantly more likely to be the reader's target, several of the most common meanings may be placed at the top, with other meanings below. See Mojave or Mercury for examples of this.
  2. Long dab pages should be organized into subject sections, and even subsections as necessary, as described below.
  3. Within each section, entries should then be grouped by how similar the name of the target article is to the name of the disambiguation page. A recommended order is:
    1. Articles with a clarifier in parentheses: e.g., Moss (band)
    2. Articles with a clarifier following a comma: e.g., Moss, Monterey County, California
    3. Articles with the item as part of the name: e.g., Moss Bros (Only include articles whose subject might reasonably be called by the ambiguous title.)
    4. Synonyms: e.g., Tincture on Spirit (disambiguation)
  4. Some entries may belong in a "See also" section:
    • Broader-subject articles that treat the topic in a section: e.g., Brewing as part of a Hops dab page
    • Articles with the item as part of the name, but that are unlikely to be called by the ambiguous title: e.g., Spanish moss as part of a Moss dab page.
  5. Within each group within a section, and within each non-subdivided section, entries should be ordered to best assist the reader in finding their intended article. This might mean in decreasing order of likelihood as user's target, alphabetically, chronologically, or geographically, not to the exclusion of other methods.

Moss is a small, soft, non-vascular plant that lacks both flowers and seeds.

Moss may also refer to:


People with the surname



See also


Organizing long lists by subject sections[edit]

Sometimes the sheer number of topics can make it difficult for a reader to find a particular topic on a disambiguation page. In these cases, it can be helpful to separate entries by subject sections. Section headings should be as simple as possible; Sports is preferred to Sports people or Sports figures, since the nature of the category (people, in this case) should be obvious.

Subject areas should be chosen carefully to simplify navigation. Use subject areas that are well-defined, and that group the entries into similarly sized sections. Very small sections may impede navigation, and should usually be avoided. Entries which don't fit neatly into any section should be placed in an "Other uses" section or subsection, at the bottom of the page or section (but above any human name lists or "See also" section). The "Other uses" section should be relatively short; if it becomes excessively long, it may indicate that the page should be reorganized.

Keep in mind that a particular division scheme may not work equally well on all disambiguation pages. An example:

Thingamajig may refer to:

In science:

In world music:

On longer lists, section headings should be used instead of, or in addition to, bold headings. Using more than one level may be necessary, as on Aurora (disambiguation). Always use ==Level two== as the highest-level header. Section headings should not include links. See Wikipedia:Writing better articles#Headings for more.

On longer lists, {{TOC right}} may be used to move the table of contents to the right hand side of the page. This reduces the amount of white space and may improve the readability of the page. (For more information, see Help:Section#Floating the TOC.) If used, {{TOC right}} should be placed after the lead section of the wiki markup and immediately before the first section heading. Users of screen readers do not expect any text between the TOC and the first heading, and having no text above the TOC is confusing. (For more information, see Wikipedia:Accessibility#Article_structure.)

"See also" section[edit]

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There may be a "See also" section, which can include such items as:

The "See also" should always be separated from the other entries with a section header. Links to other disambiguation pages should use the "(disambiguation)" link per WP:INTDABLINK. When appropriate, place easily confused terms in a hatnote.

Images and templates[edit]

Including images and transcluding templates are discouraged unless they aid in selecting between articles on the particular search term in question. Examples of this are the images at Congo (disambiguation) and Mississippi Delta (disambiguation).

Icons, including flag icons, should not be used on disambiguation pages. Only if flag topics are being disambiguated and images are needed to do so, then flag icons or flag images might be added. See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Icons.

The disambig notice and categorization[edit]

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After all of the disambiguation content (including the See also section, if present), but before any categories (see below) or interlanguage links, a template should be placed identifying the page as a disambiguation page. This generates a message to the reader explaining the purpose of the page, and also places the page in the appropriate category or categories.

The usual template to use is {{disambig}}, which produces a general disambiguation notice, and places the page in Category:Disambiguation pages. Parameters can be added to place the page additionally into other more specific disambiguation categories. For example, if a page includes multiple places and multiple people with the same surname (and possibly other items), use {{disambig|geo|surname}}. A full list of available parameters and their corresponding categories can be found in the {{disambig}} template documentation.

If a disambiguation page consists exclusively of items in one of the more specific classes, then a specific template should be used instead of {{disambig}}. For example, use {{geodis}} for locations, {{hndis}} for human names and so on. A full list can be found in the {{disambig}} template documentation.

If a disambiguation page needs cleaning up to bring it into conformance with this style manual, use {{disambig-cleanup}}. This replaces both {{disambig}} and {{cleanup-date}}.

Do not use {{subst:disambig}} or {{subst:disambig-cleanup}}, as the contents of this notice may change in the future (see Wikipedia:Transclusion costs and benefits). Also, the Wikipedia software relies on links to the templates to determine which pages are disambiguation pages (see MediaWiki:Disambiguationspage), and subst'ing breaks this feature.

Most disambiguation pages do not need to be placed into any categories other than those generated by the template. If such cases do arise (for example, specific categories of personal names that do not have corresponding template parameters), then the additional categories should be placed after the template.

If new topical categories of disambiguation pages seem to be needed, please bring this up for discussion at Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation.

Exceptions[edit]

Set index articles[edit]

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Set index articles are list articles about a set of items of a specific type that have similar or identical names. Set index articles are not disambiguation pages and do not have to follow the style outlined on this page. Note that the set index article exception was designed to be narrow: for pages that contain links to articles about different topics, please follow this style guide for disambiguation pages. An example of a set index article is a list of ships with the same name, such as HMS Albatross. For more information about such ship lists, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Ships/Guidelines#Index pages.

Disambiguation pages with only two entries[edit]

Main page: WP:TWODABS
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Some disambiguation pages with "(disambiguation)" in the title list only two meanings, one of them being the primary topic. In such cases, the disambiguation page is not strictly necessary, but is harmless. The recommended practice in these situations is to place a hatnote on the primary topic article to link directly to the secondary topic. The {{for}} and {{redirect}} templates are useful. Another option is to tag the two-entry disambiguation page with {{Only-two-dabs}}.

If neither of the two meanings is primary, then a normal disambiguation page is used at the base name.

When to break Wikipedia rules[edit]

Application of these guidelines will generally produce useful disambiguation pages which are consistent with each other and therefore easily usable by most readers. Usefulness to the reader is their principal goal. However, for every style recommendation above, there may be pages in which a good reason exists to use another way; so ignore these guidelines if doing so will be more helpful to readers than following them.

See also[edit]