Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Military history

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Shortcuts:

The Military history WikiProject's style guide is intended to provide recommendations regarding the content and structure of articles within the scope of the project.

Naming conventions[edit]

Shortcut:

Events[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (events).

An article should generally be placed at the most common name used to refer to the event (such as Battle of Gettysburg, Siege of Leningrad, Attack on Pearl Harbor, or Doolittle Raid). If there is no common name, the name should be a descriptive geographic term such as "battle of X" or "siege of Y", where X and Y are the locations of the operations; see also the section on capitalization. Non-neutral terms such as "attack", "slaughter", "massacre", or "raid" should be used with care.

If disambiguation is needed, the year may be added in parentheses (as in Battle of Salamis in Cyprus (306 BC)). Multiple battles at the same place in the same year should be called "First", "Second", and so forth (as in First Battle of Zurich and Second Battle of Zurich); alternately, the month of the battle may be used as a disambiguation (as in Invasion of Tulagi (May 1942)) — follow usage in reliable sources.

Operational codenames

Shortcut:

Operational codenames generally make poor titles, as the codename gives no indication of when or where the action took place and only represents one side's planning (potentially causing the article to focus on that side's point of view to the detriment of the other). It is better to use an appropriate geographical name for the article, creating a redirect from the operational name, for all but the most well-known operations (such as Operation Barbarossa), or for military actions that were never carried out (such as Operation Green).

Units, formations, and bases[edit]

Shortcuts:

An article about a unit, formation, or base should be placed at "Name (optional disambiguator)". The name should generally be either the official name used by the armed forces to which the unit or base belongs; or, in cases where no relevant formal name exists or where a formal name is not commonly employed by historians, the most common name used in historical literature.

A name originally in a language other than English should be adapted by translating common terms (such as designations of size and type) and transliterating the remainder of the name. The choice of which components of the name are to be translated (and how) should follow the conventions employed by reputable historical works on the topic; some collected recommendations for specific terms are maintained by the relevant national task forces. The original name should be provided in the first sentence of the article, following the translated name; for example: The 3rd Mountain Division (3. Gebirgs-Division) was... or Boden Fortress (Swedish: Bodens fästning) is....

Names should generally follow the stylistic conventions used by the service or country of origin. For example, while US and British usage has spelled-out numerals for army-level formations and Roman numerals for corps, editors writing about different countries should follow those countries' normal usages; thus, "3. Panzer Armee" becomes "3rd Panzer Army", and "18-ya Armiya" becomes "18th Army".

For units, the optional disambiguator should be the common name of the country whose armed forces the unit belongs to (as in 4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)), or, if such usage is still ambiguous (or where the unit does not serve a country), the name of the service branch to which the unit belongs (as in 1st Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)). The disambiguator is not necessary in cases where the name of the country is already present in the name of the unit (as in The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada), or where the name is clearly unique (as in Preobrazhensky regiment).

In cases where a unit's name can reasonably be expected to be used by multiple armed forces—particularly in the case of numerical unit designations—the units should generally be preemptively disambiguated when the article is created, without waiting for the appearance of a second article on an identically-named unit. If this is done, the non-disambiguated version of the unit name should be created as a disambiguation page (or a redirect to the disambiguated version).

For bases, the optional disambiguator should be the region, province, state, or territory in which the base or fortress is located; for example, "Fort Lyon (Virginia)" and "Fort Lyon (Colorado)". The disambiguator is not necessary in cases where the name is unique to a single fortress or base.

When a unit or base has had multiple names over the course of its existence, the title should generally be the last name used; however, exceptions can be made in cases where the subject is clearly more commonly known by one of the previous names.

Root pages for the armed forces of a state are named, if the official name is known, by the official name's English translation (for example, "Australian Defence Force"). If the native language name is most commonly used, this should be kept (for example, "Bundeswehr"). Other national armed forces are only provisionally located at "Military of X", and should be renamed to the translation of the official name when available. Alternately, articles can be renamed if there is consensus over how the armed forces in question are normally referred to in common usage (for example, "United States armed forces").

Category names[edit]

Shortcut:

A number of naming conventions exist specifically for category names; most of these are used to ensure consistent naming among all the sub-categories of a particular category.

"X by country" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by country" take names of the form "X of [the] Y", where Y is the most common name of the country in question. For example:
The subsidiary "by branch" categories for topics such as military units or personnel follow the same convention, with the full branch name replacing the country name (as in Category:Military units and formations of the United States Army).
Categories classifying military conflicts and operations by country take names of the form "X involving [the] Y" instead:
"X by era" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by era" take names of the form "X of the Y era", where Y is the name of the era of warfare in question. For example:
"X by war" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by war" take names of the form "X of [the] Y", where Y is the most common name of the war in question. For example:
"X by size" 
This category tree is used primarily for military units and formations; sub-categories take the name "Y", where Y is the size in question (as in Category:Military units and formations by sizeCategory:Regiments, Category:Corps, and so forth).
"X by type" 
In most cases, sub-categories of a category named "X by type" take names of the form "Y X", where Y describes the type in question. For example:
Note that this form of category tree tends to exhibit more varied naming than the others. For example, Category:Battles by type also includes the non-standard Category:Sieges (since "Siege battles" would be a cumbersome name).
Intersection categories 
The names of intersection categories generally follow the same conventions as above, with the name components of their parent categories placed in normal grammatical order (usually with era/war designations given after country/branch ones). This produces, for example, "Naval battles of the Early Modern era" (type and era) and "Airborne regiments of the United States Army in World War II" (type, size, branch, and war).

Usage and style[edit]

Capitalization[edit]

The general rule is that wherever a military term is an accepted proper noun, it should be capitalized. Where there is uncertainty as to whether a term is generally accepted, consensus should be reached on the talk page.

When using numerical model designation, the word following the designation should be left uncapitalized (for example, "M16 rifle" or "M109 howitzer") unless it is a proper noun.

Date ranges[edit]

Shortcut:

Military events often require the expression of a date range; this presents opportunities for clear, attractive formatting.

En dashes

The Manual of Style specifies that an en dash rather than a hyphen should be used. Where there are internal spaces within one or both items, the en dash should be spaced on both sides. Examples:

  • 1968–1970, not the hyphenated 1968-1970
  • May–August 1944
  • 3 June – 15 August 1914; US format June 3 – August 15, 1914, not June 3-August 15, 1914
  • 12–14 September 1943; September 12–14, 1945 (here, the numerals 12 and 14 are treated as the items, which are unspaced)
Minimal repetition

Consider expressing date ranges without repetition; thus:

  • January–March 1968, not January 1968 – March 1968
  • 3–4 November 1951 or November 3–4, 1951, not 3 November 1951 – 4 November 1951; nor even 3 November – 4 November 1951, or their US equivalents
Closing item

The closing item in a year range may be two digits rather than four, at editorial choice:

  • The second phase (2004–06), rather than The second phase (2004–2006)

Flag icons[edit]

Shortcut:
For more details on this topic, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (flags).

In general, the use of flag icons is not recommended; neither, however, is it prohibited. When deciding whether flag icons are appropriate in a particular context, consider:

  • Do the icons convey useful information to the reader, or are they merely decorative? Icons that differentiate among several parties (for example, icons used to indicate commander allegiance in Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945)) are likely to be useful, while icons that convey irrelevant or redundant information are usually not.
  • Can flag icons be used consistently? In other words, do all the groups in a given list have usable flags? If only a few have them, it may be better to omit flags for all the items than to have a different layout for each one.
  • Will adding icons disrupt the existing structure or flow of the text? It is important to keep in mind that infobox templates permit limited useful width, so the use of flag icons in them can potentially conflict with readability.

When flag icons are used, they should be historically accurate ones. In particular:

  • When dealing with items related to a particular time period, avoid using anachronistic flags from other time periods. Be especially careful to avoid using the flags of modern countries for ancient ones; in many cases, the proper successor of a country no longer in existence is a matter of considerable controversy.
  • Avoid using national flags in inappropriate contexts, such as for groups or individuals not aligned with any country.

When dealing with biographical infobox templates, the most common practice is to use flag icons to indicate allegiance or branch of service, but not place of birth or death. However, there remains considerable disagreement regarding the appropriateness of flags in such cases, so editors should not regard this as a universal rule.

For issues concerning Irish flags, see WP:IMOS FLAGS.

Precision[edit]

Shortcut:

In general, articles should strive to be precise. Where the names of specific operations, formations, or commanders are available, for example, it is usually better to use them instead of more general terms; "The Ninth United States Army would launch an offensive, codenamed Operation Grenade, across the Roer" is likely to be more helpful to the reader than "The United States would launch an offensive across the Roer".

It is important to note, however, that the level of precision in an article should be appropriate for its scope. Articles dealing with narrower and more specialized topics can use more specific terminology than may be feasible in articles dealing with broad overviews or very general topics; and general terminology is often appropriate in an introductory section even where more specific terms are used in the body of the article. Precision should not be pursued to such an extent that it impairs the average reader's understanding of the topic.

Pronouns[edit]

Shortcuts:

Ships may be referred to either using female pronouns ("she", "her") or genderless pronouns ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. As with all optional styles, articles should not be changed from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so.

Section length[edit]

Shortcut:

Overly lengthy continuous blocks of text should be avoided; sections which are so long as to impede reader understanding should be broken down into subsections. There remains some disagreement regarding the precise point at which a section becomes too long, so editors are encouraged to use their own judgment on the matter.

Sourcing and citation[edit]

Sources[edit]

Shortcut:

Policy requires that articles reference only reliable sources; however, this is a minimal condition, rather than a final goal. With the exception of certain recent topics that have not yet become the subject of extensive secondary analysis, and for which a lower standard may be temporarily permitted, articles on military history should aim to be based primarily on published secondary works by reputable historians. The use of high-quality primary sources is also appropriate, but care should be taken to use them correctly, without straying into original research. Editors are encouraged to extensively survey the available literature—and, in particular, any available historiographic commentary—regarding an article's topic in order to identify every source considered to be authoritative or significant; these sources should, if possible, be directly consulted when writing the article.

Restricted sources[edit]

Shortcut:

Articles that report on "black projects" and other classified topics are required to fully conform to Wikipedia's policies governing verifiability, original research, and fringe theories. All information presented in such articles must be appropriately cited to reliable sources as outlined above. The inadequacy of public sources may not be used to justify the inclusion of unsourced or poorly sourced material in an article or to relax normal standards of sourcing and citation.

Citations[edit]

Shortcut:

The nature of historical material requires that articles be thoroughly—even exhaustively—cited. At a minimum, the following all require direct citation:

  1. Direct quotations of outside material
  2. Paraphrasing or other borrowing of ideas from an outside source
  3. Controversial or disputed statements
  4. Subjective or qualitative judgments
  5. Numerical quantities or statistics

In general, any statement for which a citation has been explicitly requested by another editor should be provided with one as well.

Beyond this, editors are encouraged to cite any statement that is obscure or difficult to find in the available sources, as well as any significant statement in general. There is no numerical requirement for a particular density of citations or for some predetermined number of citations in an article; editors are expected to use their best judgment as to how much citation is appropriate. When in doubt, cite; additional citations are harmless at worst, and will prove invaluable in the long term as one moves toward featured article status.

Citation styles[edit]

Shortcut:
For more details on this topic, see Wikipedia:Citing sources § Inline citations.

In general, articles may use one of two citation styles:

  • Footnotes
    Footnotes are generally the more appropriate option when the level of citation is very dense, or where the citations include additional commentary. A number of different formatting styles are available; so long as an article is internally consistent, the choice of which to use is left to the discretion of the major editors. Discursive notes may either be combined with citations (as here and here), or separated (as here).
    A single footnote may be used to provide citations for any amount of material; while they typically apply to one or a few sentences, they may also cover entire paragraphs or sections of text. In cases where the connection between the citations and the material cited is not obvious, it is helpful to describe it explicitly (for example, "For the details of the operation, see Smith, First Book, 143–188, and Jones, Another Book, chapters 2–7; for the international reaction, see Thomas, Yet Another Book, 122–191").
  • Harvard-style references
    Harvard-style references are useful where a limited number of simple citations is needed; they typically should not be used if the article has a significant number of other items in parentheses, or if citations must be accompanied by commentary.

The final choice of which style to follow is left to the discretion of an article's editors.

Requesting citations[edit]

Editors should attempt to take a reasonable approach when requesting citations. Unless the accuracy of a statement is in significant doubt, it is generally better to start with a request for citations on the article's talk page, rather than by inserting {{fact}} tags—particularly large numbers of such tags—into the article. Over-tagging should be avoided; if a large portion of the article is uncited, adding an {{unreferenced}} or {{citation style}} tag to an entire section is usually more helpful than simply placing {{fact}} tags on every sentence. Note that some articles contain per-paragraph citations, so checking the citations at the end of a paragraph may yield information about facts or figures in the paragraph as a whole.

Templates[edit]

The various primary and auxiliary infobox templates and navigation templates maintained by the Military history WikiProject are all coded to use a common set of styling characteristics. This is needed primarily because a number of the templates are designed to be stacked together to present the appearance of a continuous block; it is also beneficial for providing a consistent appearance to the entire set of articles within our scope.

Infobox templates[edit]

Shortcut:

A few general guidelines apply to all military history infoboxes:

  1. Most of the fields in each infobox can be omitted if desired; the choice of which ones are appropriate for a particular article is left to the discretion of the article's editors.
  2. Multiple values given in a single field should be separated by both commas and, where appropriate, line breaks; merely spacing them onto separate lines can confuse screen reader software, and is ambiguous when long terms wrap onto multiple lines in their own right.
  3. Any use of flag icons should follow the relevant guidelines.

Primary infoboxes[edit]

A primary infobox is intended to provide a summary table for some topic. It should generally be placed at the top of an article, before the lead section; this will cause it to be displayed in the top right corner.

{{infobox firearm cartridge}} 
Used for cartridges and artillery shells.
{{infobox military award}} 
Used for awards, decorations, and medals.
{{infobox military conflict}} 
Used for all conflicts and combat operations, such as battles, campaigns, and wars.
{{infobox military memorial}} 
Used for cemeteries, monuments, and memorials.
{{infobox military person}} 
Used for personnel.
{{infobox military structure}} 
Used for structures and facilities, including fortifications and bases.
{{infobox military test site}} 
Used for test sites.
{{infobox military unit}} 
Used for units and formations.
{{infobox national military}} 
Used for an overview of a country's armed forces and expenditures.
{{infobox war faction}} 
Used for factions participating in a war.
{{infobox weapon}} 
Used for all weapons, including firearms, explosives, and armored vehicles.

Several infobox templates that are not specifically designed for military topics are also commonly used on military-related articles:

{{infobox aircraft}} 
Used for aircraft.
{{infobox ship begin}} 
Used for naval vessels.

Auxiliary infoboxes[edit]

An auxiliary infobox is a supplementary template intended to be used in conjunction with one of the primary infoboxes; it is usually placed directly below the primary infobox, but other layouts are possile. It is common for multiple auxiliary infoboxes to be used on a single article.

{{Infobox command structure}} 
Used to indicate a unit's parent and subordinate units at a particular date.
{{Infobox operational plan}} 
Used to summarize information about the planning and execution of a particular operation.
{{Infobox service record}} 
Used to summarize a unit's or ship's service record.

Shortcut:

Navigation templates[edit]

The various navigation templates maintained by the Military history WikiProject are all intended to be implemented through a single base template, which combines the project's common template style with the standard navigation box format. This is needed primarily to allow multiple such templates to be stacked together—with each other, or with infobox templates—to present the appearance of a continuous block; it is also beneficial for providing a consistent appearance to the entire set of articles within our scope.

Any military-related navigational template should be created using the {{military navigation}} base template, as shown below:

{{Military navigation
| name = 
| state = 
| style = 
| title = 
| image = 
| imageleft = 
| odd_color = 
| even_color = 
| above = 
| listclass = 

| group1 = 
| list1 = 

| group2 = 
| list2 = 

| group3 = 
| list3 = 
...
| group30 = 
| list30 = 

| below = 
}}
name 
The actual page name (i.e. "XYZ" for Template:XYZ) of the newly-created template.
title 
The displayed title of the navigation box.
listclass 
Optional – but typically hlist, to format content as horizontal lists. In the case of hlists in above or below fields, set bodyclass=hlist, instead.
style 
Optional – an alternative style for the template; this may be set to "wide" to produce a full-width box. The alternative style should be used sparingly; it is intended that the majority of navigational templates will use the default style (in the wild, "wide" has become quite common). The above example template formatted with style=wide is shown below:
state 
Optional – may be set to "collapsed" to force the template to render in its closed state by default.
odd_color/even_color 
Optional – the stripe colors for alternating listN items to use. These parameters should be used sparingly; in the absence of a good reason to do otherwise, templates should use the default stripe colors.
groupN/listN 
The body of the navigation box, consisting of successive horizontal blocks of content (the listN fields) with optional labels (the corresponding groupN fields). Please see the documentation for {{navbox}} for more details on the different layouts possible.
above 
Optional – the sub-header of the navigation box; please see the documentation for {{navbox}} for more details on the resulting layout when this is used.
below 
Optional – the footer of the navigation box; please see the documentation for {{navbox}} for more details on the resulting layout when this is used.
image 
Optional – an image to be displayed at the right of the box, given in the form [[Image:Example.jpg|100px]]. This parameter should be used sparingly, and typically only in conjunction with the full-width template style.
imageleft 
Optional – an image to be displayed at the left of the box, given in the form [[Image:Example.jpg|100px]]. This parameter should be used sparingly, and typically only in conjunction with the full-width template style.

Common problems with navigation templates[edit]

Shortcut:

There are several known issues with the current navigation template design that editors should be aware of:

Bunched-up edit links 
If several infoboxes or navigation templates are stacked along the right margin of an article, the [edit] links of nearby sections may be moved to unexpected positions. A number of workarounds exist; full details are available on the linked page.
Shifted header wrapping 
A long header used in a narrow navigation template may wrap incorrectly, with the second line being indented further than necessary. A workaround is possible by adding a <br /> tag between the words where the wrapping is to occur. This should be done to separate link-text to the right of the 'pipe' (|), as follows: [[Article title|Article <br /> title]]. An alternative method is to use {{allow wrap}} for the link-text as follows: [[A very long article title|{{allow wrap|A very long article title}}]], which allows the browser to break as-needed.
Stretching or overflowed boxes 
A very long header formatted as a single link may cause a template to stretch beyond its normal width, or the whole link to extend off too far to the right. A workaround is possible by breaking the header onto multiple lines, as shown above.

Shortcut:

Campaignboxes

One common type of navigational template in articles concerning conflicts, wars and related topics is the campaignbox template, intended to provide convenient navigation among articles on the battles in a campaign, front, theater or war (or, more rarely, among several campaigns or wars).

If the article includes an infobox, the campaignbox/es are usually placed immediately after it (i.e. just below it). If available, as with infoboxes such as {{Infobox military conflict}}, use the infobox's |campaignbox= parameter:

{{Infobox military conflict
...
}}
{{Campaignbox XXXX}}
or

{{Infobox military conflict ... | campaignbox = {{campaignbox XXXX}} }}

Articles may include multiple campaignboxes; typically, these are stacked under the infobox. The most common scenario occurs when two levels of campaignboxes are present – for example, an article about a battle can include both a campaignbox listing the battle itself and an "enclosing" campaignbox listing the campaign, theater or war during which the battle took place. Similarly, an article about a war can include both a campaignbox listing the war (among a series of wars) and a campaignbox for the war itself, listing the battles that took place during it.

Creating campaignboxes

Existing campaignboxes may be viewed through the Campaignbox template category to which campaignboxes are added automatically. If a new campaignbox becomes necessary, it should be named Template:Campaignbox XXXX (where XXXX is the (shortened) name of the campaign) and should use {{Campaignbox}} thus:

{{Campaignbox
| name = 
| title = 
| battles = 
| notes = 
}}
Parameters
name  
The name by which Wikipedia refers to the template, i.e. "Template:Campaignbox XXXX". This can be produced by using {{subst:PAGENAME}}.
title  
The name of the campaign or war, which, if an article about the campaign or war exists, should link to it. Dates should not be indicated unless needed for clarity. Note that long links may cause alignment problems; see the troubleshooting guide for more information.
battles 
A chronological list of battles and operations in the campaign, linked as [[Battle of YYYY|YYYY]]. A convenient and accessible way to separate the items in the list is to add | listclass = hlist and then use the standard * (asterisk)-based listing format.
notes  
(optional) Any explanatory notes needed to clarify the list. This option should be used sparingly.
(raw_name
(optional; deprecated) This parameter overrides the use of the title in determining the template name and exists for the sake of backward compatibility. When creating a new campaignbox, both title and name should be specified as above and this parameter omitted.

The following optional parameters are passed on to the templates {{Military navigation}} or {{Navbox}} used to create campaignboxes and so can affect their styling. See these two templates' documentation pages for further details.

state 
To set whether the campaignbox appears fully visible or collapsed (to titlebar only) when it is first presented by a page.
bodyclass 
CSS styling to affect the whole template.
listclass 
CSS styling to affect the list of battles, operations, etc (i.e. to affect |battles=).

The use of special formatting (such as bolding or changes in font size) in the list of battles – particularly to mark battles as "important" – is generally discouraged; while there are a few cases where such approaches may be both helpful to the reader and sufficiently well-sourced that they do not constitute original research, they are usually both unnecessary and potentially confusing. Similarly, dividing the list of battles into multiple blocks by inserting heading-like separations should be exceptional; if such a division is felt to be needed, a better solution may be to split the one campaignbox into two or more.


Stub templates[edit]

There are a number of stub classes available for military history articles. The generic military history stubs are {{mil-stub}} and {{mil-hist-stub}}. For military people, see Category:Military personnel stubs. For a complete list of stubs, see the list of military history stubs and the list of military and weaponry stubs.

Categories[edit]

Overview[edit]

The category scheme originates in two root categories—Category:War and Category:Military—and can be thought of as two tree structures that intersect at several points. A guide to the top-level sub-categories of these two root categories is presented below; for brevity, a number of categories that are rarely used or lie outside the scope of this project have been omitted.

Category:War 
Root category for matters related to wars and warfare (military or otherwise).
Category:Aftermath of war 
Root category for all topics related to the effects of war.
Category:Anti-war 
Root category for anti-war movements and resistance to war; see the Anti-war WikiProject for more information.
Category:Causes of war 
Root category for all topics related to the causes and precursors of war.
Category:Laws of war 
Root category for topics related to the laws of war, including war crimes.
Category:Military and war museums 
Root category for museums dealing with any aspect of warfare or military affairs.
Category:Military operations 
Root category for specific military operations, such as wars and battles; see the section on conflicts and operations below for more information.
Category:People associated with war 
Root category for people (both military and non-military) with some connection to warfare; see the section on people below for more information.
Category:Warfare by type 
Classifies warfare by type (primarily by geographic or technological factors).
Category:Military 
Root category for military matters (wartime or otherwise).
Category:Military by country 
Classifies militaries by the organizing country.
Category:Military art 
Root category for all types of artwork depicting the military.
Category:Military awards and decorations 
Root category for all topics related to military awards and decorations.
Category:Military diplomacy 
Root category for military-related aspects of diplomacy, such as alliances and treaties.
Category:Military equipment 
Root category for military equipment, including weapons and vehicles.
Category:Military history 
Root category for various classification schemes for topics in military history, as well as general historiographic topics.
Category:Military images 
Root category for images related to the military.
Category:Military law 
Root category for topics related to legal matters involving the military.
Category:Military life 
Root category for topics related to life in the military.
Category:Military lists 
Root category for military-related lists.
Category:Military locations 
Root category for military locations, including structures and facilities.
Category:Military operations 
Root category for all combat and non-combat military operations; see the section on conflicts and operations below for more information.
Category:Military organization 
Root category for military organization, including units and other groups.
Category:Military personnel 
Root category for military personnel; see the section on military personnel below for more information.
Category:Military-related organizations 
Root category for organizations related to the military.
Category:Military science 
Root category for topics related to military science, theory, and doctrine; see the military science task force for more information.
Category:Military terminology 
Root category for specific military terms.
Category:Military veterans' affairs 
Root category for articles related to the general topic of military veterans and veterans' organizations.

General principles[edit]

Naming[edit]

For naming conventions related to categories, see the section on naming conventions above.

Most specific categories[edit]

Shortcut:

In general, articles and categories should be placed in the most specific applicable categories, and should not be placed directly in a "parent" category if they are already present in one of its sub-categories. In other words, if an article is placed in Category:Wars involving the United States, there is no need to place it in Category:Military history of the United States as well.

Note, however, that this applies only to direct placement into a "parent" category; it is normal for a category to have multiple indirect paths up to some other category higher in the tree. For example, Category:Naval battles of the Spanish-American War is both a sub-category of Category:Battles of the Spanish-American War (which is a sub-category of Category:Battles involving Spain) and a sub-category of Category:Naval battles involving Spain (which is also a sub-category Category:Battles involving Spain); thus, there are two distinct paths from Category:Naval battles of the Spanish-American War up to Category:Battles involving Spain. This is especially common when dealing with intersection categories.

Nested categories[edit]

Shortcut:

One important aspect of the "most specific" principle is that if every article in a category belongs to another category, it is sufficient to nest the categories directly, rather than double-categorizing each individual article. For example, Battle of Bosworth Field does not need to be added to Category:Battles involving England directly because Category:Battles of the Wars of the Roses is already a sub-category of it. Similarly, the articles in Category:Military units and formations of the United States Marine Corps do not need to be added to Category:Military units and formations of the United States directly.

In some cases, entire category trees will nest as above. For example, all "by war" categories should be sub-categories of the applicable "by era" category, and that a redundant "by era" label should not be applied to articles where a "by war" one is given (for example, Category:Military units and formations of the Crusades should be a sub-category of Category:Military units and formations of the Middle Ages, so an article already in the first need not be added to the second).

Note that this strategy should be applied only when every article in one category belongs in the other. For example, it is inappropriate to make Category:Battles of the Napoleonic Wars a sub-category of Category:Battles involving the United Kingdom, because there are many battles in the first category in which the United Kingdom was not a participant; thus, Battle of Waterloo must include both categories separately.

Intersection categories[edit]

Shortcut:

In many cases, articles can be categorized through several parallel classification schemes, associating them with the related countries, wars, eras, and other topics. There are two general ways of applying multiple categories from these classification schemes to a particular article. The simplest, which can be sufficient for unusual combinations or small categories, is to apply each category separately. For example, a medieval French unit could be placed in both Category:Military units and formations of the Middle Ages and Category:Military units and formations of France. However, this system is unwieldy as category sizes increase; thus, common combinations of multiple categories can be made explicit by creating an "intersection" sub-category for them; for example, Category:Military units and formations of France in the Middle Ages.

The intersection category can potentially combine an arbitrary number of elements from the overall category structure, but categories that combine two or three are more common. For example, Category:Regiments of France in the Napoleonic Wars (units by size, by country, and by war), Category:Airborne units and formations of the United States Army in World War II (units by type, by branch, and by war), and Category:Naval battles of the American Civil War (battles by type and by war) are all potential intersection categories. It is recommended that intermediate "holder" categories (such as Category:Military units and formations of France by size or Category:Regiments by country) be liberally created in order to keep the overall category system navigable.

Note that the simpler system can still be used in conjunction with intersection categories to avoid the proliferation of extremely small and narrow sub-categories. For example, it may be better to place an article in both Category:Cavalry units and formations and Category:Military units and formations of France in the Middle Ages than to create an additional Category:Cavalry units and formations of France in the Middle Ages. A similar approach should be taken if there is no reasonable way to name a potential intersection category; for example, rather than creating the grammatically atrocious Category:Prisoner-of-war pilot generals of World War II, it is better to leave separate categories (Category:Pilots of World War II, Category:Generals of World War II, and so forth).

Conflicts and operations[edit]

Shortcuts:

The category tree for all conflicts and operations derives from the top-level Category:Military operations, as follows:

Category:Military operations
Category:Military operations by country 
Organizes both combat and non-combat operations by the country (or non-state entity) that planned or executed them.
Category:Military operations by scale 
Organizes operations by their operational scale.
Category:Battles 
Root category for all battles; see the section on battles below for more information.
Category:Military campaigns 
Root category for all campaigns; see the section on campaigns below for more information.
Category:Wars 
Root category for all wars; see the section on wars below for more information.
Category:Military operations by type 
Organizes both combat and non-combat operations by the "type" of warfare involved.
Category:Military operations by war 
Organizes both combat and non-combat operations by the war during which they were planned or executed.
Category:Non-combat military operations 
Root category for all non-combat operations.
Category:Cancelled military operations 
Root category for both combat and non-combat operations that were planned but never executed.
Category:Lists of military operations 
Root category for all lists of operations.

A particular country will thus have a tree of categories containing every operation in which it participated. At its greatest extent, the tree will take a form similar to this:

Note that, particularly for countries whose military history does not include the modern era, many of these categories may be omitted. In particular, it is common for the "Battles involving Foo" and "Wars involving Foo" categories to be placed in the corresponding "Military history of Foo" category directly, without a separate "Military operations involving Foo" category between them.

For historical states, categories below the "Military history of ..." level should be kept distinct from those of their successor states. For example, Category:Wars involving England is a sub-category of Category:Military history of the United Kingdom, but not of Category:Wars involving the United Kingdom.

A large war will have a similar tree of categories for every component operation; at its greatest extent, the tree will take the following form:

The full tree is unnecessary for the vast majority of wars; the most common configuration is to have a simple two-level scheme:

Classifying conflicts[edit]

Specific conflicts are typically classified as battles, campaigns, or wars for the purposes of categorization. In this context, the terms are generally understood to mean the following:

  • A war is a conflict bounded by periods (however brief) during which the combatants are formally at peace with one another; it generally consists of multiple distinct component operations such as battles or campaigns.
  • A campaign is a coherent series of smaller operations with a defined overall goal; this goal may, however, change over the course of the campaign.
  • A battle is a single, distinct engagement generally limited to a narrow geographic scope and typically characterized by the opposing forces encountering one another, engaging in some form of combat, and then separating.

In general, articles should be classified according to what the topic actually is, regardless of the name used. For example, a series of engagements generally regarded by historians as a campaign should be categorized as one even if it's referred to as the "Battle of X".

Some operations and conflicts may need to be classified into more than one of the above levels; however, this should generally be done only when it substantially adds to a reader's understanding of the events. The possible double-classification scenarios are outlined below:

  • War and campaign: This can occur when a "sub-war" is fought as part of a larger war (for example, the French and Indian War, as part of the Seven Years' War). A subsidiary conflict is typically a "sub-war" when it includes some participants not involved in the larger conflict; the article can then be categorized as a war involving those participants, but as a campaign involving the participants of the larger conflict.
  • Campaign and battle: This can occur in modern warfare, where a long-term engagement has been treated by historians as either a single battle or a sequence of separate battles.
  • War and battle: This should generally be avoided, except in the few cases where a war consisted of a single large battle and only a single article covers the conflict.

Wars[edit]

Shortcut:

Articles about wars are usually placed in three sets of categories nested under Category:Wars:

Some larger wars have dedicated categories (such as Category:Hundred Years' War). In this case, it is sufficient to categorize the war category as above; the war article (Hundred Years' War, in this example) need only be placed in the associated war category.

Campaigns[edit]

Shortcut:

Articles about campaigns are usually placed in three sets of categories nested under Category:Military campaigns:

  • By date: a campaign article should always be placed in a category by year (such as Category:Conflicts in 1878) corresponding to the period during which it took place. Longer campaigns spanning several years may be placed in multiple year categories, or in the corresponding decade or century categories in extreme cases.
  • By war: a campaign article may optionally be placed in a sub-category of Category:Campaigns by war; this should generally be done only for wars that have a substantial number of campaign articles.
  • By participants: a campaign article should generally be placed in one or more sub-categories of Category:Military campaigns by country corresponding to the parties involved in the campaign.

Battles[edit]

Shortcut:

Articles about battles are usually placed in four sets of categories nested under Category:Battles:

  • By date: a battle article should always be placed in a category by year (such as Category:Conflicts in 1878) corresponding to the date on which the battle was fought. Longer battles spanning several years may be placed in multiple year categories, or in the corresponding decade or century categories in extreme cases.
"Battles in ..."

Shortcut:

One frequently asked question about this category scheme is why battles are categorized by participants, rather than by location; why are there no "Battles in ..." categories, in other words? The answer is that, unlike categorizing by participants, which is relatively intuitive and extremely useful, categorizing by location produces a scheme that is unintuitive and difficult to work with, at best, and completely meaningless and impossible to maintain, at worst.

There are two basic options when categorizing battles by country: using the modern countries, or using the historical countries that existed at the time of the battle. The first option—using modern countries—results in a category scheme that makes meaningless connections based on changes in geography centuries after the events discussed in the articles in question. The Siege of Königsberg in 1262, for example, would be classified as a siege in Russia, despite Russia not being involved in any way at the time. Similarly, the campaigns of individuals such as Alexander the Great would be scattered among dozens of countries in a fairly arbitrary manner. This is, at best, a less intuitive approach than categorizing by participants.

Categorizing by the historical location is even more problematic. The chief difficulty is that, unlike the participants in a battle (which are almost always uncontroversial), the ownership of the land where a battle was fought is often a matter of significant historical controversy—having, at times, been the cause of the battle itself! In cases where the territory was historically a disputed one, arbitrarily assigning it to one of the countries involved is highly problematic, for obvious reasons. Even in cases where ownership can be determined, however, doing so is quite often neither obvious nor intuitive, and requires an unreasonably detailed knowledge of the various diplomatic events of the surrounding period; this is particularly problematic in medieval and early modern Europe, where cities and territories regularly changed hands. For example, the various sieges of Milan in the early 16th century took place—fairly unpredictably—within the territory of either the Duchy of Milan, France, or Spain, depending on which country had been the last to receive the city in one of the myriad treaties during the period. Unlike categorizing by historical participants, which can be done from almost any description of the battle itself, categorizing by historical location thus requires an exhaustive knowledge of obscure diplomatic concerns, and is at times simply impossible due to underlying territorial disputes.

Units and formations[edit]

Shortcut:

Articles about units and formations are typically placed into five sets of categories nested under Category:Military units and formations:

A particular article need not be categorized with all of the possible category types; for some topics, certain of the category options are inapplicable or inconvenient labels.

People[edit]

The category tree for all topics related to people involved in warfare derives from the top-level Category:People associated with war:

Category:People associated with war
Category:People by war 
Classifies all people (military and non-military) by the war with which they are associated.
Category:Children in war 
Root category for topics related to children's involvement in warfare.
Category:Civilians in war 
Root category for topics related to civilian involvement in warfare.
Category:Military personnel 
Root category for soldiers and other military personnel.
Category:Women in war 
Root category for topics related to women's involvement in warfare.

A large war will have a tree of categories for all people involved in it in some way; the tree will typically take the following form:

Equipment[edit]

For guidance about categorization of articles about military vehicles see Wikipedia:Categorization of military vehicles. Military aircraft are categorized as per other aircraft - see Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Categories.