Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Embedded lists

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For a general discussion of lists, see Wikipedia:Lists.

Embedded lists are lists of links, data or information that are either included in the text of an article or appended to the end of an article. Embedded lists may be in table format. Embedded lists should be used only when appropriate; sometimes the information in a list is better presented as prose paragraphs. Presenting too much statistical data in list format may contravene policy.

Prose versus lists

Shortcuts:

Wikipedia differentiates between articles that consist primarily of lists (and are termed "lists" or "stand alone lists") and articles that consist primarily of prose (and are termed "articles"). Articles are intended to consist primarily of prose, though they may contain lists.

Prose is preferred in articles as prose allows the presentation of detail and clarification of context, in a way that a simple list may not. Prose flows, like one person speaking to another. It is best suited to articles, because their purpose is to explain. Lists of links, which are most useful for browsing subject areas, should usually have their own entries: see Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists for detail. In an article, significant items should normally be mentioned naturally within the text rather than merely listed. For example:

Prose List with no content
The 20th-century architecture of New York City includes numerous icons of architecture, most notably its striking skyscrapers. In the first few decades of the century, the city became a center for the Beaux-Arts movement, represented by architects Stanford White and Carrère and Hastings. New York's new skyscrapers included the Flatiron Building (1902), where Fifth Avenue crosses Broadway at Madison Square; Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building (1913), a neo-Gothic "Cathedral of Commerce" overlooking City Hall; the Chrysler Building (1929), a pure expression of Art Deco; and the Empire State Building (1931). Modernist architect Raymond Hood, and Lever House after World War II, began the clusters of "glass boxes" that transformed the classic skyline of the 1930s, culminating in the World Trade Center towers (1973). 20th-century architecture of New York City

If you find an inappropriate or badly written list, insert a cleanup tag at the top of the article. For example, use the {{Prose}} tag for an embedded list that would be better written as prose paragraphs. Other cleanup tags may be found on the page on Wikipedia:Template_messages/Cleanup#Lists.

Appropriate use of lists

While prose in general is preferred for the writing of articles, there are occasions when some form of list may be appropriate. Some occasions and list styles that may be considered are:

"Children" (i.e., Indentation)

It can be appropriate to use a list style when the items in a list are "children" of the paragraphs that precede them. Such "children" logically qualify for indentation beneath their parent description. In this case, indenting the paragraphs in list form may make them easier to read, especially if the paragraphs are very short. The following example works both with and without the bullets:

Prose List
At the beginning of the 20th century, New York City was a center for the Beaux-Arts architectural movement, attracting the talents of such great architects as Stanford White and Carrere and Hastings. As better construction and engineering technology became available as the century progressed, New York became the focal point of the competition for the tallest building in the world.

The city's striking skyline has been composed of numerous and varied skyscrapers, many of which are icons of 20th-century architecture. The Flatiron Building, standing 285 ft (87 meters) high, was one of the tallest buildings in the city upon its completion in 1902, made possible by its steel skeleton. It was one of the first buildings designed with a steel framework, and to achieve this height with other construction methods of that time would have been very difficult. The Woolworth Building, a neo-Gothic "Cathedral of Commerce" overlooking City Hall, was designed by Cass Gilbert. At 792 feet (241 meters), it became the world's tallest building upon its completion in 1913, an honor it retained until 1930, when it was overtaken by 40 Wall Street. That same year, the Chrysler Building took the lead as the tallest building in the world, scraping the sky at 1,046 feet (319 m). More impressive than its height is the building's design, by William Van Alen. An art deco masterpiece with an exterior crafted of brick, the Chrysler Building continues to be a favorite of New Yorkers to this day.

At the beginning of the 20th century, New York City was a center for the Beaux-Arts architectural movement, attracting the talents of such great architects as Stanford White and Carrere and Hastings. As better construction and engineering technology became available as the century progressed, New York became the focal point of the competition for the tallest building in the world. The city's striking skyline has been composed of numerous and varied skyscrapers, many of which are icons of 20th-century architecture:
  • The Flatiron Building, standing 285 ft (87 meters) high, was one of the tallest buildings in the city upon its completion in 1902, made possible by its steel skeleton. It was one of the first buildings designed with a steel framework, and to achieve this height with other construction methods of that time would have been very difficult.
  • The Woolworth Building, a neo-Gothic "Cathedral of Commerce" overlooking City Hall, was designed by Cass Gilbert. At 792 feet (241 meters), it became the world's tallest building upon its completion in 1913, an honor it retained until 1930, when it was overtaken by 40 Wall Street.
  • That same year, the Chrysler Building took the lead as the tallest building in the world, scraping the sky at 1,046 feet (319 m). More impressive than its height is the building's design, by William Van Alen. An art deco masterpiece with an exterior crafted of brick, the Chrysler Building continues to be a favorite of New Yorkers to this day.

Long sequences

In some cases, a list style may be preferable to a long sequence within a sentence, compare:

Prose List
Philosophers discuss the meaning, function, and possibility of offering definitions. It is typical (e.g., in college logic texts) to distinguish a number of different kinds and techniques of definition, including dictionary or lexical definition, intensional definition, extensional definition, ostensive definition, stipulative definition, operational definition, theoretical definition, persuasive definition, and definition by genus and difference. Philosophers discuss the meaning, function, and possibility of offering definitions. It is typical (e.g., in college logic texts) to distinguish a number of different kinds and techniques of definition, including:

Definition lists

A series of definitions should use proper formatting for definition lists. Definition lists take more space, but are quicker for the reader to scan. Properly formatted definition lists are more accessible to people using screen readers and have a variety of technical benefits related to HTML validation, browser compatibility, and automatic implementation of future style changes. Do not leave blank lines between list items.

The most typical reason for using a definition list is for a glossary, in which case it is preferable to other formatting styles. Very large definition lists or lists of items whose definitions contain more than one paragraph may be better presented in other formats, per Wikipedia:GLOSSARIES#Definition_list_wikimarkup. Definition list formatting is occasionally used for other purposes, such as subdividing large sections (e.g., lengthy External links or Further reading sections).

Prose List


A disease is any abnormal condition that impairs normal function, especially infectious diseases, which are clinically evident diseases that result from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents. Illness or sickness are usually synonyms for disease, except when used to refer specifically to the patient's personal experience of their disease. Medical condition is a broad term that includes all diseases and disorders, but can also include injuries and normal health situations, such as pregnancy, that might affect a person's health, benefit from medical assistance, or have implications for medical treatments.

Disease 
Any abnormal condition that impairs normal function, especially infectious diseases, which are clinically evident diseases that result from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents.
Illness or sickness 
Synonyms for disease, except when used to refer specifically to the patient's personal experience of their disease.
Medical condition 
A broad term that includes all diseases and disorders, but can also include injuries and normal health situations, such as pregnancy, that might affect a person's health, benefit from medical assistance, or have implications for medical treatments.

Lists of works and timelines

Lists of works of individuals or groups, such as bibliographies, discographies, filmographies, album personnel and track listings, as well as timelines or chronologies, are typically presented in simple list format, though it is expected that the information will be supported elsewhere in the article by prose analysis of the main points, and that if the lists become unwieldy, they are split off into stand-alone lists per WP:Summary style. The content of a list is governed by the principle of due weight and other content policies, and that for people inclusion should be determined by WP:Source list, in that the entries must have the same importance to the subject as would be required for the entry to be included in the text of the article according to Wikipedia policies and guidelines (including WP:Trivia sections). Cast lists are preferably presented in prose. Specific advice regarding timelines is given in Wikipedia:Timeline standards.

Tables

Tables are a way of presenting links, data or information in rows and columns. They are a complex form of list. Tables might be used for presenting mathematical data such as multiplication tables, comparative figures, or sporting results. They might also be used for presenting equivalent words in two or more languages; for awards by type and year; complex discographies; etc. Consideration may be given to collapsing tables which consolidate information covered in the prose.

Related topics (navigational lists)

'See also' lists and 'Related topics' lists are valuable navigational tools that assist users in finding related Wikipedia articles. When deciding what articles and lists of articles to append to any given entry, it is useful to try to put yourself inside the mind of readers: Ask yourself where would a reader likely want to go after reading the article. Ideally, links in these sections should have been featured in the article. Typically this will include three types of links:

There is some controversy over how many links to articles and links to lists that should be put in any article. Some people separate the "links to articles" (put in the "See also" section) from the "links to lists" (put in the "Related topics" section), but this is not necessary unless there are too many links for one section alone. Some feel the optimum number of links to lists that should be included at the end of any given article is one or two (or fewer). Others feel that a more comprehensive set of lists would be useful. In general, we should use the same criteria when deciding what list to include as we use to decide what articles to include in the See also section. We have to try to put ourselves in the readers' frame of mind and ask "Where will I likely want to go after reading this article?". As a general rule, the "See also" section should not repeat links that appear in the article's body or its navigation boxes.

References and external links

Reference lists show information sources outside of Wikipedia. The two most common types are:

  • "Web hyperlinks", lists of links to web addresses other than Wikipedia, under the heading "External links"
  • "References" - lists of academic journal articles or books, under the heading "References".

It is quite common to combine the list of Web links and the list of book and journal articles and call it "External links and references", "External sources", "Other references", or "Other sources". See Wikipedia:Guide to Layout for more on reference lists.

Wikipedia is not a link collection and articles with only external links are actively discouraged, but it is appropriate to reference more detailed material from the Internet. This is particularly the case when you have used a web site as an important source of information.

Accessibility

Do not separate items by leaving blank lines between them, even when using unordered or definition lists.

Size

See also: WP:SPLITLIST

Consideration should be given to keeping embedded lists and tables as short as feasible for their purpose and scope: material within an embedded list should relate to the article topic without going into unnecessary detail; and statistical data kept to a minimum per policy.

Some material may not be appropriate for reducing or summarizing using the summary style method. Consideration may be needed to either keep all the material embedded in the main article or split it off entirely into a sub-article, leaving a {{See}} template which produces:

Further information: Example list

Some information, such as "Notable people" or "Alumni", which may be read for context or scanned for content, may be formatted with a section lead and a descriptive, bulleted list, or as prose, depending on size. If the list is long, is unable to be summarised, but is not appropriate for splitting out, then a section lead, with a descriptive, bulleted list may be more appropriate than a long prose section.

Bulleted and numbered lists

  • Do not use lists if a passage is read easily as plain paragraphs.
  • Use proper wikimarkup- or template-based list code (see WP:Manual of Style/Lists and Help:List).
  • Do not leave blank lines between items in a bulleted or numbered list unless there is a reason to do so, since this causes the Wiki software to interpret each item as beginning a new list.
  • Use numbers rather than bullets only if:
    • a need to refer to the elements by number may arise;
    • the sequence of the items is critical; or
    • the numbering has some independent meaning, for example in a listing of musical tracks.
  • Use the same grammatical form for all elements in a list, and do not mix sentences and sentence fragments as elements.
    • When the elements are complete sentences, each one is formatted with sentence case (i.e., the initial letter is capitalized) and a final period.
    • When the elements are sentence fragments, the list is typically introduced by a lead fragment ending with a colon. When these elements are titles of works, they retain the original capitalization of the titles. Other elements are formatted consistently in either sentence case or lower case. No final punctuation is used.