Wikipedia:Manual of Style/China-related articles

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To write and edit China-related articles, please follow these conventions. For the consistent titling of Chinese-related content, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese).

Chinese language[edit]


Sometimes, it is not obvious to readers which part of a Chinese personal name is the family name. You can add the {{Chinese name}} template to the top of an article to make this clear. For example, on the article for Mao Zedong you could add the markup {{Chinese name|[[Mao (surname)|Mao]]}} which would produce

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Mao.

Introductory sentences[edit]

Li Bai (example)
Chinese 李白

Any encyclopedia entry with a title that is a Chinese proper name should include both the Chinese characters and the Hanyu Pinyin representation for their names in the first sentence. The article title itself is normally the pinyin representation with the tone marks omitted: "Mao Zedong", not "Máo Zédōng", unless another spelling is common (see below).

The {{zh}} template may be used to add Chinese to articles' introductory sentences in a consistent manner. For example:

'''Zeng Guofan''' ({{zh|s=曾国藩|t=曾國藩|first=t|p=Zēng Guófān|w=Tseng<sup>1</sup> Kuo<sup>2</sup>-fan<sup>1</sup>}})


Zeng Guofan (traditional Chinese: 曾國藩; simplified Chinese: 曾国藩; pinyin: Zēng Guófān; Wade–Giles: Tseng1 Kuo2-fan1)

If the simplified and traditional characters are different then consider adding both. Simplified characters should be first for modern China/Singapore subjects and the opposite should be done for modern Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau subjects. The {{zh}} template puts simplified characters first by default, use the |first=t option to put traditional characters first, as in the example.

Where there is more than one parameter in use in a given article a {{Infobox Chinese}} box can be used instead of {{zh}}. This removes the characters, romanization and pronunciations from the opening sentence, thus making it more readable, while retaining the information off to the side so that the reader can still see it— see the top of this section for an example; see {{Infobox Chinese/doc}} for how to use it.

Chinese can be used in other infoboxes. Some such as {{Infobox settlement}} have |native_name= and |native_name_lang= which can be used for Chinese. In others Chinese text can be added to the |name= field, separated from the English by a <br /> to put it on a new line. In this way 'English' infoboxes can be used for Chinese topics; for instance {{Infobox royalty}} should be used for Chinese emperors, see Kangxi Emperor for an example.



The use of italics and bold text is to be avoided with Chinese characters, as it tends to make them less legible: . The templates {{nobold}} and {{noitalic}} can be used to remove unwanted formatting, such as inside an infobox template.

To help establish a simple and clean appearance, if a term is Wikified and has an article, do not provide characters or romanization again. For example, the following is redundant.

Incorrect: Li Shimin (李世民), along with King...

It could easily be rendered as:

Correct: Li Shimin, along with King...

which simplifies the article. If the reader wishes to find out about the native text, he or she can simply click on the link (where the writer should direct the Chinese characters if not already present).

If, however, there is no article, then it is essential to insert traditional or simplified Chinese characters and full Hanyu Pinyin with tone-marks, as a minimum. The original Chinese name is needed to avoid redundant articles and help readers find additional sources to improve the articles, since not all translations into English of a Chinese term will be the same or intuitively related. Those characters can later be removed once a stub or article has been created.

However, non-English insertions should minimize interruption to the flow of reading. They should always be put within parentheses, as if they were call-outs not part of the sentence. Try reading the sentence aloud by skipping everything within the parentheses. If an English reader can read the sentence in a grammatically correct way without any unpronounceable interruption, then the sentence is in acceptable form. Use the "labels= parameter set to "no" to prevent language labels from being shown when using the {{zh}} template to wrap Chinese characters. For example:

Correct: "His name was Li Shimin (李世民)."

is acceptable provided that there is no existing article for Li Shimin.

Incorrect: "His name was 李世民 (Li Shimin)."

is not a readable English sentence. Chinese insertions to list and table entries can be done without parentheses because these items are seldom read like sentences.



English Wikipedia uses pinyin as the default Romanisation method for Chinese characters, except where a non-pinyin form of a word is used by modern reliable secondary sources. Examples of this exception include Chiang Kai-shek, Yangtze River and tofu. Another exception would be for articles or people, places or things relating to non-Mandarin speaking regions of China including, but not limited to, articles on Hong Kong and Xinjiang subjects.

Where a non-pinyin romanisation has been used, other romanisations within the article should still follow the pinyin default. For example Tsingtao Brewery is a trademark which uses a non-pinyin romanisation but an article talking about Tsingtao Brewery should still use the pinyin spelling when talking about Qingdao city:

Correct: Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd. is located in Qingdao city, Shandong.

Incorrect: Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd. is located in Tsingtao city, Shan-tung. or Tsingtao Brewery Co., Ltd. is located in Tsingtao city, Shandong.


The tone mark is added to the vowel in the syllable that comes first in this sequence: a o e i u ü. For example, ai takes the tone mark on a, and ia also takes the tone mark on a. The only exception is iu which takes the tone mark on u. Italicise pinyin to differentiate it from the English text.

To help you type pinyin, Wikipedia now has clickable characters with diacritics under the edit box; you can also use {{subst:pinyin|input}} which takes pinyin with tone numbers as input (eg. Lv3shun4kou3) and converts it to the preferred form with diacritics (Lǚshùnkǒu). Other options include Pinyinput or online converters such as Google Translate's phonetic reading function.

Keeping in mind that a word in pinyin cannot start with the letters "I," "U," or "Ü," the diacritics used are:

  1. The first tone is represented by a macron (ˉ) added to the pinyin vowel:

    ā ē ī ō ū ǖ Ā Ē Ō
  2. The second tone is denoted by an acute accent (ˊ):

    á é í ó ú ǘ Á É Ó
  3. The third tone is symbolized by a caron (inverted circumflex) (ˇ):

    ǎ ě ǐ ǒ ǔ ǚ Ǎ Ě Ǒ
    1. Please do not use the breve (a curved downward circumflex) for the third tone.
  4. The fourth tone is represented by a grave accent (ˋ):

    à è ì ò ù ǜ À È Ò
  5. The fifth or neutral tone is represented by a normal vowel without any accent mark:
    (There is no need to indicate neutral tones with numbers or with dots before the syllable: "·ma")

    a e i o u ü A E O

Tone diacritics are not used to transcribe names or terms that appear in the normal flow of an article (e.g. "...early Ming dynasty scholar Gù Yánwǔ..." or "...a bronze dǐng excavated from a Zhou dynasty tomb..."). They should only be used in templates and parentheticals (e.g. Chinese: 顧炎武; pinyin: Gù Yánwǔ) or in infoboxes.


In accordance with the English Wikipedia Manual of Style, a list of works cited in the article should be included in an article's "References" section. Editors are strongly encouraged to use the appropriate Citation Style 1 or Citation Style 2 template when listing works. In any case, in China-related articles these entries should be formatted as follows:

  • Doe, John (1950). A Book About Sinology. New York: National University Press.  ISBN 1-234-56789-0.

If an author is Chinese or Japanese, the characters for their name may be added (unless their article is linked):

  • Li, Guang 李光; Takada, Masaharu 高田雅春 (1990). Another Book About Sinology. London: British Publishing.  ISBN 1-234-56789-0.

Since the modern Korean and Vietnamese languages have largely abandoned the use of Chinese characters in favor of phonetic writing systems, this is usually unnecessary for Korean and Vietnamese authors.

If a work is in an East Asian language, the title should be romanized, spaced at word boundaries, with only the first word capitalized and the rest given in lowercase unless they are proper nouns. An English translation of the title may be given in brackets or parentheses following the original title. Names of publishing companies or presses are transliterated but not translated. For example:

  • Yuan, Jiahua (1983). Hànyǔ fāngyán gàiyào 汉语方言槪要 [Outline of Chinese Dialects] (in Chinese). Beijing: Wenzi gaige chubanshe. 

For Chinese and Japanese works, it is helpful to also include the original title, but without italicizing the characters. In the above example using a {{cite book}} template, this was accomplished with a |script-title=zh:汉语方言槪要 field.


Many browsers are not set up to correctly render Chinese text. If an article contains several instances of Chinese text, such as this page, consider using the template {{contains Chinese text}} near the top of the article, shown at the top of this section. This will alert users to the missing information. The uncertainty of the Chinese characters' display is another reason why you should always provide some type of romanization when referring to Chinese concepts in articles.

If you are not using the {{zh}} template or other template designed for Chinese characters, wrap your characters in {{lang}} for accessibility and many other reasons. For example:

  • Ink and wash painting ({{lang|zh-Hans-CN|水墨画}})


  • Ink and wash painting (水墨画)

Linking to Wiktionary[edit]

Our sister-project, Wiktionary, contains the full Unihan database, and is consequently an invaluable Chinese reference tool. All Ruby characters are automatically linked to Wiktionary. In some exceptional cases, you may need to manually insert a link to the Wiktionary entry for a character.

The {{Linktext}} template can be used to link directly to Wiktionary. For example {{zh|c={{linktext|中国}}}} produces Chinese: 中国. Separate characters with a pipe (|) symbol to link them individually. If you want to insert a link in a box to one side, use {{Wiktionarypar|字}} (see box on the right).

Ruby characters[edit]

Ruby annotation is a way of putting pinyin in small letters over the top of a Han character. It cannot be used for normal inline text on Wikipedia because the small size at which characters are displayed means that the even smaller text on top is illegible. However, it is appropriate for Han characters that have a line or paragraph to themselves. It has the advantage of keeping the transcription very close to the character, and is thus didactically helpful. In browsers that do not support it, it degrades gracefully into a transcription in parentheses after the character.


Chinese characters (trad.) with pinyin transcription added using ruby annotations
北方(Běifāng) (yǒu) 佳人(jiārén)絕世(juéshì) (ér) 獨立(dúlì)
() () (qīng) (rén) (chéng)(zài) () (qīng) (rén) (guó)
(Nìng) () (zhī) (qīng) (chéng) () (qīng) (guó)
佳人(Jiārén) (nán) (zài) ()
English translation
In the North there is a lady, stunning and singular.
One look confounds a city; a touch dooms an empire.
Rather not wishing to know, the ruination that may follow,
rare beauty is here and now.

The markup to display text like this is as follows:

" {{ruby-zh-p|梦|mèng}} " displays " (mèng) ".

Browser support:

  • IE — Supported.
  • Firefox 38 or above — Supported
  • Firefox 37 or below with support installed — works fine if ruby line height adjustment is enabled (default) in the extension’s options/preferences menu.
  • Firefox 37 or below without support installed — displays in parentheses.
  • Opera 15.0 or above — Supported
  • Opera 14.x or below — displays in parentheses.
  • Safari — Supported.
  • Chrome — Supported.
  • Android stock browser (Android 4.4) — Supported.

Lists of pages currently using this template: ruby, ruby-ja, ruby-zh-b, ruby-zh-p.


Modern Chinese polities[edit]

Policy shortcut:

Following is the consensus guide on when to use which term in reference to subjects related to China. Consistency of language across all articles is not a requirement of Wikipedia. It is also not necessary that a single article use one term consistently over the other. Where "China," or "People's Republic of China" is used it should not be changed arbitrarily. In many contexts the terms can be used interchangeably. Which one is used in such contexts is largely a matter of editorial style. In cases where either "China" or the "People's Republic of China" both seem appropriate editors should use their own discretion.

China People's Republic of China mainland China
  • In many cases "China" can be used to refer to the modern state officially known as the "People's Republic of China".
  • When discussing geography, those places within the territorial control of the People's Republic of China should generally be said to be in "China". For example, "Zhongguancun has become a major centre of electronics in China", "... a novelist from Chengdu, China".
  • When discussing politics or diplomatic relations, it may be necessary to use the full official name "People's Republic of China". This may be necessary to avoid confusion with the Republic of China if it may have been referred to as "China" at the time or place being discussed. For instance "the PRC replaced the Republic of China as China's representative in the United Nations in 1971." and "The establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949..." and "The People's Republic of China objected to the Vatican inviting diplomats from the Republic of China to represent 'China' at the funeral of the pope."
  • When mentioning official documents, institutions, or positions, it may be preferable to use the full official name "People's Republic of China". For example, "The Constitution of the People's Republic of China...". However, subsequent mentions in the same article may use the adjectival form "Chinese". For example, "Chinese premier Wen Jiabao".
  • In cases where there is ambiguity, use the more specific "People's Republic of China"
  • The term "mainland China" refers to the People's Republic of China when contrasting with the islands of the Republic of China. The term also usually excludes Hong Kong and Macau. Because of the ambiguity of the term, it should only be used when a contrast is needed and when a simpler construction such as "China, except Hong Kong" is unworkable. For example, "Lo Wu is the most heavily trafficked border crossing between Hong Kong and mainland China," "Due to the relocation of many manufacturing and labor-intensive industries to mainland China, unemployment in Taiwan reached a level not seen since the 1973 oil crisis."


The "Chinese language" usually refers to Modern Standard Chinese (MSC, "Mandarin") in its spoken form, and Standard Written Chinese, based on the former, in its written form. Therefore, it is not necessary and often confusing to call Chinese "Mandarin", except when you are contrasting MSC to some other variety ("lect") of Chinese, such as Shanghainese or Cantonese.

The question of whether the primary lects of Chinese are languages or dialects is disputed. In lists or categories such as "Number of speakers by language" or "Films by language", categorize these lects separately if you must list more than one Chinese lect, and if the sources make the distinction (don't do original research by splitting or merging statistics for Chinese lects). As above, avoid gratuitous references to "Mandarin" when you are contrasting only MSC with other standardized world languages, such as French, Spanish, and German.

When describing loanwords, terms, place names, or personal names, it can be appropriate to include the original characters or their transliteration. Including the Shanghainese term would be appropriate for a place name in Shanghai or a Shanghainese dish; including the Taiwanese names for the same would not. On the other hand, including the MSC term is almost always appropriate, because of its status as a lingua franca and as a standard for all governments whose official language is "Chinese".


When identifying people by ethnic group in China-related articles, refer to the Han people or Han rather than "Chinese people", especially when contrasting that ethnic group to other ethnic groups in China, such as Zhuang or Tibetans. "Chinese" can also refer to nationality, so be careful to avoid implying that ethnic minorities are not or should not be citizens of China. Use parallel terms, such as Han Chinese and Zhuang Chinese, or Han people and Zhuang people, or Han and Zhuang, but never Han Chinese and Zhuang people, unless the nationalities of the distinguished groups clearly differ.

Some find a distinction between "Chinese" and "Taiwanese" to be objectionable and the terms "Mainland Chinese"/"Taiwanese" are more politically neutral and use will depend on the context. The term "Mainlander" poses some issues. It is sometimes ambiguous whether this is referring to a resident of Mainland China or a member of the group that fled with the KMT to Taiwan in 1949. In referring to the latter group, the name is mildly objectionable when used in English and strongly objectionable when translated literally in Chinese. Preferred unambiguous names for the two groups are "Mainland Chinese" and "Wàishěngrén".