Wikipedia:Naming conventions (books)
|This guideline documents an English Wikipedia naming convention. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.|
This is a naming conventions guideline for the naming of Wikipedia articles about books, which includes printed books and e-books.
The titles of books (usually meaning in fact the title of the literary work contained in the book) are capitalized by the same convention that governs other literary and artistic works such as plays, films, paintings etc.
- 1 Scope and definitions
- 2 Title translations
- 3 When the title version "best known in English" cannot be determined
- 4 Subtitles
- 5 Standard disambiguation
- 6 Article title format
- 7 Precision
- 8 See also
Scope and definitions
When we talk of a modern "book", we very often mean the work that each of the many physical copies of the printed edition contains. In contrast, well known manuscripts, especially illuminated ones, are unique objects, and their names are the names of the objects, not the titles of "books" or works (in the majority of cases the text is one of the standard religious texts, or one of a small group of other works) and so they are not italicized. Thus, for example, the Book of Kells, whose text is the Four Gospels, is not italicized. For another example, the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry is a manuscript and a book in the physical sense, but not a work with a title, and so it is the "manuscript names" naming conventions guideline that deals with article naming.
By contrast Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, published in 1984, ISBN 3-85672-025-1, a two volume facsimile and commentaries edition of the manuscript "Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry", is a book in the meaning of the present guideline.
Some examples from antiquity to clarify the difference between works and manuscripts (in these examples the "manuscripts" are carved in stone):
- The Decree of Memphis is a text (a "book" in the context of this guideline), of which the Rosetta Stone is one of the manuscripts;
- The Res Gestae Divi Augusti is also a book, ie a text, the larger part of which was recovered from several temple inscriptions in Latin and Greek.
Ancient use of the term "book"
From antiquity to the early modern age it was not uncommon for either the author or subsequent scribes or editors to divide a single written work into separate "books" (volumes, tomes, scrolls), where a more modern author would call such subdivisions "parts" or even "chapters": for example Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico contains eight "books", somewhat of "chapter" length when compared to more modern writings.
For the purpose of this guideline, "book" means the entire work, and not a subdivision, even if that subdivision has a (subsidiary) title of its own.
Sometimes books are collected into a larger entity, for example a "trilogy", or another type of series. Whether Wikipedia treats the individual books on separate pages, or the whole collection of such serialized books on a single page, varies from case to case. In general, however, the "series" page is created first, spinning off pages on individual books only if necessary.
See the "comics" Naming Conventions guideline for comics and graphic novels.
This guideline does not contain specific information on how to name Wikipedia articles on periodicals (magazines, newspapers, etc.). In most cases naming such articles will not be problematic, nor incompatible with this guideline, except that for periodicals that have no specific English edition, the title is usually not translated (example: Pravda, not The Truth).
Poems and lyrics
Poems normally follow this guideline on books, e.g. The Lady of the Lake (poem), for the Walter Scott poem. However not italicized when not published as a separate book, e.g. Sonnet 130, "An Arundel Tomb".
Articles on the text used for musical compositions (aka "lyrics", "libretto",...) are usually not separated from the articles on those musical compositions, and follow the naming conventions for such types of works, e.g.:
- La donna del lago, opera based on The Lady of the Lake – Wikipedia page name according to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (operas)
- Ave Maria (Schubert), aka Ellens dritter Gesang, based on the same poem by Walter Scott – Wikipedia page name according to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (music)
...unless the text started to live a life on its own, like the L'Olimpiade libretto – which is an article about a book in the sense of this guideline.
However, texts that are as well a prayer and/or liturgical/ritual text, as they are also standard lyrics for compositions (e.g. Kaddish, Requiem, Salve Regina, Missa brevis, Wessobrunn Prayer) have the title of their main article (that is the article not on a particular composition) not italicized.
Articles that serve to list the literary works written by an individual writer should have a title that starts with the writer's name and ends with the word "bibliography" (ex. George Orwell bibliography, Fyodor Dostoyevsky bibliography). Literary works include non-fiction books, novels, plays, poetry, short stories, articles, speeches, sermons, letters, screenplays, and song lyrics. If the list includes creative works that are not literary works, then the word "bibliography" does not have a broad enough definition to encompass the entire list and therefore the title should read "List of works by" and then the name of the individual (ex. List of works by Salvador Dalí, which includes both literary and non-literary works). Non-literary works include filmography (other than screenwriting), discography (other than songwriting), visual art, dance, and architecture. Articles that serve to list the literary works written by different writers about a particular subject should have a title that starts with "Bibliography of" and ends with the name of the subject (ex. Bibliography of early American naval history), even when that subject is a person (ex. Bibliography of Abraham Lincoln).
Should a book title, of a book originally written in a foreign language, be translated into English?
If the original language does not use the Latin alphabet, the title is normally translated. Preferably in English, example: "Οἰδίπους Τύραννος" → Oedipus the King (not "Oedipus Rex", which is the Latin translation).
However, in some cases, when a transcription or transliteration of a title originally not in Latin alphabet, is better known, and/or less ambiguous, that version of the title can be used, example: Tao Te Ching (though in this case the situation is further muddied by the choice between Wade–Giles and pinyin Chinese language romanizations).
If the book is best known by an English title, use that version of the title.
Also books that haven't been published in English (yet) are preferably referred to by an English version of the title, if the title in the original language would not easily be recognised by the majority of English speakers, for instance (from José Saramago#Bibliography): Lucidity (a translation of the title for example used on this page in 2004), and not Ensaio sobre a Lucidez. Some time later the publication of the English translation of the book was announced , causing the link in the author's article to be changed to Seeing (novel) .
When the title version "best known in English" cannot be determined
For some books it cannot be determined, not even by educated guesswork, which version of the title is the most common. For these books, try to determine which of the widely spread versions of the book in the English-speaking world was the most authoritative original (that is, the version that contributed most to the book's becoming known in the English-speaking world), and stick to the title as it appeared on that edition.
Example: Oscar Wilde's play Salomé/Salome was first written in French (title: Salomé), but the first printed edition in English, of which the translation was supervised by the author, was Salome. Notwithstanding that later English editions variously had either Salomé or Salome on the title page, the Wikipedia article is at Salome (play).
Usually, a Wikipedia article on a book (or other medium, such as a movie, TV special or video game) does not include its subtitle in the Wikipedia page name, per WP:CONCISE. The only exception to that is short article titles, for disambiguation purposes. Examples:
- Orlando: A Biography, not Orlando (novel), nor Orlando (book), both of which are redirects; Orlando is a disambiguation page. (The subtitle A Novel, however, is not sufficient by itself to disambiguate among two or more novels where one bears the subtitle and another does not.)
- A History of Western Philosophy, not A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
- The Social Contract, not The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right
- On the Origin of Species, not On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, nor On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (see example image at right →)
Except for extremely long ones, it is best to provide redirects from the title including the subtitle. The standard separator for the title and the subtitle (that is, in cases where both taken together don't constitute a continuing phrase) in the page name is a colon followed by a space, as in the first example above.
To disambiguate, add the type of literary work in parentheses, such as "(novel)", "(novella)", "(short story)", "(dialogue)", "(essay)", "(play)", etc. If none of these specific qualifiers applies, also "(book)" can be used. Note however that this qualifier would usually be perceived as indicating a non-fiction type of writing.
If further disambiguation is needed, add the author's surname in parentheses: "(Orwell novel)", "(Asimov short story)", etc. In this case it is not advised to leave out the qualifier of which type of book it is, unless completely redundant, which may happen for some non-fiction books like Histories (Herodotus)/Histories (Tacitus). Additional examples:
Article title format
Book titles, like names of other works, are proper nouns and thus "lowercase second and subsequent words" does not apply to them. They are usually italicized (see however also #Poems and lyrics above, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles#Scripture).
This is an additional feature that can help in disambiguation, for instance, for distinguishing articles on a known phrase, and a book that has that phrase as title, examples:
- Pearls before swine refers to a Bible quote; Pearls Before Swine can refer to (among other things) a comic strip and a novel.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play, Who's afraid of the big bad wolf is a line from a children's song.
Be aware that parenthetical qualifiers can introduce Point of View (POV) in a Wikipedia page name. For instance locating the article at Orlando (novel) or Orlando (biography), would add POV, to Orlando: A Biography, where the author attempted (deliberately, as explained by herself) to create a fiction/non-fiction cross-over genre; however Wikipedia's WP:NPOV does not apply to redirect pages, so it is appropriate to create redirects with these POV title in order to make Wikipedia easier to navigate.
When using the title as written by the author, and nothing else, possible implications of POV are the author's and not Wikipedia's. Trying to "purge" Wikipedia page names of an external author's intentions, would be creation of a new POV; Wikipedia's Neutral point of view (NPOV) policy includes not to tamper with what authors of notable works want to express with the title they give to their work (see also Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Article names). If there are opposing views about the book title, these are better explained in the article text and not crammed in the Wikipedia page name.
Hence "(book)" or a similar qualifier is not used in article names, unless where needed for disambiguation from other Wikipedia pages. Examples:
- Stupid White Men, not Stupid White Men (book)
- Darwin's Dangerous Idea, not Darwin's Dangerous Idea (book)
- The Divine Comedy, not The Divine Comedy (poem)
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles) – info on how to represent books in article text
- Wikipedia:Citing sources – a difference between page names of book articles and books cited as reference, is that in the latter case conventionally the subtitle is always mentioned.
- Wikipedia:Naming conventions (definite and indefinite articles at beginning of name)#Titles of works – examples on whether or not the page name on a book article should start with a definite or indefinite article.