Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject icon This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Capitalize internet?[edit]

Should Internet be capitalized or lowercase? Is there a guideline on this somewhere? I did a quick search of this page and couldn't find anything, so if there is a rule, it should probably be added. ~Adjwilley (talk) 22:12, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

I don't know if there's an official guideline, but there's an article (Capitalization of "Internet")! So I'd say it doesn't matter, just as both email and e-mail are acceptable. Unless the distinction is important for meaning, use whichever form you prefer. I personally agree with the sentiment expressed in that article: "Many publications today disregard the historical development and use the term in its common noun spelling, arguing that it has become a generic medium of communication." --BDD (talk) 22:17, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. I personally agree with the common noun form, but it's good to know there's no guideline (yet). ~Adjwilley (talk) 02:50, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
This has been discussed extensively in various places in WP, and the result, as I understand it, is that we capitalize the Internet, but not an internet, if you get my drift. Here's a discussion from way back in 2004: Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (capitalization)#Capitalisation of 'I' in Internet and 'W' on World Wide Web, when it seemed pretty unsettled. Here's one I settled in 2011: Talk:Internet protocol suite#Capitalization in "internet layer", after capitalization of the Internet was pretty well ingrained. Probably it's not in a guideline, but I'd regard it as settled by consensus. Dicklyon (talk) 03:58, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
Here is one of my favorite linguist authorities on this question. Normally, I'm a downcaser, but I think the case for capitalizing the Internet is pretty good. Dicklyon (talk) 04:06, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
(A year late, but just in case there should be any subsequent question:) I concur with Dick. Any interconnection of computer networks can be an internet, but the Biggest Daddy of Them All is Internet. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:32, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The Internet (the world-wide network of networks based primarily upon the TCP/IP protocol) is always capitalized. An internet, any network of smaller networks, is not capitalized, and is rarely used because of the ambiguity to most readers.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  10:26, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
    PS: WP does not write in news style, so we really don't care if this newspaper chain or that news website is lower-casing "internet" out of laziness these days. We're not obligated to follow sloppy journalistic style trends.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:55, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
  • I have to take a different line from my friend SMc. Lowercase usage has been on the increase for some time, seeing no use for the original technical distinction between the internet as worldwide network, and more localised structures. I downcase it when I can. Tony (talk) 13:10, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
That strikes me as an argument to downcase everything for which there's any paper-publishing trend to downcase, which is everything, because fewer and fewer people bother with the shift key and some publishers are emulating this to be "hip". It's not a trivial matter. There are entire style guides, since the 1990s, leaning this direction because they're trying to appeal to a particular market, not because it actually aids English writing clarity in any way. Another issue I have with this is that the more dominant the Internet becomes, over other internetworks, the less some people want to capitalize it, which seems rather like wanting to write roman empire when discussing the empire at its peak, or writing microsoft windows because its the most popular OS. Names don't become less proper because the things to which they refer become more successful and ubiquitous in their time. See my response to Enric Naval, below, for more concerns some of which apply to the case you're making as well.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:49, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
  • ngrams shows a decline of the capitalized form starting in 2002 [1], but it only covers until 2008.... --Enric Naval (talk) 14:04, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
That's barely statistically significant. What it does show is that lower case usage has barely risen at all, and that fewer books are being published talking about the Internet. Rhetorical question: How are you weeding out references to internet (i.e. general internetworking) technologies and protocols? How are you distinguishing noun from adjectival use? The latter question is independently important, because a growing camp of writers, following the Chicago Manual of Style and other guides, in competition with various that disagree, are proselytizing the idea that adjectival usage should be downcased even where noun usage would not be (brussels sprout, draconian measures, roman candle fireworks, etc.), with various exceptions that generally have to do with how closely tied the reference is to the referent (thus Italian cuisine and Kafkaesque bureaucracy). Another question (and for Tony1, too): How many of the sources you are looking may be relying upon The Guardian style guide, which downcases almost everything and has a lot of other problematic postmodernisms, like abandonment of most hyphenation and most use of "." except at the end of a sentence, and so on? Next, frequency of use we observe through a tool like ngrams is a secondary concern to clarity in encyclopedic writing, which would naturally lean toward using a more distinct form when it is not a neologism nor something only found in specialist publications.

This is nothing like the species common name capitalization case, but exactly the opposite: Here we have something that began capitalized and has started to become lower-cased by technologically ignorant writers whom we do not need to emulate; in the other case, we had something that's always been lower case, going all the way back to Darwin's era, but which was being capitalized here (and not much in any general-audience writing elsewhere) because specialists verging on ignorance of formal writing outside their own field were trying to make everyone change to capitalization. We can't approach questions like this from a "capitalization is bad, get rid of all of it" angle. Different things are capitalized for different reasons, both logically and conventionally. It's not WP's job to try to play trend-spotter and emulate what some publishers are doing because we believe they're going to win. PS: It's pretty clear that some writers (and readers) are just confused by the difference (or that there is any) between various things ending in -net. The Internet is a proper noun. So is Usenet, but a substantial number of people lower-case it anyway, yet others camelcase it incorrectly as UseNet, and some even throw in weird capitalization like USENET or even USEnet (because of the influence BITnet, back in the day). But ethernet is not a proper name; it's just a technology, not a particular network, thus lower-cased. And so on. These things are not all the same sort of thing, and have different case conventions because they are not the same.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:49, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Bravo! I will just underline that we should not follow trends, but good usage. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:03, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

More sourcing[edit]

  • See above for sources provided by Dick Lyon, and links to previous discussions with more sourcing still.
  • Here are much more useful ngrams[2][3], showing that even in cases of adjectival use of "Internet" or "internet" – the most common usage for which people have started advocating lower case – there is no major trend in this direction. These searches find any case of a determiner followed by internet or Internet, followed in turn by a noun (first ngram) or another adjective (second ngram). They show the exact same pattern of a barely noticeable rise in lower-case usage, but a general decline in capitalized usage (which is still the vast majority of usage). This means there are fewer books being published about the Internet, or going on and on about the Internet, but that, yes, there's the beginnings of trend toward lower-casing in more recent ones. Note also the enormous spike toward upper case from the late 1990s to mid-2000s when most books about the Internet and the Internet revolution were published. The current trend (only observable up to 2008, and which could actually be in decline for all we know) to extent it's a reliable indicator of some people switching to lower case is still a small minority usage. All of the ngram data strongly suggests WP should stick to upper case. And it still doesn't weed out generic lower-case usage like "of internet technologies", etc., which would account for some of the lower case usage to begin with.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:11, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Chicago Manual of Style, 16th [current] ed., 2010[4]:

7.76 Terms like "web" and "Internet"
In keeping with Chicago’s recommendations elsewhere (see 8.67), generic terms that are capitalized as part of the official name of a system or an organization may be lowercased when used alone or in combination. (In a departure, Chicago now considers web to be generic when used alone or in combination with other generic terms.) Abbreviations for file formats are normally presented in full capitals (see also 10.52). For treatment of the names of keys and menu items, see 7.73. For terms such as e-mail, see 7.85.

  • Macintosh; PC; personal computer
  • hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP); a transfer protocol; hypertext
  • Internet protocol (IP); the Internet; the net; an intranet
  • the Open Source Initiative (the corporation); open-source platforms
  • the World Wide Web Consortium; the World Wide Web; the web; a website; a web page

Note that Chicago has an entire chapter about how much they favor downcasing, too; they are definitely not a capitalization-happy style guide!  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:30, 3 May 2014 (UTC)


It seems to me there has been a strong showing that both current usage and the recommendations of accepted authorities favor capitalization of Internet. Are we agreed on this? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:33, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Works for me, and I can certainly cite more reliable, non-specialist evidence in favor of the capitalization if necessary. The majority of ostensibly reliable style sources on this matter which down-case are journalistic, and WP is not written in news style, so they end up not being particularly relevant to the question here. If we did whatever the Guardian, New York Times and Associated Press style guides insist on, we'd have to delete about 2/3 of our MoS.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:27, 14 May 2014 (UTC)

President of the United States[edit]

In a section on compound nouns, WP:JOBTITLE gives the example “President of the United States.” As this title does not include a compound noun, it is not clear what rule, if any, it is supposed to be illustrating. In any case, The Chicago Manual of Style gives "president of the United States," so this is clearly an incorrect usage. It was added sometime in 2012 without discussion. The Clever Boy (talk) 10:27, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

That phrase does not include a compound noun but "Vice President Ford" is the example. -- PBS (talk) 20:31, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
It is indeed wrong - and I can't believe this hasn't been noticed for two years! It was inserted on 23 January 2012 by User:PBS with the comment "See talk Use US example not Prime Minister which is a job description not a title." The relevant discussion is here. The consensus at the talk page does not seem to have been implemented - which might explain how it slipped through the net. I suggest the best thing is to implement the consensus reached at the talk page in 2012 - unless anybody has any objections. Shem (talk) 19:16, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
The consensus was implemented which alternative would you prefer? -- PBS (talk) 20:31, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I have no objection. "Prime Minister" has been bantered about as a "title" of office since Parliament's 1935 budget. PBS's assertion was historically incorrect. There's a difference between saying "the American president" "the president of the Untied States said today... vs. "Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States" or "the prime minister said" or "Prime Minister Chamberlain" and "Blair became the prime minister" vs. "The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of...etc.", "Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ", or "the pope". Context matters. --ColonelHenry (talk) 19:37, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
One does not usually write "Prime Minister Chamberlain" in British English, which was the whole point of the change to an American example of the compound noun of "Vice President" which is used as title (as in Vice President Biden). As to whether Ford became the "38th President of the United States" or "38th president of the United States" I am disinterested. -- PBS (talk) 20:31, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Whether or not "Prime Minister Chamberlain" is atypical in BrEng is rather arguable anymore, since some of the UK newsrags have started acting like Yanks with some of their idioms, and that usage keeps creeping into history books--which I think might be an issue of British scholars being published more often by an American press that just happens to have a London office.--ColonelHenry (talk) 14:21, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
It is still broadly the case I did a simple quick search on google uk for the current prime minster with "site:uk" as a parameter, "Prime-Minister-Cameron" site:uk the only reliable sites returned on the first couple of pages using were foreign embassies and the like and one foreign office blog page. In comparison "Prime-Minister-Cameron" using returns two White House pages using phrase. Undoubtedly there will be instances of its usage in the UK press from time to time, but it is not common in flowing text, which is why I think it better not to use it as an example. BTW ColonelHenry I am familiar with where the term Prime Minster came from (that it was originally a derogatory term for Walpole)) and broadly how its usage has developed since then, but in this case I was not using title as an abbreviation for ""title of office" bur for title as used in the first bullet point of the section "When followed by a person's name to form a title ...". -- PBS (talk) 16:00, 10 March 2014 (UTC)
  • This is simply an exception to a rule, not a rule. President of the United States, Prime Minister of the UK, Secretary General of the UN, Pope, etc., are among various titles that are honored with perpetual capitalization, even when used generically not individually, as a convention of courtesy, principally one pushed by journalists. It's common enough to have stuck, but it does not illustrate a general rule about, say, politicians, or job titles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  03:28, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
  • So which should we use, "Obama, the 44th president of the United States...", or "Obama, the 44th President of the United States..."? Major US newspapers use lowercase, but it varies in other countries. Here are first-page Google counts, ignoring quotes of written sources.
Newspaper Lowercase/
New York Times 9 lc, 0 UC
Los Angeles Times 10 lc, 0 UC
USA Today 10 lc, 0 UC
Washington Post 2 lc, 0 UC
Wallstreet Journal 8 lc, 0 UC
Chicago Tribune 10 lc, 0 UC
Toronto Star (Can.) 7 lc, 3 UC
Guardian (UK) 9 lc, 0 UC
Daily Telegraph (UK) 3 lc, 7 UC
Herald Sun (Aus.) 4 lc, 6 UC
Times of India (India) 7 lc, 1 UC
Irish Independent (R. of I.) 3 lc, 7 UC
––Agyle (talk) 22:01, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
That's some good work @Agyle:. It's great to have good data to work from and I read it as a pretty convincing tilt toward lower case. SchreiberBike talk 22:27, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Indeed it is good work. I downcase wherever possible. It too easily morphs into vanity capping for every job or position name. So if we insist on "Mayor" of Morontown, do we have to write "five Morontown Councillors voted for the proposition"? And "he's Secretary to the Mayor? And she's the Chief Engineer and Bottle Washer? And he's a Garbage Collector? Tony (talk) 07:55, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

I've begun the process of uncapitalizing President & Vice President of the United States, in the presidential & vice presidential bio articles intros. Personally, I favour neither version (capitalized or non-capitalized), but I do favour all those articles being consistant & in the last roughly 2yrs, John Adams was sticking out like a sore thumb. GoodDay (talk) 13:28, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Titles within titles: "starring" and "presents"[edit]

Consensus appears to be in favour of this change, although taking Fayenatic's comments into account, it would be good to find a form of wording that makes it clear that if "Presents" is the final word, it should remain capitalised. Number 57 10:13, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I’d like to suggest a reconsideration of the rules when referring to words like "presents" and "starring". These words introduce or follow a title within a title, and are therefore not part of one in the usual way. The cases I have in mind are: Brian Wilson Presents SmileBrian Wilson presents Smile and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny CarsonThe Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. At the latter article, there’s even a picture of the title card that displays it as "starring", and yet the rules don’t allow it. Some common sense here, please! Rothorpe (talk) 01:56, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

  • I would tend to agree with you. Reliable Sources and accuracy go by the wayside because of the militant crowd insisting that the MOS is infalliable and not subject to question. If there was a vote to reconsider this (mis)application of capitalisation, I'd vote for lowercasing "starring" and "presents".--ColonelHenry (talk) 02:46, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
How about wording along the lines: "Exceptions should be made for words introducing or following titles within article titles, such as presents and starring"? Rothorpe (talk) 19:04, 15 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I also agree with Rothorpe and I support this proposal. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:26, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. Sounds good. Malke 2010 (talk) 21:33, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Not a viable proposal. Also, assume good faith and avoid casting aspersions on other editors in anything to do with MOS or WP:AT; they're under WP:Discretionary sanctionss. That said, the matter is not this simple; the actual title of many works, especially radio and television programs in fact of the "X Presents Y" form; the title is not simply "Y".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  10:33, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Reply: No one is saying the title is simply "Y". I notice you did not capitalise "presents". Exactly, this is what the proposal proposes, removing the requirement to uppercase such a word in such a case. Rothorpe (talk) 19:37, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
My lower case was a typo, since corrected. Titles of that form are "X Presents Y".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:50, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Support  Responding to the RfC, I would say support.  Unscintillating (talk) 22:14, 30 March 2014 (UTC)
  • AHHHH why does the RfC not list what you are requesting people to comment on? Red Slash 04:50, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Support for words introducing titles within titles. If a word, for example, presents is part of title then this is not an instance of title within a title.(Littleolive oil (talk) 10:21, 9 April 2014 (UTC))
    • Littleolive oil, do you mean that you support it for show titles within article titles? All page names that include "Starring X Y" are quoting the formal name of the show, not just disambiguating it with a qualifier as if it was an alternative to e.g. "Tonight Show (Johnny Carson)". In that case your comment actually goes against the proposal. – Fayenatic London 15:41, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. If the word is part of the title, it should be treated as such. Besides, sources [5][6][7] tend to use the capitalised version too. --Rob Sinden (talk) 12:48, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Reply: [1] also shows the title card, where "starring" is lower case; [2] also has the lower case "i' in 'SMiLE", thus imitating the stylized version on the sleeve (where the P of "presents" is ambiguous); and [3] capitalises the first letter of every word, as in "Heroes And Villains", for example. Rothorpe (talk) 15:48, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
      • Well, the sources are irrelevant really, as everything has its own house style. I was just pointing out that they don't back up your argument, not even Carson's own DVDs. --Rob Sinden (talk) 15:53, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
        • Of course, not everything is going to do so. But there, we have THE TONIGHT SHOW Starring JOHNNY CARSON, where "Starring" is again played down. Rothorpe (talk) 16:00, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose "presents", support "starring". "Presents" is used as the last word in the title of many shows, famously Alfred Hitchcock Presents, see Special:Search/intitle:presents. It's rightly capitalised when it is at the end, and I think this weakens the case for changing the rule when it's in the middle. I'd quite like to make that distinction, but do not feel that there is a solid case for change. There's even a third situation when "Presents" is in the middle followed by a colon, in which the capital still looks right because it's following the old pattern, see e.g. those listed at Komiks_(TV_series)#See_also. However, I think there is more of a case for Special:Search/intitle:starring. – Fayenatic London 15:41, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Capitalisation of Indigenous when referring to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples[edit]

We have been discussing this in short at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Indigenous peoples of Australia#Capitalisation and I wondered if there would be consensus to reflect this here at MOS:Caps? Clare. (talk) 13:10, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

  • Support, for the reasons given there by Tullyis. Wikiain (talk) 23:19, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment: Forking an ongoing discussion in one place into a new poll to try to get consensus for it in another is called "forum shopping", and is a form of canvassing prohibited by WP:Consensus policy. I've marked the old discussion closed and directed people to this newer one instead, since you both (as the originators of the thread at the wikiproject) seem to agree that it should be discussed here instead.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:06, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose: This is WP:ADVOCACY, based on the recommendations of a government agency for its own publications. It is not a usage reflected in most mainstream Australian publications (or other publications about Australia). "Indigenous" would not be capitalized in that usage because it is just an adjective; there is no evidence at all that the usage has supplanted or become accepted as equivalent to "Aboriginal", as a proper name. If I have two friends with no hair, Steve and Bob, I can refer to them as "Steve and Bob" or as "my bald friends", but not "the Bald" or "my Bald Friends". Properness of names does not magically transfer to miscellaneous stand-ins for them or descriptions of them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:06, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

    Here's a 2:1 ratio in favor of lower case: [8] In fairness, other searches can be constructed to show a lead for "I" vs. "i": [9] What this proves is that, yes, while the language is changing, and the usage Clare and Tullyis advocate does seem to be increasing in currency, it is not yet the dominant usage. There is no MOS/WP issue here. Revisit this in 10 years, and it might well be standard usage. WP is not in a position to predict that outcome or to push for it; these are clear matters of policy (WP:CRYSTALBALL, WP:SOAPBOX).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:49, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

    • No need to get worked up. Clare was only testing the waters and informing followers of this talkpage. Perfectly reasonable request. I don't see any real point to Wikiains spontaneous support vote, but I don't see any sign of forum shopping either. There's an ongoing discussion over at the Australia WikiProject. Doesn't seem like there's any consensus for the proposal, but the discussion seems like it's still active. Anyone who's interested can go there and offer opinions on the matter. Peter Isotalo 00:49, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
It should happen in one place, not two. And it very clearly is forum-shopping (canvassing); it was not a neutral pointer to a discussion people might be interested in, it was a request for a consensus decision to add what she wanted to this guideline despite the discussion being still ongoing elsewhere. An admin should {{hat}} either this poll or the wikiproject discussion, or merge them, or whatever, so that it stops being forked into two ongoing attempts to gain consensus in two different places by the same people about the same thing. PS: The wikiproject "discussion seems like it's still active" because it's the same people continuing the same conversation in two venues.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:54, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I strongly oppose the consistent formulaic capping of Indigenous when referring to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; but I've been smacked by the writers I've worked with for not capping, such that I've had to accept the practice. Just why the capping evolved is hard to determine, but now it seems we're stuck with it. I guess it does distinguish those groups from generic indigenous peoples around the world, which might be useful in some cases. Tony (talk) 16:52, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
    • That it conveys the idea that all countries except Australia has "generic indigenous peoples" is exactly why I'm opposing this. For crying out loud, there's even a UN declaration that uses this term. That obviously puts this suggestion at odds with WP:GLOBAL and WP:BIAS and it amounts to a form of WP:ADVOCACY. This might be useful for empowerment and identity politics in a specifically Australian context, but not in a global, general encyclopedia. The only effect it will have here is to make Australian indigenous peoples seem somehow more exclusive than other indigenous peoples. Peter Isotalo 23:13, 27 April 2014 (UTC)
      • Absolutely. At the original discussion at the wikiproject, I got coal-raked for bringing up that this usage is basically a political correctness move being pushed by a government agency. Tony's work, that interfaces with some of those circles sometimes, has been influenced by it to his chagrin, and I'm sure it's common at .au universities (along with every other hyperliberal neologism), and so on, but this does not translate into a completed change in .au English to always capitalize this; we're observing the beginnings of a trend, and it may not go anywhere. In my own not-too-long lifetime I've seen "Colored", "Negro", "Afro-American", as well as "Indian" (in the Native American sense), "Oriental" and "Chicano" (some of these not always capitalized) vary from normal to activistic to respectful at various points in various cases, and now all in the trash can as disfavored ethnic epithets. The rise and fall of "Chicano" in particular was quite fast as these things go, about one generation. Capital-"Indigenous" in Australia is not a usage that's being championed and reinforced much in, say, mainstream .au newspapers. Like I said at the project page, come back in 10 years and they may have a case, if it spreads and if it sticks. Anyway, the conflict with the UN declaration is a pretty clear reason not to run with this proposal.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:27, 28 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose for the reasons I gave at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Indigenous peoples of Australia#Capitalisation. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 11:42, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose because being "indigenous" is not something unique to Australia. We have equivalent terms for indigenous peoples over here in the States; we call them Native Americans. "Native Australians" or the other terms put forth here seem a lot more specific and therefore more deserving of being proper names. "Indigenous" is a much more general word referring to natives and can be used anywhere. LazyBastardGuy 02:52, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
    Well, if I were going to oppose, I'd use that argument in these terms: the item is almost always paired with "Australian". In my experience, a text would refer first to "indigenous Australian(s)", and subsequently use "indigenous" as an epithet alone, because the specific meaning (not "indigenous" in general, or "indigenous Canadian") has been clearly established. In that context, I see no particular reason to upcase for the sake of distinguishing from generic usage. Except that usage is normally captial "I" ... redundantly, in my view. Tony (talk) 07:50, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose per above. — kwami (talk) 03:39, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose – WP avoids unnecessary capitalization. It is clearly not necessary. Dicklyon (talk) 05:15, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I don't see why "the native Americans" should be treated differently to "the indigenous Australians". Native is NOT much more specific. The two are highly synonymous. The main difference I see is that Native American was being written capitalised in the 1980s, but Indigenous Australian not until the 1990s. There political correctness at play here. Are Native Americans a more worthy group than Indigenous Australians? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:54, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
    • The suggestion is to capitalize the isolated use of the word "indigenous" (without "Australian") in any given context where it refers specifically to Indigenous Australians, as in "Ngunnawal is an Indigenous language spoken in New South Wales" or "the Rainbow Serpent is an important figure in Indigenous mythology". It is not supposed to apply to indigenous peoples outside of Australia, though; it's exclusively Australian. It's an attempt to claim the word in a way similar to "Aboriginal". That's what we're opposing here. Peter Isotalo 06:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
      • If that's the case, then oppose. In Peter's examples, "indigenous" is being used as a simple adjective. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 09:59, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose—As above. Tony (talk) 07:40, 30 April 2014 (UTC) PS But then Noetica, with whom I discussed this issue, says: so "Australian aboriginal"? And "jew"? Any comments ... ? Tony (talk) 13:20, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
I would tend to agree that "Australian Aboriginal" can be capitalized the same way we capitalize "Native American". It's a specific reference to a specific ethnicity, unlike "white" or "black" or "indigenous", the latter of which can refer to native peoples from all over the world. LazyBastardGuy 19:10, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
Noetica has subsequently written to me that no, "aboriginal" has broadly the same status as "indigenous". And it is used not only of Australians but of Canadians (and cf. Aboriginal peoples in Canada) and of Tierra del Fuegans (and a second example).

He says: "To distinguish 'aboriginal' and 'indigenous' so peremptorily is to prejudge the issue at hand. A good number of Australians now call themselves, and are called by others, 'Indigenous Australians' in the same way as Native Americans have expressed their own preference."

Perhaps the matter requires more research? Tony (talk) 12:59, 4 May 2014 (UTC)

Ah, perhaps we are on two different trains of thought, my friend. I'm referring to "Indigenous/Native" + a qualifier such as Australian or American, which specifices a region of the globe and therefore an ethnicity. I'm not referring to what are at best informal usages such as "Populations of Native citizens in the US" which you might find in a newspaper. I would regard those more as shorthand; if necessary the publication would specify which country, but if not specified it's usually implied to be the one where the article is published or at least which place the article talks about. I'm simply saying in conjunction with a nationality it can be capitalized, because that's basically the way we've always done it, but to capitalize it and enforce one singular meaning with which it can stand by itself in every context is, as I understand it, the point of this RfC and what I oppose. Also, if you want to go further with it, there are basically sub-ethnicities of Native Americans (e.g. Navajo, Cherokee), so that might complicate things further since there are/were many different Native American nations and ethnicities. One thing's for sure, we can't let this proposal pass; the term "indigenous" is too general and cannot be restricted to only indigenous Australian peoples. LazyBastardGuy 16:21, 4 May 2014 (UTC)
Sorry to play messenger here. Noetica has provided a rejoinder to your comment, through me, which I think is well worth considering. (Noetica is in non-active phase as an editor at the moment, and we can't do anything about that.)

"There is no claim that the generic term 'indigenous' should be hijacked exclusively for the Australian case, is there? No more than 'aboriginal' is hijacked anywhere, or 'native'. Either the term would be used in phrases such as 'Indigenous Australian', or it would be clear in the context that 'Indigenous' indicates the same as 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander'. Such appeal to context occurs everywhere, including with 'aboriginal' in Canada, or in Chile and Argentina for certain Tierra del Fuegans. As for sub-ethnicities then, we can see already that this applies in Australia as it does in the US and Canada – and beyond that binary division ('Aboriginal' and 'Torres Strait Islander') there is much fine-grain detail. Such matters of naming are deeply and inescapably political, and inadvertently simplistic pronouncements sweep that fact aside. Let us avoid those. Consider this common sort of discourse: 'The Australian society as a whole is an extraordinary mixture of people with many different cultural identities who constantly immerse themselves in English and the Anglophone style of living. Amongst these people, Australian Indigenous nations and communities must be considered the most disadvantaged of all. Cast out by British invasion, times of colonisation and the present postcolonial era Indigenous Peoples of Australia still struggle and try to voice their resistance through their activism and literary-artistic production' (see this paper)."

Interesting. Tony (talk) 06:35, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

That is indeed interesting, but going on what SMcCandlish says below Wikipedia can only report on current usage; given the evolution of language, it may very well be the case that in the next couple of decades people will have heard the term "indigenous" in solely Australian contexts so much that they may become accustomed to thinking it only applies to that continent, even if the word's origins were more general. I have to respectfully disagree with Noetica's assertion that there is "no claim" of such a sort (no need to worry about playing messenger, it serves the same purpose as if Noetica were actually here), as pointed out by SmokeyJoe above. Wikipedia can't enforce a certain linguistic evolution via policy or guideline; some words come in and out of usage naturally (e.g. "unfriend" thanks to the magic of Facebook), but all Wikipedia can do is reflect what the real world is doing. It cannot shape what the real world does with respect to how to say or do certain things, and that is why we have guidelines such as WP:POV and WP:ADVOCACY. However, Noetica has shown what I hinted at earlier with my examples of Navajo & Cherokee: Indigenous peoples are not all one group, they are many in one. This raises the complexity of the issue to a whole new level. Not only are there indigenous peoples on every inhabited continent, there are many sub-divisions of indigenous peoples therein, and this proposal, in my view, trivializes that fact, because why not capitalize it when other indigenous populations are implied? The proposal doesn't seem to cover that. LazyBastardGuy 16:47, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, interesting but not a Wikipedia MOS matter and certainly not fodder for a new pro-capitalization MOS rule. Certain phrases are overwhelmingly capitalized by reliable sources of all types, including "Aborigine" and "Aboriginal Australian" (for the same people), "Native American", "First Nation[s]" (in Canada), etc., while others are not ("yet", if you prefer), and these include, e.g., "native Canadian", "aboriginal American", and (whether anyone here likes it or not) "indigenous Australian". To be sure, there are certain camps, governmental, academic and activists, all of them highly political (and almost entirely leftist) who always capitalize all of these phrases and anything like them, out of the mistaken belief that failure to incorrectly treat any reference to an ethnic or other minority as if the substitute/stand-in terms were themselves proper names, is somehow disrespectful. It's PoV-pushing, linguistically ignorant nonsense.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:25, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
Sorry, but I can't take any spelling advice from an author who uses capitals as liberal as in "But are there many who can ... subsist in the Land?" and "... colonisation of Australian Indigenous People ...". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 07:44, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
@Michael Bednarek: To whom is this directed? That's not my text, and I don't see it anywhere else on the page, nor in the duplicate discussion at the wikiproject. Can you clarify? I suspect you may be objecting to Clare.'s and Tullyis's proposal, though Tony1 wrote something similar to one of these quoted phrases ("Indigenous Peoples of Australia", above).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:37, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
SMcCandlish: My comment was, like yours, on Tony's relaying of Noetica citing an essay which made questionable use of capital letters. My edit conflicted with yours, which I marked in my edit summary, but not in the text. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:58, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
I adjusted the indent level to reflect this. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:39, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Much like "aboriginal" is a generic term when used outside of Australia, but a proper noun when used to refer to the native people of Australia, the term "indigenous" is both a generic term and a proper noun, depending on context. In Australia, "Indigenous Australian" is a proper noun, like "Celts" or "First Nations". When used as a proper noun, I can't see why we wouldn't capitalise it. That seems like a given, and I don't see a lot of room to move. Where things become more complex is where it could be used either as an adjective or as a shortening of a proper noun. Thus "indigenous art" could be seen in an Australian context as refering to "indigenous art in general" or "art by Indigenous Australians". This makes my head hurt. :) But I can see the point that in Australia, when refering to Indigenous Australians, the term is always a shortening of a proper noun. Thus I defer to "Indigenous" being captialised when used in an Australian context if it is implying "Indigenous Australian", although I don't see it as being as clear cut. - Bilby (talk) 12:20, 28 May 2014 (UTC)


  • Since arguments are being put forth here rather than only at the Indigenous Australian page, I'll just reiterate here the fact that the Macquarie Dictionary - the key Australian dictionary - has two usages of the one, specifically providing for the capitalisation of Indigenous when being used instead of "Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander". Also, in the case of the example above of "Indigenous languages" the human agency is implied. It's a very different context to "indigenous grasses of the Flinders Ranges" or "indigenous peoples of the southern hemisphere". What about "Indigenous communities"? The communities themselves aren't indigenous to the area in that biological adjectival sense. They are referring to communities made up of Indigenous Australian people. The Australian is implied. First Nations is a general term too, applied to a range of different peoples just like Indigenous is. We talk about First Nations communities. A Google site search of Wikipedia provides many many instances where "First Nations communities" is used, for example.[10] The usage of "Indigenous communities" needs to be acceptable on the same grounds, when referring to Indigenous Australian communities Tullyis (talk) 12:21, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
    • Of course people are commenting here and at the wikproject page. You turned it into a MOSCAPS poll yet insisted on keeping the other discussion open for no reason, forcing discussion to fragment. Per WP:LOCALCONSENSUS, this is the one that's going to matter. No one is unfamiliar with the argument you are making here, and you don't need to keep repeating it. It simply isn't strong. The usage you advocate is an activistic neologism that is not well supported in mainstream reliable sources, including Australian ones. Part of a modern, descriptive dictionary's job is to identify and catalogue usages even if they are not common. This is not at all part of Wikipedia's job.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:07, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
SMcCandlish , I think you are overstating your case when you say that it is 'not well supported in mainstream reliable sources.' You note The Australian doesn't always capitalise, and nor does the Daily Telegraph, but the ABC, SBS, The Guardian, Australian government departments at all levels, universities, the Macquarie Dictionary and a great number of other publishing houses always capitalise "Indigenous Australians," and I doubt any organisation that deals regularly or exclusively with Aboriginal people would fail to either. Many style manuals I can find on line insist on it. It is well documented that the uncapitalised version is seen as offensive by many Aboriginal people and, as a result, it is typically avoided. I think there are two quite distinct issues here- the use of Indigenous whenever it refers to Australian Aboriginal people, and the use of the specific term "Indigenous Australian/s." (I note that the Australian and Daily Telegraph also frequently use the term "Aboriginals", so maybe they're not good sources on what is current, valid language use towards Aboriginal people). — Preceding unsigned comment added by WotherspoonSmith (talkcontribs) 4:37, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
It is well documented that the uncapitalised version is seen as offensive by many Aboriginal people and, as a result, it is typically avoided. I question this claim. This reads more like a political correctness construction than any actual change in language usage. --Pete (talk) 17:10, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
WotherspoonSmith: And I can provide counter-examples, but don't need to. It's already been shown that the majority usage is lower-case. Your criticism of sources for using a term you consider politically incorrect crisply demonstrates that this is an advocacy soapbox issue. It's clear that you, Clare., and Tullyis feel very, very strongly about this, so see also WP:GREATWRONGS; it is not WP's purpose to serve as a platform for "social justice" pushes to change the English language and its usage, sorry.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:28, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
There's a lot here and on the other page to read, but I challenge your assertion that "it's already been shown that the majority use is lower case." I'm sure there are some uses of lower case- I found and mentioned a couple. I just can't find many- certainly compared to all those that capitalise.
I was not criticising because the term is politically incorrect, I was stating why it has become more the norm than you are saying it is.
As it said, I see two quite distinct issues here
* the general capitalisation of indigenous whenever it refers to Australian indigenous
* the specific term "Indigenous Australians". I have come in late to the discussion but am wondering if I should start a separate query about the latter term. Thoughts, anyone?
Pete/ skyring- what claim are you questioning- that it is seen as offensive, that it is avoided because it is believed to be offensive, or that it is well documented? I think I have supplied a few sources that show the changed usage. Happy to supply sources of style manuals for every university i can find plus SBS, ABC, BBC, the Guardian and all levels of government. WotherspoonSmith (talk) 01:57, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Prepositions and the word "On".[edit]

When does one capitalize the word "on" during a title? I ask in relation to the song title "It's on Again". I'm not sure in this instance the word "on" is a preposition. Please comment at Talk:It's on Again, where there is a move discussion. → Lil-℧niquԐ 1 - { Talk } - 11:37, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Capitalization of article titles in periodicals?[edit]

Do Wikipedia guidelines offer any explicit guidance on capitalization of periodical (magazine, journal, or newspaper) article titles? MOS:ALLCAPS in this guideline says they should be reduce from all caps like "WAR BEGINS TODAY" to title case or sentence case, so perhaps it's one of those issues that follows the first use in a Wikipedia article. MOS:CT in this guideline and MOS:TITLE seem careful to avoid saying anything about periodical article titles. Agyle (talk) 21:25, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

I've operated under the assumption that MOS:CT, which specifies title case almost always, applies to the titles of articles within other publications. They are titles of compositions, so it seems like a natural fit. Some citation styles seem to prefer sentence case and where I've seen that pattern in an article I haven't changed it, but generally, when I change things, I convert to title case.SchreiberBike talk 03:39, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
I regularly convert these copy-pasted, sentence-case titles of off-WP articles (almost always academic journal citations) to title case, and virtually no one ever reverts this. It's clearly something being done for convenience, not insistence that it's "right". I think most editors are experienced and level-headed enough to realize that various style guides/manuals use different citation styles and that some (like ours) call for title case on (English-language) article titles in citations, while others (e.g. in several of the sciences) call for sentence case in their journals. It's kind of nutty that WP doen't use it for our own article titles, mind you, but that's a fish to fry another day.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:44, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
Me too. I'm amazed how often both book and article title drop capitals in online titles or references which are actually there in the printed version. I presume its just lazyness, but maybe there's another explanation. A title is a title, whether of an article or a novel, and we should follow the original. Johnbod (talk) 00:43, 24 May 2014 (UTC)
The initial question here is about all-caps, which we are pretty much against ("avoid"), regardless of the original. The question then becomes what other case to use where the original was all-caps. I say use title case, as retaining some sense of the original's all-caps. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:56, 25 May 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I meant the question in general, not just for all-caps. I mentioned MOS:ALLCAPS because it's the only guideline that discusses article title capitalization (well, "newspaper headlines and other titles" to be precise), and it suggests that both title case and sentence case are acceptable.
Nobody has cited explicit guidelines on the question. People have given their assumptions, and SMcCandlish said the guidelines require title case for articles, but without citing a guideline. SchreiberBike's assumption that "composition" is meant to include articles may be right; it's not explicit, but the term has different meanings, and particularly in intellectual property law, it would encompass articles. I have sometimes converted articles from title case to sentence case for style consistency, the opposite of SMcCandlish, and the changes have been similarly unreverted, so I wouldn't draw any conclusions based on that; I think it mostly reflects the low priority of citation formatting. As was pointed out, non-WP style guides differ; APA, MLA, and Harvard call for sentence case, while Chicago calls for title case. Agyle (talk) 22:19, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
@Johnbod: It seems to be a combination of laziness (copy-pasting citation material from a journal that uses sentence case for titles, and not title-casing it the way we do here) and habit (people very used to sentence case for titles will habitually type titles out in sentence case when manually adding citations, regardless what case the original used, and regards of MOS's preference for title case. @Argyle: If MOS:ALLCAPS seems to suggest that sentence case for titles (other than WP's own articles, and foreign language titles in languages that don't use English-style titles case for titles at all, as in French), that's a confusion that needs to be cleaned up. I agree it's a low priority, but we might as well be clear that MOS settles on something. MOS:TITLE and MOS:CAPS I think have long been clear on title case. PS: Chicago is hardly the only mainstream style guide that calls for title case being used for titles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:31, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
And then there is mixed use. E.g., newspapers used to have multiple headlines, the first all-caps, then subordinate headlines in a smaller font, mixed-case. To maintain some semblance of the difference I have used title-case and sentence-case. Well, it's not a burning issue, but clearer guidance might be useful. Possibly article titles in journals might be handled differently than those in newspapers and magazines. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:18, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
We generally don't need to mention subordinate headlines in citations.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:23, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
Generally not, yes. But in some old newspaper headlines, where the first headline is so big they can get in only three or four words, sometimes the subordinate headline provides some context. Mixed usage seems useful there, though rarely used. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:53, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
I, also, would like MOS to state explicitly which of these we should do when citing refs (eg online news articles):
  1. always convert references titles to title case
  2. convert only all caps to title or sentence, but leave everything else unchanged
  3. leave everything, including all caps, unchanged (This my personal preference, as I believe that the title should not be changed unnecessarily, including capitalisation)
  4. no preference / editor's choice
  5. (combined with 4) do the same thing consistently for all the refs in the article, following the method used by the first major contributor (eg per WP:CITEVAR)
As others have pointed out, there are ambiguities and contradictions in the existing MOS, and it wouldn't hurt to resolve them (even if the answer is "editor's choice"). One ambiguity not mentioned above is whether WP:CITESTYLE's "style" is intended to include capitalisation of the title or not. I think not, but I believe others think that it does. If nothing else, having MOS give more specific guidelines would avoid wasting time on discussions like this. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:17, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment—my preference, based on MOS:CT is to convert titles in references to title case consistently across the all of the references in an article for consistency. When done properly, this is a minor typographic change that does not affect meaning, and other style guides offer similar advice. Imzadi 1979  00:35, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Centralizing MOS material on titles of works[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Titles#Centralizing MOS material on titles of works for efforts to clean up the confusingly scattered nature of our advice on titles of works, including at this page.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:19, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

Capitalisation of the conservation statuses of biological species[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

The is an ongoing discussion about the capitalisation of the conservation statuses of biological species on Talk:Conservation status#Capitalisation of conservation statuses. Please do not hesitate to take part!

Coreyemotela (talk) 20:03, 4 June 2014 (UTC).

Capitalization of organism type/kind after breed name[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see Talk:American Paint horse#Requested moves, about whether to capitalize the general type/kind of organism (horse, pony, donkey, etc.) after the breed name, and the outcome of which could affect a large number of articles (e.g. Siamese Cat vs. Siamese cat, Valencia Orange vs. Valencia orange, etc.) It is not about whether to capitalize breed names (the part before the type/kind) even where they do not contain a proper name; that's a different debate for another time. Also raised in the same debate is whether to capitalize after a hyphen.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:59, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

SMcCandlish misstates the RM, which is to merely ask that there be about 12 exceptions to the standard natural disambiguation of horse breed names (out of 300-400 articles) due to specific circumstances. We are not arguing that all breeds should be in title case, we are arguing only for a few specific animal breed names where the proper noun form inherently requires a capitalization even of the species name, not a general rule. This is a non-issue for the overall MOS and should not be blown up into such a thing. Montanabw(talk) 02:22, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Plain wrong, SMcCandlish. Hafspajen (talk) 14:39, 15 June 2014 (UTC)

GENRECAPS Reply[edit]

I would like to add an example of a genre that does have capitalization because I've had editors changing them to lower case. Examples would be contemporary Christian music, Christian rock and other sub-genres.

Incorrect: She released one album to the Contemporary Christian Music market.
Incorrect: She released one album to the contemporary christian music market.
Correct: She released one album to the contemporary Christian music market.

Comments? Walter Görlitz (talk) 21:16, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

MOS:GENRECAPS already says "unless the genre name contains a proper name". It seems like an unnecessary addition to me as the Manual of Style is long now and it's worth fighting to keep it from growing unnecessarily. SchreiberBike talk 02:16, 30 June 2014 (UTC)


I point out this thread. --Horcrux92 (talk) 13:15, 2 July 2014 (UTC)

Phrasal verbs and compound prepositions[edit]

"Once More unto the Breach" or "Once More Unto the Breach"? Your input is requested at Talk:Once More unto the Breach (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) #Requested move 10 August 2014. – Wbm1058 (talk) 16:13, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

MOS:GEOUNITS has become doubly problematic[edit]

Recent changes here are severely off-kilter. They suggest that this is correct:

The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton are in Alberta.

This is only true of the odd case in which we are speaking of the city governments, the civic administrative entities, to which the proper names "City of Calgary" and "City of Edmonton" apply. As places, they are the city of Calgary and the city of Edmonton. I live just outside the city of San Francisco, California. It's legal name, which refers to a unified municipal and regional government in this case, is the City and County of San Francisco (note "is" not "are"; there is only one entity; the city of San Francisco has become exactly coextensive with San Francisco County, and the separate city and county governments were merged a few decades ago). There is not such place as the City and County of San Francisco, or the City of Calgary; these are legal fictions.

It repeats this error even more absurdly with: The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000. Utter nonsense! The city of Smithville may have a 55,000-person headcount, but there's no way it has that many civil servants!

To compound problems, the section says that :

The Cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.

is wrong. In the only kind of context "City" would be capitalized here, "Cities" would be to, according to most if not all modern major style guides. (Chicago for a few editions said otherwise, but has reversed itself in the latest edition or two, with an explicit note that it's done so). However, the example is poor because it's the geographical cities that are in Alberta, not the legal administrative entities, really, which are where their cities are unless they somehow end up with a government-in-exile. It's like saying "Pat's brain in the kitchen" when Pat is in the kitchen, and Pat's brain is firmly inside Pat.

We need to distinguish between these cases very clearly, so here's a rewrite:

Incorrect (generic): The City has a population of 55,000.
Correct (generic): The city has a population of 55,000.
Incorrect (specific): The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Correct (specific): The city of Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Correct (legal entity): The City of Smithville employs over 500 people, including police.
Correct ("city" omitted): Smithville has a population of 55,000.
Correct ("City" used as proper name): In the medieval period, the City was the full extent of London.
Incorrect (specific plural): The Cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (specific plural): The cities of Calgary and Edmonton are in Alberta.
Correct (legal entity plural): The City of Calgary and the City of Edmonton are both municipal governments under the Province of Alberta
Correct (legal entity plural): The Cities of Calgary and Edmonton are both municipal governments under the Province of Alberta

There are rare exceptions, like the difference between the formal City of London and the conurbation called London (and Greater London even more broadly), but we're already accounting for that in the "used as proper name" example.

Anyway, all these city examples may be too repetitive. The difference is general. I live in the state of California, but my tax bill comes from the State of California. It's only coincidence that the legal name and the geopolitical one are sometimes identical but for capitalization. The legal names of the states of Massachusetts and Virginia are the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia, respectively, and that of Rhode Island is even longer. The legal names of the UK counties of Belfast, Somerset, and Ayr are (were? I forget which aren't administrative counties any longer) County Belfast, [just] Somerset, and Ayrshire, respectively.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:43, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

I agree that your proposal is much more in line with general Wikipedia principles (minimise capitalisation) and logic (as far as language bends to it) than some of the current wording which seems to be in part the result of an undiscussed addition by User:Hwy43. WP:BRD? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 13:33, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
I have reverted myself for now. I'll return to this discussion this evening after work and other commitments. Cheers, Hwy43 (talk) 15:46, 18 August 2014 (UTC)
Cool, but preventing changes here isn't my goal, just having it say what it should say, clearly, is. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:59, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000.[edit]

My additions of three plural city scenarios has called the above pre-existing example at MOS:GEOUNITS into question. GEOUNITS indicates this is correct (presumably based on past consensus), whereas it is now being asserted it is incorrect. I suggest we first focus on this before moving onto the three plural examples as the former will likely have implications on the latter.

Like universities, municipalities are legal entities. Municipalities have legally defined official names (i.e., "proper names"), geographic boundaries and a form of local government with jurisdiction over delegated matters within those boundaries. In most cases I am aware, the official legal names apply both to the defined geographic area and the local government. This local government represents the residents, land owners, businesses, etc. within the defined geographic area. If 55,000 people live within the geographic boundaries of the land legally defined as, and under the official name of the "City of Smithville", it is correct to say The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000.

In my corner of the world, no one would ever use this sentence to describe the amount of people on City of Smithville’s payroll. The sentence describes the amount of people that live there within the municipality's legally defined boundaries. To suggest The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000. is incorrect while The City of Smithville employs over 500 people, including police. is correct, is also to suggest that The University of Delhi has a student population (i.e., enrollment) of 5,000. is incorrect while The University of Delhi employs over 500 people, including faculty and support staff. Hwy43 (talk) 07:22, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

I see your point about The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000., when we mean the population of the exact legally defined city limits, but we have to distinguish it from cases of The city of Smithville has a population of 55,000. and Smithville has a population of 55,000., both of which have an indeterminate meaning, and stick to what the sources actually say. Very often what is understood to be a city, and addressed as such in sources, is not precisely the legal-boundary-defined city. "The city of Smithville" (lower case) is typical English-language usage (US, UK, and otherwise) to refer to what is commonly understood to be an urban geographical location called Smithville. The average person, even many of its residents, not to mention various sources writing about it, may not actually have any idea whether the legally defined entity, the City of Smithville, covers precisely the same area they're thinking/writing about. Cities annex nearby townships and other land all the time, and sometimes lose land as neighborhoods or boroughs incorporate and form separate legal entities with their own municipal governments; public understanding of the exact effects of any such change is slow to take hold. We cannot confuse these two concepts - the exact legal city vs. the city as popularly understood - in our writing. It's a WP:V and WP:NOR problem to do so. (NB: I was making a language logic joke when I suggested that "The City of Smithville has a population of 55,000." means a huge municipal payroll.)

U. of Delhi example: It is not "also to suggest" that at all; the cases are not in any way comparable. There is no usage, anywhere, of "the university of Delhi" (lower case), much less to refer to a place in the general sense that may or may not exactly correspond to the legally defined real property of the University of Delhi.

Anyway, we clearly need a bigger example tree, that includes these (I'm skipping some of the formatting, and eliding ones not under discussion):

  • Correct with regard to a city broadly defined, or when the meaning in the source is unclear (geographically specific) The city of Smithville has a population of 55,000. or Smithville has a population of 55,000.
  • Correct only with regard to exact, legal city limits (jurisdictionally more specific) The City of Smithville has a population of 49,000.
  • Incorrect (geographically specific, but logically wrong) The city of Smithville employs over 500 people. or Over 500 people are employed by the city of Smithville.
  • Correct (legally specific) The City of Smithville employs over 500 people. and Over 500 people are employed by the City of Smithville.
  • Correct (varies) Over 50,000 people are employed in... the city or the City of Smithville, depending upon whether we're being geographically or jurisdictionally precise.
  • Ambiguous (uncertain) “Over 500 people are employed at the city of Smithville.” or “Over 500 people are employed at the City of Smithville.”
  • Incorrect (general) The University has a student body of 5,000 or The Universities in Delhi have a total student body of 15,000
  • Correct (general) The university has a student body of 5,000 and The universities in Delhi have a total student body of 15,000
  • Correct (specific) The University of Delhi has a student body of 5,000 and Over 500 people are employed by the University of Delhi.; Over 500 people are employed at the University of Delhi. may be ambiguous if another employer, e.g. a restaurant or credit union, employs anyone on the university grounds.
  • Correct (very specific and unambiguous) Pat's Restaurant employs 20 people., Twenty people are employed by Pat's Restaurant., and Twenty people are employed at Pat's Restaurant.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  09:35, 20 August 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for recognizing my point. I’m going to continue to focus on the population-related examples for now.
Regarding the first two examples, if the City of Smithville has a population of 49,000 within its city limits, I’m having a difficult time reconciling that there would be an appropriate scenario to use The city of Smithville has a population of 55,000. That is, how could Smithville have two significantly different verifiable and reliably sourced populations? More specifically, and legal boundary adjustments (annexations, separations, etc.) aside, how can the broadly defined place of Smithville factually have a 12% higher population than the legally defined place of Smithville?
At WP:CANADA, we have WP:CANPOP. Presumably other national WikiProjects have something similar. National statistical agencies publish populations for incorporated municipalities based on their legal boundaries. If someone adds a different population count, it begs questions. What boundaries are being used? What is the year of the population count? Is the population WP:OR, or is it verifiable and reliably sourced? If the alternate population is not directly linked to a legally or statistically defined boundary that is verifiable and reliably sourced, I don’t think The city of Smithville has a population of 55,000. is even possible.
As a quick aside about legal boundary adjustments, here is an example of how use of "City of..." is still appropriate. A significant amalgamation occurred in the Ottawa region in 2001. The City of Ottawa had a population of 323,340 in 1996. is correct because the population corresponds with its legally defined city limits as they existing at that time. Likewise, the statement of The City of Ottawa had a population of 774,072 in 2001. is also correct as it applies to its post-amalgamation boundaries. Hwy43 (talk) 07:59, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
BTW, I fixed some formatting within your examples to what I think was intended and to aid in interpretation. If I am incorrect, feel free to revert those portions of my edits. Cheers, Hwy43 (talk) 08:40, 24 August 2014 (UTC)


Should a named massacre have "massacre" capitalized as is done for "Accepted full names of wars, battles, revolts, revolutions, rebellions, mutinies, skirmishes, risings ...", etc. as specified in MOS:MILTERMS? What constitutes an "accepted full name" of a massacre? A quick look at List of massacres in the United States shows a haphazard mix of capitalization, and many of these use caps for the page title and lower-case "massacre" in boldface in the lead section, or vice versa. Chris the speller yack 16:21, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes it is non-uniform (not haphazard). Some years ago I down-cased as many massacres as I could find that weren't, as far as I could tell "accepted full name" (before that guideline was written). Of course many articles have arrived since then, and I would support moving to a lower case "massacre" if that is the form used in the article, as a very good first approximation to the guideline. I would have no objection personally to them all being lower-cased, but I doubt there would be consensus for that. All the best: Rich Farmbrough22:42, 19 August 2014 (UTC).
Thanks for the advice, Rich. Chris the speller yack 01:47, 20 August 2014 (UTC)