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This section is here to provide answers to some questions that have been previously discussed on this talk page.
Note: This FAQ is only here to let people know that these points have previously been addressed, not to prevent any further discussion of these issues.
To view an explanation to the answer, click the [show] link to the right of the question.
General Concerns and Questions
Q1: John Hanson was actually the first president.
A1: John Hanson was the first President of the Continental Congress to serve a term under the Articles of Confederation. This office is different from President of the United States, which was only created after the US Constitution took effect in 1789.
Q2: __________ was acting president for a short time, why isn't he on the list?
A2: A period during which a vice-president or other person temporarily becomes Acting President under the Twenty-fifth Amendment is not a presidency, because the president remains in office during such a period.
Q3: Grover Cleveland is listed twice, William McKinley was actually the 24th president.
A3: Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so while McKinley was in fact the 24th person to serve as president, Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th president. Or another way: the next president after Benjamin Harrison was the 24th president. It should also be noted that almost all reference materials enumerate Cleveland in this way.
Q4: Harry Truman's middle name was "S". Since it's not an initial, it should not have the period after it.
A4: Harry Truman's middle name was in fact S; however, most reference materials still use the period. Truman himself signed his own name as "Harry S. Truman". Both with or without the period may be regarded as correct.
Q5: Democratic is an adjective. Presidents of this party should be listed as the noun, "Democrat".
A5: The correct name of the political party is the Democratic Party. In this case, the adjective is used to describe the party, which is what the list is showing. Note that Democrat Party can be seen as an epithet - see Democrat Party (epithet).
Q7: I have an issue with one of the pictures used.
A7: It is recommended that the same picture from the president's individual article infobox be used on this list by default. However, any clear view of the face will work since the pictures are so small. Keep in mind that some images on external sites may be subject to copyright, and therefore difficult to bring into Wikipedia. If you have a specific concern about an image, feel free to discuss it here.
The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
The result of the move request was: No consensus. On the one hand, grammar suggests we lower-case it, and WP indeed generally prefers lower-casing in general. Nevertheless, on the other hand, many people mentioned that sources often capitalize "President of the United States" even in running text, that other, similar articles are capitalized (like the Vice President), and that leaving it uncapitalized would lead to confusion (isn't the president of Walmart a "president of the United States?"). Too many good, well-informed Wikipedians argued too many good, well-informed arguments to realistically reach consensus. I defy anyone to look at this and disagree. I recommend to the next requester (in six months or so, whenever it may seem appropriate) to propose moving this page AND the List of Vice Presidents of the United States page in a single move request. That would at least solve the WP:CONSISTENCY argument, at least within the United States. (non-admin closure) RedSlash 09:49, 18 July 2018 (UTC)
This discussion was listed at Wikipedia:Move review on 2 June 2018. The result of the move review was Overturn and relist.
Support, per WP:JOBTITLES. Any style guide will tell you to lower case job titles. Yet they are capitalized all over Wikipedia. Here is a description of Chicago Manual style. Nine Zulu queens (talk) 21:27, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
Support per above. In this case, "Presidents" is not a proper noun. Corky 21:31, 20 May 2018 (UTC)
Oppose - “President of the United States” is like “Queen of England”. The formal title of a head of state should be capitalized. I agree that we tend to over capitalize the word “president” (for example we should not capitalize in the generic “List of presidents of Fortune 500 companies”), but we should not over-decapitalize in reaction. An overwhelming number of sources capitalize “President of the United States”... so should we. Blueboar (talk) 10:25, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
"Offices, titles, and positions such as president...are common nouns and therefore should be in lower case," per WP:JOBTITLES. Even in the most overcapitalized style, you would not capitalize the plural form of a job title. Nine Zulu queens (talk) 02:14, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
Oppose - these attempts to de-capitalize everything here, just because of the C.M.o.S. are getting ridiculous. POTUS is an official/formal title that should be capitalized. When used, it always refers to either a specific man and/or the specific office, therefore it's never generic. The de-capitalization of that VP article noted above, and any other related articles is incorrect and should be rectified immediately, per BOLD and IAR, no RM or consensus required. - theWOLFchild 16:00, 21 May 2018 (UTC)
Nonsense. It's a generic list; each of these presidents of the United State held the office of President of the United States. Each item in the list is specific, but the list title is the generic. Dicklyon (talk) 14:37, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Nobody is arguing with that fact, Blueboar. The argument is whether or not "presidents" (plural) should be capitalized. There is no such office as "Presidents of the United States" is there? Of course not, so "presidents" is a common noun and should not be capitalized. The correct venue for changing that is the talk page of the style guideline, not here in a RM discussion. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 15:33, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Um... I was directly responding to Dick’s Statement that he thinks it is generic, and thus should be de-capitalized. My contention is that it IS plural, but NOT generic... and that the capitalization of the specific title carries forward when pluralized. Blueboar (talk) 16:35, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
So your opinion is that the "Presidents" in Presidents of the United States is a proper noun? Why? What could possibly make it correct to view "presidents" in this case as any but a common noun that should be lowercased? If this is just your opinion, then I can understand; however, it does go against the guideline and community consensus to place common nouns in lowercase as in "presidents", doesn't it? Paine Ellsworthput'r there 18:28, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
No, my opinion is that the entire string "President of the United States" is a proper noun phrase, and the capitalization of that noun phrase is retained when writing it in the plural ("Presidents of the United States"). Similar to how the plural of "Ellsworth" is "Ellsworths" (not "ellsworths") Blueboar (talk) 13:51, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Oppose This is ridiculous, President of the United States is an official title of an office, and should be capitalised. Besides, it's an established precedent on Wikipedia. AvRand (talk) 15:48, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
So, you're saying you haven't actually looked at sources on this? It's very often not capitalized, contrary to what you want us to keep in mind. Dicklyon (talk) 14:36, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
I didn't say that, you did. I said: Please keep in mind that this isn't simply just a job title, this also refers the Office of the President of the United States, which is also, always capitalized, (which has nothing to do with the "sources" you've posted). - theWOLFchild 11:45, 7 July 2018 (UTC)
Oppose - AFAIK, most sources use the capitalized version. GoodDay (talk) 21:28, 22 May 2018 (UTC)
Support – President should be capped when part of a proper name, but it's not that here. Our style guide and many others agree. Dicklyon (talk) 02:23, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Support—it's simple: it's not a proper name here. The plural, to begin with, rules that out. Per JFG and Dicklyon. Tony(talk) 03:00, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Re: a proper name no longer being a proper name simply because it is in the plural... I have to disagree... let’s say we are writing about a prominent political family: “After leaving the White House, the Clintons moved to New York”.. Surely we would not change “Clintons” to lowercase just because it is plural? Blueboar (talk) 11:08, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Of course not: that's a personal name. The University of Chicago vs the top three universities in Michigan. Tony(talk) 15:22, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Not the same thing. Whether the title is about a man or the men, it still always refers to the Office of POTUS at the same time, and therefore should always be capitalized. This comment below about "overcapitalization" does not apply here. If anything, this is a case of overdecapitalization. - wolf 15:44, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Support – Per WP:MOSCAPS. We ought to do ourselves a favour by increasing uniformity in the right direction by removing this overcapitalisation – a word that is not a proper noun except when in reference to a particular office and which then ought to revert to lower case when it is a plural, per User:Tony1 and User:JFG. -- Ohc ¡digame! 13:20, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
Support As awkward as it may seem at first, we capitalize when used before the name, and not as the generic position.--Yaksar(let's chat) 22:15, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
It's not "generic" when it refers to a specific Office. Not sure how people seem to keep missing the that. - wolf 22:33, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
Support. President of the United States is the proper name of an office, yes, but that office can only be held by one person at a time. The plural "presidents" can thus only be a common noun, and the Manual of Style clearly advises against capitalizing common nouns. Surtsicna (talk) 22:46, 26 May 2018 (UTC)
Can you clarify your rationale? What is "redundant" about a choice of capitalization? — JFGtalk 11:59, 28 May 2018 (UTC)
Support per above, "presidents" as plural referring to multiple people should be written in lower caps. "President" should be used to refer to a certain president. See also President of the United States which uses "presidents" throughout the article when referring to multiple officeholders. That is, afaict, in line with what most sources use (e.g. NYT, WaPo). Regards SoWhy 12:34, 28 May 2018 (UTC)
Support Capitalization of presidents is a grammatical no-no. --regentspark (comment) 11:39, 7 July 2018 (UTC)
Comment I'm not sure, but I think this discussion should not take place separately at each article. I've also proposed a similar move here Talk:List_of_Prime_Ministers_of_Israel#Requested_move_8_July_2018 because I came across the article, but who knows how many other articles are effected by this? Whatever style preference is favored by the consensus, it should be applied consistently. Seraphim System(talk) 14:58, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Support. If editors go along with and abide by Wikipedia's Manual of Style, which represents the community consensus on this subject, then all oppose !votes should be altered to either support or neutral. If this list were titled "List of people who held office as President of the United States", then yes, "president" is a proper noun; however, in this case the list is titled "List of Presidents of the United States", so "presidents" is a common noun and must not be capitalized. The community has agreed with this, so if objectors want it changed, then it must be discussed on the Manual of Style/Biography talk page. Hopefully, the closer will include the MOS community consensus when they deliberate and close this request. The Manual of Style should not be overridden by local consensus nor lack of it. There should be no need to discuss this. Just move the list to List of presidents of the United States to be in accordance with the Wikipedia style guideline. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 15:17, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, but without substantiation in the form of reliable sources, a style guide that says that when a title is plural and refers to more than one holder of any office, then it should retain its proper-noun status. Please show something to back up this your assertion. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 19:07, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
It would be the same guide that says the plural of the name Smith is Smiths (not "smiths"), or that the plural of Ellsworth is Ellsworths (not "ellsworths")… Blueboar (talk) 16:55, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Show such a guide that equates the names of people with titles and offices, then. That is what you are doing. You are attempting to elevate office titles to the level of personal names, and that's apples and oranges in my opinion. When we talk about presidents, kings, queens, prime ministers and such, we must differentiate between their offices and mere descriptions of their offices. Makes me wonder how many Secretaries you have. :>) Paine Ellsworthput'r there 01:13, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Would look ridicules, to have this article at List of presidents of the United States, while we've got List of Vice Presidents of the United States. GoodDay (talk) 17:26, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Which is why I have asked the closer of that RM to reconsider, overturn and rename the list. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 18:31, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
Oppose per reasons outlined in the Vice Presidents discussion. Basically, this move is misguided both as a matter of Actual Usage, as well as on "proper English" grounds. For the first, it is trivial to find reliable sources wherein "President of the United States" is routinely capitalized in-line in a sentence. Clearly usage suggests that the capital form is fine. For the second, "List of lower-case p presidents of the United States" means a list of any ol' presidents - company presidents, school board presidents, club presidents, whatever. Capitalizing "P" means it's That Kind of President, and changes the sense of "of the United States". Also, even if it's considered a draw, the capitalized form is the long-standing title, so there should be a Good Reason to overcome inertia and move it IMO. (Also, side note, this is intended for humor value not as a serious point, but here is the current officeholder's feelings on the issue .) SnowFire (talk) 02:52, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
The phrase "list of presidents of the United States" is a bit different from "list of presidents in the United States". The first phrase is not ambiguous as you suggest it is. You confuse it with the second phrase, I think. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 04:14, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
In practice, you are correct that in 99.8% of contexts, such a phrase will really refer to a list of POTUSs, because the group of presidents-in-general isn't a very interesting one. However, it doesn't technically have to be. "List of otters of the United States" clearly means "American otters" and is nearly synonymous with "...in the...", "List of Otters of the United States" clearly refers to some kind of special Otter that's being listed. In this case, we want to refer to a special type of president that is a proper noun, that of POTUS, so a capital makes that clear (Proper noun#English capitalization_of proper_nouns for more). SnowFire (talk) 05:08, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Hail to the Otter-in-Chief! 👏👏👏 — JFGtalk 15:11, 9 July 2018 (UTC)
Interestingly, if you n-gram “the US presidents” vs “the US Presidents”, the results flip... which I think is right. Blueboar (talk) 01:57, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Comment. The gist of this as I see it is whether or not "presidents" when made plural is (a) still a part of the office title and should be uppercased, or (b) a description of the title and should be lowercased. And that is something that applies to a good many article titles on Wikipedia. So we have to agree to put RMs like this on hold until the argument is resolved in a centralized location, so that all incorrect titles can be fixed. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 01:20, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
I would agree with that. Blueboar (talk) 01:35, 10 July 2018 (UTC)
Support — MOS:JOBTITLES and this is a style matter, so however much "Presidents of the" appears vs. "presidents of the" is irrelevant. We regularly change capitalization and other style formatting to match WP:MOS and this case should be no different. —Joeyconnick (talk) 05:40, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
But MOS:JOBTITLES was just changed on 26 June, both as to where that redirect points, and the content of the page it now points to. Station1 (talk) 06:24, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
It's funny how often people go on and on about the MOS; "We must follow the MOS!!", but don't realize just how often, easily and arbitrarily the MOS is changed. - theWOLFchild 09:11, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
Yup... if we don’t like what the MOS says, we can change it. In fact, we often change it to reflect the results of RMs like this one. Blueboar (talk) 10:54, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
"RMs" implies that some changes were supported by a consensus somewhere, but sometimes there's not even that. - wolf 11:26, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
You have that backwards... since the office is held by one person at a time, the office can only BE singular... but since former office holders continue to be referred to by the title, the title can be plural. Blueboar (talk) 10:15, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
Good point. Former US Presidents continue to be referred to as "Mr. President" for life. While some sources (such as outdated guidebooks on manners) claim this shouldn't be so, it in fact is, (which is supported by other sources such as major media outlets). Even in plural form, this isn't a list of generic presidential positions, with corporations, etc., etc, but list of specific office holders... an office that is always capitalized, which shouldn't change just because were listing two of them instead of one. - theWOLFchild 11:26, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
Oppose, President of the United States when used in either the singular or plural form is a proper name in the English language, and the "P" in President or Presidents should be capitalized in either case.--TommyBoy (talk) 19:51, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
Um. No. In the plural, presidents cannot be, and is not, a "proper name". The New York Times had a good article on capitalization that you may find useful .--regentspark (comment) 22:00, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
Um... are you saying that a proper name can not be plural? If so, then why is the plural of the proper name Smith (ie Smiths) capitalized? Blueboar (talk) 22:26, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
Proper names are names given to people, places or organizations. If we had a term for the collection that represents the presidents of the United States, then that term would, properly, be capitalized. That's not the case here where we're merely using the plural form of president which is neither a person, nor a place, nor an organization. As the NYT article I link to above states, people break the capitalization rules for emphasis (which is fine if that's the intention) but that doesn't make it grammatically correct. --regentspark (comment) 22:41, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
Are you saying that “President of the United States” isn’t a proper name? If not, why is it capitalized? Blueboar (talk) 22:51, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
List of Proper Names of the United States. /end debate. - theWOLFchild 23:16, 15 July 2018 (UTC)
Unfortunately that does not answer my question... I am not asking whether the word "president" is a proper name (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't)... I am asking if the entire title "President of the United States" qualifies as a proper name? Blueboar (talk) 00:04, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
Point of interest, the United States Marine Band has been known as "The President's Own" since 1801. This is another point for the term being a proper noun. Randy Kryn (talk) 13:32, 16 July 2018 (UTC)
Not seein' it, Randy, since there is a difference between a plural (presidents) and a possessive (president's). Moreover, such usage will often establish the diff between a common or proper noun. In normal running text it would be "The President's Own", rather than "the president's own", because that is the informal title given to the band. "(List of) presidents of (whatever)" is not and has never been any kind of office nor title, not formal nor informal. In these cases "presidents", "vice presidents", "prime ministers", "queens", etc., are all descriptors, common nouns and noun phrases that according to Wikipedia's MOS should be lowercased. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 16:10, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
I'm "seein' it", Paine. What's the difference between plural or possessive here? In neither case is it referring to a specific President, nor is it the lead word, yet it is capitalized. There is no difference between that title and this one. - theWOLFchild 16:43, 17 July 2018 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.
ToRandy Kryn and Thewolfchild: still don't see it, as I see a good deal of difference between a commonly used alternative (nick) name for a band or other popular entity, and an office title, the capitalization of which is determined by whether or not it is used descriptively or as a direct part of an office title. As a direct part of an office title, such as in "President of the Can of Worms", the short title "President" is capitalized. When the title is descriptive, such as in "the president", "Let's list all the presidents of the Can of Worms," and so on, then "president" and "presidents" should, to be grammatically correct and in line with Wikipedia's MOS, remain in lowercase. There is no such office title as "Presidents of the United States". Paine Ellsworthput'r there 20:54, 20 July 2018 (UTC)
I am at a loss to understand why so many editors think that this title should be capitalized. I used to blame this kind of thing on WP:JOBTITLES. But that guideline has been rewritten so that it is much clearer now. In this title, presidents is plural, so it clearly refers to a group of individuals rather than to an office. Perhaps it is respect capitalization, like writing God instead of god. Or perhaps they are unduly influenced by the abbreviation POTUS. (I should add that the examples the guideline gives for "President of the United States" and "King of France and Navarre" are still wrong. Both examples should be lower cased since they refer to a person rather than to an office.) Nine Zulu queens (talk) 08:56, 21 July 2018 (UTC)
Read the “keep” comments in the RM the and you will find out why we think it should be capitalized. Happy to discuss further in another venue... but give it a rest here. Blueboar (talk) 10:52, 21 July 2018 (UTC)
ToThewolfchild: the RM is closed, yes, however your question was answered and the issue is still quite open, so it won't be "let go" by any of us. There is still the confusing "whether or not?" question that needs to be answered, and it was not resolved with a no consensus close of this RM!Paine Ellsworthput'r there 13:48, 23 July 2018 (UTC)
Yes, well... feel free to bring all that up six months from now like the closing admin suggested. Or not. Either way, please stop pinging me. This page is on my watchlist, I'll see when the next RM gets posted, (Jan? Feb? 2019...) - theWOLFchild 14:49, 23 July 2018 (UTC)
As you wish, Thewolfchild; however, this issue should not be settled with a new RM in six months. It applies to several misnamed pages on Wikipedia and will require a discussion of a broader nature in a centralized location. Paine Ellsworthput'r there 18:32, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
When the time comes for a centralized discussion, please let us know. For now, I think it best to let things lie dormant for a while. Blueboar (talk) 20:24, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
That was a really poorly reasoned close, though I'm not sure it's useful to get into why in much detail. The two salients points are that whether people off-WP are doing this or that is irrelevant; we have our own style guide, and it is quite clear on the matter. Secondarily, it's not the closer's job to present new pro and con arguments, like their theory that the president of Walmart is also a "president of the United States" (which is grammatically and semantically wrong in the first place; that would be a president in the United States, but no native speaker of English would put it that way). I could go on, but that's sufficient. — SMcCandlish☏¢ 😼 09:49, 8 November 2018 (UTC)
Does anyone else think that the crop on the Trump portrait is too tight? Obama's seems a little too tight too. Most of the other presidential portraits seem to be a wider angle. The uncropped originals seem a little too far, but maybe we could do a new crop somewhere in between. Trump and Obama's portraits seem too "in your face" to me. Rreagan007 (talk) 17:24, 28 June 2018 (UTC)
There was a recent RfC here (about a month ago, see archive #11) about the portraits. The consensus was both in favor of the current list, and in favour of requiring further consensus to make any changes. FYI - theWOLFchild 20:30, 28 June 2018 (UTC)
Agree: Trump and Obama are cropped too tight, and this list would be well-served by an intermediate setting. On the other hand, Gerald Ford could you some closer focus. @Thewolfchild: Note that Rreagan007 is doing the right thing by laying out his proposed change here, we'll see if consensus emerges. — JFGtalk 01:02, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
@JFG: I didn't say he wasn't "doing the right thing". As for the cropped images, you'll see from my comment here that I basically agree. - theWOLFchild 01:13, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
Sounds good, thx. — JFGtalk 01:37, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
I don't think so, but that is just my opinion. I tried zooming Trump's picture out, but was reverted by Foghe on May 2. Corky 02:20, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
Can you clarify? Do you support the current closeups, the zoomed-out originals, or something in between? — JFGtalk 02:37, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
I'm neutral on Trump's portrait. I think it's fine, but I won't oppose it being zoomed out just a smidge. Obama's is fine. Corky 02:44, 29 June 2018 (UTC)
After further thought, I believe Trump's cropped version is fine. If it had a darker background, I think zooming out would be fine, but right now I see it as a contrast issue. Corky 23:49, 8 July 2018 (UTC)
I believe the current portrait for John Quincy Adams is inferior in comparison to the other Presidents on this list and should be replaced, I nominate this one as painted by George Caleb Bingham from 1844 as a suitable replacement.
Oppose - sorry, but don't see this as an improvement at all. - theWOLFchild 15:35, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
It focuses on his chest and up in the same aspect as the other Presidents, while the current one is a full body shot. Here's the current image as reference. Bold and Brash (talk) 17:23, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
The current one (not "full body" btw), is the better portrait. It shows more detail and is more realistic. The recent infatuation that some users seem to have with zooming in on the subjects faces aside, this particular suggestion looks like it's been airbrushed to hide his wrinkles, like for a magazine cover or something. Its looks rather silly, especially in comparison to other image. (imho) - theWOLFchild 00:16, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
Its from the original painting which didn't have wrinkles tho. I don't know if its an "infatuation" per se, but I sure would be apart of it since zooming on the face better identifies the individual for the reader, the current image has Adams's face very blurry due to it not being the core focus of the painting. Bold and Brash (talk) 10:23, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
Well, like I've said to others; the great thing about Wikipedia is that it's not a book, you can tap on an image and enlarge it as much as you like. Zoom right in on the pores of his nose if you want... - theWOLFchild 20:02, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
Jackson and Adam Jr. both have photos of each other
Why is there paintings in their section? AHC300 (talk) 20:51, 13 September 2018 (UTC)