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Wikipedia: 'Records' guidelines.

The following page is intended as a guideline for people adding content to the page list of world records and related pages.

Records can be a useful introduction to a topic, and open up avenues for further research

Wikipedia thrives upon user input, and while it is a matter of pride that one's country, favourite musical artist or sports team can claim a world record, the current state of list of world records suggests an organised guideline to adding new content may be helpful.

What is a record?[edit]

According to the page World Record: A world record is the best performance in a certain discipline, usually a sports event this document chooses another, although related definition.

A record by the standard of this document is a notable fact, verifiably determined as being an extrema of individual quantities within a given domain. In laymans terms this means that a record is the best or worst of practicaly any measurable quantity, if it is able to be confirmed, and is interesting.

More details of the terminology are given below;


Every record should be verifiable; if you managed keepie uppies in your back garden for 20 hours then congratulations. However unless confirmed by some reputable agency it doesn't belong on Wikipedia.

The Guiness Book of Records can be considered the standard for verifiable records.

Listing the number one from a table which already exists on Wikipedia (e.g. list of countries by GDP (PPP)) should not be considered original research for these purposes.


Extrema desribes the

Extrema can normally be described using superlatives - tallest, shortest, most expensive etc.

Having said that earliest/first can normally be considered a record, while latest/last often cannot.

  • Earliest known example of writing Sumatra, c. 2000BC - an interesting record.
  • Latest known example of writing Me writing a note to buy milk, 2 minutes ago - a dull record.


  • Earliest hanging in the UK - a record of some interest.
  • Last hanging in the UK - a record of a lot of interest.


Individual refers to that which performs the record breaking deed - it does not need to be a person, but could be:

  • A country - e.g. Most populous country
  • A job or occupation - e.g. Best Selling female singer
  • A geographical feature - e.g. Highest mountain


A domain is a set of possible ..., for instance:

  • A country - e.g. Highest point in Spain.
  • A time period - e.g. Fastest selling single of 2001
  • A genre - e.g. Highest selling Rap album

For a record to be called a 'world record' the domain should be the whole world or larger - for instance the world record of 'Highest Mountain' would be Mount Everest for the planet Earth and Olympus Mons for the whole solar system.

In general the following principles should be followed;

  • If the record relates only to a specific country/nation/state, for instance 'Fastest selling single in the US', then it should be place upon a list of national records - e.g. List of American records.
  • If the record related to a specific competition, league or chart where there are a number of competitions of similar stature, for instance 'fastest Olympic marathon time' then it should be places upon a page specific to that competition - e.g. List of Olympic records.
  • If the record relates to a specific year, decade or century then it should be placed upon a page relating to that time period- for instance 'fastest selling single of 2001' should go be placed on 2001 in music.

Naming records[edit]

Care should be taken to name records using well-defined terminology - for instance the page largest naval battle in history notes that 'largest' and indeed 'battle' have multiple interpretations, and list the following records;

  • Largest battle by number of participating soldiers, sailors and marines.
  • Largest battle by number of participating ships
  • Largest battle by tonnage of participating ships.

Even for seemingly intuitive facts such as 'largest planet in the solar system' care should be taken. The term planet has recently been redefined, and while Jupiter is indisputably the largest planet in terms of both radius and mass, the third largest planet by radius is Uranus and the third largest by mass is Neptune.

In general;

Terms to avoid Possible replacements
Largest Heaviest (Most massive for astronomical objects)

Biggest (greatest volume)
Most participants

Smallest (when meaning other than least volume) Lightest (Least massive for astronomical objects)
Best depends entirely on context.
Most popular Highest selling

Specific issues[edit]

When to use 'known'[edit]

Is Olympus Mons the highest mountain in the solar system, or the highest known mountain in the solar system?

Use known:

  • Where surveying of the domain isn't complete - e.g. Most base pairs in a known genome

Don't use known:

  • Sporting Records - e.g. fastest time running 100m
  • Contemporary / Current records - e.g. highest current inflation
  • Where the chances of finding an individual which beats the record is slight - e.g. highest mountain on Earth.

Records from Antiquity[edit]

Care should be taken when using sources from ancient times, where records may be exagerated, mythological or incomplete.

If a record from ancient times seems reasonable then it should be quoted - for instance the Longest serving head of state ever is listed as King Pepi II of Egypt, 2221 BC - 2118 BC (94 years) - however if the claim is disputed (as this above is) it may be appropriate to list a verifiable claim as well - e.g. Queen Victoria, 1837 - 1901 (63 years).