Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Cue sports

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This is a style guide for articles about cue sports. It describes spelling, terminological and other conventions for the article (and category) names and content of Wikipedia topics related to cue sports (billiards-family games). Snooker has further specialized style needs, as explained in WP:Manual of Style/Snooker.

The purposes of this guideline are to:

  • Describe conventions for referring to cue sports games and equipment, differentiating them from each other and from other usages, especially numerical, to avoid ambiguity and confusion.
  • Elucidate details of Wikipedia-wide policies and guidelines, such as WP:Manual of Style and WP:Article titles, as they apply to the naming and terminology of cue sports topics, including the handling of US vs. UK English, treatment of numbers, and neutral point of view.
  • Explain how other Wikipedia-wide policies and guidelines (e.g. MOS:ICONS) may apply to cue sports articles in particular, as needed.

The overall intent is to ensure that cue sports article prose is comprehensible, by avoiding awkward and ambiguous constructions. Compare:

  1. "While 9-ball is a 9-ball game, the 9-ball is the real target; pocket it in a 9-ball run if you have to, but earlier is better." (Huh?)
  2. "While nine-ball is a nine ball game, the 9 ball is the real target; pocket it in a nine ball run if you have to, but earlier is better." (Oh, right!)

Nine-ball, being the most popular professional cue sport, and also a complex case because it can be seen as being named either for its "money ball" or for its number of object balls, is used frequently as the example game (and namesake ball) for these conventions, but they are generally applicable to all games and balls.


  • nine-ball = the game and only the game — hyphenation always, numeral never, capitalization never (except as "Nine-ball" at sentence beginning, and respecting the original spelling in book titles, trademarks and the like). The only hyphenation exceptions for compounded game names are blackball and balkline, which are internationally standardized under non-hyphenated spellings.
  • the 9 ball = the ball and only the ball — hyphenation never (including avoiding grammatically optional hyphenation of adjective phrase as in "nice 9 ball shot"), numeral always (exception "Nine (9) ball" at sentence beginning deprecated). The definite article is generally always used except where superfluous/ungrammatical.
  • nine ball = adjective phrase referring to number of balls, as in "a nice nine ball run" — grammatically optional hypenation never, numeral never.
  • ninth ball = phrase referring to order of balls — hyphenation generally not relevant, numeral never
  • 9th place, number 9 in the rankings, 9–3 victory = phrases referring to player/team sports statistics – hyphenation generally not relevant, numeral always, per conventions of sports journalism since the 19th century
  • nine games = phrase referring to something other than balls and stats; hyphenation generally not relevant, numeral never (with very limited exceptions, e.g. "the carom billiards game 18.2 balkline")
  • 9-ball = weird/meaningless style; never, except in article intro sentence as a colloquial alternate spelling (and even then only if applicable as per details below).
  • nineball = weird/meaningless style; never.
  • 9ball = weird/meaningless style; never.
  • cue ball = the ball; just "the cue" is never; compounding as cueball, never
  • cue stick = the implement, usually; if being more specific, then drop "stick" (e.g. "snooker cue"); just "the cue" deprecated as ambiguous; compounding as cuestick, never
  • bridge stick or mechanical bridge (US) or rest or more specific terms like swan rest (UK) = is the reach-extending tool, always; slang like "rake" never; just "bridge" never (it actually means hand bridge); disparaging terms ("granny stick", etc.) never
  • cue sport(s) = the general topic, singular (plural), usually. Use "cue game(s)" only for non-tournament variants like bar billiards. Informal use of "game(s)" is fine. Compounding as "cuesports" never.
  • carom-billiards = weird, made-up style never — do not hyphenate non-compound names.
  • flag icons: Used (and more importantly not used) as in all other sports.

Key: never means it is not done at all (unless an enumerated exception applies); always means it is done this way in every case (unless an enumerated exception applies); deprecated means it is not done unless absolutely necessary; try rewriting to avoid it; and usually means there may be variants, as shown in examples.

This Wikipedia guideline is for the consistent, disambiguated rendering of text in articles (including captions and headings, and names of articles and categories), and although ideally it could influence and help clarify usage elsewhere, it operates independently of (and, really, in direct compensating reaction to) the unbridled chaos of random, idiosyncratic usage outside the encyclopedia that would makes for hopelessly confusing, inconsistent writing.

General terminology[edit]

  • Overarching terms
    • The concept, and the extant sports as a class, are the "cue sports", inclusive of non-sport games, and of ball-less variants (e.g. novuss, played with disks). The singular is "a cue sport" or "a cue game". Avoid the contracted "cuesport(s)" which has much less currency, and is ambiguous ("What's a port for cues?").
    • The entire family of games, including non-cued variants like crud, and those played outdoors on the ground like croquet, may be referred to by terms such as "the billiards family of games" or "billiards-type games" (the category of billiards games is generally not taken to include croquet, golf, field hockey, or lawn bowling), and link such a usage, on first occurrence, to History of billiards.
    • Like "water sports" and "martial arts", these are overarching terms, classifiers not frequently used in everyday speech and writing, versus specifics like "water skiing" and "kickboxing". Therefore, do not use "cue sport(s)" when something that is both non-ambiguous and more specific can be used.
    • Due to its ambiguity (see below), the umbrella term "billiard sports" is not very helpful on Wikipedia, as it can be taken to mean cue sports generally, or only those played on a pocketless billiards table.
  • Major cue sports disciplines
    • For the purposes of this guideline, the major cue sports disciplines are:[a] carom billiards, pool (pocket billiards), snooker, and to a lesser extent the specific games English billiards, Russian pyramid, and five-pin billiards (as well as croquet, though it is generally not thought of as a cue sport per se, and croquet is not referred to by the term "billiards"). A topic notable only in the context of a more specific discipline should of course refer to it more specifically, not just by the major parent classification: The "dollar bill shot" is key trick shot in artistic pool. Few players of carom billiards or pool limit themselves to one particular game (three-cushion billiards, nine-ball, etc.) within those disciplines (though they may only be notable in the context of one).
    • Players and other subjects relating to a major cue sports discipline usually need not be identified by any narrower sub-discipline; these will more likely be mentioned and linked in coverage of achievements, events etc., e.g.: He has won the Six-red Snooker World Championship (2014), and placed in the top 32 in the WPA World Nine-ball Championship twice (1999 and 2001), and also competed in the World Three-cushion Billiards Championship, or perhaps She is top amateur carom billiards and pool player, most notable for artistic billiards, artistic pool, and speed pool.
    • Don't use "pocket billiards" (another industry-created overall term for a broad class of games) for "pool" (a narrower one) when the latter will do. "Pocket billiards" may refer to historical, pre-pool games, and to pocket-table games as a class (including, e.g., English billiards, Russian pyramid and snooker). Except as noted otherwise here, do not use "pool", "carom billiards", or "billiards" alone, when something more specific such as eight-ball or balkline billiards is intended.
  • The term "billiards"
    • "Billiard(s)" is generally too ambiguous unless qualified (she is a professional player of English billiards or the game is played on carom billiards table), because its meaning changes not only regionally but contextually. Avoid a usage like He is a professional billiards player, unless the subject is a professional player of multiple major cue sports that all conventionally use the term "billiards". One who is a snooker, pool, and carom billiards player is best described as exactly that.
    • In a historical context, do use "billiards" (billiards, croquet, golf, field hockey, and lawn bowling all seem to have developed from the same class of ancient Eurasian outdoor game.) The term "cue sports" dates to the 20th or perhaps late 19th century, and is anachronistic when used to refer to the early history of the games.
    • Do not refer to English billiards or other specific games as "billiards" except in a context in which it is clear that the specific game is meant (usually because it has already been mentioned and linked to by name): He was a world-champion player of snooker and English billiards. ... His billiard career began in 1934, and he began competing at snooker in 1937.
  • The term "game"
    • "Cue game(s)" can be used, but should be reserved for activities that are not the subject of national or international competition bar billiards is a cue game that can be placed against a wall without affecting play). Link the first occurrence to Cue sports.
    • Conversely, a game that isn't the subject of non-trivial competition is not a sport, but simply a game or pastime.
    • A particular cue sport, or family thereof, may be referred to less formally (e.g., anywhere in the article other than the intro sentence of the lead section and in the infobox) as the "game" or "games" (in the same sense that the Olympic games are sports referred to as "games").
    • The term "game" however, may have a more specific meaning in a context like tournaments or league play, so avoid any potential ambiguities.


The game[edit]

  • The canonical name format for the game [in English] for Wikipedia purposes is "nine-ball". Using nine-ball as the canonical example, the correct names of the game, outside the Wikipedia context, are (and grammatically must be) "nine-ball" or "9-ball", but we eschew "9-ball" on Wikipedia as a name of the game to avoid confusion between the game and the numbered ball. (Cf. the World Eight-ball Pool Federation, who similarly avoid use of the numeral 8, despite the reference ultimately being to the numbered 8 ball). It is not "Nine-ball" – non-trademarked games are not proper nouns (cf. association football, badminton, chess, etc., vs. National Basketball Association, Mortal Kombat) It is certainly not "Nine-Ball" – second and subsequent word parts are not capitalized in hyphenated compounds, even if the compounds are proper nouns, unless also themselves proper names (e.g. "Jane Foster-Smythe")[1]. The game also is not named "nine ball" [nor "Nine Ball" for capitalization reasons already given above]. Why? Because: First, sport/game names that end in "ball" are almost universally compounded in English[b] And cf. the more similarly-named bowling games of nine-pins and ten-pins, which are traditionally both spelled out and hyphenated.[c]. Second, the adjective has fused to the noun to form a compound noun – without the adjective being integrated into the noun, it is simply a random noun modified by a random adjective like "hot soup" or "ugly dog", and the results are nonsensical in the context of what nine-ball actually is (a thing named, cohesive, integral and indivisible; not a thing described) – one cannot reasonably say "we were playing a game of ball, the nine kind" in reference to this game [unless related to Yoda one is perhaps, hmm?]; "nine-ball" is a concept an sich, and ergo it is necessarily a compound noun.[d] And third, perhaps most importantly, if it is not compounded and the adjective remains unbound to the noun, it is free to modify entire noun phrases that follow it or to be distanced from the noun by insertions, with confusing and ambiguous results. An example within an earlier version of the nine-ball article itself demonstrated this ambiguity: "nine ball rules", which could just as easily mean "nine rules about balls" or "rules about nine balls". (Other words besides "rules", such as "games", cause similar ambiguities.) If we have just "nine ball rules" instead of the inseparable "nine-ball rules", we can also have "nine confusing ball rules"; note that we cannot have "nine-confusing-ball rules" without there being an identifiable, unified thing called "nine-confusing-ball". Compounding the noun to its erstwhile adjective prevents any insertions (or more to the point, it signals that such insertion isn't even possible; the phrase is immediately and naturally parsed as a compound noun. (See "Non-numeric game names", below, for compound ("line-up") and non-compound ("bank pool") names without numbers.)
  • The style "9-ball" for the game is not an acceptable short version in any billiards-related context in Wikipedia. Rationale: An argument can be made that "9-ball" spelling is conceptually perhaps at least as correct as "nine-ball" (with regard to that specific game but not eight-ball, for symbol vs. number-per-se reasons that become clear below), and this spelling is commonly but not exclusively used in the industry. But, firstly, it is too difficult and awkward to restructure the large number of sentences that naturally should begin with this phrase just to avoid ungrammatically starting sentences with numerals instead of capital letters. Second, and far more seriously, it will be hard to read and understand these articles if the usage is not just logically sound but also visually distinct, and this distinction is consistently maintained. The only times the 9-ball construction should be used in Wikipedia cue sports articles are in the official names of organizations, and in the first sentence of the intro of the article about that game, and then only as an alternative colloquial name, e.g.:

Nine-ball (colloquially also "9-ball") is a pool (pocket billiards) game [...]

  • The name of the game must not be run together. Incorrect examples: "nineball", "9ball".
  • Where numerical usage is utterly ingrained and almost invariable, use the numeric rather than spelled-out version. Examples: "18.2 balkline", "14.1 continuous". This does not apply to game names frequently spelled either way (as noted, we do not use "1-pocket", "3-cushion" even if some sources do). If something like "18.2 balkline" would begin a sentence, rewrite to avoid rather than spelling out.
  • Commercial or popular [mis]usage is of no consequence; but respect organization names and publication titles. The fact that some pro tour, company, organization, tournament, etc., may use a spelling such as "9-Ball" or "Nine Ball" or "9 Ball" is of no relevance: the industry as a whole evidences no standardized terminology spelling, and the same event (sometimes even the same organization!) are often spelled multiple ways. See "Organizations and publications", "Tournaments and other events", and "Respecting official organization names" for more details.
  • The convention on naming of the game applies to all games, whether named for the winning ball or the number of balls or objects used. This applies to all games, regardless of whether the eponymous objects are money balls ("eight-ball"), total balls ("three-ball billiards"), both ("nine-ball"), total object balls ("fifteen-ball"), or non-ball objects ("five-pins", "three-cushion, one-pocket"). Usage of such appellations as "3-cushion" for such games is grammatically unsound and simply lazy; in that final case it is also inappropriate in that the objects enumerated are simply counted, and unlike the 8 and 9 balls do not bear numerals on them as symbols; Wikipedia should not encourage such usages as valid alternate spellings in article introductions, though redirect pages should silently take people to the correct article if they use these misspellings in seeking out articles. In the case of actually-numbered objects, the one-time usage of the "9-ball" format in the article introduction sentence as an alternative colloquial spelling is indicated.

The ball and other numbered equipment[edit]

  • The ball itself is, and must be, "the 9 ball", in all cases. It cannot logically be "the 9-ball", because it is not a compound noun, but simply a noun modified by an identifying adjective, like "my shoe" or "Dante's Inferno" – unlike the game of nine-ball, the 9 ball really is just a thing with a (symbolic in this case) descriptor that differentiates it from several other similar things (balls) within the same context (the pool table at hand). "The 9 ball" is simply short for "the number-9 ball" — we see clearly that it is an adjectival phrase modifying a simple noun, "ball"; it is not a compound noun — one would not write "the number-9-ball" or "the number 9-ball" so we cannot logically write "the 9-ball" either. Similarly, if we had a custom pool ball set with different symbols we might refer to the "ankh ball" and the "mu ball", and there is no reason to hyphenate such phrases. Indeed, doing so can lead to more confusion that it solves (e.g., "the +-terminal and --terminal on the battery"!) As with the game itself, it is not a proper noun, like the title of a book, so "the 9 Ball" is out of the question. It is also not "the nine ball" – it does not say "nine" on it, and the numeral it bears is not really a number per se, but simply a symbol.[e] This does mean that it would not be grammatical to begin a sentence with a bare reference to the 9 ball, without an article or other preceding word; but, oh well – we have the same problem with the poet e.e. cummings, yet the field of literary criticism has simply dealt with it (almost universally respecting his wishes to remain all-lower-case), and somehow survived unscathed. It is hard to think of such a sentence in the first place. Perhaps something like "9 ball shots are the most often missed in nine-ball due to what is colloquially known as 'choking'." Which sounds kind of funny anyway because it is ambiguous and silly ("9 shots on a specific ball? 9 shots on any balls? Huh?"); Most people would write "The 9 ball shot is the most often missed..." See below for how to handle cases where it is felt that a sentence "must" begin with an unadorned reference to the 9 ball. Finally, of course it can't be "the 9 Ball" or "the 9-Ball" (capitalized) for reasons already discussed.
  • Plurals are formed in the same manner. Examples: "the 1, 2 and 3 balls", "the 1 through 7 balls". Because it looks confusingly like an arithmetic operation, the format "the 1–7 balls" is deprecated.
  • An acceptable informal short version is "the 9", but not at first occurrence. To prevent repetitive wording, later references to the ball may omit the word "ball", provided that the meaning is entirely clear in context. It is not "the nine" (nor "the Nine"; see above about capitalization); again, this ball is not labelled "nine" (except perhaps on some custom-designed balls somewhere), but "9". NB: It would never, except at the beginning of a sentence or book (etc.) title, be "The 9" with a capital "T".
  • The "the" is generally required, except where the indefinite article, a more specific reference, or a clause providing such, precedes "9". Examples, respectively: "a 9 ball shot", "that 9 ball opportunity", "first shoot the 7 ball, then the 8 and 9" (emphasis added for clarity).
  • If one "insists" on beginning a sentence with a bare reference to the ball itself, it logically must be rendered as "Nine (9) ball..." to prevent ambiguity, especially for non-native English speakers; few languages are as cavalier and confusing about operator overloading of number usage as is English. About the only reason to do this would be a sentence in which more than one 9 ball were referred to (e.g. "Nine (9) balls keep getting stolen from our tables."), but there are other ways to phrase such sentences, therefore this usage is strongly deprecated, and editors are encouraged to rewrite any such usage encountered.
  • The grammatically optional hyphenation of ball names when used as adjective phrase is not used in Wikipedia articles in the context of cue sports. While many would normally prefer to write "a 9-ball shot" (i.e., a shot at the 9 ball) it necessarily must be written "a 9 ball shot", for disambiguation reasons. If the phrase were intended to mean "a shot in a game of nine-ball", it would be rendered "a nine-ball shot". Meanwhile, a trick shot involving nine balls could be referred to as a "nine ball shot" again without the optional adjectival hyphenation.
  • The ball and its label/name must not be run-together. Incorrect examples: "nineball", "9ball". (The same goes for non-ball objects, e.g. do not use "fivepea".)
  • Journalistic or popular [mis]usage is of no consequence; but do not change direct quotes. The fact that some journalists and writers, in or out of the cue sports fields, may use variant spellings such as "the 9-ball" or "the nine ball" is of no relevance: the industry as a whole evidences no standardized terminology spelling. However, as per Wikipedia:Manual of Style generally and universally, never change the spelling in a direct quote; if the spelling could be confusing ("pocketed the 9-ball in a game of 9-ball") or the term is widely divergent from the norm ("striking ball"[1] for "cue ball") it can be marked with "[sic]" or explained in a footnote.
  • References to the count of or succession of balls should always be in the form "nine balls", "ninth ball", etc. To avoid confusion, they should be spelled out (no numerals like "9 balls left", "or sank his 9th ball in a row in the straight pool match"); it is generally accepted standard English usage to spell it out — and not hyphenate it, either — anyway.[1]
  • The convention on referring to the count or sequence of balls also applies to non-ball objects, whether numbered or not, but numbered ones should be spelled out. For example, pins/skittles or shake pills/peas. E.g., "I knocked over all five pins" not "...all 5 pins"; "I drew the number-five pill from the shake bottle", not "...the 5 pill". While because it is numbered "the 5 pill" would be correct under the same theory as "the 9 ball", which we prefer, in the Wikipedia context the similarity of the former to the latter will be visually confusing to readers and editors, so it is spelled out as "the five pill" or "the number-five pill". Object-referent numerals in cue sports articles always refer to numbered balls.

Organizations and publications[edit]

Names of organizations and titles of publications, because they are usually officially-registered and often trademarked designations, should be left as-is, but redirected-to from the name that would adhere to this guideline. An organization legally called the Aruba 9Ball Association should have its article appear at Aruba 9Ball Association, and have a redirect page to it at Aruba Nine-ball Association.

See "Respecting official organization names", below, for additional (non-numeric) organization naming guidelines.

Tournaments and other events[edit]

Apply these naming guidelines rigorously to events, but redirect from attested alternate spellings. Because tournaments and the like are generally not officially-registered corporate entity designations, and especially because promoters, organizers, sponsors and sanctioning organizations rarely consistently use one name for them (e.g., using "9-ball", "9-Ball", "Nineball", etc., among other differences), there is no compelling reason to use anything but this guideline's recommended number formatting and spelling when it comes to the actual article name (i.e. "Nine-ball", capitalized because it is part of a proper name/title). Any demonstrable trademark for the event, or other sourceable semi-official name (one used by sponsors, organizers, etc.) should exist as redirects to the main article. Real-world example: The Six-red World Championship article is named in accordance with this guideline. Numerous spellings are attested, with the event's own official homepage (as of December 18, 2009) giving the spellings "6Red World Championship", "6red World Championships" and "Six Reds World Championships" all at once.

See "Naming of competitions and other events", below, for additional (non-numeric) event naming guidelines.

Statistics and winnings[edit]

  • References to wins, scores, ratios, placings, etc., by long-standing sports statistics conventions, should be given as numerals, not written-out words, as per Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers (WP:MOSNUM); their format and context is generally clear enough as to avoid any ambiguity with ball or game names. Example: "He won 10–4 in the race to 10, taking 3rd place and winning ¥2,000,000."
  • Give "versus" statistics in a semantically meaningful order, not always winning-score-first, and use standard formatting. A phrase like "she lost the match, 9–5", is nonsensical. Even worse is "Jackson was the next player Smith faced, and by a narrow victory of 8–7, Smith took the title" – many readers will be at least momentarily confused, unsure if the 8–7 order was chosen because victory was mentioned first, because the editor personally prefers winning-score-first, or if it was meant to reflect (as it often does) the order in which the players were introduced in the sentence. Painstakingly avoid ambiguous constructions of this sort. For "versus" scores, please follow WP:MOSNUM and use – code (or the "–" character in the editing "Insert" toolbox). Such scores should appear like "10–1" with the longer en-dash character rather than a hyphen. For comparatives that are not scores per se, use verbal "to" formatting, as in "10 racks to 1". Constructions in the form "10-to-1" should be avoided except for odds statistics (in which case "10:1" can also be used). Use "vs.", not the spelled out word "versus", nor the legal spelling "v."
  • Currency should be wikilinked to at first occurrence, and disambiguated when necessary (e.g. "US$" or USD", not just "$"), again as per WP:MOSNUM.


Numeric compound adjectives[edit]

  • Optional hyphenating of compound adjectives that mention numbers should be studiously avoided in the context of cue sports articles on Wikipedia. For reasons of ambiguity and ensuing confusion, even if one's dialect or preferred register normally calls for it, one should not write, "She pulled off an astounding nine-ball run in bank pool." A previous example could grammatically have read "the 9-ball shot is the most often missed...", but the visually confusing ambiguity of this style is immediately evident. Use "nine ball run" or "run of nine balls" in the former type of case and "the 9 ball shot" or "pocketing the 9 ball", etc., in the latter.

Other numbers[edit]

  • Ordinal numbers: Ordinal numbers below 12 should be spelled out in general prose, per WP:MOSNUM, except when they are sports-statistical as noted above: "His third tournament victory of the season".
  • Other numbers as figures or words: While most style guides call for writing numbers above 12 (or even 10) in digits rather than words, in pool articles especially it is best to always spell them out if they are fifteen or lower, to avoid confusion with ball numbers. Except as noted here and above (with regard to sports statistics), generally follow WP:MOSNUM#Numbers as figures or words. Its point about spelling out numbers that are adjacent to other numbers that must be in figure form is often especially important in cue sports articles even where the balls are not numbered, and in sports articles more generally because of their reliance on numeric figures in multiple contexts. In a passage that has statistics, specifications, ball numbers or other numbers-as-figures, it is recommended to spell out all numbers below 100 that are not required to be figures, even if single-digit (A run-on example to illustrate words-vs.-figures usage: "In the thirty-second frame of the evening, the seventh and final frame in a tight 4–3 match between the two 1st-place speed pool challengers, world number 1 Johnson and number 4 Garcia, Johnson committed two fouls resulting in 5-second penalties...)".

Non-numeric game names[edit]

  • Similarly to "nine-ball", hyphenate non-numeric game names when appropriate, for consistency. The style specified here for nine-ball, etc., is also used for non-numerically named games, except when this will produce a grammatically incorrect result. Game names that are not compound nouns must not be hyphenated. Incorrect examples: "bank-pool", "English-billiards", "skittle-pool", "carom-billiards", "straight-rail"; all of those are simply adjectives modifying nouns – games described and differenced from other games in the same general class. (straight rail is a deceptive case; it looks like a compound adjective, but here "straight" is a colloquialism for "plain" or "just one", not a description of the rail.) Correct example: line-up (a compound noun).
  • Game names that are fully compounded on an industry-wide basis remain that way in Wikipedia articles. As of this writing, there are only two known examples. The first is balkline, a carom billiards game subject to over a century of organized world championship competition (not to be confused with the balk lines on the table, after which the game is named). A more recent exception is blackball, an internationally standardized (mostly British Commonwealth) variant of eight-ball. This guideline would otherwise recommend "balk-line" and "black-ball", but as the English language preference is to eventually fully compound such phrases into a single word (cf. baseball, football, etc. – they were separate around the turn of the last century),[2] Wikipedia will not resist this process. Please note that the term "the black ball" in reference to a ball rather than the game should not be hyphenated or compounded (just like "9 ball", "cue ball", etc.); see "The ball and other numbered equipment", below for more information.
  • The numeric convention on naming of the ball also applies to non-numbered balls and object in all games, to the extent it is relevant. Hyphenation and direct compounding is not applied to non-numbered balls, e.g., "the cue ball", not "the cue-ball" or worse yet "the cueball"), including generic references ("the red balls", not "the red-balls" or "the redballs"), and references to custom ball sets that use symbols other than a number (e.g. "the star ball", not "the star-ball"). The same goes for non-ball accoutrements; do not use compounded constructions like "billiard-table", "snookerhall", or "poolcue".

Organizations, titles and competition[edit]

Respect for official organization names[edit]

The article for an organization should use the most official name of the organization (such as that found on contact or legal information pages at the organization's web site, without any legal abbreviations like "Inc.", "Ltd" or "GmbH", and expanding any organizational abbreviations in the name itself, e.g. "Southwestern Pool Assn." to "Southwestern Pool Association"). While the most authoritative official name should be used as the real article, any additional official or semi-official ones should exist as redirects to the former. A real world example is the World Pool-Billiard Association (their most authoritative name, and thus also their real article), who also appear as the World Pool Association, the World Pool-Billiards Association and the World Pool Billiard Association on several of their own documents; these sourceably attested alternates should certainly be redirects.

  • In the case of non-English-language names, the main article should be the official non-English name of the organization, with redirects from plausible (and especially sourceably in-use) English translations. An exception is when the organization itself supplies a preferred English translation, in which case that English name should be the main article, and the non-English one a redirect. If the name cannot be represented in Western European characters, the English name should be the main article. If it cannot be represented in unaccented English characters (the 26-letter English alphabet without accent marks or other diacritics), the closest English approximation of the properly-accented spelling should also be made a redirect to the main article, as many readers do not know how to generate and search for such characters from their keyboards. This section is subject to change to remain in conformance with WP:NC.
  • If the country/region name is not part of the official name of the organization is should not be added as if it is. If some differentiation must be made for disambiguation reasons, it should be done with a parenthetical at the end of the article name. For example, if an organization existed called the Pool Federation (and that were its full legal name) in the Kingdom of Tonga, and a different organization had the same legal name in Jamaica, and both were notable enough for articles, they would be named Pool Federation (Tonga) and Pool Federation (Jamaica), with a Pool Federation disambiguation page at the unadorned name, wikilinking to both of them. They should not be named Pool Federation of Tonga, Jamaican Pool Federation, etc., but redirects should exist to them from obvious alternatives like these.
For the handling of numbers in names of organizations, see "Numbers: Organizations and publications", above.

Naming of rulesets[edit]

  • Do not capitalize a ruleset, unless referred to by its actual published title, or an unambiguous, reasonable shortening of it.[f]
  • Right: "WPA World Standardised Rules" (Commonwealth English, actual title of published rules document)
  • Right: "WPA World Standardized Rules" (US English version; both spellings have been used in WPA's own documents.)
  • Right: "WPA international standard rules"
  • Right: "WPA World Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "WPA Standardized Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "World Standardised Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "standardized rules"
  • Right: "world rules"
  • Right: "international WPA rules"
  • Deprecated: "World Standardized WPA Rules" (same length as proper title, no point in changing the usual word order)
  • Deprecated: "Standardized World Rules" (reasonable shortening, but no reason to change the usual word order)
  • Right: "BCA bank pool rules"
  • Right: "BCA Billiards: The Official Rules & Records Book ('Tournament Pocket Billiards Games: Bank Pool' section)"
  • Right: "BCA Billiards ('Bank Pool' section)" (reasonable, unambiguous shortenings).
  • Right: "APA 8-Ball Game Rules" (actual title of rulebook)
  • Right: "APA's eight-ball rules"
  • Right: "VNEA 8-Ball Official Rules of Play" (actual title or rulebook)
  • Right: "VNEA rules"
  • Do not change the published spelling when using the proper name of the ruleset, as with organization names (e.g., do not change "8-Ball" to "Eight-ball" if the original reads "8-Ball"). If there is an article on the topic, create a redirect from the spelling that agrees with the general recommendations of this guideline, to the real article at the official spelling.
  • Do not italicize the name of a ruleset unless it is being referred to as a publication per se, not the rules themselves as applied, and only then if it is a discrete publication, not a section of a larger one (in which case use quotations marks, as with any other chapter or article in a larger publication).
  • Right: "WPA World Standardised Rules, section 2"
  • Right: "The tournament uses WPA's World Standardized Rules."
  • Right: "The 'Bank Pool' section of the BCA rulebook was updated with a rule change in August, 2012."
  • Right: "The bank pool rules of the BCA were those used in 2005 event, but not the following year." (Note no capitalization here either – "Bank Pool Rules" is not the name of the bank pool ruleset section in the book.)

Naming of sporting titles[edit]

  • Capitalize a sporting title only when it is the official title, or a shortening or sensible rearranging thereof that is clear in the context.
  • Right: "Smith was the 2007 WPA Women's Division World Eight-ball Champion, the runner-up in 2008, and World Champion again in 2009."
  • Right: "Smith was the 2007 WPA World Eight-ball Champion (Women's Division), the runner-up in 2008, and World Champion again in 2009."
  • Right: "Smith is a world champion pool player."
  • Right: "Smith was a 2007 WPA World Championship winner."
  • Avoid constructions that truncate "Champion" or other official person-descriptor in the title, which will render a partial title that doesn't make sense:
  • Wrong: "Smith was the 2007 WPA Women's Division World Eight-ball victor." (There is no such thing as "World Eight-ball".)
  • Other terms: "Runner-up", "1st place", "semi-finalist" and other such terms do not qualify for capitalization (except at the beginning of a sentence like this one). When using such terms, use an untruncated version of the event name (e.g. "World Eight-ball Championship runner-up"), or do not capitalize (e.g. "3rd place in the WPA world eight-ball event that year"). There is no such thing as a "World Champion runner-up", without "-ship". Also, in reference to a single event, there is no such thing as "a" runner-up, but rather "the" runner-up. Hyphenate "runner-up", "semi-finalist" and "quarter-finalist", as they are compound nouns (but usually not fully-compounded – avoid "quarterfinalist"). "Quarter finalist" suggests 1/4 of a finalist or a finalist in a particular quarter. Do not hyphenate or fuse "1st place", etc., as they are not compounds. Hyphenating adjectival use is optional ("a 1st-place victory", "a 1st place victory").

Naming of competitions and other events[edit]

  • Use this guideline's recommended formatting when it comes to the names of events (i.e. "Nine-ball", not "9-ball", etc.), because tournaments and the like are generally not officially-registered corporate entity designations, and especially because promoters, organizers, sponsors and sanctioning organizations rarely consistently use one name for them (e.g. the organizer may call it the Botswana National 9Ball Classic, some promoters might call it the National Botswana 9-Ball Tournament and the Botswana National Nineball Smack-down Challenge, and the main commercial sponsor might call it the Ndele Billiards Club Nine-ball Invitational). Any demonstrable trademark for the event, or other sourceable semi-official name (one used by sponsors, organizers, etc., but not typographical errors that happen to appear in a newspaper or other third-party source) should exist as redirects to the main article.
  • Articles on competitions and other events should:
  • Use the official name to the extent possible without violating the number-related guidelines here.
  • Use the clearest and least excessive official name when there are more than one, generally preferring that of the sanctioning organization (the supplier of the rules) over those of local organizers and especially of commercial sponsors, all other things being equal.
  • Precede the event name with the acronym (or where there is no acronym, the name) of the sanctioning organization, when this can be identified, and it is relevant: i.e. the event is a championship or qualifying match; if something like an exhibition match happens to use WPA (or whatever) rules, this is not a particularly relevant fact and should not be reflected in the article name, though if sourceable should be mentioned in the article.
  • Exceptions: If all or nearly all events in a sport are sanctioned by a single organization, do not add its acronym. Also, if the event's name is unique and unambiguous and likely to remain that way, then the organization acronym may be superfluous as unnecessary disambiguation.
  • Not include the name of a commercial sponsor unless disambiguation would be severely hindered by omitting it, or it has been determined that this version is the WP:COMMONNAME for article titling purposes. (See "Commercial sponsors" below for details.)
  • However, if the event is referred to in some reliable sources by the name of the sponsor rather than by the name of the sanctioning body, also give that name as an alternative, secondarily, in the article introduction, and in bold. Example: the San Miguel Asian Nine-ball Tour (Guinness Asian Nine-ball Tour as of 2007), which is really the WPA Asian Nine-ball Tour. In articles titles and links to them, please use the sanctioner, not sponsor, version of the name.
  • Use the singular (e.g. "Championship", "Tournament", etc.), unless the event has multiple, independent divisions, and multiple titles to win.
  • Real example: The event most often called by its primary sponsor the "U.S. Open 9-Ball Championships" (note "9", capitalized "Ball" after hyphen, and pluralized "Championships") but spelled various ways by other sponsors and by the billiards press, should be at the Wikipedia article title U.S. Open Nine-ball Championships (plural because there are multiple, independent divisions with separate "Champion" titleholders).
  • Commercial sponsors: Identifying events by their commercial sponsors can be very problematic for a number of reasons. First, it runs afoul of Wikipedia:Spam, by simply providing advertising for commercial entities – the corporate designation appearing in articles, especially in an article title, is usually not necessary and effectively acts as a form of banner ad. Second, sponsors often change from one season/year to another (the "San Miguel" Asian Nine-ball Tour became the "Guinness" Asian Nine-ball Tour, and for all anyone knows may change again next year. Third, events often have multiple sponsors, and without a clear, citable statement from the tournament organizers as to which sponsor is the primary sponsor (if there is one; some events have multiple primary sponsors), this would leave editors between a rock and a hard place, either listing all of the sponsors in the article title (e.g. the "Microsoft Pepsi Budweiser Meucci Simonis Bank Pool Championship"), with ridiculous results, or engaging in forbidden original research and determining for themselves who the primary sponsor "probably" is. Fourth, and worst of all, it can directly mislead readers in a number of ways.

    For example, San Miguel is (aside from the Spanish name for a Catholic saint) a placename first and foremost (there are many of them, in fact, even in the Philippines), but a beverage company and its product secondarily; readers not familiar with Filipino beers would be most likely to assume that the tournament took place in one of the several San Miguels in the Philippines, and perhaps even that it was arranged by the local government of one of them, neither of which are correct. Worse yet, sometimes one league sponsors the events of another, and following the deprecated practice of naming event articles for their sponsors would have resulted in the 2007 WPBA World Championship having an article at 2007 APA World Championship! The Women's Professional Billiards Association and the American Poolplayers Association have no rules or player sanctioning connection at all, but such an article title would very strongly imply that competitors in this event were APA league players using APA's handicapping system and ruleset, while nothing could be further from the truth.

    In rare cases, the version of the name with the sponsor included may be determined to be the "most common name" for article titling purposes, per WP:COMMONNAME, and thus the article on the event may be at that name. It is not necessary in such cases to always refer to the event by that name if it doesn't seme the best choice in the context of the material being written. E.g. one might refer to a victory on the WPA Asian Nine-ball Tour, even if that article about that is moved (for now) to Guinness Asian 9-Ball Tour.

  • Illustrative example: Using the Botswana hypothetical event used above, assuming sanctioning by the Botswana Nine-ball Association (BNA), and using these criteria (including the number formatting guidelines), the event article should be BNA National Nine-ball Classic, and a redirect page should exist pointing to this article from each of the other names, and their number spelling-corrected variants: Botswana National 9Ball Classic, Botswana National Nine-ball Classic, National Botswana 9-Ball Tournament, National Botswana Nine-ball Tournament, Botswana National Nineball Smack-down Challenge, Botswana National Nine-ball Smack-down Challenge, and Ndele Billiards Club Nine-ball Invitational. Imaginable but unattested variants (like "National Botswana Nine-ball Smackdown Challenge Invitational Classic") should not be created as redirects, since no one is ever likely to be looking for them.
  • Recorded tournaments and italicization: If a tournament is broadcast (or recorded and published) in some manner (television, DVD, VHS, etc.), italicize the name/title only when referring to it specifically in the context of such a presentation. For example, for a hypothetical tournament called "Ten-ball Showdown", one might write "Jane Q. Doe won the 2009 Ten-ball Showdown" (the event), but "ESPN first broadcast Ten-ball Showdown in August 2009" (the show). If an event has no existence outside of its broadcast format (e.g. Pot Black), always italicize it. Also, when referring to the title as a recorded production, use the title as given for the show by the broadcaster/publisher, even if it does not agree with the article name or the name of the event as more generally known: "ESPN first broadcast 10-Ball Showdown Las Vegas '09 in August 2009". Article titles should avoid such constructions when possible, especially with regard to including sponsor names.
For the handling of numbers in names of events, see "Numbers: Tournaments and other events", above.
For the handling of non-English names of events, see "Organization names", above.
For the handling of "Championship" and "Masters" in event names, see "Other terms", below.

Games, frames, rounds and matches[edit]

In reference to game types that are played purely recreationally, the terms game or frame can be used synonymously to refer to a single instance of game play, start to win. One term should be chosen (with WP:ENGVAR in mind), and used consistently throughout the article.

For game types that are subject to organized competition (i.e., are sports), "game" refers to the game rules and subculture (e.g. "the game of Russian pyramid"), while "frame" is used in articles to refer to an instance of game play, regardless of English dialect. This terminological clarity is especially important for competitions that may involve multiple races to frames or rounds of frames. The term "round" is used to mean a segment of game play consisting (or potentially consisting) of more than one frame, but not constituting an entire match. A "match" is the entire competition between vying parties, (individual or team). Where the match consists of a single frame, or a single round, it should be referred to as a match, again regardless of colloquial use, for inter-article consistency. If a match conclusion is also the conclusion of a larger stage of tournament play, a term for that may reasonably be substituted for match (e.g., "She won the last frame 8–3, and took the semi-final [instead of 'match'] and will face Jackson in the final match" or "The World Championship [instead of 'match'] went to Shen after an eleven ball run.").

"Round" can be used more generically in reference to levels of play in a large competition, e.g., "the quarter-final rounds of the National Cup". When specific players or teams in opposition are being discussed, use "match" to describe their contest, and use "round" as recommended in the previous paragraph.

Other competition terms[edit]

  • "Final" (in the tournament bracket context) is singular – there is only one final match per event. The plural "finals" can be used in unusual constructions, e.g. "Doe was defeated in two UK Championship finals in a row, in 2008 and 2009", or "Jane Q. Public and John Doe won the 2009 female and male divisional finals, respectively". Do not capitalize "final[s]" except at the beginning of a sentence, in a heading, in the title of a cited source, or in another normally capitalized context.
  • "Semi-finals" and "quarter-finals" are plural when used as nouns, unless in the context of a particular group: "John Doe lost in the semi-finals" and "the quarter-finals were held on 14 July", but "Doe's quarter-final victory" (adjective usage), and "Doe advanced from the Group C quarter-final" (a specific, singular quarter-final group being referenced).
  • "Semi-final[s]" and "quarter-final[s]" are hyphenated, not single-word and not two separate words. When appearing at the start of a sentence or in another normally capitalized context, only the first part is capitalized, as with any other hyphenated compound, but as with "final" is never capitalized otherwise.
  • "Championship" is always singular when speaking of a specific event, and always plural when writing of a series or multiplicity of events. As a matter of convention, events such as the World Snooker Championship and WPA World Nine-ball Championship are given in the singular, even if they have multiple divisions since no division produces two tying champions. Some sources (including event organizers) use the plural form even for a single event, but Wikipedia does not emulate this potentially confusing misusage. Examples:
  • "John Doe won the 2009 Isle of Man Championship." (single event)
  • "John Doe has three Isle of Man Championships under his belt." (multiple events)
  • "John Doe is a frequent competitor at the Isle of Man Championships." (series of events; if one wrote "frequent competitor at the Isle of Man Championship" this would rather crazily imply that this year he competed in the championship several times!)

"Championship" is only capitalized when used as part of the official name (or common short or extended version) of an event, e.g. "UK Snooker Championship", "UK Championship", but not "his third championship" even when in reference to the same event.

A real-world case: The Six-red World Championship article is named in accordance with this guideline. Numerous spellings are attested, with the event's own official homepage (as of December 18, 2009) using both "Championship" and "Championships" interchangeably on the same page! This is a good example of why Wikipedia must sometimes ignore "official" spellings, since we cannot obey multiple conflicting instructions, and attempting to hunt down every published spelling and then decide upon one based on our estimation of the prevalence is original research.

  • "Champion" is only capitalized when used as a complete official title or common alternative form of it: "Doe is a three-time World Champion", "...three-time Snooker World Champion", "...three-time World Snooker Champion", but "Doe is a three-time World Champion and seven-time national champion" (unless we have already said what nation it is and the event is actually called the [Country name here] National Championship, not the UK Championship or Azerbaijan Championship or whatever), and "Jane Q. Public beat reigning champion John Doe, 17&ndash10" ("champion" by itself is not a capitalized title like Reverend, Pope, Duke or Admiral, even if it precedes a name).
  • "Masters" in this context is always "Masters", singular and plural (after all, there is no such event as the World Pool Master Tournament. Do not use "Masters'", which is possessive, nor "Masterses" which is simply not real English. Examples:
  • "John Doe won the 2009 Isle of Man Masters." (single event)
  • "John Doe has three Isle of Man Masters under his belt." (multiple events; "Masters titles" would be better here, though, for clarity)
  • "John Doe is a frequent competitor at the Isle of Man Masters." (series of events)

"Masters" is basically always capitalized because it is never really used outside of an actual event name (e.g. if Doe won the Isle of Man Masters and the Botswana Masters, we would not write "Doe is a two-time Masters winner", since "Masters" would have no clear referent.

  • "Division", "group", "conference" and the like are capitalized when, but only when, used with the official name of the divisional grouping. "Women's Division" would be capitalized if the league or event organizers used that term in particular, but if you use "ladies' division" instead in some construction, this would not be capitalized. Likewise capitalize "Group C" but not "C group" or "third group" if the official term is "Group C". The basic principle is that Wikipedia is not here to make up titles. By way of analogy, the first-released and plot-chronologically fourth Star Wars movie is Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope or Star Wars Episode IV for short, but not Star Wars: No. 1, Star Wars 4, Star Wars – New Hope, or any other shorthand an editor here might like to make up, and any even more circuitous locutions would not be capitalized and italicized either (e.g., we would not write "She starred in The Original Star Wars Film").



  • The cue ball is the "cue ball"; the cue stick is the "cue stick" (or a more specific term, e.g. "pool cue"). A bare reference to "the cue" is usually too ambiguous.
  • The terms must not be compounded, e.g. as "cuestick" or (as already addressed above) "cueball".
  • When speaking generically, the hand-held implement is "the cue stick"; when speaking of specific games, the term can be more specific (and mandatorily truncated): "snooker cue", "pool cue", "billiards cue" (or "carom cue" or "carambole cue"). While "cue" is a perfectly valid term for "cue stick" (some would even argue that the latter is redundant), the shorter term is usually too ambiguous for use in Wikipedia articles, which will be read by many people utterly unfamiliar with the topic. "Cue" by itself is acceptable when:
  • the cue stick and cue ball are mentioned in the same sentence (e.g. "strike the cue ball with the cue" is not ambiguous; "using a lot of follow-though with the cue" is not;
  • the context is not about games at all, so no confusion could arise: "George Balabushka did not actually make the 'Balabushka' cue used in the movie The Color of Money".
  • The cue ball must never be referred to as "the cue", even if it would not be ambiguous in context, and despite common spoken shorthand of this fashion, because it is simply factually incorrect and constitutes non-encyclopedic, slangy tone.

Mechanical bridge[edit]

  • The reach-assisting implement should be referred to as the mechanical bridge or bridge stick in North American English or as a rest (or a more specific term, like spider or goose-neck rest) in Commonwealth English. It should never be referred to as simply the "bridge", as this is factually incorrect (the forward, stabilizing hand is the bridge, and the mechanical bridge is an artificial substitute for it when reaching with the hand is impossible or ineffective). It must not be referred to by colloquial disparaging names like "granny stick", "wussy stick", etc., per Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. It may be referred to by neutral colloquial terms if these are defined in situ or Glossary-linked. For largely American games like eight-ball and nine-ball, the term "rake" can be used, but should be wikilinked with {{Cuegloss|Rake|rake}}. For snooker, English billiards and blackball, the proper term is "rest", and likewise should be given as {{Cuegloss|Rest|rest}}. When used alone, it generally implies the cross-type rest by default, but also implies that other types might be used, depending upon the situation; there are up to four different rests used in those games. If one means the cross-type rest specifically, say so, e.g. "{{Cuegloss|Cross|cross}}-type {{Cuegloss|Rest|rest}}", or "{{Cuegloss|Rest|rest}} ({{Cuegloss|Cross|cross}} type)" (or even simply "{{Cuegloss|Cross|cross}}", after first occurrence). Because "cross", "spider", "swan" and "hook" all have original, non-sporting meanings, using these rest names by themselves is too ambiguous and should be accompanied one way or another by the word "rest" at first occurrence in an article or large section. Likewise, the first occurrence of "rake" should be something like "{{Cuegloss|Rake|rake}} ({{Cuegloss|Mechanical bridge|mechnical bridge}})".


  • "Chalk" should only refer to cue-tip chalk, never hand "chalk". For the latter, use "hand talc", or "talcum", or "talc" (hand "chalk" cones are in fact made of talcum, not chalk.)

Language conflicts[edit]

  • Summary: Dialect logic and game traditions should be respected, and terms disambiguated; otherwise WP:ENGVAR should be applied as usual.
  • As elsewhere in Wikipedia, it is proper to use British or Commonwealth English terminology when discussing largely British or Commonwealth topics (or those highly influenced by their terminology, such as snooker even outside the Commonwealth of Nations), and North American terms when discussing largely North American topics.
  • US/Canadian example, in an article about an eight-ball player: "Using the rake, she shot with high left english from the foot rail, to pocket the 8 ball with a carom off one of the stripes."
  • British/Australian/etc. version, about a blackball player: "Using the rest, she shot with top left side from the top cushion, to pot the black with a cannon in-off one of the yellows."
(And jargon terms not previously defined in the article should be wikilinked to their Glossary of cue sports terms entry with {{Cuegloss}}.)
  • Because cue sports terminology can differ widely between the dialects, and even directly conflict, jargon terms should be given with their other-dialect equivalent at first occurrence whenever they differ, especially in a context where the dialect is not immediately intutitively guessable (i.e. one might do this in Billiards techniques but not in English billiards, though no harm could come with doing it there as well). For example: "head rail (bottom cushion)", "rest (rake)", "black spot (foot spot)".
  • American-ish pool terminology is used throughout the English-speaking professional pool world, and so should be used for articles on pool regardless of variety of English. British terms should be given at first occurrence in parentheses, as noted above. An exception is pool games that are essentially exclusive to the UK or a Commonwealth country (other than Canada), such as blackball, in which case the US (UK) order is reversed.
  • British-spelled snooker terminology ("the colours", etc.) are terms of art and should not be changed to American spellings (with the sole exception of the American snooker topic) even if the rest of the article is in American English (compare the legal profession's entirely consistent use of the spelling "judgment", even in areas where the vernacular dialect prefers "judgement"). While some non-authoritative American sources on the topic will use American spellings ("colors", etc.) in discussing snooker, authoritative ones do not (such as The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards and Pool: History Strategies and Legends both by American author Michael Shamos, curator of the US-based Billiards Museum and Archive). To date there is no reliable evidence that American spellings for snooker terms have gained currency within the sport/industry, even in the US (miscellaneous self-publishing web authors notwithstanding).

Nationalities and flags[edit]

In international professional and amateur competition, it is normal practice for pool and billiards players to represent their countries of present origin in most cases. This is known as sporting nationality, and is not always synonymous with citizenship. For British players/teams, the constituent countries of the United Kingdom (i.e. England/Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland) are recognized independently in most but not all cases. On Wikipedia, flags are used to visually identify the sporting nationality of teams and individual players within drawsheets and result tables, for sports in which sporting nationality is recognized. This is as true in cue sports as in other sports. When Northern Ireland is recognized independently, in most cases the sometimes-controversial Ulster Banner is usually used as the flag, despite its having political connotations in other contexts. This is not a Wikipedian imposition, but actual sporting usage in the real world, and changing it here would be a violation of Wikipedia's Neutral point of view and No original research policies.

For the particular and well-documented handling of these issues in international snooker competition, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (snooker)#Nationalities and flags.


  1. ^ Major cue sports discipline is a categorization for clarity of writing the English Wikipedia, not an estimation of world popularity, influence or other notability. This is why major popular carom and pool games are not specifically listed. English billiards, Russian pyramid and five-pins are listed because players of them are not usually referred to as simply carom or pocket billiards players, but players of those specific disciplines.
  2. ^ Admittedly most are not hyphenated today [which used to be spelled "to-day"], with "stick-ball" being a common optional exception; but in their early days these games were universally referred to as "foot-ball", "base-ball", etc., and the particularly old ones were originally written as two words, before the "-ball" convention evolved. Cf. also "e-mail" ⇒ "email", etc. — compounding and the eventual dehyphenization of compounds, to form new unified words, are very common processes in English. But contrast these compounded sports names with "ice hockey" and "field hockey", or "long jump" and "high jump", etc.; in references to games and pastimes, this compounding phenomenon is mostly peculiar to "ball" and "skate/skating" sports and games, and a few others, and those inspired by them, e.g. "snowboarding" from "skateboarding". One day, generations from now, we will surely play nineball [though surely not 9ball!], but this is not anywhere close to a standard usage yet (a non-exhaustive scan of a dozen books on pool, and a small stack of Billiards Digest and other pool mags, revealed no occurrences of the "9ball" spelling and only a handful of "nineball" instances).
  3. ^ Note also that for "number-named" games, the names of which refer to the number of balls being used, such as "eight-ball", "three-ball billiards" and "seven-ball", the name is both a compound noun by being a reference to a game as such, and a compound adjective, making the hyphen even more appropriate. Since only someone who already knows perhaps more about a given game than they would learn from reading the article about it here is likely to know whether or not the game in question is named for its money ball (eight-ball), its number of balls (three-ball), or both (nine-ball), the consistent use of game names in the hyphenated format "nine-ball" is doubly indicated; applying a standard of "nine ball" name formatting to some games and "nine-ball" to others, based on this distinction, would be even more confusing than the overall usage before this Wikipedia standard was drafted!
  4. ^ This is a common feature of English; e.g.: "I did a Wikipedia look-up on 'billiards' last night" – it was not an upward glance, even metaphorically, but a "look-up", which despite its etymology has a distinct synergistic meaning as a compound noun that differs greatly from the simple sum of its two parts. Indeed, a game based on the non-synergistic concept "9 ball" (no hyphen) would be pretty boring, what with only one ball to shoot at!
  5. ^ Cf. "X-ray" – though we pronounce it "ecks-ray" we never spell it that way, and it is only very infrequently misspelled "x-ray" in scientific literature, because scientists know that "X" is a symbol not a letter of the alphabet as such, in this context. X-rays are not one type of ray in a series ranging from "a" through "z"; rather, the X is an arbitrary, symbolic designation, like "gamma". Just like the numbers (which could just as easily have been letters or Egyptian hieroglyphs) on pool balls, which were added simply to tell the balls apart specifically rather than just by suit/group (as still evidenced even today by the fact that the British, among others, do not regularly call shots, and thus do not typically use numbered object balls, other than the adopted 8 ball). Obviously nine-ball and other more obscure numerical rotation games were invented to take advantage of the already existing numbers (it would be absurd to posit that such games existed before numbered balls but with no one actually playing them until unfulfilled demand resulted in numbering being added to balls!) So, they are symbols. We do not spell out symbols, unless those symbols do not exist in our character set (e.g. the Artist Formerly Known as Prince's symbol) or would not be understood by the target audience (e.g. we write "gamma" if the reader cannot be expected to recognize the actual Greek letter). Neither condition applies to "9" of course. Note that "X-ray", aside from being capitalized as a symbol, and The X-Files (which is further capitalized as a title), are both hyphenated as compound nouns, because these two cases — unlike "the 9 ball", but very much like the game of "nine-ball" — refer to unique things named as discrete entities unto themselves, not near-identical things described and differentiated from their neighbors. That is, if the show had been about actual case names filed alphabetically under "X", like "Xavier, James A.", the show would have been called The X Files, and references to the files themselves would be rendered "the X files" with a lower case "f" (and, further, could have correctly been referred to as "the x files" had the show centered on someone obsessed with keeping files about non-proper-noun dictionary words beginning with that letter.) [back]
  6. ^ Still-capitalized shortenings are common in other contexts, e.g. the shortening of book or film titles in reviews, to avoid repetition: "The Two Towers is slower and darker than The Fellowship of the Ring; Towers, like most middle acts, takes its time setting up tension that will not be resolved until the finale."


  1. ^ a b H. W. Fowler & E. Gowers A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford U. Pr., UK, 1926/2003, ISBN 0198605064; and H. W. Fowler & R.W. Burchfield, [The New] Fowler's Modern English Usage, 3rd [Rev.] Ed., Oxford U. Pr., UK, 1996/1999/2004, ISBN 0198610211. The former is the highly prescriptive original, the latter the remarkably more descriptive and permissive total rewrite; both agree on these points.
  2. ^ "Old Base Ball Ground: Gone Over Again During the Recess". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY: 7. January 6, 1889. Retrieved 2011-10-14.