Jump to content

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/France- and French-related articles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The purpose of this supplementary manual is to create guidelines for editing articles in the English-language Wikipedia which relate to France or the French language to conform to a neutral encyclopedic style and to make things easy to read by following a consistent format. The following rules do not claim to be the last word. One way is often as good as another, but if everyone does it the same way, Wikipedia will be easier to read and use, not to mention easier to write and edit. This manual is open to all proposals, discussion, and editing.

There is considerable disagreement between the editors of articles related to France or French about which sources are reliable. The important thing to remember is that all sources and articles must conform to Wikipedia policies such as No original research, Verifiability and Neutral point of view.

General rules[edit]

The most general rule of the Wikipedia is that editors should use the most common form of the name or expression used in English (WP:ENGLISH). There are however many cases in which this rule is difficult to put into practice. When giving a parenthetical French expression after an English word, editors may use {{lang-fr|word}} where "word" is the French word. Example: National Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale).

If required in running text, French words or phrases should use {{lang}}, thus: {{lang|fr|Assemblée nationale}}, which renders as Assemblée nationale. This automatically produces italic rendering in accordance with MOS:FOREIGNITALIC.


Accents and ligatures[edit]

French proper names and expressions should respect the use of accents and ligatures in French. These are:

Accent a e i o u y
grave à è ù
acute é
circonflexe â ê î ô û
tréma ë ï ü ÿ
Others ç œ æ

Common French usage is to omit accents in capitals, however this is not the proper usage and accents should be included in capitals (as required by the Imprimerie nationale and usual in Canada). When used in article names, all common non-accented/non-ligatured forms should redirect to the article. There will often be many redirects, but this is intentional and does not represent a problem: Saint-Étienne, Édouard Manet, Édith Piaf, Émile Zola.


Accented characters and ligatures should not affect the sort order of articles in categories etc. So, where proper names have accents or ligatures, include the {{DEFAULTSORT:}} magic word in the article, with those accented characters and ligatures replaced by plain versions. See Évisa (source) for an example.

Communes starting with the definite article

Note that communes and other places starting with the definite article (La, Le, Les, L') should have the {{DEFAULTSORT}} magic word added with the article absent, e.g. La Vernelle should contain {{DEFAULTSORT:Vernelle}}.

Manual sorting within lists, templates etc.

Apart from the above rules, the following conventions should also be followed:

  • Do not add the {{DEFAULTSORT}} magic word with hyphens missing
  • Communes starting with Saint- are always sorted before communes starting with Sainte-. Do not try to sort Sainte-* communes in with Saint-E* communes.


There have been two accepted methods to determine the capitalization of titles of works of art. For consistency of French titles on the English Wikipedia, the consensus has been to follow the first method. The second method had been allowed (not required) only for operas and visual arts, but is in need of a new consensus evaluation. [under discussion as of December 2020]

Imprimerie nationale / Académie française method
These are the rules used on the French Wikipedia, which are those used by the French National publishing house (l'Imprimerie nationale) and put forth in its Lexique des règles typographiques en usage à l'Imprimerie nationale. This system is also favoured by the Académie française. Titles which adhere to these rules may, however, differ from the form of capitalization originally adopted by the author, the cover's graphic artist, or the publishing house (especially for older works that pre-date the current advice of French language authorities).[a]
These rules are as follows:
The words capitalized in titles of works of art (books, paintings, etc.) are:
  • proper nouns (names, cities)
  • the initial word of the title and:
    • if this initial word is a definite article (le, la, les, l'), both the article and its noun (and any modifier between the article and the noun) are capitalized (e.g. Le Grand Meaulnes; La Grande Illusion)
    • if the initial word is a modifier followed by a noun, the entire noun phrase is likewise capitalized (e.g. Tristes Tropiques)
  • if the title is a sentence, only the first letter and proper nouns are capitalized (e.g. La vie est un long fleuve tranquille)
  • if the title contains an enumeration (e.g. La Belle et la Bête), subsequent nouns of that enumeration are capitalized
  • in cases of a double title (e.g. Émile ou De l'éducation), both parts of the title are treated individually by the above rules; explicit subtitles are likewise treated as complete titles.
Chicago Manual of Style (sentence case) method
Since at least the 14th ed. (1993, p. 320) The Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) recommended only "capitalizing the first word of the title and of the subtitle and of all proper nouns". However, the 17th ed. (2017, §1127) now explicitly also recognizes the above system (citing the Académie française), and draws from it exceptions (like Le Monde) that it applies to its own sentence-case system. CMoS no longer recommends one system over the other, only using a single approach consistently. In Wikipedia's early days, the CMoS sentence-case system was also followed by some major English-language reference works, for instance then-recent editions of New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera, and The Viking Opera Guide. However, new editions of such works have not been checked in this regard in over a decade. [needs update]
Examples of the sentence-case approach: Les mamelles de Tirésias, Les Indes galantes, Les contes d'Hoffmann, La vie parisienne, La bohème.

For capitalization rules in other domains than titles of works, see next section, § Naming conventions.

Naming conventions[edit]

Noble titles[edit]

There is currently no standard convention for French noble titles and present-day English usage varies greatly. In Wikipedia articles, French noble titles are currently listed in two different ways:

  • in English translation (Duke of, Count of...) for historical figures and royalty most well known by their English forms.
  • in French for other cases, maintaining the French title spelling (seigneur, chevalier, marquis, duc, comte) and the de.

Furthermore, in the second case—French titles in French form—capitalization is currently chaotic:

Present English usage itself varies on how to spell such French forms and there is currently no consensus among editors on the issue of capitalization. As a general rule, if the individual is not better known by an English equivalent and a French form is to be used, it is recommended, regardless of which form of capitalization is used, that forms remain consistent throughout a specific article and that redirects be made from the other acceptable forms.

Creative works[edit]

Use English title when well-known
In Wikipedia articles and article titles, French titles of creative works should be put into English, if the work is well known by its title in English (with redirects from the French title). Examples: The Tales of Hoffmann, an opera by Offenbach; The Marriage of Figaro, a play by Beaumarchais; Sunflowers, a painting by van Gogh. If the work is better known by its title in French, then French should be maintained (with redirects from the English title).
Capitalization (see above § Capitalization)
Usage varies in contemporary French with regards to the capitalization of words in titles, and especially to the capitalization of initial words after a definite article. All common forms with variant capitalization should redirect to the article. There will often be many redirects, but this is intentional and does not represent a problem.

Names of organizations and institutions[edit]

Subject to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (companies), names of organizations and institutions (e.g. orchestras, musical ensembles and groups, concert halls, festivals, schools, etc.) should follow official usage (i.e. the spelling, punctuation, etc. used by the organization's own publications – always check whether the organization has English-language publications, and if so what name is used in these). In the case of non-English names, we use official English versions if and when they have been established by the organization itself. If not, we use the native name. Original English names, translated from other languages, should not be created.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Cities and communes[edit]

Where possible, articles on cities and communes in France should go under [[placename]]. Where disambiguation is needed, articles have traditionally used the "comma convention" (the standard convention for place names on the English language Wikipedia) and been placed under [[placename, département]]. Thus Tours, but Duras, Lot-et-Garonne and Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis.

Note that on the French Wikipedia, disambiguation is done with the "parentheses convention" and cities appear as [[placename (département x)]]. There is currently much discussion (see the talk page) for replacing the comma convention with a parentheses convention.


Note that this section is still under discussion on the talk page: consensus may not have been reached and article titles and text will not all use this style. Please contribute to the discussion there.

Numbered municipal arrondissements (for example those of Paris), should use Arabic numbers and English ordinality suffixes, not the French system of Roman numerals and French suffixes. The city name should follow. For example, 5th arrondissement of Paris, not Paris, Ve arrondissement

French administrative terms[edit]

The French administrative terms département and région should not be used, except parenthetically in cases of ambiguity. Instead, the English-language terms "department" and "region" should be used.[d]

The English-language terms urban area and metropolitan area are inexact equivalents for the French terms aire urbaine and unité urbaine. Piped links to the French terms should be used.

Transport conventions[edit]

Rail (SNCFRFF)[edit]

stub: {{France-rail-transport-stub}}

Multiple train units[edit]

Should the railway be a touristic railway, use the name used commercially (ex. Lézarde Express Régionale). If it is owned by the RFF, use the basis "Xxx–Yyy railway", with an en dash. (ex. Paris–Marseille railway). When deciding which end to put first, use the biggest end, or if they are both equally significant (or insignificant), just use what sounds right.

You should also use WP:TRAIL, and can base the diagram on the site Rail 21. Also, add a link to its regional "TER REGION" and "List of railway lines in France" and the Categories: Railway lines in France and REGION.

  1. Some stations are known by established common names. These are: Gare d'Austerlitz, Gare de Bercy, Gare de l'Est, Gare de Lyon, Gare Montparnasse. Gare du Nord, Gare Saint-Lazare, Gare de la Bastille, Gare d'Orsay, Charles de Gaulle–Étoile, Châtelet–Les Halles
  2. Other station articles should be titled "xxxx station". Where disambiguation is necessary, a suffix can be added e.g. to distinguish Luxembourg station (in Luxembourg City) from Luxembourg station (Paris)
  3. Where a station serves two communities, the two should be separated by an unspaced endash (e.g. Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines–Montigny-le-Bretonneux station or Mitry–Claye station
  4. Where a station is one of several serving a city, the qualifier should be preceded by an unspaced hyphen (e.g. Versailles-Rive Droite station, Versailles-Chantiers station.

The station's article should include a link to "List of SNCF stations in REGION" (see List of SNCF stations) and the Category: "Railway stations in REGION".


All articles about tramways should go under the title "CITY tramway". You should also add the template {{France Rapid transit}} and the categories [[Category:Transport in CITY|Tramway]], [[Category:Tram transport in France|CITY]] and [[Category:CITY|Tramway]]. Most pages will have a French equivalent, so link to it (it can be found at fr:Liste des tramways en France)

French names in Canada-related articles[edit]

French names in articles pertaining to subjects related to Quebec, Acadia, and the rest of Canada should follow the guideline set out at WP:CANSTYLE.


  1. ^ See, for example, the French titles Les caves du Vatican (André Gide, Folio edition, ISBN 2070360342), Le ravissement de Lol V. Stein (Marguerite Duras, Folio edition, ISBN 2070368106), and Le plaisir du texte (Roland Barthes, Seuil, ISBN 2020060604).
  2. ^ a b See, for example, the Britannica Online Encyclopedia ([1]). The entry for Étienne François, duc de Choiseul is given as: "Etienne Francois de Choiseul, duke de Choiseul".
  3. ^ See, for example, The New York Times and The New Yorker which generally use "Comte de" (e.g. Comte de Buffon) and "Marquis de" (e.g. Marquis de Sade). The New York Review of Books appears to use both "comte de" and "Comte de", "marquis de" and "Marquis de".
  4. ^ For the discussion leading to this convention, see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject France/Archive 1 and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject France/Archive 2).

External links[edit]