Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Latter Day Saints

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This Wikipedia Manual of Style supplement has been created through the efforts and broad consensus of contributors to WikiProject Latter Day Saint movement. Please follow these conventions when you contribute to Latter Day Saints articles so that they are neutral and stylistically consistent for better and easier reader comprehension.

Full name of denomination in first reference[edit]

The first reference for any Latter Day Saints movement church (in the sense of "organization and congregation", not "building") should use the full name of that church rather than a shortened version such as "LDS Church" or "FLDS Church". The first reference should also contain a wikilink to that church's article. If you will later use a shortened name, add the shortened version in parenthesis after the first reference, e.g. "the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church)" or "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church)." (When a Latter Day Saints church is not being directly referenced, such as when an adherent's religious beliefs are given passing reference, the full denominational name can often be omitted.)

Avoid linking the alternate names. The first reference will already contain the alternate names, as well as a link to that church's article. Thus, a second link is unnecessary.

Basic gloss[edit]

Generally, members of a Latter Day Saint denomination may be referred to as members, adherents, or followers of a particular church or organization.

Latter-day Saint

(And its variants). The terms LDS, LDS Church, and Latter-day Saint (Latter-day hyphenated, with lower-case "d") generally refer only to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term Latter Day Saint (note the capitalization and lack of a hyphen) refers to adherents during the lifetime of Joseph Smith.
Thus, in order to avoid ambiguity, do not use the form of the term with an upper-case D to designate generic adherents across the pan-denominations; instead use a term appropriate to an individual's distinctive denomination or group: for example, Latter-day Saint for a member of the LDS Church. Latter Day Saint in a collective meaning used as an adjective is acceptable but consider recasting. Illustration:

The couple were raised devout members of local Latter Day Saint churches and although subsequently they became quite secular, worshipped at hers on occasion.

– note the accepted use of the bolded phraseology above; however, recasting for more clarity might produce:

The couple were raised devoutly within Mormonism locally, she Latter-day Saint and he fundamentalist Mormon; and although both subsequently became quite secular, they worshipped with her LDS congregation on occasion.

And so, also reserve the abbreviation LDS for the meaning of "Latter-day Saint" and not "Latter Day Saint."


Several denominations, notably the two largest, the Community of Christ, and, as of 2018, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, oppose the use of the word Mormon or its derivatives in reference to its members or theology. Nevertheless, the word Mormon can be used to refer to Latter Day Saint movement adherents in the following situations:
  • In reference to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the informal appellation Mormon church should never be used outside of directly quoted material. Members of the LDS Church may accurately be referred to as Latter-day Saints or as Mormons. It is usually best to follow the predominant form found in the sources used for a particular Wikipedia article.
  • In reference to the Book of Mormon or the various people and places in the book named "Mormon".
Internal links
Term linked Page redirect, if any Definition Note / Style recommendation
Latter Day Saint vs. Latter-day Saint
Latter Day Saint List of LDS denominations "Member of any Latter Day Saint denomination" Mainly use Latter Day Saint to refer to members during Joseph Smith's lifetime (prior the movement's 1844 schism).
In other contexts, consider using form(s) appropriate to distinct denomination being referenced.
(See denomination table, below.)
Latter-day Saint "Member of the principal Latter Day Saint denomination"
 (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
LDS / Mormon
LDS — a disambiguation page — Abbreviation of  " L atter-d ay S aint " Use LDS only to reference association with the LDS Church, to avoid ambiguity.
The general practice on Wikipedia is to avoid the informal phrase Mormon church except in direct quotations.
LDS Church "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"
Mormon church
Mormon /
— themselves — "Adherent connected with Mormonism"
"Religion/traditions of Latter Day Saint denominations whose
developments trace through 19th-century Utah / Brigham Young
Mormon or Mormonism generally refer to the movement's primary denomination, the LDS Church, unless context indicates otherwise.
Mormon may also be used for any Latter Day Saints adherent before 1844.
For the more inclusive definition of Mormon, occasionally Rocky Mountain Saint (or Brighamite) are used; and, within such a scheme, the adherent - not - a Rocky Mountain Saint would be termed [U.S. MId-Western] Prairie Saint (or, generally, Josephite; however, for additional Movement -Ite designations, see denomination table below).
RLDS — a disambiguation page — "Community of Christ
member or a
R estorationist L atter D ay S aint"
Use RLDS to reference the Community of Christ before its 2001 name change from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A Restoration Branch member may be referred to as conservative Restorationist or as independent RLDS to distinguish from a generally more liberal Restorationist sibling remaining in the Community of Christ after this 21st-century schism.
RLDS Church Community of Christ
( Wikipedia article )
Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints"
 (a smallish Latter Day Saint denomination headquartered in Hildale, Utah)
Within fundamentalist Mormonism, in addition to FLDS (or the Woolley group) are the Allred group, the Kingston group, the Centennial Park group, the LeBaron group, the Blackmore group, and so on.
FLDS Church
— same as above — "F undamentalist L atter-D ay S aints"
(same as the above)
Fundamentalist Mormon — itself — "A "Rocky Mountain Saint" believing in present-day practice of polygamy"
 includes FLDS and some other smallish denominations

Denominations and recommended short forms[edit]

Latter Day Saints denominations
Home Formal name (use on first reference) Membership* As of Church abbreviation Adherent short name
Utah the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 16.3 million
(approximately 98%
of the Latter Day Saint
2011 LDS Church
(Note: only use its nickname Mormon church within direct quotations.)
Latter-day Saint (note the lower-case d)
LDS member (individual, adherent, etc.) or
LDS Church member
Missouri Community of Christ
(prior to 2001: Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
(approximately 2%
of the Latter Day Saint
2011 CofChrist or CofC
RLDS Church or Saints
 in context of events prior to the 2001 name change
(Note: do not follow Community of Christ with church.)
Community member
 in context of events after the 2001 name change
RLDS member, RLDS Church member, or Saint
 in context of events prior to the 2001 name change
Smaller denominations
Pennsylvania the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) 12,136 2007 Bickertonite Church Bickertonite
Utah Apostolic United Brethren c. 10,000 1998 AUB AUB member fundamentalist Mormon
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Approximately 10,000 2011 FLDS Church FLDS Church member or FLDS member
True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days 300–500 2004 TLC TLC member
Additional denominations within fundamentalist Mormonism  —  —
Missouri Joint Conference of Restoration Branches 6,000–7,000 2010 Restoration Branch / Restorationists
independent RLDS church
(Note: see entry "RLDS" in the section above.)
Additional denominations in Restoration Branch movement
Missouri Church of Christ (Temple Lot) 2,400 1998 Temple Lot church Temple Lot church member
 Latter term is generally in context of 19th-century and early-20th-century adherents.
Additional denominations lineaged through Temple Lot church  —
Minuscule denominations founded in the 19th century‡‡
Wisconsin Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) 300 1998 Strangite Church Strangite
Missouri Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) Approximately 12 2010 Cutlerite Church Cutlerite
Contexts across denominations
Inclusive of all the movement's denominations Primary
Latter Day Saint movement (or, denominations, religion, etc.)
denominations of the Latter Day Saints
 last term for all eras; not appropriate in reference to the so-called Prairie Saints (with the exception of the Strangites), except in a historical contexts, however
— Select appropriate term from column above. —
 Note: in general, avoid Latter Day Saint, with the upper-case D, to refer to an adherent collectively (that is, in a movement context).
Historical, before founder Joseph Smith's death in 1844
Missouri to Illinois Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (1838–1844) 1830 to
 When in doubt:
Latter Day Saint church
Latter Day Saint
 Note the upper-case D.
 Do not abbreviate as LDS (to avoid its confusion with abbreviation for "Latter-day Saint," with the lower-case d).

Ohio to Missouri Church of the Latter Day Saints (1834–1838)
New York to Ohio Church of Christ (1830–1834)
*Worldwide.  Church-reported; fewer per public surveys.  Once greater in size

Avoidance of anachronistic terminology[edit]

In writing about historical matters, editors should avoid anachronistic terminology that would be out-of-place or meaningless in the time period being discussed. The following are common examples:

  1. When referring to the church established by Joseph Smith, Jr., it is generally inappropriate to refer to it as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since that particular name with its particular formatting was not adopted until after Smith's death. Smith's church had the following names during his lifetime: "Church of Christ" (1830–34); "Church of the Latter Day Saints" (1834–38); "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (1838–44). It is appropriate to use the name of the church that existed at the time being referred to. If in doubt, you can always simply refer to the "Latter Day Saint church" as a common (non-proper) noun. In each case, the name of the church should be pipe linked to Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints) when it first occurs in the article.
  2. When referring to the Community of Christ prior to 2001, it is appropriate to refer to it as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", and it may be abbreviated "RLDS Church". However, that name should be pipe linked to Community of Christ when it first occurs in an article.
  3. In most contexts, it is appropriate to refer to Joseph Smith simply as the "founder of the Latter Day Saint movement" or, in Mormon contexts, the "founder of Mormonism". However, this practice may be departed from if an article or template deals exclusively with an issue in a specific church. In such cases, it may be appropriate to refer to Smith as the founder or first president of that particular church. For example, it would be appropriate in Russell M. Nelson to state that Nelson is Smith's modern successor as president of the LDS Church. Similarly, it is appropriate to list Smith in Template:CofCpresidents as the first president of the Community of Christ. Smith and other early church leaders may appropriately appear in categories of leaders of both the LDS Church and the Community of Christ.
  4. From 1850 to 1896, the LDS Church was based in Utah Territory; Utah did not exist until 1896.

Any time these guidelines are violated when being used as parts of quotations from church leaders or members and the context is clear, they should not be altered. It may be best for reduction of both confusion and potential inter-faith strife to follow these guidelines on talk pages as well.

Article naming conventions[edit]

Summary of naming conventions:

  • Articles wholly pertaining to the Latter Day Saint movement should be parenthesized "(Latter Day Saints)", unless the article name is unambiguous without the parenthetical.
  • Articles should not be limited to a single Latter Day Saint denomination, unless including the entire Latter Day Saint movement is impractical or awkward. For example, instead naming an article "Restoration (Community of Christ)" or "Restoration (LDS Church)", the article should be called Restoration (Latter Day Saints).
  • Mid-sentence and mid-article-title references to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not capitalize the initial the[1] and should include a hyphen and a lower-case "d". Example: History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • When a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the same name as people outside the Latter Day Saint movement, the person may be disambiguated with the parenthetical (Mormon). See, for example, John W. Taylor (Mormon) and George Reynolds (Mormon).

Avoidance of Mormon jargon and additional recommendations[edit]

Editors should always avoid use of Mormon jargon, which includes any terms used by many adherents to the Latter Day Saint movement that the general public might not understand, might misinterpret, or might find offensive. For example:

  • Never refer to the indigenous peoples of the Americas by the term Lamanites, as this implies the controversial belief that such peoples have a historical connection to the nation of Lamanites described in the Book of Mormon.
  • Never use the term the Gospel or the Restored Gospel to refer to Latter Day Saint theology, because it implies agreement with Latter Day Saint principle of restoration and is inconsistent with a neutral point of view. Alternatives that may be used include Mormonism, teachings of the church, and Latter Day Saint teachings.
  • Avoid the use of controversial capitalizations such as "the Church" or "The Church" when referring to any specific Latter Day Saint church, since there is general disagreement concerning its appropriateness. For all such churches, "the church" is acceptable when the word church is an uncapitalized common noun, but capitalized "Church" should be used only when it is part of a longer reference to a specific church (as in "LDS Church"). Use "The Church of Jesus Christ" only when it is the full name of a church (as in the case with the group commonly known as the "Bickertonites"). Also be aware that the full official name of other churches within the movement is the "Church of Jesus Christ" (omitting the article "The"). Though the LDS Church's style guide recommends referring to it as the "Church of Jesus Christ" or the "restored Church of Jesus Christ", this usage is not appropriate due to the potential ambiguity and resultant confusion.
  • Do not capitalize priesthood offices (apostle, elder, bishop, high priest, seventy, etc.) or leadership positions in the church (general authority, mission president, regional representative, etc.), unless they are being used to specify a particular organizational group, such as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the First Quorum of the Seventy, or in front of a person's name (but see next item).
  • Do not use ecclesiastical titles such as "Elder", "President", "Brother" or "Sister" when referring to leaders of a church, except in the lead section at first occurrence of the name. For example, write "McConkie published a book entitled Mormon Doctrine ..." not "Elder McConkie published a book entitled Mormon Doctrine ..." After first occurrence, the use of an article subject's surname is sufficient and conforms to general encyclopedic style.

These recommendations apply mainly to article text. When these terms are used as part of quotations from church leaders or members and the context is clear, they should not be altered. It may be best for reduction of both confusion and potential inter-faith strife to follow these guidelines on talk pages as well.

See also[edit]


  • Niebuhr, Gustav (February 19, 2001), "Adapting 'Mormon' to Emphasize Christianity", The New York Times
  • Taylor, Scott (April 2, 2011), "LDS or Mormon? It Depends: Church Prefers Full Name But Is Accepting More Mormon Uses", Deseret News, retrieved 2012-11-29
  • "Style Guide — The Name of the Church", Newsroom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, retrieved 2021-12-01 — lists preferred naming conventions and word usages.
    • Note that the Wikipedia style guide does not always coincide with these preferences.
  • Community of Christ Multimedia Publishing Style Guidelines (PDF), Herald House, Community of Christ, September 23, 2011, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-10, retrieved 2012-11-29
  1. ^ See this RfC discussion.