Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)
|This guideline documents an English Wikipedia naming convention.|
|This page in a nutshell: Use modern English names for titles and in articles. Historical names or names in other languages can be used in the lead if they are frequently used and important enough to be valuable to readers, and should be used in articles with caution.|
This page describes conventions for determining the titles of Wikipedia articles on places, and for the use of place names in Wikipedia articles. Our article title policy provides that article titles should be chosen for the general reader, not for specialists. By following modern English usage, we also avoid arguments about what a place ought to be called, instead asking the less contentious question, what it is called.
The Wikipedia community has found it difficult to reach consensus, its preferred mode of dispute resolution, in several geographic naming debates. Two significant conflicts have been brought to Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee: the distinction between Ireland, the island, and Ireland, the state described as the Republic of Ireland (see the Arbitration Committee Ireland article naming case), and the distinction between the Republic of Macedonia (whose name was disputed by Greece until it was changed in 2019, to North Macedonia) and the various other uses of Macedonia (see the Arbitration Committee Macedonia case). Other long-standing problems have been settled through compromise or voting.
For Ireland, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Ireland-related articles. For Macedonia, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Macedonia).
These are advice, intended to guide, not force, consensus; but they are derived from actual experience in move discussions.
- The title: When a widely accepted English name, in a modern context, exists for a place, we should use it. This will often be a local name, or one of them; but not always. If the place does not exist anymore, or the article deals only with a place in a period when it held a different name, the widely accepted historical English name should be used. If neither of these English names exist, the modern official name (in articles dealing with the present) or the local historical name (in articles dealing with a specific period) should be used. All applicable names can be used in the titles of redirects.
- The lead: The title can be followed in the first line by a list of alternative names in parentheses, e.g.: Gulf of Finland (Estonian: Soome laht; Finnish: Suomenlahti; Russian: Финский залив, Finskiy zaliv; Swedish: Finska viken) is a large bay in the easternmost arm of the Baltic Sea.
- Any archaic names in the list (including names used before the standardization of English orthography) should be clearly marked as such, i.e., (archaic: name1).
- Relevant foreign language names (one used by at least 10% of sources in the English language or that is used by a group of people which used to inhabit this geographical place) are permitted. Local official names should be listed before other alternate names if they differ from a widely accepted English name. Other relevant language names may appear in alphabetic order of their respective languages – i.e., (Estonian: Soome laht; Finnish: Suomenlahti; Russian: Финский залив, Finskiy zaliv; Swedish: Finska viken). Separate languages should be separated by semicolons.
- Alternatively, all alternative names can be listed and explained in a "Names" or "Etymology" section immediately following the lead, or a special paragraph of the lead; it is recommended to have such a section if there are at least three alternate names, or there is something notable about the names themselves.
- Where there is such a section, the article's first line should have only a link to the section, phrased, for example: "(known also by several [[#Names|alternative names]])". When there are several significant alternate names, the case for mentioning the names prominently is at least as strong as with two.
- As an exception, a local official name different from a widely accepted English name should be both in such separate section and in the lead, in the form "(Foreign language: Local name; known also by several [[#Names|alternative names]])".
- Infoboxes should generally be headed with the article title, and include these alternate names. The formal version of a name (Republic of Serbia at Serbia for a header) can be substituted for it; extensive historical names are often better in a second infobox, as at Augsburg.
- The contents (this applies to all articles using the name in question): The same name as in the title should be used consistently throughout the article, unless there is a widely accepted historical English name for a specific historical context. In cases when a widely accepted historical English name is used, it should be followed by the modern English name in parentheses on the first occurrence of the name in applicable sections of the article in the format: "historical name (modern name)". This resembles linking; it should not be done to the detriment of style. On the other hand, it is probably better to do too often than too rarely. If more than one historical name is applicable for a given historical context, the other names should be added after the modern English name, i.e.: "historical name (English name, other historical names)".
- Use of widely accepted historical names implies that names can change; we use Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul in discussing the same city in different periods. Use of one name for a settlement in 2000 does not determine what name we should give the same settlement in 1900 or in 1400, nor the other way around. Many settlements, however, should keep the same name; it is a question of fact, of actual English usage, in all cases.
- This page is a guideline; it is not intended to overrule all other guidelines.
- Where, as with Lyon, different national varieties of the English language spell a foreign name differently, we should also consider our guidance on national varieties of English, which would have articles in British English call the city Lyons, articles in American English Lyon, and the article itself use either, consistently. Articles should not be moved from one national variety to the other without good reasons; our principle of most common name does not mean "use American, because there are more Americans in the English speaking world". On the other hand, especially when local usage is itself divided, we do not always follow a mere plurality of local English usage against the rest of the English-speaking world: Ganges, not Ganga.
- References: When referring to a place from another article (e.g. in infoboxes) note these guidelines do not prohibit, nor do they require, the suffixing of country names to the place. Both "Middletown, Connecticut, U.S." and "Middletown, Connecticut" are permissible. The presence of the country should not be changed arbitrarily.
It is Wikipedia convention to emphasize alternative names at first use, normally in the first line. It is customary to repeat and bold the article title (unless it is a descriptive title, rarely the case with geographical articles), and its frequently used English-language synonyms, and to italicize foreign or historical names represented in Roman script. (It is technically possible to bold or italicize Greek or Cyrillic names; but there is consensus not to do so, because they are distinguishable from running text anyway.) If this produces a garish first paragraph, consider moving the discussion of names to a separate section, or deemphasizing some of them.
Names not in Roman script should be transliterated (in italics). If there are multiple frequently used transliterations (again, used by at least 10% of the English sources), include them.
When a widely accepted English name, in a modern context, exists for a place, we should use it. This will often be identical in form to the local name (as with Paris or Berlin), but in many cases it will differ (Germany rather than Deutschland, Rome rather than Roma, Hanover rather than Hannover, Meissen rather than Meißen). If a native name is more often used in English sources than a corresponding traditional English name, then use the native name. Two examples are Livorno and Regensburg, which are now known more widely under their native names than under the traditional respective English names "Leghorn" and "Ratisbon".
If no name can be shown to be widely accepted in English, use the local name. If more than one local name exists, follow the procedure explained below under Multiple local names.
If the place does not exist any more, or the article deals only with a place in a period when it held a different name, the widely accepted historical English name should be used. If there is no such name in English, use the historical name that is now used locally – for more, see Use modern names, below.
Other applicable names can be used in the titles of redirects. They may also appear in the lead paragraph or in a special section of the article, in accordance with the advice given in the lead section guideline. For use of names in infoboxes, see the infobox guideline.
Within articles, places should generally be referred to by the same name as is used in their article title, or a historical name when discussing a past period. Use of one name for a settlement in 2000 does not determine what name we should give the same settlement in 1900 or in 1400, nor the other way around. Many settlements, however, should keep the same name; it is a question of fact, of actual English usage, in all cases. For example, when discussing the city now called Istanbul, Wikipedia uses Byzantium in ancient Greece, and Constantinople for the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Similarly, use Stalingrad when discussing the city now called Volgograd in the context of World War II. For more details on this subject see Wikipedia:Proper names.
Widely accepted name
A name can be considered as widely accepted if a neutral and reliable source states: "X is the name most often used for this entity". Without such an assertion, the following sources may be helpful in establishing a widely accepted name. It is important that the sources be from the appropriate period, namely, the modern era for current names, or the relevant historical period for historical names. For modern sources, it is important to identify any recent watershed moments in the location's history (such as the fall of the Soviet Union for Eastern Europe, or other revolutions, invasions and nationality changes), and limit sources to those published after that watershed.
- Disinterested, authoritative reference works are almost always reliable if they are current. Examples include:
- major English-language encyclopedias (examples: Encyclopædia Britannica, Columbia Encyclopedia);
- widely used atlases (examples: The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World, the Oxford Atlas of the World);
- gazetteers (examples: Cambridge World Gazetteer, Columbia Gazetteer of North America, Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America);
- databases such as the Geographic Names Information System;
- maps (such as those from the National Geographic Society), whether printed or electronic.
- Many governments have an agency to standardize the use of place names, such as the United States Board on Geographic Names (see BGN below), the Geographical Names Board of Canada, etc.
- For modern country names, The World Factbook  maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency is current and continuously updated.
- For spelling of place names, a good reference is Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary.
- English-language news media can also be very reliable sources. Due caution must be given to the possibility of bias in some, such as for nationalistic, religious or political reasons. However, major global sources are generally reliable, such as major authoritative English-language newspapers (examples: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London) or wire services (examples: Reuters, Associated Press). Google News and Lexis-Nexis search results can provide a quick guide to the relative predominance of alternative names across the media as a whole, provided the search parameters are properly set, but as with all raw search numbers, they should be used with caution.
- Also generally reliable are standard histories and scientific studies of the area in question (examples: Cambridge Histories; the Library of Congress country studies; Library of Congress Subject Headings; and Oxford dictionaries). However, due caution is needed in case they are dated, not relevant to the period in question, or written by a non-native speaker of English.
- Some sources require individual analysis to be useful; these include books and articles, such as those found at Google Scholar or Google Books. They must be looked at individually for accuracy, possible bias, and appropriateness of period. Even if a book or scholarly article was written after watershed events that resulted in a name change, it may use historical place names in the context of the work.
- The Google Scholar and Google Books search engines can provide helpful results, if parameters are properly set. In particular, a Google Ngram Viewer search of Google Books can provide valuable insights. But even a widely recognized name change will take time to be reflected in such searches, as they may still include references to the place name before the change. Also, relatively obscure places that have a major impact on history during a particular time period will continue to show disproportionately large search returns for the location's name during that period.
- Raw counts from Google must be considered with extreme caution, if at all.
- See also Search engine issues below.
The United States Board on Geographic Names determines official federal nomenclature for the United States. Most often, actual American usage follows it, even in such points as the omission of apostrophes, as in St. Marys River. However, if colloquial usage does differ, we should prefer actual American usage to the official name. Similarly, its GEOnet server normally presents local official usage in the country concerned (for example, Frankfurt am Main); in a handful of cases, like Florence, it has a conventional name field. Its BGN Approved is a systematic transliteration, as Moskva – Wikipedia prefers Moscow, which is also the BGN conventional name. Where it acknowledges a conventional name, it is evidence of widespread English usage; where it does not, it is not addressing our primary question.
Be aware of the conflict between what is widely accepted and what is official in several contexts.
- There have been widespread efforts since the 1980s at the USBGN level and at state government level to remove racial slurs ("Jap", "Chink", "Squaw", and others) from official names, which may conflict with the widespread usage in historic documents. The most commonly-used name might not necessarily be the most up-to-date and accurate name. Or, vice versa, the official USBGN name might not yet have caught up with official state-level changes.
- For technical reasons relating to EBCDIC, which was the default encoding format for computer-readable versions of the data, GNIS records for a long time were unable to include diacritic characters. The use of the tilde in Spanish names took some years to be reflected, for example.
- Phase 2 of the GNIS data compilation set out to add names from state and local sources; and phase 3 set out to correct for differences between actual names in use and what USGS topographic maps had said prior to 1981 (the cutoff point for phase 1). Phase 3 never happened, however, and the currency of phase 2 varies as different states completed phase 2 at different points over a span of more than a decade.
Search engine issues
Search engine tests should be used with care: in testing whether a name is widely accepted English usage, we are interested in hits which are in English, represent English usage, mean the place in question, and are not duplicates of each other or of Wikipedia. Search engine results can fail on all of these.
Google may give unreliable estimates at the onset of a search; it is often preferable to restrict the competing searches to less than 1000 hits, and examine the number of hits on the final page. Google does not return more than 1,000 actual results; hit counts above this are estimates which cannot readily be examined, and are imperfect evidence of actual usage. Adding additional search terms may reduce the number of hits to this range, but adds additional random variance.
- Failure to use only English sources:
- Language-filtered searches include works that contain only brief English sections. These sections may not discuss the place name in question.
- Search engines will find hits when a paper in English is quoting foreign text, which may well include foreign placenames. This often occurs when citing a paper by title. For example, hits which are in fact citations of German papers which use Riesengebirge are not evidence of English usage, either way.
- Failure to reflect only English usage:
- Google Scholar will frequently return post office addresses, especially for modern university towns. This attests to local usage, not to English usage (except of course for settlements in the English-speaking world, for which local usage should prevail).
- Search engines do not normally distinguish consistent use of a name from a single mention. Any good history of Venice will mention Venezia at least once; any good history of Bratislava will mention Pressburg. But what we want is the word they consistently use to refer to the city; it is very difficult to find that with a search engine, especially when the question is: does the source call nineteenth- or eighteenth-century Bratislava something different?
- For example, hits which are of the form "X (Foolanguage Y)" attest to English usage of X, and Foolanguage usage of Y. The latter matters to the Foolanguage Wikipedia, not to us.
- Please remember that Google Scholar and Google Books are imperfectly random selections out of the whole corpus of English writing. If the results could easily have arisen by chance (for example, if there are only half-a-dozen or so valid hits on all the alternatives combined), this is not a good indicator of widespread English usage.
- Failure to be about the place under discussion:
- Many names are used for several places, often several places of the same type. In addition, many placenames have become surnames, and papers which are by authors with those surnames do not establish English usage for the placename.
- Failure to represent independent usage of the name:
- Some websites mechanically copy and compile other websites, including Wikipedia itself. These should not be counted as separate instances of English usage, but as the same instance duplicated. Wikipedia mirrors and forks, which may also appear in Google Book or Google Scholar searches, are unacceptable sources. When using Google search results as a usage metric, always include "-wikipedia" in the search conditions. This will exclude some, although not all, Wikipedia mirrors.
Some of these problems will be lessened if the search includes an English word, like "city" or "river", as well as the placename. (If this is done with one proposed placename, it must of course be done for all competing proposals.) Another approach is to examine the first few pages of hits, and see what proportion of them are false hits. But the only certain control is to count how many hits are genuinely in English, assert English usage, and deal with the place discussed.
Another useful idea, especially when one name seems to be used often in the construct "X (also called Y)" in sources that consistently use X thereafter, is to search for "and X" against "and Y" (or "in X" versus "in Y") to see which is common in running prose.
Multiple local names
There are cases in which the local authority recognizes equally two or more names from different languages, but English discussion of the place is so limited that none of the above tests indicate which of them is widely used in English; so there is no single local name, and English usage is hard to determine.
Experience shows that the straightforward solution of a double or triple name is often unsatisfactory; there are all too many complaints that one or the other name should be first. We also deprecate any discussion of which name the place ought to have.
We recommend choosing a single name, by some objective criterion, even a somewhat arbitrary one. Simple Google tests are acceptable to settle the matter, despite their problems; one solution is to follow English usage where it can be determined, and to adopt the name used by the linguistic majority where English usage is indecisive. This has been done, for example, with the municipalities of South Tyrol, based on an officially published linguistic survey of the area (see Italy below).
In some cases, a compromise is reached between editors to avoid giving the impression of support for a particular national point of view. For example, the reasonably common name Liancourt Rocks has been adopted, mainly because it is neither Korean nor Japanese. Similarly, Wikipedia's version of the Derry/Londonderry name dispute has been resolved by naming the city page Derry and the county page County Londonderry.
There are occasional exceptions, such as Biel/Bienne, when the double name is the overwhelmingly most common name in English (in this case, it has become most common because it is official and customary in Switzerland; the usage does not appear to be controversial). This should not be done to settle a dispute between national or linguistic points of view; it should only be done when the double name is actually what English-speakers call the place.
Use modern names
For an article about a place whose name has changed over time, context is important. For articles discussing the present, use the modern English name (or local name, if there is no established English name), rather than an older one. Older names should be used in appropriate historical contexts when a substantial majority of reliable modern sources do the same; this includes the names of articles relating to particular historical periods. Names have changed both because cities have been formally renamed and because cities have been taken from one state by another; in both cases, however, we are interested in what reliable English-language sources now use.
For example, we have articles called Istanbul, Dubrovnik, Volgograd, and Saint Petersburg, these being the current names of these cities, although former names (Constantinople, Ragusa, Stalingrad, and Leningrad) are also used when referring to appropriate historical periods (if any), including such article names as Battle of Stalingrad and Sieges of Constantinople; not to mention separate articles on Constantinople and Byzantium on the historical cities on the site of modern Istanbul – or part of it. It is sometimes common practice in English to use name forms from different languages to indicate cultural or political dominance. For example, Szczecin is often written as Stettin (the German name) for the period before 1945, likewise Gdańsk is called Danzig (the detailed decisions at Talk:Gdansk/Vote apply to that dispute; they are older than this page). There are other cities for which policy is still debated, such as Vilnius, which in various contexts is referred to as Vilnius, Wilno or Vilna.
In some cases it is not the local name but the spelling of the name in English that has changed over time. For example, Nanjing, as the contemporary pinyin spelling, is used for the name of the article rather than Nanking. However, the article on the Treaty of Nanking spells the city as was customary in 1842, because modern English scholarship still does.
Another example is Mumbai, which officially changed its name from Bombay in 1995. Per Wikipedia's naming policy, our choice of name does not automatically follow the official or local form, but depends on that change having become predominant in common global usage. That can be assessed by reviewing up-to-date references to the place in a modern context in reliable, authoritative sources such as news media, other encyclopedias, atlases and academic publications as well as the official publications of major English-speaking countries, for example the CIA World Factbook.
Wikipedia articles must have a single title, by the design of the system; this page is intended to help editors agree on which name of a place is to appear as the title.
Nevertheless, other names, especially those used significantly often (say, 10% of the time or more) in the available English literature on a place, past or present, should be mentioned in the article, as encyclopedic information. Two or three alternative names can be mentioned in the first line of the article; it is general Wikipedia practice to bold them so they stand out. If there are more names than this, or the lead section is cluttered, a separate paragraph on the names of the place is often a good idea.
It is often the case that the same widely accepted English name will apply to more than one place, or to a place and to other things; in either case disambiguation will be necessary. For general rules about this topic, see Wikipedia:Disambiguation.
The following should be considered in disambiguating the names of places.
- If a place is the primary topic for the title that is most appropriate by these naming conventions, then its article should carry that name without disambiguation tag (for example, Kuala Lumpur and Mont Blanc). However, if idiom or specific naming conventions indicate a different article title as more appropriate, then a redirect should be created to that article from the term for which it is the primary topic. For example, Thames redirects to the article named River Thames, and Danzig redirects to Gdańsk.
- When there are conventional means of disambiguation in standard English, use them, as in Red River of the North and Red River of the South, and in New York City (to distinguish from the state of New York).
- Rivers, lakes and mountains often include the word River, Lake or Mount in the name; national conventions and idiom should be followed in this matter. For example, rivers in the UK and Ireland follow the pattern River Thames, while those in the United States follow Mississippi River. For many countries the additional word is used when needed for disambiguation purposes, but is otherwise omitted: compare Jade (river) or Achelous River (which require disambiguation) with Rhine (which does not). See also Wikipedia:WikiProject Rivers#Naming.
In some cases, the article title should include additional text, such as a country name or province name, for example, Paris, Maine or Red River (Victoria). The additional text is called a disambiguation tag. The disambiguation tag provides context to the reader, and helps uniquely identify places when multiple places share the same name. The following general principles apply to such tags:
- In some cases, including most settlements in the United States, the most appropriate title includes the non-parenthesized state name as a tag, even when it is not needed for disambiguation.
- Places are often disambiguated by the country in which they lie, if this is sufficient. However, when tags are required for places in Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, or the United States, use the name of the state, province, territory, prefecture, region (Italy only) or county (Ireland only), or department (France only) if the place lies within a single such entity.
- German place names follow the convention detailed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Germany/Conventions.
- Convention for ambiguous place names in the Philippines is detailed at MOS:PHIL, and generally uses the province as a disambiguation tag.
- Ambiguous place names within the United Kingdom should generally use the county as the disambiguator; see Wells, Somerset (not Wells, England, which is a redirect).
- If using the country name would still lead to ambiguity, use the name of a smaller administrative division (such as a state or province) instead.
- Rivers can also be disambiguated by the body of water into which they flow.
- With the names of cities, towns, villages and other settlements, the tag is normally preceded by a comma, as in Hel, Poland. This is often applied to low-level administrative units as well (Polk County, Tennessee), but less so for larger subdivisions or historical regions (Galicia (Spain); Nord (French department)). Any specific national convention takes precedence though.
- With natural features, the tag normally appears in parentheses, as in Eagle River (Colorado). Specific pre-existing national conventions may take precedence though.
- Generic parenthetical disambiguating tags as used for most Wikipedia articles are used only occasionally for geographic names (as in Wolin (town), where no regional tag would be sufficient to distinguish the town from the island of Wolin).
If specific disambiguation conventions apply to places of a particular type or in a particular country, then it is important to follow these. Such conventions (or links to them) can be found in the section below titled Specific topics. If a country has no convention listed, and there is a clear pattern among the articles on places in that country, follow it. Please note any such pattern here, as a proposed national convention.
Order of names in title
Where multiple geographic names occur in a title, the names should be placed in alphabetical order unless there is a clear reason for another order. Examples: France–United States relations, but Turks and Caicos Islands or Kura–Araxes culture (both established names).
Names of classes
If a place belongs to a class, and the class is conventionally capitalized as part of the proper name of the place, then Wikipedia capitalizes that class name (conversely, lowercase otherwise) whether the name appears in a sentence or a heading or a title; e.g. Buenos Aires Province and not "Buenos Aires province", Mississippi River not "Mississippi river".
Some class names are not considered parts of proper names, but rather descriptors, as in districts of India; e.g. Bongaigaon district, not Bongaigaon District. As usual, we look to sources to determine what is conventionally capitalized.
Names of classes of places follow the same guidance: do what English does. In particular, when dealing with administrative and other subdivisions, we write of Russian oblasts and the Moscow Oblast, but of Chinese and Roman provinces, not sheng or provinciae.
It is useful for all divisions of the same type in the same country to share the same article title format (for example, nearly all provinces of Italy have the format "Province of X"), so if one district in a country has its article renamed from X to X District, it is worth discussing whether the same should be done with all districts. But titles should not be forced into uniformity when this would be a violation of idiom or otherwise inappropriate; whether the uniformity is worth the cost should be decided in each case on its merits.
For further guidance on the naming of articles about lakes, mountains and rivers, see:
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Lakes#Naming
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Mountains#Naming conventions
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Rivers#Naming
Where there is no Wikipedia convention on a specific country and disambiguation is necessary, it is generally reasonable to use [[placename, nation]], as in Shire, Ethiopia.
When naming topics related to some specific country, prefer the form "(Item) of (Country)" over forms with adjectives (for example, History of Japan rather than Japanese history). See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (country-specific topics).
The pages and categories below represent what discussion and opinions have actually taken place in Wikipedia. Their force consists of the force of their arguments and the extent of the consensus that backs them; listing here does not warrant either virtue.
See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Chinese)#Place names. Use provinces or similar units for disambiguation.
Where possible, articles on places in Hong Kong use [[Placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, [[Placename, Hong Kong]] is used. Thus Quarry Bay but Stanley, Hong Kong. In some cases, nevertheless, [[Placename, Kowloon]], [[Placename, New Kowloon]], etc., may be necessary for several locations within Hong Kong bearing the same name.
Macau is spelled idiomatically either with a "u" or an "o" as last letter. For consistency on Wikipedia, title articles using the "u" spelling unless a proper name in English uses the "o" spelling.
Europe and North Asia
Native English names for places should be used, but the local language's name if there isn't one. The Brussels naming conventions should be used for articles related to Brussels. For castles or stately homes, these naming conventions should be used.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Populated places use undisambiguated title, where applicable.
Geographic names are generally subject to standard rules from #Disambiguation, however, because many of the municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina predate the modern-day entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina or cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are often used in village name disambiguation, instead of higher-level administrative units.
See Toponyms of Finland.
Article titles should be in the majority language (Finnish or Swedish) of the province, municipality, region or sub-region, unless there is a well-established name in English. The minority language of the area should be mentioned in the lead in italics. Any second name needs to be referenced by a reliable secondary source; often the best will be recognition by the Institute for the Languages of Finland (see a list of Swedish-language placenames).
The secondary names of municipalities should not be mentioned in other articles than the article about the municipality itself. For instance, "Helsinki (Swedish: Helsingfors)" should not be used anywhere else than in the lead section of Helsinki, unless it is of a special interest in some context.
Where possible, articles on places in Germany use [[placename]] unless there is a common English name (e.g. Munich or Nuremberg). Where disambiguation is required, follow the official disambiguation system which may take 3 forms:
- Part of the official name itself often using a river, nearby settlement, region or state. Examples: Offenbach am Main, Rothenburg ob der Tauber; Neustadt bei Coburg, Bernau bei Berlin; Zell im Fichtelgebirge, Eschenbach in der Oberpfalz; Neustadt in Sachsen.
- In brackets after the name, based on the local district, river, settlement, region or state. The brackets are often an official part of the name and appear on road signs. Examples: Velden (Pegnitz) (after the River Pegnitz), Kempten (Allgäu) (after the Allgäu region).
- After a forward slash (noting that this is currently deprecated. Brackets may be used instead). Example: Neustadt/Harz (after the Harz mountains).
For further guidance on German placenames, including geographical and man-made features, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Germany/Conventions.
Where possible, articles on places in Ireland use [[placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, [[placename, County x]] is used. Thus Castlebar but Westport, County Mayo. This same convention applies to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. For further guidance see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Ireland-related articles).
Isle of Man
Where possible, articles on places in Italy use [[placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, places in Italy are disambiguated using the "comma convention" by the larger of the region, province or municipality needed to identify it uniquely, as appropriate, not as Placename, Italy. The autonomous provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino are treated like de facto regions. Places in those provinces that require disambiguation take the form Placename, South Tyrol or Placename, Trentino respectively.
Articles previously used the two-letter abbreviations for the provinces: these should no longer be used.
- Two locations in different regions: Castro, Apulia, and Castro, Lombardy;
- Two locations in the same province: Ronchi, Bra, and Ronchi, Cuneo (both in the Province of Cuneo);
- Two locations in the same region, and a third in a different region: Manciano, Arezzo, and Manciano, Grosseto (both in the Region of Tuscany), but Manciano, Umbria.
In South Tyrol, the local authority recognizes equally two or more names from different languages, and English discussion is often so limited that none of the above tests indicate which of them is widely used in English. However, there is an official linguistic survey of the area, by municipality, which has the following advantages:
- It is available on-line, and officially published.
- The proportions of the various language groups are fairly stable.
- Most municipalities have a large majority, often a 90% majority, of one language group.
- In the few cases where there is a widely used English name, it is usually that of the majority language group.
Therefore, articles about locations in South Tyrol are placed according to the language of the linguistic majority.
For the name of the country and the homonymous region, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Macedonia)
This naming convention covers all types of inhabited localities in Russia: cities/towns, urban-type settlements, and all kinds of rural localities.
- When the name of the locality is not unique within Russia, use the comma-separated name of the federal subject on the territory of which the locality is situated (e.g., Oktyabrsky, Republic of Bashkortostan). If the name of the locality is not unique within a federal subject, precede the federal subject disambiguator with the name of the district on the territory of which the locality is situated (e.g., Mrakovo, Kugarchinsky District, Republic of Bashkortostan). If the title is still ambiguous, lower levels of administrative divisions and/or parenthesized locality type can be used for further disambiguation.
- When the name of the locality is unique within Russia, but conflicts with the name of another locality in a different country, disambiguate the name with "Russia" (e.g., Dimitrovgrad, Russia).
- When the name of the locality is unique, but conflicts with the name of a different concept, use the parenthesized locality type as disambiguator (e.g., Dikson (urban-type settlement)).
Titles of articles about the administrative divisions follow the same principles.
Populated places use undisambiguated title, where applicable. When disambiguation is needed, follow the convention:
- Municipality seats (towns) are disambiguated using standard rules: Bor, Serbia, distinguishes from numerous other toponyms called Bor; Raška (town) is distinct from Raška (river) or Raška (region).
- Villages are always (regardless of reason) disambiguated using municipality name, for consistency: Crna Bara (Aleksinac), Jaša Tomić, Sečanj etc.
Other geographic names are subject to standard rules from #Disambiguation.
Where possible, articles on places in the United Kingdom use [[placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, a different system is used in each of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
If disambiguation is required, and the place is in the same local government district as a larger settlement and it is unambiguously within that larger settlement itself, [[placename, town/city]] should be used. For example, Bradwell, Milton Keynes or Sailortown, Belfast.
For locations within Greater London, [[placename, London]] should be used.
If there are multiple places of the same name within the same district, then parishes, wards, or lowercase compass directions should be used as appropriate to identify the relative locations. For example, Woolston, north Shropshire, and Woolston, south Shropshire; both in Shropshire.
Following discussion at Wikipedia talk:Welsh Wikipedians' notice board it was agreed that where a county borough is to be disambiguated, it should go under [[Placename County Borough]]. Thus Conwy County Borough, not County Borough of Conwy, Conwy (county borough) or Conwy county borough.
When disambiguation is required for a settlement on a Scottish Island, [[placename, island/island chain]] is used. For example, Tarbert, Harris and Balfour, Orkney. Lewis and Harris are treated as separate islands for this purpose.
If further disambiguation is required, then another form of natural and recognisable disambiguation should be used, such as traditional regions, committee areas etc. For example, Kinnaird, Gowrie; and Kinnaird, Atholl; both in Scotland and in Perth and Kinross.
- The number of larger settlements or islands that are likely to be well known outside of the region, that also require disambiguation such as Perth, Scotland, and Jura, Scotland.
- Settlements in Argyll and Bute. Mainland Argyll settlements should be styled [[placename, Argyll]]. For example, Tarbet, Argyll.
- Settlements in the Highland council area. Where disambiguation is required, [[placename, District]] should be used. For example, Wick, Caithness. However, mainland Skye and Lochalsh settlements should be styled [[placename, Lochalsh]].
Where disambiguation is required, [[placename, County x]] is normally used. For example, Bangor, County Down. For further guidance see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Ireland-related articles).
In Latin America a lot of entities have the same names, therefore some coordination is done for toponyms from this region.
Where possible, articles on places in Argentina use [[Placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, [[Placename, Argentina]] is used. See Category:Populated places in Argentina and its subcategories. For the South Atlantic islands, see the #Falkland Islands section.
Where possible, articles on cities in Brazil use [[Cityname]]. Where disambiguation is required, [[Cityname, Brazil]] is used. An exception applies when the city name and the state name are the same: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro (state); São Paulo, São Paulo (state).
Where possible, articles on places in Mexico use [[Placename]]: Acapulco. Where disambiguation is required, [[Placename, Statename]], is used (the "comma convention", as in Nogales, Sonora, or Córdoba, Veracruz). The cities that share names with states have been placed at [[Placename City]]], with the state taking the [[Placename]] location: for example, Oaxaca City, (city) and Oaxaca (state).
Northern America and the Caribbean
All geographic articles relating to places in Bermuda have titles in the form XXX, Bermuda, irrespective of the type of landform the article's subject is, and irrespective of whether disambiguation is necessary. Thus, for example, the article on Perot Island is at Perot Island, Bermuda, not Perot Island (Bermuda) or Perot Island.
Trinidad and Tobago
According to the comma convention, articles on populated places in the United States are typically titled "Placename, State" when located within a state or "Placename, Territory" in US territories. A placename that needs additional disambiguation should include its county or parish (e.g., Elgin, Lancaster County, South Carolina, and Elgin, Kershaw County, South Carolina). If more than one place within the same county has the same name, specify the type of local government unit in parentheses before the comma, for any article that is not the primary topic (e.g., Callicoon (CDP), New York, and Callicoon (town), New York, but not "Callicoon, New York (CDP)"). A small number of unincorporated communities bear two states' names due to their peculiar locations across state lines (e.g., Glenrio, New Mexico and Texas).
Articles on US cities should never be titled "City, Country" (e.g., "Detroit, United States") or "City, State, Country" (e.g., "Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.") because that is contrary to general American usage. Postal abbreviations (such as CA or Calif. for California) are never used in article titles.
Articles titled in the "City, State" format should also have a stand-alone redirect pointing to the full-name article. In many cases, such as for Paris, Texas, that will be impossible, because the base name may have other uses, in which case a DAB entry or hatnote should be used. When weighing a US city against other possible primary topics, the US city should never be considered a partial title match if the base name of the city is the same as the term being considered. For example, Nashville, Tennessee, includes the state name in its title and is also the primary topic for "Nashville" alone, which redirects to the city's page.
When a place-name title continues past the state name (other than with a parenthetical), for example Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the American Civil War, a comma is included before and after the state name .
Counties and parishes
Articles on counties and parishes themselves are typically titled "X County, State" or "X Parish, State".
Regions and metropolitan areas
Articles on metropolitan areas may take one of the following titles:
- A commonly-used name; for example, Central Arkansas is the metropolitan area centered on Little Rock, Arkansas.
- "[city name] metropolitan area" (omitting the statename), if there is no other metropolitan area with this name; this applies even if the city's own article has a state name; for example, Sacramento metropolitan area is the metropolitan area centered on Sacramento, California.
- "[city name] metropolitan area, [state name]" if disambiguation is needed; for example, Rochester metropolitan area, Minnesota and Rochester metropolitan area, New York
Cities listed in the AP Stylebook as not requiring the state modifier in newspaper articles have their articles named "City" unless they are not the primary topic for that name.  In other cases, this guideline recommends following the "comma convention" as described above.
Neighborhoods within New York City are identified by the standard "Neighborhood, Borough" when not at the base name, where "Borough" is one of the five boroughs: Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island.
Minor civil divisions
Conventions for titles of articles about minor civil divisions vary from state to state. For example, articles on townships in Indiana are all entitled X Township, Y County, Indiana regardless of the need for the county name to disambiguate; articles on townships in New Jersey are generally titled X, New Jersey or X Township, New Jersey according to common usage. Any change in convention should be determined on a statewide basis.
U.S. highways should be listed as is found in WP:Naming conventions (U.S. state and territory highways).
Hawaii has different conventions per Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hawaii-related articles.
Most Australian settlement articles are at Town, State/Territory; however, the name of a city or town may be used alone if the place is the primary or only topic for that name (e.g., Sydney rather than [[Sydney, New South Wales]]). Note cases such as Newcastle, New South Wales, which needs to be disambiguated from its namesake in the UK. State/Territory names should not be abbreviated in article titles.
Localities (other than suburbs) and places such as train stations, parks, etc., may be disambiguated, where necessary, by reference to city rather than state (e.g., The Rocks, Sydney, rather than [[The Rocks, New South Wales]]).
Local government areas are at their official name. Where further disambiguation is required, the local government area name is used in parentheses following the state name: [[Town, State (Local Government Area)]] (such as Springfield, Victoria (Macedon Ranges)).
For Australian roads, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Australian roads).
Micronesia, Federated States of
When referring to the Federated States of Micronesia, the long-form is preferred. There is no official short-form name for the country. The use of simply "Micronesia" can be seen as inaccurate and ambiguous, since this name primarily refers to a geographic region.
South and southeast Asia
A guideline in conjunction with this convention is adopted and described at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Places in Bangladesh).
Levels below the country level are used in cases where disambiguation is needed. This means one would start with either the state/territory or the district. Most Indian place names have serious spelling issues because of their local language origin. But district names have more uniformly accepted names and they can be checked at List of districts in India. So the solution for spelling issues is to disambiguate smaller places by adding the name of the district. Tanur, Malappuram is more suitable than Tanur, India as Tanur can appear in different parts of India.
Where possible, articles on places in Indonesia use [[Placename]]. Where disambiguation with a place outside of Indonesia is required, [[Placename, Indonesia]] is used, if disambiguation between two places in Indonesia is required, [[Placename, Province]] is used.
Names of places should generally use the English name, unless it is more commonly known in English sources by the local name. For example, mountains should be titled [[Name Mountain]] rather than [[Gunung Name]], rivers should be titled [[Name River]] rather than [[Sungai Name]], and islands should be titled [[Name Island]] rather than [[Pulau Name]].
Where possible, articles on places in Malaysia use [[Placename]]. Where disambiguation with a place outside of Malaysia is required, [[Placename, Malaysia]] is used, if disambiguation between two places in Malaysia is required, [[Placename, Statename]] is used.
Districts are given in the form [[Placename District]].
Names of places should generally use the English name, unless it is more commonly known in English sources by the local name. For example, mountains should be titled [[Name Mountain]] rather than [[Gunung Name]], rivers should be titled [[Name River]] rather than [[Sungai Name]], and islands should be titled [[Name Island]] rather than [[Pulau Name]].
Where possible, articles on cities use [[Cityname]] (e.g., Dumaguete). Where disambiguation is required, city articles go under [[Cityname, Provincename]] (e.g., Valencia, Bukidnon) or [[Cityname, Philippines]] (e.g., Angeles, Philippines). Municipality articles follow the format [[Municipalityname]], and if disambiguation is needed or is necessary, [[Municipalityname, Provincename]] (e.g., Baganga and San Pascual, Masbate).
Where possible, articles on cities (thành phố) and towns (thị xã) use [[Placename]]. Urban districts (quận) and rural districts (huyện) are given in the form [[Placename District]]. Provinces (tỉnh) are given in the form [[Placename Province]].
Where disambiguation is required, the "Provincename" and the comma convention is used, thus [[Cityname, Provincename]] or for districts [[Placename District, Provincename]].
Where possible, articles on places in Iran use [[Placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, name of the highest available administrative subdivision is used (but its level is not included in the title): thus Tidar, Lorestan and not Tidar, Lorestan Province. The two places called Tidar in Hormozgan Province can be found at Tidar, Bashagard, and Tidar, Hajjiabad (not at Tidar, Bashagard, Hormozgan, or some such, unless disambiguation of Tidar in Bashagard is needed - which should be quite uncommon).
Ostan is translated as "Province"; Shahrestan is translated as "County"; Bakhsh is translated as "District"; and Dehestan is translated as "Rural District"; and these translations are used throughout. Generic geographic terms such as "river", "mountain", "island", "castle", and modifiers such as "north", "old", "new", "red", should be translated except when in names of populated places: thus Qaleh Sorkh, not "Sorkh Castle" or "Red Castle". If no common English usage is found, use the official name, including Shahrak ("town") and Deh ("village") – as these terms often distinguish the place from another place of similar or identical name. Inclusion of spaces in place names should follow English sources, if available, or official usage.
Places with the same Persian name should generally be spelled the same in English, e.g. Hajjiabad, Hajiabad, Haji Abad, Hajji Abad, and various should all be "Hajjiabad" as that is the dominant transliteration, unless another form for a particular Hajjiabad is used in a majority of sources. Linking from a disambiguation page is required for all deviant spellings to enable a user to find the Hajjiabad in question.
A convention was under discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Israel/Archive 2#Wikipedia:Naming conventions (settlements).
The predominant usage in English is Falkland Islands, but the name Malvinas is encyclopedic information, of particular importance with respect to the disputed Argentine territorial claim.
- Geographical articles include both the English and Spanish names of the locality in the lead, but continue with the English name only. Articles on individual islands also note the Spanish name in the infobox.
- Articles that directly relate to the dispute include a translation involving Malvinas directly after the first instance of the word Falkland, but use Falkland alone thereafter. For example, "Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas)" or "Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas)".
Where possible, articles on places in South Africa use [[placename]]. Where disambiguation is required, [[Placename, South Africa]] is used.
Where possible, articles about fictional cities or localities are located at [[Placename]], regardless of any naming convention for the country in which the locality is set. For example:
- Sunnydale, not "Sunnydale, California" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
- Manawaka, not "Manawaka, Manitoba" (in Margaret Laurence stories)
When necessary to disambiguate with other articles, preference is given to using the author's name (literature), the name of the work (television or movies), or other connective quality. For example:
For a list of pages dealing with the transliteration of names from other writing systems into the Latin alphabet, see Wikipedia:Romanization. Transliteration issues are discussed further at Wikipedia:Accessibility.
- Wikipedia:Proper names, especially the section on place names
- MOS:COMPASS for descriptive names such as south east England
- List of European regions with alternative names
- List of country names in various languages
- Wikipedia:Seven rules of place naming (humorous)
- Category:Vague or ambiguous geographic scope, for articles tagged as needing editing to conform to naming conventions
- "How can I see more than 1000 results in google ?". Google. Retrieved 2011-03-27.[dead link]
- Goldstein, Norm (2013). "Stylebook, section D: datelines". The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. New York: Basic Books/Associated Press. p. 75. ISBN 978-0465082995. The cities listed by the AP are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.—although Washington, D.C., does have a territorial qualifier and New York is naturally disambiguated.
- Primary topic should be judged against all encyclopedic usages of a name; thus, for example, Phoenix is considered not primary because of the mythological Phoenix, Washington is not because of the state and George Washington and New York isn't primary because of the state.
- Using disambiguation by state in cases where it is not necessary has the advantage of providing consistent article titles for United States places (a majority of which are ambiguous and so require disambiguation anyway), but the disadvantage of inconsistency with titles used for articles on places in most other countries (where redundant disambiguation is not used), as well as a loss of conciseness. Current convention is to omit the state only with the well-known cities which the Associated Press lists as not requiring the state qualifier in a journalistic context, unless they, like Phoenix, conflict with another non-geographic article; the Associated Press Stylebook is a reliable source, written in American English.