Wikipedia:Style guidelines for biographies of California public officials

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These are guidelines for truly encyclopedic articles about local California public officials. These norms, which are in accord with Wikipedia policies, are designed to provide continuity across a particular subset of biographical articles but not to stifle creativity.

Who is covered here[edit]

A person who is or has been a member of a local California political body (board of supervisors, city council, etc.) is eligible for a separate Wikipedia article if he or she has received significant coverage in reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject. The size or population of the political district is not a factor in Notability.

Other articles that may benefit from these norms are those covering elected or appointed public officials like mayors, judges, district attorneys and so forth, but those articles may already have been edited in a different format from this one, so it is best to maintain the original organization and style if consensus so warrants.

Design of the articles[edit]

Important facts go at the top.

Important facts about the subjects go at the top (inverted pyramid style). The articles are structured so that the reader can get the full story of the subject's life by reading the opener (the lead paragraph or paragraphs) and the section marked "Biography" which follows the lead, with the further details of the public service or offices left for later.


The opening paragraph or paragraphs (lead or lede) has:

  • The name of the person in bold face, including the most common variant(s) by which the person was known, also in bold face.
  • Only the year of birth and death, if known (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Dates of birth and death). The months and dates of births and deaths are given in the text of the biography, not in the lead. (This is consistent with WP style, which states "When full dates are provided in the text or in an infobox, year-pairs can be sufficient for the lede in some cases; in such cases no spaces are used.") (Note: This guideline has been challenged; see the talk page.)
  • Context (location, name of the political body, dates of service, other activities for which the person is known).
  • The notable actions or roles the person played. (Lesser activities or roles are left for the balance of the article.)
  • Why the person is significant.
  • Ethnicity or sexuality are generally not emphasized in the opening unless relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth are not mentioned in the lead unless they are relevant to the subject's notability.
  • Information in the lead is expanded in the text below, based on the principal that "Significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article."
  • Words or phrases within the first paragraph are normally not blue- or red-linked unless the article is very short and there is not much more to it besides the lead. This dictum reflects the advice within WP:Leadlink that "Too many links can make the lead hard to read." The important words within the lead are linked in the body of the article when the lead is amplified.



An infobox is optional because all information is already in the lead and the body of the article. Infoboxes are neither added to an existing article nor removed from one without consensus.

Table of contents[edit]

The table of contents is placed on the left[1] or right[2] side of the page to avoid a large white space at the beginning of the article. It may be dropped on the page for the same reason.[3]


Graphics are placed so the subject looks into the article, not out of it.[4][5] The main graphic accompanying the article is normally captioned only with the subject's last name, centered[6] (above), but flush-left captions can be used for the other graphics (below right).[7]

Graphics must be acceptable under Wikipedia policy. Usage is fairly complicated, but it generally means: (1) Living-people articles can have photographs only if the photos are free of copyright (photos that you or some other Wikipedian have taken and released for use with no restrictions). (2) Deceased people can have just one head shot if it is uploaded under a "Historically significant fair use" reason. (3) Any graphic can be used if it was first published in the United States before 1923.


This section is placed right after the opener. It is devoted to the subject's life, largely apart from his or her official actions. It can be divided into subsections, as follows, or everything is combined into one or more paragraphs without subheaders. The complete birthdate is placed in the first sentence so the reader does not have to search for it.


Complete date of birth is placed in the first sentence of this section so the reader does not have to look for it. Includes siblings, marriages, children, divorces, names of parents and their home towns or countries. Details about siblings or children are usually not given unless they are significant in the life of the article's subject. Famous ancestors or descendants are excluded unless important in the life of the subject.

Most of the people in this image are looking into the page, not away from it. {From T.A. Rottanzi.)


Schools attended and degrees awarded.


Occupations not related to public duties.[8]


Complete date of death is normally placed in the first sentence of this section so the reader does not have to look for it. This section includes funeral, place of burial, bequests, etc.

Public service[edit]

Or "Public offices" or "Political career"

Board or council or public office[edit]

Can be divided into federal, state, county, city, etc.[9]


Some details of campaigns and elections if relevant. Can be divided into election years[10] or covered in paragraphs,[11] depending on the person involved.

Also description of the geographic area of the subject's electoral district at the time of service.[12][13]


Positions[14], sometimes labeled "Highlights" [15] or "Controversies" [16] or "Activities."[17] Actions or positions taken by the subject. Individual items can be set off by boldfaced kickers or sub-subheaders,[18][19][20] Can be in order of importance[21] or by year of activity.[22] Among other things, these "positions" serve to highlight the activities of the subject in connection with the history of his or her times.

Other public service[edit]

Commissions and other committees, mayoralties, etc. Nonprofit activities can be put here, too.


If the person has said anything particularly noteworthy and if the quotations are not used elsewhere.[23]


Graphics must be acceptable under Wikipedia policy.

Public parks, playgrounds, squares, scholarships, etc., named for the subject.[24]


All information is completely cited or sourced, with full rigor. Sometimes the citation can be on another page, as when election returns are taken from a list that includes full citations on another Wikipedia page (see List of Los Angeles municipal election returns) or the boundaries of an electoral district are fully sourced on another page (see Los Angeles City Council District 10#Areas covered.)

Succession box[edit]

A succession box is added to the article if it calls for one. The boxes are consistent across a similar range of articles. They are separated from the article itself by cutoff rules (made by striking three hyphens in a row on a separate line).

Preceded by
Los Angeles City Council
10th District

Succeeded by
Otto J. Zahn

Post production, or follow-up[edit]

After the article is written, the main editor or editors clicks on the "What links here?" button to get an idea of the WP pages that already link to the new article. Then the editor finds other articles to link to the new one. Some inbound links come from the hometowns of the subject and his or her parents ("Notable residents" or "Notable natives" sections) and other topics mentioned in the article.[25]

See also[edit]

Notes and examples[edit]

  1. ^ Example of left-side table of contents: F.P. Buyer
  2. ^ Example of right-side table of contents: Harold Harby
  3. ^ Examples of dropped table of contents: Estelle Lawton Lindsey, Charles E. Downs
  4. ^ Example of photo looking into page from the left: Howard W. Davis
  5. ^ Example of photo looking into the page from the right: Wilder W. Hartley
  6. ^ Examples of single-name caption: James M. Hyde, Norris J. Nelson
  7. ^ Example of flush-left caption: Ray Watson (broadcaster)#Biography
  8. ^ A subject whose main vocation is covered separately from his public one: James M. Hyde#Metallurgy and mining.
  9. ^ Example of article divided into political jurisdictions: Walter Scott Moore#Public office
  10. ^ Example of Elections section divided by years: Nate Holden#Elections
  11. ^ Example of Elections section not divided by years: Howard Finn#Elections
  12. ^ One way of handling the geographic area represented: Ruth Galanter#Elections
  13. ^ Another way of handling the geographic area represented: Everett G. Burkhalter#Elections
  14. ^ Examples of "Positions" subheader: Ray Watson (broadcaster)#Positions, T.A. Rottanzi#Positions
  15. ^ Example of "Highlights" subheader: Howard Finn#Highlights
  16. ^ Example of "Controversies" subheader: Charles Hiram Randall#Controversies
  17. ^ Example of "Activities" subheader: E. Snapper Ingram#Activities
  18. ^ Example of boldface kickers using additional subheaders: Bob Ronka#Highlights
  19. ^ Examples of kickers using bold-face lead-ins: Everett G. Burkhalter#Positions, Joel Wachs#Positions
  20. ^ Example of kickers using bullets: Louis R. Nowell#Highlights, Joan Milke Flores#Positions
  21. ^ Example of paragraphs organized by importance:Bob Ronka#Highlights
  22. ^ Examples of paragraphs organized by year of activity: James M. Hyde#Controversies, Everett G. Burkhalter#Positions
  23. ^ Examples of a "Quotations" section: Louis R. Nowell#Quotations, Paul H. Lamport#Quotations
  24. ^ Examples of "Legacy" entries: Nate Holden#Legacy, Gilbert W. Lindsay#Legacy
  25. ^ Examples of incoming links to biographical articles: Special:WhatLinksHere/Earl C. Gay, Special:WhatLinksHere/Tom Bradley (politician)