Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Content guide

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The Military history WikiProject's content guide is intended to provide recommendations regarding the content and structure of articles within the scope of the project.

Article structure[edit]

The structures suggested in this section are intended to serve as a starting point for writing a good article; they are not meant to enforce a single, binding structure on all articles, nor to limit the topics a fully developed article will discuss. The recommended structures may be further broken down into subsections if judged appropriate for each article's content.


The opening paragraph (or lead section) should concisely convey:

  1. The name of the war (including alternate names).
  2. When did it happen?
  3. Who fought in it?
  4. Why did it happen?
  5. What was the outcome?
  6. What was its significance, if any?

The article can be structured along these lines:

  1. The historical background to the conflict, including preceding conflicts, the political situation, military preparedness, and technology.
  2. The causes of the conflict.
  3. The stated casus belli. For example, the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria triggered a sequence of events that led to World War I. Take care to ensure neutrality, since the stated casus belli is often disputed, whereby reliable sources dispute whether the "trigger event" was either truly a trigger or else was just a pretext. In such cases, best practice would include either a footnote or a paragraph in the main body of the article setting out the different perspectives on the stated casus belli, and would avoid stating in wikipedia's neutral voice that the conflict was started by one side or the other, unless reliable sources are in agreement and do not reference such disputes. Separately, also take care to distinguish a casus belli from the underlying causes that allowed the event to trigger a war.
  4. A summary of the conflict. When a war is large, it can often be divided into phases, geographic regions ("theaters"), or naval and land campaigns. Don't describe individual battles in detail; refer to a separate article on the battle and just explain the result of the battle and its consequences for the war.
  5. How the war came to an end. What treaties were signed, and what were their conditions?
  6. What were the consequences of the war? Who did it affect? What happened next? Did the war lead to peace or to further wars? Were countries conquered or liberated? Were there significant advances in tactics or technology?


The opening paragraph (or lead section in a longer article) should concisely convey:

  1. The name of the battle (including alternate names).
  2. When did it happen?
  3. Where did it happen?
  4. Which war or campaign does it belong to?
  5. Who were the combatants?
  6. What was its outcome or significance?

The article can be structured along these lines:

  1. The background. Why did it take place? Which campaign did it belong to? What happened previously? What was the geography of the battlefield?
  2. The prelude. What forces were involved and who were the commanders? How did they arrive at the battleground? Was there a plan?
  3. A description of the battle. What tactics were used? Which units moved where?
  4. The aftermath. Who won, if anyone? What were the casualties? Was there a pursuit or followup? What happened next? How did the battle affect the course of the war?
Summaries of battles in other articles

Because of the key role the discussion of individual battles plays in military historiography, it is often useful to summarize information about a particular battle in an article of broader scope (such as one discussing a war or military leader). In such cases, the bulk of the material should be in the article on the battle itself; the summary in the external article should be trimmed to one or two paragraphs that concisely present the following:

  1. Why did the battle take place? Who was attacking and who was defending? Why was it worth fighting the battle instead of avoiding it; what was at stake?
  2. What was the troop strength of each side and approximate composition of the forces?
  3. Who won, and how decisive a victory was it? Were there any important personages that were captured, wounded, or killed? What was the impact of the battle on the overall campaign?
  4. Were there any notable strategies or tactics that make this more than just one of many battles? Were there any brilliant moves or notable errors that contributed to the outcome of the battle?

Unit or formation[edit]

The opening paragraph (or lead section) should concisely convey:

  1. The formal name of the unit, its abbreviation, and its nickname(s).
  2. What is the unit's country or allegiance?
  3. What service (Air Force, Army, or Navy) was the unit part of?
  4. When was it formed?
  5. If the unit no longer exists, when was it disbanded or deactivated?
  6. In what notable battles, operations, or wars did the unit participate?

The article can be structured along these lines (note: these do not denote headings as such, but general topics that could be included):

  1. The unit's history (both service and organisational) including potentially: When and why was it formed? Who formed it? Where and how has the unit served in peacetime and war (e.g. what battles did it fight in, or what operations was it committed to, and what role did it undertake in those actions)? Who has commanded it? How many casualties did it incur?
  2. Where was/is it based? What higher-level formation is the unit assigned to, if any? What role did/does it fulfill? What was its structure?
  3. The unit's traditions. What mascots does it have? What anniversaries does it celebrate?
  4. What gallantry awards (such as the Medal of Honor, Param Vir Chakra, or Victoria Cross) have been awarded to members of the unit? What unit awards (such as battle honours or presidential citations) has the unit received?


The article can be structured along these lines:

  1. History. A history of the weapon, including background events leading to the design and the evolution of design, plus service history.
  2. Design and features. A description of the major points of the weapon, including details of the operating mechanism, how the weapon is maintained and operated by the user, and ballistics.
  3. Accessories. A list and description of the officially approved accessories issued with the weapon, such as bayonets and any special cleaning kits.
  4. Variants. A list and description of all variants and close descendants of the weapon, plus production details.
  5. Civilian use. A general description of the use of the weapon by non-military, non-government, and legally entitled groups.
  6. Cultural impact, if any. A general summary of the weapon's impact on culture, complying with the guidelines on popular culture.

Base or fortress[edit]

The opening paragraph (or lead section) should concisely convey:

  1. The formal name of the base in English, any appropriate foreign names, and any nickname(s).
  2. Who owns or operates the fortress or base?
  3. What is the purpose of the fortress or base; in other words, why was it built?
  4. When was it built?
  5. In what notable battles, operations, or wars was the base or fortress involved?
  6. If the base or fortress no longer exists, when was it demolished or deactivated and why?

The article can be structured along these lines:

  1. The base or fort's background. What events led to the need for a new fortress or base?
  2. The planning and construction of the fort or base. Who built it? What were its physical features and what problems arose during construction? Consider the surrounding terrain and other potentially hostile conditions, including opposition to its construction.
  3. The base or fort's history. After it was built, how did the base serve its builders? What purpose did it serve, and how effective was it in that role? Was it involved in any battles or provide a supporting role to an army or unit? What units were stationed at the base, and who were its commanders?
  4. If the base or fort still exists, what is its purpose and condition? Who is in charge of the base? What are the politics surrounding it?
  5. If the base or fort no longer exists, what happened to its site? Has it been turned over to commercial use, another military, or converted to park land?

Popular culture[edit]

See also the specific guidelines for firearms and popular culture.

"In popular culture" sections should be avoided unless the subject has had a well-cited and notable impact on popular culture. Any popular culture reference being considered for inclusion must be attributed to a reliable secondary source for the article topic. Items meeting these requirements should typically be worked into the text of the article; a separate section for popular culture items, and in particular the following, should be avoided:

  • Compendiums of every trivial appearance of the subject in pop culture (trivia)
  • Unsupported speculation about cultural significance or fictional likenesses (original research)

This tends to be a particular problem in articles on military hardware (weapons, vehicles, and so forth); for example, the Mauser K98 and the M1 Garand may appear in any World War II film, and their many appearances don't warrant an exhaustive list. On the other hand, a discussion of the Webley representing a stereotypical British revolver, or a conceptual artist's public response to the symbolism of the East European tank monument, is certainly notable.

The following text may be inserted as a hidden comment into military history articles:

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The subject of this article has appeared in popular cultural contexts such as films, video games, novels, strip cartoons, and the like. These are mostly trivial mentions, and listing them adds no value to the encyclopedic treatment of the subject.
Before adding items to this section, please read [[Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Content guide#Popular culture]]. Additions that appear to be insignificant and/or are not attributed to a reliable source WILL be removed.
If an item you have added has been removed and you wish to contest its removal, please start a discussion on this article's talk page proposing that it be restored.
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