Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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It has been 69 days since the outbreak
of the latest dispute over date formats.

Abbreviation for trillion[edit]

MOS:NUMERAL gives recommended abbreviations for million (M) and billion (bn) but not trillion. Should that not be recorded as "tn"? Best wishes. RobbieIanMorrison (talk) 09:43, 22 October 2016 (UTC)

Where has this come up? EEng 15:08, 22 October 2016 (UTC)
Is an abbreviation ever needed? Why can't it be spelt out in full? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 16:42, 22 October 2016 (UTC)
I feel I must reiterate: these discussions are rarely productive unless there are examples of (multiple) actual articles where there's been actual discussion of an actual problem. In this case, as DV2 highlights, there's no evidence so far that there's any need for an abbreviation at all. Show us the articles. EEng 19:19, 22 October 2016 (UTC)
As noted, in many cases the SI prefixes can be used, but there are cases where they are not appropriate. Human population being one case, fortunately we don't have to worry about that one. Money is another one. MOS:NUMERAL suggests spelling it out the first time, but abbreviating the second. It does seem to me, though, that in the actual (hopefully rare) cases where numbers are that big, that spelling it twice isn't so bad. It isn't like newspaper headlines, where space is limited. Gah4 (talk) 19:29, 22 October 2016 (UTC)
What's wrong with × 1012? — A. di M.  13:14, 23 October 2016 (UTC)
Here is the case in point: while energy bonds make up 15.7% of the $1.3tn junk bond market found here. I changed the sum to $1.3 trillion on the next commit. I hope that satisfies EEng. Is there a consensus on my suggestion? Does the main page need to be modified? Best wishes. RobbieIanMorrison (talk) 21:57, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
Well, from my point of view, the example you've given shows that, in the one case we have, trillion was fine and no abbreviation was necessary. I'd really like to see discussion at multiple articles suggesting something's needed here in MOS before we add anything about a preferred abbreviation. EEng 22:26, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
Without looking it up I would not have known the value of a trillion, so I added a link (I assume short scale is intended). I also see no need for a change to mosnum. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 23:37, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
FTR, yes it's short-scale -- see 4th bullet at WP:NUMERAL. EEng 03:09, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I've recently had this problem in editing an external text. I opted for spelling it out (it appeared just once in the text). I think if it's repeated much, and especially if "bn" occurs in the vicinity, you might get a way with the abbreviation. Unfortunately, some readers might at first think it's an abbreviation for "ton(ne)". Tony (talk) 04:19, 10 November 2016 (UTC)

Star and cross DoB[edit]

Are star and cross (* 1905; † 1974) allow? According to Special:Search/insource:/\(\*\ 19/ we have over 800 of these. — Dispenser 13:35, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

I don't know the answer. I don't like them as I don't think they are familiar to many people. I do think the MOS could use more clarity on this. MOS:OPENPARA points to MOS:DOB, which gives examples but never comes right out and answers your question. It does seem to imply that if the dates are known, the recommended format is two dates separated by a dash with no extra stuff like "born", "b.", "d.", "*", or "†". And it says, "Use a dash, or a word such as from or between, but not both" so your particular example seems to be disallowed. But what about "(* 1905 – † 1974)"? Kendall-K1 (talk) 14:46, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Many of the examples are on subjects from countries where this is the usual convention. It can, for example, be seen regularly on the German Wikipedia. --David Biddulph (talk) 14:51, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
I think the examples at MOS:DOB make it quite clear that we don't use "*" or "b" or "b." but always "born" (Serena Williams example), and not "†" or "d." or "d" but "died" (John Smith example). As far as I know "*" and "†" are German usage, not common in any English-speaking countries. I'd suggest that a bot or AWB run to clean up those 800, which are predominantly "notable residents" of non-English-speaking places, would be useful. PamD 16:14, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
See for example Almaty where a list of names with "*" was added and a later edit summary says "Yes, copied from the German wikipedia and translated".
Those should be changed. Star by itself with no cross looks like a footnote of some kind. Also most of those prople are not apparently notable but that's a separate issue. Kendall-K1 (talk) 16:57, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Thank for the quick response, I fixed 550+ of these today using AWB. — Dispenser 23:13, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
  • I boldly added text [1] explaining that here at enwp those quaint forms aren't used. EEng 17:57, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
I'd allow b or d where space is an issue, but agree an asterisk for born is not obvious. I have seen a cross for death often enough, but it is old fashioned and also assumes a Christian perspective, so probably best avoided. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 18:02, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
Good point re limited space. I've made a further edit to address that [2]. All of this is subject to the approval of my esteemed fellow editors, of course. EEng 18:46, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
I don't think the cross when used to signify death date is related to the Christian cross. They are actually two separate glyphs, dagger (†) and latin cross (✝). Certainly the dagger glyph pre-dates Christianity, although I don't know when it first was used to signify death. Kendall-K1 (talk) 19:52, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
19thC publishers didn't use unicode! Without straying into philosophical areas, you'll find the dagger and the cross are identical in much earlier work. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:06, 26 October 2016 (UTC)
This cave painting depicts a mother hyena scolding her pup for confusing dagger and cross.
Certainly Babylonian scribes working in cuneiform distinguished the dagger from the latin cross -- see [3]. There's also evidence of the distinction being respected in prehistoric cave paintings -- see right. EEng 00:41, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
Brilliant! James Murray as the biblical philologist was an inspiration. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 12:57, 27 October 2016 (UTC)
Really, sir, you think I didn't know that? Harrumph! EEng 00:31, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

Display Resolutions[edit]

Would it be possible to add a specific clause addressing the notation for display resolutions? There are some editors arguing that the only acceptable forms are the following:

  • 1920x1080 (letter x unspaced)
  • 1920 pixels × 1080 pixels (multiplication sign with spacing and units)

and that any other forms, such as:

  • 1920 x 1080 (letter x with space)
  • 1920 × 1080 (multiplication sign with space)
  • 1920×1080 (multiplication sign unspaced)
  • (I don't agree that all three of these should be accepted, I'm just giving examples of alternate styles people have used on here which have all been declared as a violation of the MOS by some)

are in fact all prohibited by the MOS, due to the following clauses:

  • "The letter x should not be used to indicate multiplication, but it is used (unspaced) as the substitute for "by" in terms such as 4x4."
  • "When dimensions are given, each number should be followed by a unit name or symbol (e.g., write 1 m × 3 m × 6 m, not 1 × 3 × 6 m)."

I would like to note a reminder at this time that I am not arguing about what the MOS currently says, I am asking for a change to the MOS to address this topic specifically. Since "1920x1080" is read aloud as "1920-by-1080" and represents the dimensions of a display (in pixels, generally), I am forced to agree the MOS does currently endorse only those two forms explicitly. However, these are essentially the two least readable forms. Either using a multiplication sign or adding spaces (or both) improves readability, but neither is explicitly allowed unless units are also included, which decreases readability again, is cumbersome when discussing many resolutions in a sentence, and is not consistent with real-world usage of these terms (it is rare for one to state the units when writing a resolution).

My personal feeling is that the multiplication sign with spaces, but without units (i.e. 1920 × 1080), should be explicitly allowed for display resolutions. The combination of spaces and multiplication sign is the most readable and most professional form in my opinion. The spaces are also consistent with the style set by the MOS for mathematical usage of the multiplication sign, just without the requirement for units after the numbers when dealing with display resolutions (which is consistent with how resolutions are written and encountered normally). I don't think that the "1920x1080" unspaced letter x form should be explicitly prohibited for resolutions (though I would not mind), I just think this alternative more professional form should be explicitly allowed by the MOS for resolutions. It would allow a more readable style without resorting to the cumbersome "full form" with both spaces and units. GlenwingKyros (talk) 05:39, 9 November 2016 (UTC)

I tend to agree that "the multiplication sign with spaces, but without units (i.e. 1920 × 1080), should be explicitly allowed for display resolutions". Dicklyon (talk) 05:48, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Can I suggest you take this to Wikipedia_talk:MOSNUM? Somewhere in its archive (within the last four years) is a huge discussion of this. EEng 06:41, 9 November 2016 (UTC)
Is this what you are thinking of? (Other options.)—DocWatson42 (talk) 03:36, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
No, not those. It went on interminably about screen resolutions, pixels, and whatnot. It was YUGE (to quote Herr Trump). I spent a little time looking but couldn't find it. and finally found it: Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Dates_and_numbers/Archive_146#Revisit:_the_use_of_.22.C3.97.22_and_.22x.22_for_indicating_.22by.22_in_arrays_and_dimensions. Success! Bow down to me!
Again, if this thread is to go on it should be transferred to Talk MOSDATE. EEng 06:56, 10 November 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for digging that up! I wasn't able to find it myself. I've transferred it to Talk:MOSNUM as suggested.
The linked discussion ends with a proposal to make "1920x1080" the endorsed format, which was rejected, but there is no proposal made for something in the other direction (i.e. recommending something besides unspaced x, the point of this discussion). I think maybe the best way to do it (for the most general coverage) would be clause for notation of dimensions of arrays/matrices (a category which display resolutions could be considered to fall under) which endorses "m × n" (unit-less with spaced multiplication sign). The WP page for arrays already uses this: I'm not an experienced editor though, so I'm not sure if this idea makes sense and I welcome second opinions. GlenwingKyros (talk) 00:07, 16 November 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm going to try to stay out of this, except to say
  • I think 1920x1080 looks absolutely awful, and 1920×1080 looks still kind of awful, but maybe just acceptably so.
  • If there's a space on either side, then I don't care whether an x or a × is used, but an x sure is easier.
  • I think what's really going on here is that rectangular arrays of discrete, identical elements (pixels are only one example) don't always require units, which can sometimes be taken as implicit:
  • As cost-per-pixel dropped, screen sizes of 2400 x 3600 became common
  • Eggs are often sold in dozens, typically in 2 x 6 cartons, though 3 x 4 cartons are often seen
(I just made that last one up -- best I could think of.)
EEng 01:09, 16 November 2016 (UTC)

Remove unneeded conversion and reference to a non-standard mass unit[edit]

Regarding the two changes and , please explain your justification to support non-standard measure units/regionalism in the English Wikipedia which is not US Wikipedia.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

The short ton is widely used in the US, where a significant portion of Wikipedia readers reside. Unit conversions improve comprehension for these readers who may not be familiar with SI units, a practice which is generally recommended by the Wikipedia Manual of Style where English-speaking countries use different units for the same quantity. Though conversions are not required for science-related articles, their presence may still aid readers and I see no reason to remove such conversions for Allosaurus, which has geographic ties to the US. —Laoris (talk) 14:25, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
I have to disagree with your statement regarding Wikipedia usage statistics as a reason to keep short ton conversion in use. From page the only countries where this unit of measure is used is US and Canada. From readers originating from US+Canada for English Wikipedia is only 46.2% which is not the majority. Following this precedent, the same portion of the readers should be represented with all the specific regionalism in use to ease reading for them as well. Do US/Canada users/editors have some specific rights over English Wikipedia? If not, this discussion shall be brought to a more wide board. I agree, instead, on the geographic ties of Allosaurus to US. -- (talk) 14:57, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
46.2% isn't a majority, but it's definitely a large portion of readers. By using both SI and US units, the vast majority of the audience can be accommodated, rather than just 53%. Clearly we cannot always support all units used by all regions, but the US and Canada represent a significant portion of Wikipedia views. —Laoris (talk) 15:11, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
The discussion above, originating from , is reported here to request an official statement. Is the use of US/Canada regionalism in international English Wikipedia with precedence over all other regionalism accepted and recognized as intended Wikipedia editorial policy? -- (talk) 15:20, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
  • Laoris' explanation is more than adequate. The OP has a case of WP:IDHT. EEng 15:35, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
Emitting accusation of WP:IDHT while the argument is backed by actual data is degrading, disrespectful and definitely insolent. argumentum ad hominem is a prejudiced way to close this dispute, but I lean over the leviathan authority. Rejoice in your bias, since, evidently you can. -- (talk) 16:00, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
Your argument invokes data but ignores logic -- logic which is the basis for the longstanding, sensible practice you object to. Your refusal to see that is indeed WP:IDHT. EEng 16:16, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
Please, keep up the good work. . -- (talk) 16:23, 22 November 2016 (UTC)
No problem. Editors whose first and only contributions are to grind some parochial axe (i.e. not the "desirable newcomers" discussed in the paper you link) almost never become productive members of the community, so I won't be losing any sleep. EEng 18:06, 22 November 2016 (UTC)


I just want draw people's attention to Template:Floruit. Through a series of IP edits (possibly the same person from multiple IPs), the template has gone from a very simple shortcut for adding fl. to dates to something extremely complicated to look at. It's in need of a look at from an expert on templates. I've never seen this kind of thing from an IP before. McLerristarr | Mclay1 13:38, 5 December 2016 (UTC)