Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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MOSBIO proposal needs more participation[edit]

Seeking more participation for my proposal at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies#A slight expansion of MOS:JR.

The proposal has been quiet for 10 days, stalemated around a relatively minor detail. To wit: After considering the recent changes to MOS:JR, which established a default of no comma in John Doe Jr., which of the following surname-first forms should be preferred: Doe, John Jr. or Doe, John, Jr.?

Your participation is needed. If you !vote, please first read all of the discussion, including that in the "Extended discussion" subsection. ―Mandruss  17:40, 28 May 2016 (UTC)

Restored this from archive since the proposal is still quiet after 39 days. Using Template:Do not archive until to prevent re-archive for 90 days, but that can removed if and when the proposal archives without resolution. It would be a shame to fail to make the main improvement, which has consensus, because of the stalemate on this minor issue. ―Mandruss  07:46, 25 June 2016 (UTC)

RfC: What (if anything) to do about quotations, and the quotation templates?[edit]

Statement of the issues[edit]

There's no "Survey" section in this RfC and no up/down vote on an action item. That can come later. There's a lot to chew on here, so let's just have a threaded discussion(s). Maybe we can generate an action item(s) to "vote" on further down the road.

It's a complicated question covering a decade of use of some half-dozen templates which are transcluded over some half a million articles, with documentation in several places. So I apologize in advance for the length of the material.

The basic questions of this RfC[edit]

The basic question is "How should quotes be handled in articles" A legitimate answer, of course, is "exactly as they have been". (We are referring in this RfC to typical quotes from a general source, not specialized situations handled by specialized templates such as {{Quote hadith}} etc.)

So some more detailed questions that arise from this might be:

  • Is it OK to continue to have three different templates used for general quotes, or not? Why or why not?
  • The WP:MOS specifies to use {{Quote}} for quotes, and doesn't mention {{Quote box}} one way or the other, but {{Quote box}} itself says to not use it for regular quotes -- yet {{Quote box}} is used for quotes far more often than {{Quote}}; ought this situation be addressed, or not, and if so how?
  • {{Cquote}} is used a fair amount for quotations, even though this MOS strictly forbids this; ought this situation be addressed, or not, and if so how?
  • This MOS by inference supports pull quotes ("the {{pull quote}}... template, which [is] reserved for pull quotes"). Should this MOS discourage or even forbid pull quotes, or is it OK like this?

And there are probably lots of other questions. Possible solutions are many, including

  • Doing nothing, leave the present situation as is.
  • Functionally deleting two of {{Quote}} / {{Quote box}} / {{Cquote}} (by just making two of them a redirect to the remaining one? or whatever would be the best way technically to achieve this function).
  • Changing the documentation to overtly permit use of all three (or: some two) templates for quotes at editors' discretion.
  • Designing a new template which is better than any of the existing ones and deprecating the old ones.
  • Writing a new protocol which carves out separate uses for {{quote}} and {{quote box}} and/or {{cquote}}.

And certainly there are many other good ideas to be had. That's the purpose of this RfC, to think about these and various other possibilities, and maybe we can find some that seem worthy of being presented as action items, down the road. Herostratus (talk) 20:56, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

Reference: examples of the three templates commonly used for generic quotes[edit]

Below is {{Quote}}, the MOS officially sanctioned template, which formats quotations with only indentation:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

— Anonymous, Sad Sack Goes to College

Below is {{Quote box}}, which is supposed to be for pull quotes, but is not specifically forbidden in the MOS for normal quotes, and is sometimes used for normal quotes. It adds a box around the quotation:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Anonymous, Jr., My First Book of Complete Nonsense

Below is {{Cquote}} (which is actually a redirect to {{Pull quote}}), and which is specifically forbidden for normal quotes by the MOS, but is sometimes used for normal quotes. It adds large pastel quote marks around the quotation:

They're basically identical otherwise (each also has a scheme for short quotes spanning just part of the page width; they take a parameter for this, while {{Cquote}} also has a variation template, {{Rquote}}). Note that all of these may present a bit differently in more complicated layouts, such as when among many images.

Herostratus (talk) 20:56, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

While the above examples illustrate the default use of these templates, they can also be used to make sidebars (as shown below). A large number of uses of these templates are such, which can present issues that do not occur with default-mode inline use of the templates. Disputes over these templates at articles are often about this type of usage, not the default inline use.
Left, right, and center
A big title here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Anonymous III, Big Book of Quotes
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:16, 22 August 2016 (UTC)

Reference: additional material[edit]

A "pull quote" is a layout device used by magazines: a piece of text is "pulled" from the article and repeated in a box or a large or color font. This to break up the page layout and attract the eye to the material. We aren't a magazine and we don't use pull quotes -- almost never, and most editors appear to agree that they are appropriate very rarely or never for an encyclopedia article. {{Quote box}} and {{Cquote}} are (supposedly) just for pull quotes, but they are very very rarely if ever actually used for that.

Here's usage numbers:

  • {{Quote}}, {{Blockquote}}, and raw <blockquote>...</blockquote> (which are basically identical) are used in about 119,000 articles.
  • {{Cquote}} is used in about 18,000 articles. {{Rquote}} adds 1,400 more.
  • {{Quote box}} (and {{Quotebox}}) are used in about 8,000 articles.

Refs for "Quote" usage:[1][2][3][4][5]. [6][7][8][9][10]. Refs for "Cquote" usage:[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18]. Refs for "Quote box" usage:[19][20][21][22].

The main operative section of this MOS is WP:BLOCKQUOTE (WP:MOS#Block quotations), most specifically the second and fourth sentences which read:

Block quotations can be enclosed in the {{quote}} template, or between a pair of <blockquote>...</blockquote> HTML tags... Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks (and especially avoid decorative quotation marks in normal use, such as those provided by the {{pull quote}} a.k.a. {{cquote}} template, which are reserved for pull quotes).

Herostratus (talk) 20:56, 20 August 2016 (UTC) [revised, 21:21, 21 August 2016‎ (UTC), with data from SMcCandlish]

Here are more specific usage numbers, in case anyone wants to "check our work", comparing the transclusion counts (which can be misleading by themselves) from an external tool, followed by insource:/regex/i code search results showing actual total page counts, and article counts more specifically:
Usage statistics in more detail

Fair warning: most of these search links are quite slow, and they're hard on the server.

  • {{Quote}}, the prescribed template, has 85,609 transclusions [23], in 48,234 pages [24], including 40,201 articles [25] at that name. Its {{Blockquote}} alias adds 3,476 pages [26] and 2,143 articles [27]. Redirects of merged templates add many more: {{Quotation}} adds 14,395 pages [28] and 8,480 articles [29], and {{"}} adds 304 pages & 111 articles [30]. The total is around 60,500 paged plus several hundred more from other aliases, and about 51,000 articles plus a few hundred more from aliases.
  • Raw <blockquote>...</blockquote> markup – functionally equivalent to {{Quote}} in most cases – is used in 169,349 pages [31], of which 67,157 are articles [32]. It is the most common block quotation formatting in our articles, though any of its instances that have no custom CSS can be immediately replaced with {{Quote}}.
  • {{Quote box}} has an amazing 540,985 transclusions [33], but in "only" 89,066 pages [34], of which a mere 7,466 are articles [35]. Another 485 articles are added by its {{Quotebox}} alias [36], plus a few dozen more from other redirects, for a total of about 8,000 articles. The bulk of the usage is multiple transclusions on talk pages.
  • {{Pull quote}} (despite being the favorite of those who advocate for a decorative style) has only 36,934 total transclusions [37], of which 35,081 are of its {{Cquote}}} alias [38]. The latter appears in 33,818 pages [39], including 17,269 articles [40], plus 555 pages using its "canonical" name {{Pull quote}} [41], of which 251 are in articles [42], and 608 more pages [43] and 415 more articles [44] from the {{Centered pull quote}} alias, and about 100 more pages and 50 more articles from other redirects. The totals are approximately 35,000 pages and 18,000 articles.
  • The {{Reduced pull quote}} variant has 1,760 transclusions [45] in 101 pages [46] and 69 articles [47] at that name. Of the total 1,760 transclusions, its long-standing shortcut {{Rquote}} accounts for 1,672 [48], and adds 1,664 pages to the page count [49], and 1,306 articles [50], with very few more from other redirects. The totals are about 1,800 pages, 1,400 articles at most.

The page and article counts have a small margin of error, due to minor redirects being ignored, possibly other templates transcluding one of these templates, and references to the template in code markup, e.g. in template documentation, but overall they are a solid overview of the deployment of these templates.

Several of these templates, along with bare <blockquote>, are incorrectly being used as block-indentation markup for non-quotations, a violation of the HTML specs. Instances of such misuse should be replaced with {{Block indent}}.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:16, 22 August 2016 (UTC)

General threaded discussion[edit]

(If you have a specific proposal (which might perhaps be an action item in a later RfC), you might want to consider stating it in a separate section below, so it can be discussed separately? Or not... just a suggestion.) Herostratus (talk) 20:56, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Certainly there is a problem here, but it seems to me that it is not so much with the MOS or the templates (which appear to be in agreement -- although strengthening and clarifying restrictions on {{Quote box}} and {{pull quote}} would be helpful), nor with general practice (which, if we could include <blockquote>...</blockquote> in the counts would, I expect, be mostly consistent with MOS) -- rather this is a simple case of editor error. If this is correct, the solution involves not guideline or template development, but just work -- some wikignome martyr would have to review every instance of templated "luxury" quotes and reformat correctly, where appropriate. Clearly I am against a mix of styles for the display of vanilla quotes... but I don't think that fuctional deletion via redirect is the correct path to uniformity, as this would bulldoze legitimate uses of (what should be) the rarer "luxury" templates and potentially somewhat alter their current sense. A case-in-point would be Featured article William Shakespeare#London and theatrical career which has (I think) correctly used <blockquote>...</blockquote> and {{Box quote}} right next to each other. Phil wink (talk) 23:01, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, 578,101 27,500 transclusions is an awful lot of editor errors.
My personal opinion is, {{quote}} is a poor template on the merits. It is very important that readers quickly comprehend when we are switching to a quote. {{quote}} lets them down and slows them down. It is insufficiently different from regular text to signal the switch to a quote.
That's my opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. But its an opinion shared by a lot of editors, I guess. I believe this a better explanation than error for half a million transclusions use in about 20% of cases even though it is expressly forbidden. I don't think our editors are that error-prone. I myself certainly don't use {{quote}}, on purpose, for the simple reason that to my mind it's not of sufficiently professional quality for the information design I want to achieve in the articles I am creating or building. I usually use {{cquote}}, most people use {{quote box}} I guess. And that's fine by the way. We don't need a bed of Procrustes approach to our editors. If we absolutely must have one template, I guess {{quote box}} would be the best choice, though. I don't think {{quote}} should be it. Herostratus (talk) 01:27, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Answering the four RfC questions in order, with detailed rationales:
    1. No, it is not OK to have multiple templates (in mainspace) for quotation pesentation. The decorative ones are several kinds of policy problem.
      • The decorative ones were kept, narrowly, at TfD (and few templates have been TfDed this many times – the community has long had serious concerns about them), only with the understanding that they would be reserved for non-mainspace use, or for rare instances of pull quotes in mainspace.
      • But, as I predicted, they have been rampantly abused to violate multiple policies – chiefly WP:NPOV (especially WP:UNDUE), but also WP:NOR and WP:NOT, as detailed below – to bludgeon readers with particular individuals' or organizations' statements, and to insert quotes that are irrelevant and non-encyclopedic, and to lazily slap quotes into articles at random locations as design "filler" without any regard at all for whether they make any sense in the contexts into which they've been jammed (or for the fact that much WP:REUSE will simply lose them).
      • Case study 1: Just the other day, I fixed all three of these problems at once in a single article, the first one I picked to do quote template cleanup on (and one which someone had pointed to as what they thought of as good use of the templates!). See edit history of Thorpe affair from this edit onward, or see all the cleanup in one diff here, including some other copyedits. User talk:SMcCandlish#Quote box [53] gives a detailed analysis of why all three quote templates in that article were "reader-hateful". They are not unusual in any way, but directly reprsentative of the three broad types of quote template abuse on Wikipedia: PoV-pushing, context-free decoration, and indiscriminate trivia-mongering.
    2. MoS and template docs are only read in detail by gnomes; most editors just copy what they see in older articles. This has lead to memetic propagation of a terrible style idea from WP's olden times faster than gnomes can clean it up. We thus need a technical solution.
      • MoS gives a specific template for block quotations, explains what a pull quote is and why we almost never use them, and says not to use pul-quote templates like Pull quote (which some refer to by its redirect "{{Cquote}}" as if to disguise the fact that they're misusing a pull-quote template) for block quotes. The other templates' documentation indicates they're pull-quote templates, too, so every single time someone is using them for non-pullquotes, they're either copy-catting old articles the template abuse has not been cleaned up in yet, or they're intentionally ignoring documentation, guidelines, and policies to force their design sense on Wikipedia.
      • I know for a fact that it's most often copy-catting; I've asked people why they inserted a decorative quote template, and they've told me it's because they saw it in another article and thought it was WP's official style! It's a memetic virus, pure and simple, just like capitalization of common names of species was in 2008 (which we're still cleaning up in August 2016).
      • Defense of decorative quotes in an article is almost invariably a WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS affair; people usually literally cannot think of any other rationale but "I saw it at [Article X], and that's an FA, so it must be the right way to do it", not understanding that the FA dates to before we had rules about this stuff and hasn't been fixed yet. Another favorite is the "WP:OWN policy doesn't exist" game: "I wrote almost all of this article, so it should be decorated if I wanted it that way." Mainly, though, it's just that most editors do not actually read MoS, or any more template docs than they have to figure out some parameters.
    3. The solution is to install a namespace switch in the decorative templates that changes their output to that of the standard {{Quote}} template if they are used in mainspace, then for editors to adjust their placement and contextualization over time, where necessary. It really doesn't matter if we have three or a dozen decorative quote templates as long as none of them work in articles.
      • Keeping them functional outside of mainspace would still permit the "screaming with decorations" effect of these templates in wikiproject pages, etc., where we don't care.
      • I proposed this obvious solution over two years ago, but TfD said "let's wait and see if that's really necessary". The result of that delay has been a tsunami of tacky picture frames and giant quotation marks shoving PoV-pushing, confusing, and pointless quotes in readers' faces.
      • The idea that there's a consensus to decorate quotations is demonstrably false. See stats above. The MoS rule has been around for years. No exceptions have been made to WP:NPOV policy, etc., for quotations. No one objects when those templates' scopes are repeatedly narrowed, and when half a dozen variations of them are merged right out of existence. When they are TfDed, hardly anyone defends them (usually the same handful, and usually for entirely unclear rationales).
      • Case study 2: I spent several days converting decorative quotes to standard {{Quote}} templates in 100 articles, and not once was I reverted or challenged on it. Basically, no one cares except about half a dozen "décor defenders" (you can find them also in the WT:MOSICONS archives as the lonely advocates of plastering pages with flag icons all over the place, etc.). Editors just copy-paste and customize the templates they see in other articles.
      • As with another large mess of this sort – the capitalization and linking of dates that we cleaned up in the early 2010s – this will probably require bot cleanup (see below).
      • To the extent that some editors think the default style isn't quite enough visual distinction, see #Slight display adjustments for how to address that.
    4. MoS should simply deprecate pull quotes. Less that 1% of the uses of the pull-quote templates are for actual pull quotes, and in every single case of one that I've found, it can be safely removed and will improve the article in its passage into the WikiAfterlife.
      • Pull quotes are a heavy-handed "teaser" news style. We have a Wikipedia is not news policy, with numerous implications, including that WP does not serve the purposes of a news publication, is not written in the same register as one, does not follow journalism style guides, has completely different reader expectations of it, and has no use for attention-seeking mechanisms to try to entice readers into zooming to particular sections, much less "walking away with a key message" that some editor wants to drill into their brain with a huge, decorated quotation.
      • These templates are a serious WP:CCPOL problem, and this is much more than a trivial style matter. We have tried pull quotes and they've failed dismally, both by doing nothing useful here themselves, and (much worse) by the templates for them being massively abused in article after article as excuses to violate neutrality policy (among others, like WP:NOR's prohibitions against steering/leading/manipulating the readers into drawing particular conclusions, and against over-reliance on primary source material, etc.). This has to end, and it should have ended years ago. (This "screaming for attention" quotations matter, by the way, is a great illustration of why "MoS is just a bunch of style nitpicks we don't need" is a wrongheaded viewpoint. Many aspects of MoS, from MOS:WTW to MOS:ACCESS to MOS:IDENTITY, are important content guidelines with deep connections to Wikipedia policy and mission, and aren't just "style" advice.)
    Recommended cleanup path: All instances of the noncompliant templates in mainspace should first be replaced, via bot, with a specific template redirect for each template e.g. {{Quote-Cquote}}, etc., to isolate these cases. The code can then be temporarily forked, making these redirects into copies of the templates. The original decorative templates, now expunged from transclusion in mainspace all get fitted with namespace detectors, such that their non-mainspace deployment is unaffected, but use in mainspace outputs {{Quote}} code or even a visible error message. The disused ones can also be merged into {{Quote box}}. In mainspace, the templates with compatible parameters can just be redirected to {{Quote}}; the one or two that do not will have to be replaced with template wrappers that call it and convert the parameters. Then we can finally have a bot replace them with calls to the main template by adjusting the parameters. All that would remain (and would already be underway in the interim) is working the former "sidebar" quotes into the content where they belong, and removing redundant or unencyclopedic ones.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:03, 21 August 2016 (UTC) Updated 06:44, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

OK, here're my answers:

  • Sure, it's OK to have more than one quote template. (The question of whether the three existing quote templates are all OK (I think they are) is a different question). People are way too much into micromanaging other editors sometimes. Trust the editor to do the right thing, given reasonable restrictions. Reasonable levels of empowerment is how you build a successful volunteer organization. If the editors do the wrong thing, educate them. We are not the Army where everything not mandatory is forbidden and can't thrive with that mindset. I have just described one large and important objective benefit of allowing editors some leeway here. (there are others). Look a lot of this comes down to opinion. I invite editors to show me the objective benefit of allowing just a single template and you will win me over, but not before.
  • Change the documentation of {{Quote box}} documentation to bring it in line with practice. People use it for quotes (for the good and sufficient reason that's a it's better than {{quote}} at letting the reader know that she's entering a quotation). Rules should describe practice. The current situation is dysfunctional, and going on a crusade against (what is certainly at least arguably) good layout and good information design, in order to make practice fit an ancient rule, is probably not the best answer.
  • Change the documentation of {{Cquote}} and one sentence in this MOS to bring it in line with practice, same argument as above.
  • Should not encourage pull quotes. Best would be to just not mention them at all, I think. They're very rare. Here is an example: Philippe I, Duke of Orléans #Homosexuality. I wouldn't do that, but it doesn't make me claw the draperies either. I not particularly bossy or certain that I'm the world's genius of information design or page layout, so I wouldn't be inclined to tell that editor "I order you to remove that". Just remove mention of pull quotes, everywhere, per WP:BEANS. Herostratus (talk) 22:01, 22 August 2016 (UTC)


Pastel line on the left[edit]

An editor, User:Waldir, just recently at Template_talk:Quote#Styling suggested that {{quote}} have a pastel line on the left, like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed ultricies nisi eu lectus egestas scelerisque. Etiam vitae ante vel lorem efficitur fermentum at quis nisi. Nulla et augue eget arcu scelerisque malesuada. Maecenas porta vestibulum libero eget varius. Donec lacus magna, fermentum vel ante vitae, malesuada posuere magna. Aenean scelerisque in neque ut semper. Donec eleifend tortor justo, ut ullamcorper tortor dictum at.

on the grounds that it makes quotes more readily identifiable, and since (he says) many stylesheets are doing this now it might be recognizable to many readers. He might be right. Perhaps an updated quote box like this would combine the best of the three templates now being used. (There might be technical issues though.) Herostratus (talk) 21:08, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Because {{Quote}} is (mostly) fuctionally equivalent to <blockquote>...</blockquote> -- if greater consistency is desired in generic quotations -- adopting a pastel line for {{Quote}} would necessitate either 1) applying the same formatting to <blockquote>...</blockquote> or 2) systematically repackaging all generic blockquotes with {{Quote}}. Phil wink (talk) 23:11, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Already rejected: This was proposed a year or two ago in a Village Pump RfC and shot down. It looks far too much like our cleanup/dispute templates, and there was a clear sense that it's some random blog style, and already a dated one at that, and not appropriate here. Others also felt it was heavy-handed and visually disruptive in general, serving to draw WP:UNDUE emphasis to quoted material, when what WP wants to do is minimize the amount and impact of quotations (see WP:OVERQUOTE and WP:NPOV). Another problem with it is that it will not improve, only worsen, the problem of block quotations being "squeezed" between left and right images, by further reducing the horizontal space. available. In such a layout, it will look like a broken partial border for the right side of the lefthand image.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:08, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Oh. BTW One thing I've never understood is our documeentation "Hey, we have {{quote}}, but using the raw HTML is fine too". What's the advantage? I can see the disadvantage, one being just the situation described -- we can't globally alter quotes done in raw HTML, or even know how many there are. Sure I get that the software supports HTML and some people are going to use it whatever we say, but why do we actively recommended it? Anybody know? Herostratus (talk) 01:12, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Not sure how that relates to this "pastel line" thing, but the reason that's in there is that some editors historically have objected to "forcing" (LOL) people to use wrapper templates for HTML elements, even when we have good reason to prefer that people use them (e.g. application of CSS classes), so we tended to always also mention the raw HTML behind the template. I would just as soon we did not and deprecated using the raw HTML.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:25, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Well, maybe it's worth trying again, maybe the objectors have gone away. If not, we could offer a pointer down into the "Notes" section where we say "or you can also use raw HTML" in small text, that way not being so recommendy about it. Herostratus (talk) 21:26, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
As I recall there is something somewhere deprecating HTML style mark-up where it can be avoided. I would certainly support a guideline to that effect. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:08, 26 August 2016 (UTC).
  • This pastel bar thing is absolutely ghastly. EEng 17:32, 23 August 2016 (UTC)

Slight display adjustments[edit]

We should do what most style guides that address the matter recommend: Slightly reduce the font size (e.g. to 95%) to make a lengthy quotation better set-off from the surrounding text, as well as indenting it the way we already do. This would also offset the incidental emphasis effect that putting it its own block (paragraph) and indenting it has. The purpose of block quotations is not the SCREAM AT THE READER but simply to indicate "this is an extended quotation". Given the nature of the medium, we might also consider a very faint background color (e.g. a very light grey) that does not impact readability (see the colors section of MOS:ACCESS). This would help to still distinguish the quotation block in browser/display/layout situations where the content is squeeze so much the indentation is unclear or even eliminated. This would cost us no additional horizontal space at all, unlike the vertical bar proposal above.

The fact that so many people do not understand what block quotations are for, and mistakenly believe that the purpose of them is to greatly emphasize material, is the #1 reason that multiple templates have proliferated all over Wikipedia drawing enormous amounts of visual attention to quotations (against WP:NPOV in general, WP:UNDUE in particular, WP:NOR because leads/steers the reader's interpretation of the material, WP:SOAPBOX, MOS:BQ, etc.). It's time to put this to bed, just like we've put to bed date linking, and about 20 kinds of Rampant Over-Capitalization, and italicization of quotations, and use of boldface as emphasis in article text, and a many, many other things that were formerly common on Wikipedia.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:25, 21 August 2016 (UTC)

This seems quite reasonable (the first paragraph). We do want some kind of increased emphasis without over-doing it, so we're both on the same page here. Herostratus (talk) 01:33, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
I couldn't agree more. Graham (talk) 02:17, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
My personal opinion is that we already have a template for increased emphasis without overdoing it: {{cquote}}. Without using a 95% font or a faint background, it signals to the reader that he is entering a quotation with the English universal symbol this: quotation marks. They're large, but they're faint, so the overall effect is subdued, at the same time making for an attractive layout.
However,  there's the political angle to consider. At least one editor hates {{cquote}} with a dark and burning fury and will never slacken in the battle against it, and there are other editors who also consider it overly twee. So whatever works reasonably well that can get passed is what we are looking for here. Herostratus (talk) 22:14, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
I am against any reduced font size. I have my screen set to the smallest font size I can reasonably read. Many other readers wil have the same set-up. (And please do not offer me advice on custom css that will fix this for me, it's the general accessibility issue that I am interested in.)
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 19:12, 26 August 2016 (UTC).

Much ado about not much[edit]

The minutiae of what is/is not acceptable to the "commuity" when formatting quotes in articles is hardly the burning issue that some editors imagine it to be, but it has the capacity to be used as a warmongering device on countless talkpages, so it would be good to come to an agreed conclusion and codify this into the MoS. My standpoint is that of a content editor who understands the value of quotes in terms both of content and presentation. Briefly:

  • I agree that in-text quotations would be improved by a reduction in the text size (perhaps to 90% rather than 95%) which, combined with indenting should distinguish them from the text
  • I remember Cquotes being very popular ten-plus years ago when I first edited, but they seem terribly ugly, dated and unencyclopaedic now. I haven't encountered them on peer review or FAC for a long while—I don't think they are used much now, at least in quality articles, and I suggest that this format could be withdrawn without too much loss.
  • Quote boxes I see as as an alternative to images. We generally accept images when they illustrate an aspect of the text, without seeing them as placing undue emphasis on that aspect of the text. We also use images as an aid to readability, by breaking up slabs of text and by careful positioning. In some topics, particularly those of recent history, copyright law makes it hard to find relevant images, in which case carefully composed quote boxes can often be a useful substitute, provided their content is selected carefully. The argument that they distort readers' understanding by drawing the eye away from the context is an assumption for which I haven't seen any convincing evidence; in any event, this aspect can be dealt with on an article-by-article basis. In short, I would like MoS to recognise that in some cases the quote box provides a useful presentational tool—this has been widely accepted informally for some years now—and I don't think this should be overturned at the behest of the Savonarolas amongst us. Brianboulton (talk) 15:21, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
While this discussion does interest me, I'm not going to pretend that I've read even 5 per cent of the text dedicated to it above … Brianboulton's comments on Cquotes and Quote boxes summarise the situation perfectly, as far as I'm concerned, as someone who writes articles. Cquotes are unencyclopaedic and, I suggest, draw far too much emphasis to the quote. Boxed quotes/quote boxes are very useful and informative, not to mention popular with many GA and FA writers. The point about using them to break up slabs of text, particularly given the paucity of free images, is an important one. JG66 (talk) 15:52, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
Echoing the above on breaking up what can seem for readers as dense walls of text. I'm unswayed by the opinion of one editor that they are "PoV-pushing, context-free decoration, and indiscriminate trivia-mongering": if that is the case on individual articles, then those individual articles should be re-worked. But to get rid of using the entire format because they are sometimes misused is doing our readers a disservice. – SchroCat (talk) 20:39, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I haven't read more than 5% either, but my thinking is:
The caption should lead the reader into the article. For example, in History of the Peerage, a caption for Image:William I of England.jpg might say 'William of Normandy overthrew the Anglo-Saxon monarchs, bringing a new style of government.' Then the reader gets curious about that new form of government and reads text to learn what it is.
There's no reason a well-chosen quote (not necessarily repeating something in the article text proper) highlighted in some way (whether boxed, shaded, big-quoted, whatever -- I'll leave that to others) shouldn't be allowed to serve the same purpose, though of course only in situations well away from any possibility of POV. I'm probably going to regret pointing this out, but I think this works well at Memorial_Hall_(Harvard_University)#Conception_and_construction. (Those weird shaded rectangles didn't used to be there -- yuck!) EEng 20:49, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
EEng 20:49, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
You are right on the shaded rectangles – horrible! I would also add to the list of things to avoid the use of the over-size quote marks. I've never seen a proper pull quote on WP (as in the correct definition of an excerpt of article text repeated as a stand alone quote), and the sooner the go, the better. The use of quote boxes, on the other hand, carefully and correctly used (as with an image to sit alongside a relevant piece of text, that enhances not just the readability of the text, but also the reader's understanding of a topic) has a lot to be said for it. – SchroCat (talk) 16:46, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
I used the bigquote template back when I added those quotes because I got lost in the vast selection of quote templates, and back then the shaded rectangles weren't there -- someone's changed something in the template. Anyway, I've redone it with a shaded quote box. EEng 17:35, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
If you want to see the only example of pull quotes that I've ever come across, SchroCat, take a look at Philippe I, Duke of Orléans #Homosexuality. Ironically, it doesn't use a quote template, but a customised table acting as a container! --RexxS (talk) 20:29, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
  • FYI: On the mobile frontend, {{quote}} and <blockquote>...</blockquote> set off quotations not only with indentation but also with oversize quotation marks - exactly like {{cquote}}, but black instead of blue. Abuse of <blockquote>...</blockquote> for indentation is thus immediately visible on mobile and really looks ridiculous. It also actually increases the font size, which I think is a very strange design choice - the indentation already reduces the available horizontal space, and increasing the font size further compounds this. I have no idea why the decision was made to imitate a deprecated template, but I've become accustomed to it (and it has the virtue of making quotations marked up by semantic abuse of the leading colon trivial to spot). At any rate, people discussing {{quote}} vs {{cquote}} seem unaware that they look almost the same on mobile.
Additionally {{quote box}} is not shoved off to the side like an image, but is put in the centre of the page... funnily enough, exactly as images are. My main objection to {{quote box}} is that it's a lazy way of getting a quotation in: the quotation appears totally devoid of context or motivation. Stylistically such isolated quotations are a train wreck. If there's no way to integrate such a quotation into the article text, it probably doesn't belong there. From what I understand the term to mean, they are not technically pull quotes - in fact, I don't believe I've ever seen a true pull quote on Wikipedia, and I would immediately remove one if I did because it's a journalistic style totally inappropriate for an encyclopedia. Hairy Dude (talk) 03:24, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
I beg to differ: if used properly and responsibly, quote boxes are not some "lazy way of getting a quotation in". They can provide a very good means for displaying certain types of quoted text, a letter, say, or a poem, or a piece of text which while not central to the direct narrative, provides a useful illustrative comment. Such boxes are not isolated if they adjoin the text to which they relate – the same rule applies to images. And you shouldn't rule out the presentational advantages of quote boxes, in terms of making blocks of text look more appealing to the reader – my years as a magazine editor taught me the importance of presentation, in particular the turn-off potential of walls of uninterrupted text. I agree that quote boxes should be used sparingly and with care, particularly when other options are available, but to withdraw altogether this useful tool would be an unnecessary mistake. Brianboulton (talk) 10:00, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
What some people think reading an article should feel like to the reader - "it was tedious to write, it should be tedious to read"
Very well said. The problem we're up against, Bb, is the some editors think that anything betraying any kind of care for the reader's pleasure or interest in reading the article is "unencyclopedic" (a vague term encompassing anything the speaker hasn't run into before). Savonarolas is right! EEng 14:54, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. I don't think there is one right answer to the question "what is the best quote template". It a matter of taste, opinion, one's personal concept of page design, and what is needed for that page environment (many images, no images, etc.) My inclination is to trust the editor, and correct-and-educate when the editor goes too far into the weeds (whether it's too long a quote, too many images, sections too long, etc. etc.) Crowdsourcing page design works! Herostratus (talk) 15:06, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
Wisely summarised. We should resist all tendency to over-regulate when common sense can easily be applied. Brianboulton (talk) 19:04, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree with the points made by Brianboulton, but would add: Quote boxes, certainly at the FA level, are not used for no purpose, and not merely to break up text. They serve to illustrate points to the reader, selected by savvy writers. A quote box with a random quote would probably face scrutiny at FAC, with suggestions the nominator not miss the opportunity presented by a quote box to highlight text more likely to be read by the reader than were it to be buried in a paragraph somewhere.-- an alternative to images (talk) 04:32, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
I highly support Brianboulton's and Wehwalt's position above. Briefly, we should
  1. Reduce the text-size in block quotes to about 90%.
  2. Change the documentation for Quote box to reflect it's use as illustrative text – similar to how images are used.
  3. Deprecate the use of Cquote; it should be replaced with either Quote or Quotebox, depending on use.
LK (talk) 23:35, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

It appears to me that Brianboulton's points are primarily made just to justify keeping the way he sensationalized bits of stuff in the Thorpe affair article, one that SMcCandlish uses to illustrate the main problem with these fancy boxes: they give the editor a soapbox to display a POV. In this case, it does not look like they "serve to illustrate points to the reader, selected by savvy writers." Dicklyon (talk) 15:10, 28 August 2016 (UTC)

  • Your judgement on that point is as ill-advised as your sub-standard edits to the article. Perhaps if you are unable to comment without pretending to read someone's mind, it would be best not to comment at all. - SchroCat (talk) 17:16, 28 August 2016 (UTC)

Spacing amendment for numbers[edit]

I would like to suggest a slight amendment to Wikipedia spacing. In the event that a reference follows a number, that a space or a comma (comma for main article, space for side info box where nothing follows e.g. membership figures) should be used to show the number and the reference number are not one and the same. It can be easy for people to become confused, especially people with reading difficulties such as dyslexia and this seems a small and simple change that can add clarity and help avoid confusion. -- (preceding by User:Helper201 at 4:21, 21 August 2016‎, restored from page rollback)

I'm not sure I exactly follow. Could you give an example? --Trovatore (talk) 20:16, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
It sounds like she's saying we should not have, say in an infobox, "Population: 187[8]" (no space after the number 187) but rather "Population:187 [8]" (space after the number 187).
We can do this by hand now and people probably do, but since we do proscribe a space before a ref generally, it might be that we need to say "but not here!" somewhere. I would hope not though. Herostratus (talk) 20:46, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
Ah, I see. I guess I don't have much to add (but will anyway). Right, it seems perfectly reasonable to add a space in that situation, but I prefer not to clutter up the MoS with a million commonsense exceptions for unusual cases. The MoS says it's a guideline that allows for occasional exceptions. If there's evidence that people are being overly rigid about the no-space rule, then I suppose we might have to add an exception. --Trovatore (talk) 21:53, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
IF we agree that's a common-sense exception, we will in fact need to have a rule about it, otherwise people will remove that space on the strength of the general no-space rule (proof: it is happening today, ergo not everyone agrees that having the space there is obvious common sense). The rule need not be in the main MOS page, just in WP:MOSNUM where all the other nit-picks about numbers are. FWIW, I agree we should have this spacing exception, as long as the ref or other superscripted number is directly contiguous with a preceding numeral or other numerical construction (e.g. a formula), though not with numbers spelled out, like "seven".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:34, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
This is probably worst after a superscript: Area of a circle is πr2[1] (although I guess this particular example would be set as math) Kendall-K1 (talk) 01:51, 22 August 2016 (UTC)
  • For everyday numbers in normal text, no -- the superscripting and brackets make it clear what's going on, and even if a new user is momentarily confused, once you've read even just one article you'll get the hang of it and never be confused again. Math is a different matter, and as already noted that would be typeset anyway -- we could say something like "In the case of mathematical formulas, a space may be added where confusion [etc etc etc]". And to the extent anything like this is done, it should be a {{thinsp}}, not a regular space i.e. the first of the following, not the second
πr2[1] (thinsp)
πr2 [1] (regular space)
(Yes, there's a difference, and yes it matters.) EEng 02:36, 22 August 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b c Tom Lehrer's book of math

Hello everyone. Thank you for your responses. I didn't have ideas about aspects such as mathematical equations, so I'm glad this discussion has been able to develop further. The initial aspect that brought me to this was number information in the info box on the right hand side of the page, where you would have say, 'population 567[1]', rather I'd propose 'population 567 [1]'. Instead of no space between the number and the reference number where it may become confused.

This then lead me to observing in text references too, although they aren't always as applicable because sometimes the reference is placed at the end of the sentence, after the full stop, so the divide is clear and this would be unnecessary. I think for in text references a comma would be most applicable (unless as stated a full stop already divides where a sentence ends) because it would look neater than a space and there wouldn't be unnecessary gaps, e.g. 'town ABC has seen a population increase of approximately 500,[2] people per year'. Whereas a space would be used for the info box as there is less information. Also if a bracket follows the number then in this instance I don't think the change is necessary; for example 'population increased (567)[3]', would be fine. The reference could then directly follow as it could not be confused with the number.

Can't agree with a spurious comma. We would not write "...of 500, people per year." so we should not use a comma when we add a ref. Of course in this case "...of 500, people per year.[3]" would be the thing anyway. It is unusual that a reference doesn't follow a comma or fullstop.
I would have some sympathy for a special layout for maths, where a typical text would put an equation or expression on its own line.
But even then we could just as well say:
By Euclid's theorem[3]
rather than conflate the maths and the footnotes.
All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:30, 24 August 2016 (UTC).
Yes, the idea of adding a comma is a complete nonstarter. And I'll say again that the brackets, the superscripting, and the difference in color make it so no one can reasonably be confused for long. I appreciate the OP's concern about dyslexia and so on but I just don't see it. EEng 21:52, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

How about the addition of a space between a number and a reference in the info box on the right hand side? I can't see any negative aspect to this small change and I haven't seen anyone present one. I know some people may think its obvious but if it could help people and it doesn't have a negative impact I don't see any reason not to allow this.

  • I don't have a strong opinion about permitting a space or some other separator. However, if we add a special case for this, let's also suggest that the situation should simply be avoided wherever possible. Something like: "When possible, avoid placing a reference directly adjacent to a numeral, as it may confuse readers. Consider rewording the sentence, replacing the numeral with a written number, or moving the reference to a different part of the sentence." Pburka (talk) 23:34, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but for simple standalone numbers (i.e. a string of Arabic numerals, not a mathematical formula that maybe ends with a numeric constant) I just don't see how anyone can reasonably be confused. I think we're worrying over nothing, at least for the case I've described, which comes up frequently in e.g. infoboxes. EEng 03:21, 28 August 2016 (UTC)


I believe the rule relating to sandwiching on the Wikipedia:Manual of Style needs to be amended. The current rule is immediately below.

  • Avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other, and between an image and an infobox or similar.

I would like it replaced with something along the lines of the following.

  • Avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other, and between an image and an infobox or similar, except when none of the images is wider than 220px and adding the additional image is desirable because it highlights a quote that sums up the essence of the information about the page.
"For us there is no valid definition of socialism other than the abolition of the exploitation of one human being by another." - Che Guevara

This is in relation to my wish to place a 220px wide image of Che Guevara at the top left hand side of the Socialism page with a notable quote that sums up the essence and appeal of socialism: "For us there is no valid definition of socialism other than the abolition of the exploitation of one human being by another." I believe this improves the page. In my opinion this modestly sized image does not cause any aesthetic harm to the page and if anything improves the appearance, as you can judge by pasting the code used to create the image in this section onto the Socialism page just below the header and sidebar code and hitting the ‘Show preview' button. The default 220px thumbnail width allows this quote to fit well underneath it whereas anything much smaller would not look good.

You might not think it necessary to change the sandwiching rule, but you might believe this image of Che Guevara and the quote is of sufficient import to invoke the Wikipedia:Ignore all rules rule and support the use of this image/quote on this page in said manner on the grounds that doing so improves this page. If so please say so on theTalk:Socialism#Sandwiching images in lead page so a consensus can be reached that favors the addition of this image/quote on this page in this manner. Thank you for taking the time to read this comment. CodeBadger (talk) 05:50, 23 August 2016 (UTC)

  • The problem (or one of many, anyway) with this proposal is the inherent difficulty in settling on the "quote that sums up the essence of the information about the page". In the case at hand, for example, I always felt that this was the quote that best sums of socialism:
The difference between capitalism and socialism is that under capitalism man exploits man, while under socialism it's just the opposite.
EEng 06:26, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
An excellent quote I have to say. It would be up to the editors who are interested in a particular article to reach a consensus as to what is the best quote. CodeBadger (talk) 05:41, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
Gave me a chuckle. Good one.  Rules of enpagement Paine  20:09, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
  • No, we're not going to amend MOS to enable you to do something very silly and unorthodox in one – or heaven forbid, more – articles. Even good intentions can cause sandwiching and this is a very good rationale for the present catch-all wording that makes no exceptions. Sandwiching is undesirable and if that conflicts with a "desirable" idea you had in mind, then you need to think of something else. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 22:58, 23 August 2016 (UTC)
Um, that's a pretty harsh response to a new editor (500 edits) who maybe doesn't have a big-picture perspective yet. EEng 04:34, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
Doesn't seem silly to me, while if we never challenged the prevailing orthodoxy we would never have progressed from the Dark Ages. Did you paste the code into the Socialism page and hit the 'Show preview' button as suggested to see what it looks like? If so what do you think it looks like? You seem to think sandwiching is inherently bad, but why is that? So long as the image is not too big (sensibly limited to a width of 220px) the text is not sandwiched enough to cause a problem. In fact it is easier to read a page which has narrow columns rather than wide columns. It seems to me that the rule relating to sandwiching is too restrictive and needs to be amended as suggested in order to improve Wikipedia. CodeBadger (talk) 05:41, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
  • No, I don't agree that a change is needed. Sandwiching text is even less desirable in these days of very variable screen sizes on mobile devices, whose owners don't always want to view the mobile version. There's far too much sandwiching in articles. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:02, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
  • The motivating example actually seems like an attempt to add a pull quote by other means. An image that "highlights a quote that sums up the essence of the ... page" is just a pull quote masquerading as an illustration. Pull quotes are generally discouraged in main space articles. Hiding a pull quote in an image caption does not improve the article. Pburka (talk) 15:43, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Looking at the version of the article with the image added, the article's introductory text is squished to an awkward column 2 or 3 words wide. I think the style advice to avoid sandwiching is good advice. While the quote is certainly evocative, I don't think it is very helpful as a starting point for the article. While there may be instances where sandwiching is warranted, I can't imagine it would ever be appropriate for the lead sentence.--Trystan (talk) 18:51, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
    • Fully concur with Finnusertop, Trystan, and Pburka. The issue of no pull quotes on Wikipedia has been long settled. It is the longstanding policy of the Wikipedia community that Wikipedia is not a textbook. Please read Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. --Coolcaesar (talk) 20:30, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
Thank you all for your comments. I don't think it is a pull quote as this quote is not in the main article. I don't think the squeezing of the text at the top of the article is a problem so long as the image is not wider than 220px, while narrowing the text column near the top of the article makes it easier for people to get into reading it as it's easier to read narrow columns than wide columns. As for people who want to view a Wikipedia article on a small mobile they can use the mobile version of the Wikipedia article, while mobile devices now allow one to easily enlarge the non-mobile version of the article and move it around. It seems to me that if the quote sums up the essence of the article or a key point then it's ok if it leads the article. The current restriction on sandwiching seems too restrictive. We can limit the proposed sandwiching to the top of articles for one image/quote. The new rule could read as follows:
  • Avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other, and between an image and an infobox or similar, except when none of the images is wider than 220px and adding the additional image to the top left corner of the article is desirable because it highlights a quote that sums up the essence of the information about the article or a key point.
Perhaps we could add the Che image/quote to the top of the Socialism article for a week and get other people to have a look and see what they think? That would include other editors as well as our friends and relatives. It seems to me that we have nothing to lose by doing so and much to gain. CodeBadger (talk) 06:00, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
OK, look, your enthusiasm is admirable, but there's not going to be a special exception written into the rules for the very narrow situation of essential-quote-as-image-caption-at-top-of-article-opposite-infobox, and anyway there's a more fundamental problem here, which is that you're never going to get agreement on an "essential" quotation on a subject like socialism. EEng 06:29, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
  • If the quote is really essential to the article, is should be in the article text. WP:CAPTION indicates that captions should identify the subject of the image, which a quote does not do. If you feel that this quote is critical to understanding socialism, you should try to incorporate it into the text instead of an image caption. Pburka (talk) 18:44, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for your replies guys. It seems that the consensus is that my sandwiching idea sucks. Thank you Pburka for your idea about incorporating the quote into the text. Cheers. CodeBadger (talk) 08:38, 26 August 2016 (UTC)

Merger discussion[edit]

The bot archived /Archive_182#Composition_titles_advice_consolidation before it got any response. For the record, "Yes, please!" Scattering this all over the place doesn't help anyone. While at it, there might be value in separating the "whether" from the "how": there are various places and reasons to use italics, or title case, or sentence case; these reasons could be given independently from examples showing what these are and what markup creates them. LeadSongDog come howl! 19:41, 23 August 2016 (UTC)

About "MOS:NOTUSA"[edit]

(Clarify: I am talking about the paragraph linked by the MOS:NOTUSA shortcut.)

This paragraph claims: "US is more common in most other national forms of English." Is there any evidence for this? To me, as a Brit, "you-ess" sounds utterly American, and it is much more natural to call it USA. I am, of course not arguing with the situation for AmE, but the fact even that this shortcut (NOTUSA) had to be invented rather suggests that "USA" is indeed what it is called by many (at least non-American) people. Imaginatorium (talk) 19:32, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

I needed to read the paragraph of this section of the talk page to find out what it was talking about. When I simply read the heading, I thought the subject was whether WP:NOTUSA should re-direct to WP:WORLDVIEW because I thought it meant don't treat Wikipedia like it's a primary American encyclopedia, not don't use the USA abbreviation. Georgia guy (talk) 19:43, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

Imaginatorium: Lots of Americans use "USA" also. But mostly in relatively informal contexts — patriotic songs, sporting events, things of that nature. The "US" abbreviation better fits the formal tone of an encyclopedia. --Trovatore (talk) 20:00, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for comments: I just clarified above (I hope). My point is that to me, it's the other way round: "US" is an American informality, whereas the full name of the country is "United States of America", abbreviated USA, and distinguished from various other sets of united states. I can see an argument that the Americans want it to be referred to without the 'A', and people should be able to decide their own names, but I think this should be clarified, or backed up by some evidence (e.g. a British style guide). Imaginatorium (talk) 04:50, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree with Imaginatorium; there's nothing "informal" about the use of "USA" or "U.S.A." outside the United States. As just two examples, it's the standard abbreviation in the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families and World Spider Catalog, which is why you'll find this form all over Wikipedia in lists of plant and spider species. The MOS guidance on this subject is not neutral with regard to ENGVAR, as it should be. Peter coxhead (talk) 05:32, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
"US" is far preferable; "USA" is starting to sound distinctly old-fashioned ("USA Today"). Tony (talk) 06:47, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
"United States" is the standard form in Australia, required by our style guides. Hawkeye7 (talk) 06:32, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
Which "styleguides" are those? If you're referring what is disparagingly known as the "Snook Book", the federal govt thing, it's contemptible. Tony (talk) 06:47, 26 August 2016 (UTC)
In the past, I think "the US" would have been considered an informal shortened form of "the USA", but I'll have to agree with Tony that "the USA" is now becoming old-fashioned. As an American, what strikes me as odd is the lack of periods/full-stops after "U" and "S" [and "A"]. We always write, "the U.S." or "the U.S.A."  – Corinne (talk) 18:14, 28 August 2016 (UTC)
That's a good example of the influence of ENGVAR on what seems old-fashioned. The full stops in "U.S.A." are very old-fashioned to me, being British, whereas "USA" merely seems more formal than "US". I'm in favour of allowing all four forms, so long as there is consistency within an article. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:17, 28 August 2016 (UTC)


Filpro, what does the the IE in the new shortcut MOS:IE stand for? EEng 06:03, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

I was planning on it for being used for "Indian English" because of User:Filpro/script/IE. Would this shortcut be okay to use? Filpro (talk) 06:06, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
Without commenting on whether the shortcut itself is okay, I wouldn't advertise it in the MoS as it's not terribly intuitive. Graham (talk) 06:10, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
Now removed from MoS. Filpro (talk) 06:14, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
Bill Gates thanks you. EEng 06:21, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

Be kind to those blind[edit]

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Do not use capitals for emphasis Is woefully incomplete in my opinion. It only reflects the aesthetic effect of italic text opposed to the functional effect intended by emphasis. As of this posting, the entire section currently reads as follows:

Do not use capitals for emphasis

Use italics, not capitals, to denote emphasis.

Incorrect: It is not only a LITTLE learning that is dangerous.
Correct: It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.

I propose modifying the section to mention the functional effect of italic emphasis, with included links, as follows:

Do not use capitals for emphasis
For more details on this topic, see MOS:EMPHASIS.

Instead of capitals, use italics for emphasis, generated by the <em>...</em> element in HTML (see HTML in wikitext) or template {{em|...}} in wiki markup (see template's documentation).

Incorrect: It is not only a LITTLE learning that is dangerous.
Correct: It is not only a little learning that is dangerous.

Thank you for considering these changes.--John Cline (talk) 22:51, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

John is right to bring attention to the difference between <i>...</i> and <em>...</em>. It's not just an issue for screen readers, either. There's a fuller exposition of why it's a good idea to properly mark up text that has more meaning than just presentation at:
for those interested. --RexxS (talk) 23:38, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
User:Graham87 may wish to comment.—Wavelength (talk) 23:38, 27 August 2016 (UTC)

In ranges that might otherwise be expressed with to or through[edit]

"The en dash in a range is always unspaced, except when at least one endpoint of the range includes at least one space." - erm, why?! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Turkeyphant (talkcontribs) 12:34, 28 August 2016 (UTC)