Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 47

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Superscripts and line spacing

The following in my user monobook.css fixes the problem of extra line space for me, in Safari. Michael Z. 2006-02-23 15:42 Z

/* keep superscript references from breaking the line-spacing */
#bodyContent sup {
    font-size: smaller;
    vertical-align: baseline;
    position: relative;
    bottom: 0.5em;
Thanks Michael Z. -- that works a treat on my Mac! -- Puffball 17:02, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I just updated the selector to #bodyContent sup, which will restrict the effect to the page body. This probably isn't necessary, but it's probably good practice to just mess with the content and not the Wikipedia interface. Michael Z. 2006-02-23 17:57 Z
Have taken your tip and followed suit. Have no idea what I'm doing; HTML is all Greek to me. Still, nothing seems to have crashed yet. Is there somewhere you could post this tip for other Safari users? Safari is my favoured browser for WP because I like the way it renders text in edit boxes. I find Firefox hard to read in this respect. Thanks again. -- Puffball 22:50, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
I outlined the fix at user:Mzajac/monobook.css/Superscript fix, and linked to it from Wikipedia:Browser notes#Mac OS X. Michael Z. 2006-02-24 00:41 Z


It is quite common to have arguments in the text of a page. Examples include parapsychology and solipsism, both of which have extensive debates in their article text. Is there a guideline for how to deal with this kind of "for and against" text, and where the line is between encyclopedic documentation of lack of consensus and message board? I've been pushing (in the articles that I see this happen to) to get each objection or argument properly cited, and "responses" limited to a sentence or two with another citation. Even that's a hard standard to get people to meet, though. If I could point them to a style guideline that clarifies Wikipedia's position, that would really help. -Harmil 21:07, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

  • Among others, WP:V. If something's not attributed to a reliable source, feel free to remove it (and preferably paste it into talk for discussion). Christopher Parham (talk) 01:30, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Distinguishing currencies

Though it may be obvious in the context of articles, news articles and other such items could really benefit from a universal way to distinguish between the many currencies that use the $ dollar sign. I'm proposing templates.. {{USD}} would display US   $ before an item and the $ sign links to United States dollar.
Example: US   $8,060,000
Another commonly used unit is the australian dollar.. {{AUD}}
Example: AU   $5,000
There is a list of currencies that use the $ dollar sign in this article.. Canadian dollars are also commonly used. drumguy8800 - speak? 06:59, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

You know, I don't know why the AU/US and the $ are overlapping.. it works fine in the preview. If this is considered, someone who can mess with the coding can look into it..? drumguy8800 - speak? 07:05, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Sorry to say it, but I think this is a horrible idea. Templates are horrible things, and templates to compensate for bad writing are particularly horrible. Much better to write the article properly in the first place and prevent confusion that way. Markyour words 21:55, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
What's wrong with: If it's ambiguous, specify US$ or use the ISO code (USD). PizzaMargherita 23:18, 25 February 2006 (UTC)

Punctuating quoted passages: why British usage exclusively?

When punctuating quoted passages, include the mark of punctuation inside the quotation marks only if the sense of the mark of punctuation is part of the quotation. This is the style used in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, for example.

I don't get it. With respect to U. S. versus British usage, everywhere else, we say that usage should follows either the nationality of the subject, or whichever convention was established when the article was started.

Why should we prescribe British punctuation style for an article that otherwise follows U. S. usage? Dpbsmith (talk) 19:50, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

...but obviously that maybe must roughly depend usually on the exact approximate order of the rules. PizzaMargherita 21:00, 1 March 2006 (UTC)
It's somewhat misleading to call it "British punctuation" as it's used by everyone but the Americans. There are good reasons to favour what is better referred to as "international punctuation". Firstly, it's logical: punctuation marks go where they belong. Secondly, it's unambiguous: with the American style you might not be able to determine whether the punctuation was part of the quote or not. A third reason specific to Wikipedia is that this topic has been done to death and the general consensus it to stick with logical punctuation. Jimp 00:21, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
The British system is more logical, but aesthetically gross. Quotes look better outside commas and periods, which I guess is why North Americans put them there. Felicity4711 03:22, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
It's gross if you are not used to it. Also I thought that (most) Americans put punctuation inside quotes, for example a question mark even if it's not part of the quotation, but it's part of an interrogative sentence that ends with a quotation. Anyway, I've changed to a more neutral wording, which is widely accepted, as you can see in the archives. I've also neatened up a bit, removing a poor example and removing a reference that is way too much for the scope of the MoS. Hopefully this is the last time we have to discuss this. PizzaMargherita 07:38, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
In AmE commas and periods precede closing quotation marks. Some punctuation examples:
  • Did John really say "I quit"?
  • Mary saw the flames and shouted, "Fire!"
  • Susan sang the song "Tommorow." —Wayward Talk 07:58, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, and to answer the original question, because we reached a consensus that "logical" quotations are better. Check the archives. PizzaMargherita 07:44, 3 March 2006 (UTC)
As PizzaMargherita indicates grossness is in the eye of the beholder. It all depends on what you're used to. To me the US style looks ugly. The arguement from æsthetics sufferes from the fact that we've all got different taste. Jimp 07:13, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
An aside—is "arguement" misspelt? Or is "argument" a US spelling? Just curious. --TreyHarris 03:33, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Chambers Dictionary, 9th ed., argument. So, apparently, a misspelling. —Wayward Talk 03:48, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Getting in here a little late. Quoted passages should have the same punctuation as in the original passage, with quotes outside everything, to indicate what exactly is being quoted. Is this not clear? User talk:Wayward says punctuation precedes quotes, but in his first example it doesn't -- though it's a correct example of how U.S. typography is the same as British.


"Did he really say that?" is the line Harry utters as Barbara enters the scene in "A Very Funny Play" by A. Playwright. (Because there's a question mark in the play's text.)
Is it true that Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe"?
(Because the quote certainly didn't contain a question mark; why put it inside the quote? Some might include a period too.)
Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death!" when he faced execution for treason.
(His declaration could have ended with a period, which would be omitted in a fragmentary quote--but when the sentence is hanging, the exclamation point seems apt.)

This would be correct anywhere, I thought. Some U.S. publishing conventions seem incorrect to UK readers. But our practice of putting punctuation inside quotation marks in dialog is not the same as placing punctuation in quoted printed matter. The convention is that quotes go outside everything from the source text. Fragmented conversational quotes are the only time one punctuation mark, the comma, goes before the closing quote mark. Very few Wikipedia articles are going to contain quoted speech that was never printed, I would think.

Quoted text rarely ends in a comma, or no punctuation (a line of poetry, perhaps), so that weird Americanism should come up not at all.

Also, "just adopt the U.K. convention, world, it's more logical" is the one tiresome thing about the style guide. There's 200 million more potential readers that are used to U.S. conventions (or, punnily, "US" conventions). Besides, conventions are arbitary; the most common denominator makes as much sense as anything. It's bullyish, but just as true as "our way is really rather better!" (or, if you prefer, "really rather better"! -- tell me that looks more logical.)

(Really no offense intended. Just can't resist some punctuation banter is all. DavidH 05:29, 13 March 2006 (UTC))

Sorry for the late response. As I said in my reply above, commas and periods precede closing quotation marks in American-style punctuation. Other marks adhere to British style.
Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., 6.8: Periods and commas. Periods and commas precede closing quotation marks, whether double or single. This is a traditional style, in use well before the first edition of this manual (1906). As nicely expressed in William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White's Elements of Style, "Typographical usage dictates that the comma be inside the [quotation] marks, though logically it often seems not to belong there." The same goes for the period. (An apostrophe at the end of a word should never be confused with a closing single quotation mark; punctuation always follows the apostrophe.) In the kind of textual studies where retaining the original placement of a comma in relation to closing quotation marks is essential to the author's argument and scholarly integrity, the alternative system described in 6.10 could be used, or rephrasing might avoid the problem.
Ibid., 6.9: Colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation points. Unlike periods and commas, these all follow closing quotation marks unless a question mark or an exclamation point belongs within the quoted matter. (This rule applies the logic absent in 6.8.)
Ibid., 6.10: Alternative system. According to what is sometimes called the British style (set forth in The Oxford Guide to Style [the successor to Hart's Rules]), a style also followed in other English-speaking countries, only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. This system, which requires extreme authorial precision and occasional decisions by the editor or typesetter, works best with single quotation marks.
MLA Style Manual. 2nd ed., 3.9.7: Punctuation with Quotations. By convention, commas and periods go inside the closing quotation marks, but a parenthetical reference should intervene between the quotation and the required punctuation . . . All other punctuation marks—such as semicolons, colons, question marks, and exclamation points—go outside a closing quotation mark, except when they are part of the quoted material. —Wayward Talk 04:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Articles with American subjects should be written in the American style, and articles with non-American subjects should be written in the British style. Problem solved.—thegreentrilby 03:12, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

This is not correct. The new rule says that all articles should follow the logical quotation style. PizzaMargherita 08:47, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

We've been over this a million times already. British usage = world usage. Even American style guides are finally starting to catch on to logical quoting. Wikipedia uses logical quoting. Let's move on. Kaldari 03:18, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I concur with thegreentrilby's summary of the rough consensus that has been arrived at through numerous debates. Actually, Kaldari has slightly misstated the situation; most American style guides prefer the traditional American style. For example, the Bluebook, which is used by nearly all American lawyers, judges, and law professors, states at Rule 5.1(b): "Always place commas and periods inside the quotation marks; place other punctuation marks inside the quotation marks only if they are part of the matter quoted." --Coolcaesar 04:43, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm an American convert to "logical quoting". I've been using the style for over ten years now, except when I've been forced to use the traditional style because I'm writing for publications that have adopted another style. It's sensible and easy to understand, and it has none of the gotchas of the traditional style. It can be stated extremely simply: "put punctuation belonging to the quote inside the quotation marks; any other punctuation goes outside". I think that the rationale for using American spelling in American articles doesn't really apply to quoting, because English spelling is largely empirical; logical quoting, on the other hand, is based on very simple rules. (If there were a widely-understood variant of English orthography that used purely phonetic spelling, I'd be in favor of Wikipedia using that consistently, too. But there isn't, so using phonetic spelling would be a barrier to readability. No such barrier exists here—people used to traditional American quoting rules can easily adapt to logical quoting.) --TreyHarris 08:42, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Aaargh! The biggest benefit of the so-called American style is that it ends bickering about whether a period (or sometimed even a comma) belongs to the quoted passage, which can be no smal blessing.
The biggest drawback of it is that it is, in my experience, probably only used by Americans with a college education. Even then, I've worked with U.S. journalists who were unfamiliar with it. ProhibitOnions 11:40, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I think the Brits prefer the "logical quotes" style because they love arguing—in this case, arguing over whether a mark of punctuation was part of the original quote or not. ::Ducks::—thegreentrilby 04:19, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Speaking as an American who was taught to use the American style, the British style makes much more sense and is used pretty much everywhere else. I see no reason for American bizzarness to apply to wikipedia. JoshuaZ 04:22, 18 March 2006 (UTC)
Seconded. --maru (talk) contribs 04:39, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Jr., Sr., and other suffixes

It has recently come to my attention that some articles use a comma between a person's name and suffix and others do not. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. and William Strunk Jr. I (nor a few other people who have discussed the issue with me) have not found any guideline on Wikipedia, but I have noticed that, while commas historically have often been used, it seems that the pedulum is swinging the other way again.

Logically, they should not be used, since even though, for example, there are three MLKs, they are three people. Therefore, following comma rules, Jr./Sr. is much more restrictive (no commas) than non-restictive (commas) becuase it's determining the person. Additionally, many people forget that, when a comma is used, a comma must follow: [Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote "I Have a Dream."] is incorect, while [Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote "I Have a Dream."] is better, since it correctly uses commas.

Furthermore, both the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk and White's Elements of Style (and probably others, but I just checked these two becuase of issues of time and access) support not using commas.

Therefore, I would like to propose that a style guideline be created stating not use commas with suffixes based on the support from major/popular manuals of style and on the appeal of logic/comma rules). //MrD9 00:23, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Chicago (FAQ, since I can't find it or Elements on Google Print)

I second your proposal. It's good to have consistancy and the non-use of commas seem more logical. Jimp 01:35, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Aren't Jr, Sr, Dr, Mr, Mrs, St, Sts, and other such personal abbreviations which include the first and last letters of the expanded word supposed to be written without a period (.)? Michael Z. 2006-03-02 02:05 Z

Ugh, British English... I totally forgot about this (btw, the "ugh" is not due to British English, it's due to my lack of remembering this difference between Britsh/US usage). I do not know what to say, since I havent seen any WP (or other) names ever written without the period in Jr/Sr, but that's because I'm from the US and chance has it I haven't stumbled across any. There are probably others who are better aware of this issue (and the whole Brit/Amer English policies in general) who could better answer, but my logical guess would be that the period could be used in names that tie with Britsh English-speaking countries, while the opposite with the US? Regardless, though, I still think we have to standardize the comma usage (rather, a lack of comma usage), and hoepfulyl someone can comment on the period/nonperiod issue with a good solution. //MrD9 02:15, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree - we have no right or need to alter people's names. Use what they used. For many that will be with a comma. Like "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."[1]. There is no need to impose a false consistency. Rmhermen 03:00, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I seriously doubt that most articles are written by the people they are about. Therefore, the article titles are most likely commaed or not based on the author's preferences, and to people unaware of the style issues regarding them, they will most likely use a comma becuase it is what has been used up until recent years. While still used widely today, like I said, the lack of a comma is growing and becoming more preferable due to the logic behind it. //MrD9 00:01, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. only lack a period in British punctuation. To North American readers, it looks wrong. Felicity4711 03:26, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

Isn't the comma or lack thereof part of the person's name? My birth certificate includes it, and when I use my full birth name, I include it. If someone else doesn't use the comma, then we shouldn't either. Standardizing would seem to me to be like standardizing on hyphenation or spacing within a name. We don't standardize all Vandebergs, Van de Bergs, and VandeBergs, why would we standardize this? --TreyHarris 03:05, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

It's not, though. It's most likely there due to the gramatically illogical use of it by most people in the past. Your last name is still your last name; your first, your first; your middle, your middle; and your suffix, if you have one, your suffix. The last names you mentioned are official (or are used as if they were official, in some cases). They are their last names. But junior/senior are suffixes, and it depends on the writer's style to determine the punctuation with it. For example, the U.S. government varies between use of "Martin Luther King Jr." and "Martin Luther King, Jr." when talking about the national holiday, his national memorials, documents, and various other topics (I googled it before). And in a regular enecylopedia, the usage would be standardized, so why should it not be standardized here (preferably without the comma, as it is becoming more preferred, is logical, and looks better). //MrD9 03:43, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
Birth certificates are also issued by many different agencies in many different places, so by their very nature they are going to be (and are) inconsistent, since people in different places, even if there are standardized rules in one office, are going to create different standard styles for their documents (or if there are no standards, then there's even less consistency. //MrD9 03:46, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't believe that without a comma is more logical, nor that suffixes are not part of a legal name. Whatever is on the certificate is the name. Rmhermen 00:25, 4 March 2006 (UTC)
Nonsense. In the United States, typopgraphy and orthography and even spelling on some birth certificate has little or nothing to do with it. What you use is what matters, and even then, the presence or absence of a comma has no legal significance and no real bearing on whether or not we include it here. Gene Nygaard 06:42, 12 March 2006 (UTC)
This is an encyclopedia. There are plenty of people indexed by names other than their birth names. Certainly a suffix can be (and almost always is) part of a legal name; my interpretation of MrD9's point is that people (generally) have a first, middle, and last name (of course there can be multiple or no middle name – and, frankly, I can only speak for most of the United States), and possibly a suffix. The former president's birth certificate may list "James Earl Carter, Jr.", but it is accurate to say that his first name is James, his middle name is Earl, his last name is Carter, and his suffix is Jr. Wikipedia could choose to index names as <first> <middle> <last> <suffix> (thus indexing the president as "James Earl Carter Jr."). We could also index him as Carter, James Earl, Jr. (though I definitely vote for the former). The point is that this question is about indexing not what's on their birth certificate. Needless to say, I third (or whatever we're at) the nomination for such a style guideline. (If some special note as to how their birth certificate appears is necessary, it can always be added; it needn't be in the page title.) How does this process work, anyway? Something tells me that it's not as simple as three people agreeing and then voilà, it's in. Alan smithee 07:59, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

BTW there is a convention on the question at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people)#Senior and junior. -- User:Docu

Honorary titles

This might be and probably is covered somewhere, but does the MoS say to bold honorary titles like Sir and Dame? Examples: Roger Moore, Judi Dench, Anthony Hopkins. One of them is currently bolded, the other two aren't. What's the proper way here? K1Bond007 05:28, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Bolded. (I'm not sure it's written down anywhere, but it's the way it's always done.) Proteus (Talk) 11:14, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

External links question

For external links, should the entire line be linked (e.g., "The Rochdale article from the OSCA website" or "The Rochdale article from the OSCA website")? Is either one correct or incorrect? -Danspalding 18:26, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

All-caps in articles about publications, etc. that use all caps

Well, what about cases like BYTE magazine? I don't believe there's any dispute over the way in which the magazine presented its own title, which to the best of my recollection was always in all-caps. I don't see anything that addresses this issue specifically. It seems to me that the proper thing to do is to preserve information by presenting the publication title in the way in which the publication presented it, but I'm not a MoS maven. Dpbsmith (talk) 21:07, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (trademarks). Nohat 23:37, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Capital letters (Commonwealth... any suggestions?)

Just a small point about the otherwise accurate section on capital letters: in the article there is a distinction made between American English and Commonwealth English, are we forgetting other anglophone countries who do not form part of the Commonwealth (ie. Ireland, who also use Commonwealth linguistic rules but aren't a member, despite being a former British colony). I would edit this entry but I can't think of a term to replace 'Commonwealth' (the Commonwealth and Ireland, etc.?) Any suggestions?

What about Mozambique? The official language there is Portuguese. I propose "Commonwealth and Ireland, except Mozambique".
(Yes, I am being sarcastic.) PizzaMargherita 12:53, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
Just stick a weasel word in there somewhere, that should keep everyone happy. ;-) Martin 12:57, 9 March 2006 (UTC)
I like your idea even better actually: "Commonwealth English, or something like that". PizzaMargherita 13:46, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the language in Ireland still falls under Commonwealth English, despite its political affiliations. This term should be used carefully, because CE usually includes Canadian English, which has many differences from British English. Michael Z. 2006-03-12 00:53 Z

Format for school athletic programs?

Florida Gators or Blue Devils (Duke University)? 

I note these are inconsistent. Is there any consensus on this? I'm working on the University of Montana -Missoula and Grizzly athletics. I can't find this in any style manuals, but maybe I'm looking in the wrong place?

I would personally favor Grizzlies (University of Montana - Missoula), to avoid confusion with the real bears who live in the Montana woods that you might get with Montana Grizzlies. Probably with a reference from Griz. Other ideas? CGMullin 20:30, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

"See also"

It's trivial, but what's the recommended way to say

  • But so-and-so is complicated by the influence of foobar. See also foobar.

Should the see also be in italics? In parentheses? Both? Should it have a colon

or be written out like a sentence

or be part of the sentence it references

or what? — Omegatron 07:08, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Why not simply linking foobar:

  • But so-and-so is complicated by the influence of foobar.

--Dforest 07:30, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

In some cases, sure. That's not what I'm asking though. It's common to need to say "see also some other article". (Or maybe not?) — Omegatron 03:51, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Well certainly the majority of cross references are simply linked within the text. I guess the question is why do you need to link as a "see also"? One of the reasons why this might be done is for a topic that does not lend itself to being described in the text. I realize your question was about the style of the "see also" links, but the example you gave didn't seem to require one. It's a good question; sorry if that's not much help. Dforest 04:50, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I think there are cases where it is useful. I don't think those are common enough to warrant a whole lot of instruction creep about it. Consistency within an article, of course—but if you have more than one or two of them, some or all of them should likely be changed to just links, to some "main article" tags under the section headers, or to just a listing in the "See also" section at the bottom of the page.
So I'll just throw out some of my thoughts, because that's really what you seem to be looking for, not necessarily a specific rule to add to the manual. I like italic See also and upright link, no colon. But not using italics is okay with me, and it seems that Wikipedia style is not to use them in some other places where I would use them. No preference on parentheses, or maybe in some situations I'd like one and in other situations the other. Maybe a parenthetical part of a sentence if it really fits in the middle of a paragraph somewhere, but a separate sentence with or without parentheses if it is stuck at the end of a paragraph? But that latter one is more likely to just belong in the "See also" section, isn't it? Gene Nygaard 07:01, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

There's also a problem with subscripts

An earlier comment on this page had a fix for superscripts increasing line spacing. The problem also occurs for subscripts, which are used in pages containing chemical formulae, e.g. Aniline. Alan Pascoe 16:46, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

To whatever extent it is a problem (and I think that whole issue is overblown), the single character option isn't available as it is when you want ² or ³ (and a few other, more difficult to find and use and some less likely to show up in everyone's browser).
Furthermore, unlike the cases such as talking about land area or wing area or volume or whatever gives you a clue as to what the number is, so size is less of a problem, reducing size in subscripts of chemical formulas will be much more likely to cause reading difficulty and misreading of the numbers, since there is a much wider range of possibilities. Gene Nygaard 17:13, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, there's no universal solution. As you say, some will be happy with the status quo, whereas others will want a fix. Even these will have different browsers, monitors, and standards of eyesight, so the solution has to be tailored to the individual. Alan Pascoe 21:01, 11 March 2006 (UTC)
I've found that the fix referred to earlier also works with subscripts. Just change the selector from sup to sub, and put a negative sign in front of the value for the bottom property. This, like the fix for superscripts, does not decrease the size of the font. Alan Pascoe 17:14, 12 March 2006 (UTC)