Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 53

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Blank lines

I'm always irritated by unnecessary blank lines, for example, blank lines that appear when using more than one blank line to separate paragraphs. This usually happens between sections. The result is almost always ugly, so I always change it to a single blank line. Should there be something in the MoS advising against unnecessary whitespace? (Frankly, I never liked how newer MediaWiki software would insert extra blank lines, and liked it much better when an explicit <br/> was needed. But I'm guessing that change was made for good.) - furrykef (Talk at me) 22:27, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

OK, am I the only one who cares about this? A very large proportion of my edits lately are fixing unnecessary blank lines. I'd guess that more than 90% of the time that I find extra blank lines, they're just ugly and intrusive. - furrykef (Talk at me) 05:21, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
No, you're not the only one, I fully agree with you. I think the software should automatically collapse any string of 3 or more newlines to 2 newlines. Pending that, we need a bot programmer. Shinobu 12:30, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm still sick of removing these blank lines... anybody else care to comment? - furrykef (Talk at me) 14:33, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
I thought i was alone in removing them. Glad for the encouragement.
WP:AWB (popular bot software) automatically removes excess blanks, so all is not lost! Martin 14:38, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

"I think the software should automatically collapse any string of 3 or more newlines to 2 newlines."

It did when I first edited here. I don't know why that was turned off. — Omegatron 17:58, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

I mostly agree, although I don't like bots making layout decisions. I always add double blank lines above stub notices at the bottom, because they need visual separation, but tend to merge with the last line of article text—adding a 2em margin to the stub notices with CSS would be an improvement. I also find that some tables need an extra line space above or below, so that they are not cramped up against article text.

I've also seen editors use several blank lines in a row as a crude attempt to control layout around images, but I think it's always a bad idea. Michael Z. 2006-10-23 19:28 Z

Capital letters: Institutions

LemonJuice recently added a paragraph to the Institutions section stating this: “Nevertheless, if the context clearly identifies the term as a specific institution, it may be acceptable to capitalize the first letter in references subsequent to the first.”

I have reverted that change for three reasons:

  1. It seems to negate the point of the guideline, which is to say that generic institution terms such as university and hospital should not be capitalized by themselves.
  2. Whether the word is capitalized has nothing to do with whether it’s the first reference.
  3. It’s vague. If the addendum is going to stay, it needs to have some examples that allow editors to distinguish when it’s OK to capitalize generic terms and when it’s not.

--Rob Kennedy 03:51, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Requested moves of subtopics

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was Moved, there were a few others too, found in the list of submanuals. —Centrxtalk • 20:42, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Rationale: Polar Deluge performed a mass move of all “Wikipedia:Manual of Style (subtopic)” pages to “Wikipedia:Manual of Style/(subtopic)” without any consultation. The new names are problematic because (a) they are subpages, which are discouraged on Wikipedia, except for certain specific uses detailed in Wikipedia:Subpages and (b) this renaming broke links to the talk pages archives on several pages. I reverted the moves in all the cases I could, with the four cases above being the ones I could not fix. (This was a mistake on my part; I realized after I was partway through the reversion that perhaps I should simply apply the move template to all of the pages, since there's a clear dispute.) I will shortly be creating a discussion topic on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. — DLJessup (talk) 04:15, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


  • Support per above. There's no need to make them subpages with the {{style}} template, and as stated by DLJ, the subpages created did not fall under one of the allowed uses for creating a subpage. — ዮም | (Yom) | TalkcontribsEthiopia 04:34, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support, what on earth was someone thinking? --Dhartung | Talk 06:59, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support for all the reasons we use parenthesis in mainspace.—Scott5114 21:03, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support for obvious reasons. --Siva1979Talk to me 20:36, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support per above. EVula 20:57, 20 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. --Coolcaesar 20:26, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support it makes the most sense the original way. -- tariqabjotu (joturner) 03:52, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Support Why are we even discussing this? Let me move them, please!!! — D. Wo. 02:59, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

'Wikipedia:Manual of Style (tables)'

04:42, 19 July 2006 (UTC)


I created a subpage on tables, found here. I would like it to become part of the "Manual of Style," though, so I would appreciate any feedback.



Without objection.--HQCentral 23:30, 21 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't object to it, but it seems too long and complicated. Don't over-legislate, people will be more likely to just Ignore all rules than to follow the guide if they can't find the relevant recommendation. Keep each section short, each with a few bullet points of one or two sentences. Make the section titles more descriptive so that a person coming to the guide can easily get to the section that they want (and not be confused by the name "Stub" which has another meaning on Wikipedia). Most people are going will want a recommendation on a specific style issue they are dealing with, and real examples are helpful examples (use wiki tables). See, for example, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers): A reader wanting to know about percentages finds in the table of contents a section titled "Percentages" and in that section two bullet points, each short. A reader wanting to know what the standard or recommended style is for birth dates, so they find in the TOC a section "Dates of birth and death", and they find several examples. —Centrxtalk • 03:39, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
Way too long - we already have How to pages for tables. We don't need to duplicate those here. Rmhermen 04:05, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
The help page covers how to write commands for tables. I wrote on styling tables. Centrix, I could add some examples, but I would have to upload them as pictures from MS Word because I possess only a basic familiarity with HTML. Styling tables is one of the most complicated things a writer can do. There are many more things to think about than when styling lists or links. I see what you mean about the "Stub" subheading, but the other subheadings seem pretty self explanatory. Most of the entry can't be compressed because it contains too much information. I can shorten it slightly, but too much of that would make it choppy and omit important information. I understand that large articles tend to frighten and confuse readers, but some subjects simply cannot be explained quickly.--HQCentral 04:37, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't think what you are trying to do is what our Manual of Style does. "There are many more things to think about than when styling lists or links." That isn't what the MOS is about. Some of your proposed procedures are not followed on Wikipedia, others are not worth mentioning. I believe I could easily cut out half the text. Rmhermen 05:05, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
Try listing this at the Wikipedia:Village Pump. It cannot be an approved policy without a lot more eyeballs and comments. Rmhermen 05:08, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
I would recommend placing them elsewhere, but mainly to reduce the size and complexity of the page. Most people find tables a special problem, and they should have a place of their own. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Alphabetical order

I can't track down guidance on listing people by surname, forename. I can find it on categorising, but not listing. Any help? Do we not have a style guide for lists beyond the proposed and probably needing resurrecting Wikipedia:Manual of Style/(lists of works)? Hiding Talk 19:33, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Most list are alphabetized as last name, first name but are presented as first name last name. Rmhermen 23:33, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
And many are alphabetized wrong. I move them when I see them. DGG 08:25, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Article titles

The section on Article titles is not actually about article titles, but the content and formatting of the initial text of the article. In fact, it doesn't mention article title conventions at all... -Harmil 20:43, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

"born" and "died" vs. "b." and "d."

I've noticed that in older individual year pages (basically pre-20th and 21st century), there seems to be a preference for using "born" when giving the birth year in the list of people who died, and "died" in the list of people who were born (as opposed to "b." and "d."), which seems to conform with the current style guide. But most of the more current years use "b." and "d." Is there a stated exception for this somewhere, or should they be changed? Elizabeyth 20:23, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Yes. Conformity is the aim of MoS.--BlaiseMuhaddib 08:50, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

See also sections

I noticed that there isn't really a description for the see also section which is in my opinion typically massively under-utilised. It irks me when I have to scroll through an article to find links to where I actually want to get, instead I would like to use the see also section but I notice that editors seem to consider links in the text of much greater priority. Is there any discussion or guideline on this? MLA 06:37, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, the long-standing consensus at WP:FAC has been that "see also" sections are signs of weak writing, and are to be avoided in favor of discussing the relevant term in the text. Kirill Lokshin 11:01, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll just have to live with it then. With user hat rather than editor hat on, it's very frustrating. MLA 14:03, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I believe that the word "also" is being taken as "in addition to the links in the article" rather than "in addition to this article". Perhaps it should be retitled "See" - (on no!). Rich Farmbrough 09:20 6 August 2006 (GMT).

JA: WP:FAC aside, as these sorts of standards are hopefully not cast in stone, yet, many editors find that See Also sections can form a useful Synopsis of the subject, and thus see no harm, and indeed some benefit, in repeating the more important topics in one place. A well-organized See Also section is also quite useful in long-term article development, for coordinating the articles in a group of related articles. When a subject matter eventually stabilizes over the long haul, people who like templates can turn parts of the See Also into a template. Jon Awbrey 16:44, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Embedded lists

There is a page called Wikipedia:Embedded list which is not policy or guideline (at least it is not labeled as either.) Never-the-less, it is sometimes referenced as if it were a guidleine. I have proposed an ammendment to this pseudo-guideline at Wikipedia_talk:Embedded_list. Please see that page if you wish to participate in the discussion about appropriate circumstances for using a bulleted list within an article. Johntex\talk 21:07, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

See below

I've seen a couple articles that use "see below" links in the lead. Since the TOC is nearby I find this rather odd. I don't think it looks good either in the lead, or elsewhere in the text. Do any of the numerous MOS pages have a statement about this? Gimmetrow 15:24, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Old Style and New Style dates

When the full date, including month and day, is given, for an event that occurred under the Julian calendar, shouldn't that be indicated clearly? For example, our article on George Washington says

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799)

However, on the day George Washington was born, the date was February 11th, not February 22nd. Shouldn't the article say something like

George Washington (February 22, 1732 (Feb. 11 O.S.) – December 14, 1799)

P. S. Am I crazy, or is the article on Mixed-style date, which contains no references, out to lunch? Surely there is no ambiguity about the year of Washington's birth. Dpbsmith (talk) 10:03, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

I guess the answer is "you are crazy". ;-) The article on George Washington quite clearly states:

According to the Julian calendar, Washington was born on February 11, 1731; according to the Gregorian calendar, which was adopted in Britain and its colonies during Washington's lifetime, he was born on February 22, 1732.

This issue is addressed in the article Old Style and New Style dates. Personally I think using both Old Style and New Style dates in the lead section of an article is more information than is needed for the lead. When there's ambiguity, the issue should be addressed in the body of the article, as it is with George Washington. --Kevin (complaints?) 14:16, 11 August 2006 (UTC)