Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 63

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Acronyms and capitalization in text and article names

Throughout Wikipedia, words that are even occasionally represented by acronyms are capitalized, followed by the acronym. Sometimes the acronym is never used again in the article. Here is an example from the dense plasma focus article: "A Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) is a plasma machine that produces, by electromagnetic acceleration and compression, short-lived plasma..." I was wondering if it is inappropriate to capitalize just because words are represented by an acronym. Should the article say, "A dense plasma focus (DPF) is a plasma machine..." instead? Also, the same thing frequently results in the article's name being capitalized when it otherwise would not be. For example, digital subscriber line was Digital Subscriber Line before it was moved at my suggestion.

There are examples of the opposite, but I would say that the capitalization in the text style dominates. The capitalization of the article's name is frequent, but I would not say that it is dominant. Should this be addressed in the Manual of Style? My preference is to not capitalize in both cases, but I prefer even more that there be a standard style. -- Kjkolb 10:50, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (capital letters)#Acronymns and initial capitals. It’s not really a matter of style. It’s simple English. Just because there’s an abbreviation for something doesn’t mean the original word or phrase gets a promotion to proper-noun status. --Rob Kennedy 22:02, 25 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree with you. However, I do not know if this is the position of the rest of the community, given how widespread the "style" is. Also, I think that the Manual of Style should address it, as it covers mistakes, not just matters of style. -- Kjkolb 09:06, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Internal links in this article

According this article, one should not create links unless they relate to the topic of the article. However, in this article, there are many links to totally unrelated subjects, such as "Wotan" and the "Republican Party". It seems to me like it's a bit hypocritical not to be following the rules that we lay out in the very article in which we lay them out. I didn't want to remove them all without some kind of consensus, so, does anyone else agree? G.bargsnaffle 22:42, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Abuses of partial quotes

As a student I remember at least one professor who had a thing for complete sentential quotes. His qualm was that partial quoting allowed the essayist too broad a stroke in painting the quoted text. Look at these sentences to see what I mean:

1) Mayor Brown said in his inaugural speech that he would allow "children to smoke marijuana" under the right legal conditions.

2) Mayor Brown said in his inaugural speech, "Parents that allow their children to smoke marijuana should only do so if it is permitted by federal and state law."

3) Mayor Brown said in his inaugural speech that children should be allowed to smoke marijuana.

(1) is a partial quote, (2) is a complete quote, and (3) is a paraphrase.

It should be obvious that (2) is the preferred sentence for any factual article. While the other sentences are not, strictly speaking, false, they are potentially (or seriously) misleading. But why is this a problem for Wikipedia? It's a problem because we want to present quality articles, and not everyone may have access to the source referred to by a partial quote. My suggestion is that, at least for articles with NPOV problems, we require complete quotes in a footnote if not in the article.SFinside 15:44, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

References and punctuation

The article Movable type uses at least three different styles of referencing:

  • Lorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci uelit.[1]
  • Lorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci uelit. [1]
  • Lorem ipsum, quia dolor sit, amet, consectetur, adipisci uelit.[1].

Where can I find out which style is correct? Shinobu 17:14, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

See WP:CITE. Of your three examples, only the first one is correct. Kirill Lokshin 18:11, 27 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. So the ref will always go directly after punctuation (if any), without spaces etc. Shinobu 16:42, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

for example

It seems to me that somewhere I've seen some guidance on which of "eg" or the full phrase "for example" is preferred in Wikipedia. Can someone please clarify this for me?

Also, I have the same issue over the use of "ie" or "i.e." --JAXHERE | Talk 15:06, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

You're looking for Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Usage. Where a Latin term or abbreviation is used in a quotation, obviously we don't mess with it. Otherwise, the English equivalent is preferred; not every reader is going to be familiar with the Latin abbreviations. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 16:41, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
That works fine for e.g. (is like), since it easily translates into for example, but translating 'i.e.' (that is) is more awkward in English, I think.SFinside 17:56, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Another way of writing "i.e." is "in other words." I'm afraid I don't see the awkwardness at all. And if the statement prior to the use of "i.e." was confusing enough for "i.e." to be appropriate, perhaps the statement should simply be rewritten to be more clear in the first place. --Rob Kennedy 19:46, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
Not every reader is familiar with the abbreviations, and indeed, not every writer who uses those abbreviations is familiar with them, either. Using "i.e." in place of "e.g." and vice versa are common errors. --Rob Kennedy 19:46, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks all for helping. The reference to the Manual of Style was what I needed. --JAXHERE | Talk 13:35, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Double dashes

Why are they to be avoided? In my copy of The Elements of Style it says nothing to that effect. Also, isn't the em-dash a special character? It's not on my keyboard, which is why I always use '--'. It's also what I was taught to use, because I went to school when people used typewriters. In my copy of The Scott Foresman Handbook for Writers it says, "Typed dashes are made up of two unspaced hyphens {--}." Really, I'm just curious what the reasoning is here.SFinside 21:24, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

It is easy to type '--' and people do and will continue to use that because it is easy, but the professional, cleaner style is to use the em-dash. The Elements of Style does not contain recommendations for dashes or any typography, but you will find it in, for example, the Chicago Manual of Style or if you simply open any published book or newspaper. Typewritten text is not a finished work and is more of a historical peculiarity specifically for practical purposes. —Centrxtalk • 21:42, 29 November 2006 (UTC)
The double hyphen is typewriter shorthand for an em dash. The key word in that book title is Writers. Writers hand publishers manuscripts. Publishers employ graphic designers (typographers) to translate that manuscript into something that is visually pleasing and easily readable. If you gave a publisher a manuscript with double hyphens, they would be typeset as em (or en) dashes. Basically, it's a way of telling the typographer, "hey, my typewriter doesn't have a dash on it, but I want one here." Similarly, if you gave a publisher a manuscript with underlined text, it would be set in italics. Pick up The Elements of Typographic Style and you won't see any reference to double hyphens, but plenty to em and en dashes. Wikipedia is a published work, which is why it should use actual dashes. Here's a link I found quickly with Google.– flamurai (t) 03:43, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the responses. Until I get a keyboard with an em-dash on it I'll continue to use double dashes. You can call me the double dash bandit.SFinside 03:53, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

As a member of the League of Copy Editors, you should be familiar with the character because part of copy editing involves making a writer’s work look better. On Windows, you can type it by holding the Alt key and pressing 0151. On a Macintosh, hold the Option and Shift keys when you type a hyphen. You can also insert it into an article by clicking the character link below Wikipedia’s edit box. It’s the second character after the “Insert” label. (The first is an en dash.) You can also add the character using the — HTML entity. --Rob Kennedy 04:14, 30 November 2006 (UTC)

One place the double dash came into common use was in email publications, because some email programs muck up the formatting of special characters like the em dash. I recommend that people who use it often either memorize the ALT or CTRL function that creates it, or assign it to some keyboard key they don't otherwise use (I use F11). 06:59, 26 December 2006 (UTC)

Proposed changes at Wikipedia:WikiProject Music/Tables for charts

Editors might want to know that there's been some recent discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Music/Tables for charts, which is part of the Manual of Style. What's being proposed is adding some new guidelines on lists of chart positions for singles (and now for albums): how much chart information an article needs and the best ways to present it. Anyone with even a remote interest in the topic is encouraged to look over the proposals and add an opinion or two. The relevant discussions are at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Music/Tables for charts#Component charts and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Music/Tables for charts#Chart trajectories. Thanks all! --keepsleeping slack off! 02:45, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Minor dispute

I was just wondering about what order things in an alphabetic list should be put in when numbers are concerned. What I'm talking about is here. The band is called 3 Inches of Blood, not Three. Therefore, shouldn't the numbers come before the A-Z, as is the style in most formats (or rather, most that I have seen) or should the first letter of the number be used for alphabetizing? The Haunted Angel (The Forest Whispers My Name) 16:45, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

My 2 (or "two") cents: alphabetizing numbers or punctuation marks before letters is becoming largely preferred because easier to implement in many computer environment, due to some character encodings putting those characters before letters. But the usual recommendation, for instance for librarians, is to order as if numbers were spelt out (in the most strict form, numbers should be spelt out in the language the rest of the phrase is in). See for instance exercise 17 at page 7 of Volume III of The Art of Computer Programming by Knuth, and its answer. Goochelaar 17:31, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I see, thanks. Any other views on this? The Haunted Angel (The Forest Whispers My Name) 18:25, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

River LINE or River Line?

New Jersey Transit capitalizes one of their lines as "River LINE". However, this is not always used by the media: [1] Should we use the non-standard "River LINE" because NJT uses it? I note that we do not use REALTOR. --NE2 08:08, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Realtor is a little far afield for a comparison. How do we treat transit systems with similarly asinine spellings? We capitalize SPRINTER, for what it's worth. Though I think the capitalization looks silly, my gut is to stick with official usage. It's a bit different from the REALTOR situation because the NJT capitalizatin will be used on signage throughout the system. --Jfruh (talk) 15:02, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
SPRINTER does not all use the all-caps style; everything after the first mention is "Sprinter". Looking through the Google News archive, almost every usage in the media is "River Line". --NE2 15:06, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
REALTOR isn’t so far afield. NJ Transit uses River LINE fairly consistently. Likewise, the National Association of Realtors uses REALTORS® very consistently, including the registration mark. If you’re going to argue on the grounds of “official usage,” be prepared for what you’re getting into. --Rob Kennedy 05:29, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I think that we really need to refer to the transit agency that runs the service, rather than "news services." If we search google and restrict our search to NJTransit's website only, only less than 10 out of 139 pages use the lower-case spelling. All other pages, including the Annual Report, use the River LINE spelling. —lensovettalk – 01:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I don’t consider the transit agency itself to be a reliable reference on capitalization issues. It spells its own name NJ TRANSIT, for instance. It’s a great source on transit-related issues in New Jersey, but not for language-related questions. For that, turn to the people whose business is language, such as the ones who write about the transit agency in the press. --Rob Kennedy 05:29, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Am I really the only one troubled by this argument? That's like using book reviews, rather than the book's author, to figure out the title of a book. —lensovettalk – 01:43, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
I do not think that it should be in all capital letters. A ton of companies capitalize their names and products, but we need not, and do not, capitalize them. For example, Hormel insists on people capitalizing "spam", especially to differentiate from unsolicited email, but the article name is spam (food). -- Kjkolb 04:24, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Not that it lessens your point, but the article name is Spam (food), capitalized as a proper noun. Hormel wants it written SPAM Luncheon Meat. As spam, lowercase, it’s unsolicited commercial e-mail. --Rob Kennedy 05:29, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
What do the L, the I, the N, and the E stand for? We should find out, and then spell out the acronym on first reference. If it’s not an acronym, then it has no business being written in all caps. Is there something at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters)#All caps or Wikipedia:Manual of Style (trademarks) that needs clarification? --Rob Kennedy 05:29, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure it's not an acronym. --NE2 05:59, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Obviously whatever we decide here also applies to MidTOWN DIRECT (ugh!), though that's only a redirect. --NE2 05:59, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

The evidence is rather contradictory. There seems to be a mix of uses (LINE and Line) in the news articles referenced above, though New Jersey Transit is pretty consistent in the all caps version. WP:MOS-TM says to use proper initial caps, and explicitly states to use "Realtor" rather that "REALTOR", though does that apply to all cases or only to that one word. Does "Lowercased trademarks with no internal capitals should always be capitalized" apply here or is "LINE" an example of internal capitalization. I would support keeping the capitalized word, but we need to decide one way or ther other in the face of very ambiguous guidelines. Alansohn 06:08, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

MOS-TM uses Realtor not as an isolated instruction for just one word, but as an example for all trademarks that their owners write in non-standard capitalization, such as all caps. The part about lowercased trademarks does not apply here since LINE clearly isn’t written in lowercase.
In the news articles appearing in the Google News archive, only two of the first 100 results use LINE. Those are in articles from the Bucks County Courier Times and the Cherry Hill Courier Post. Among organizations that don’t write it in all caps are the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, Bloomberg, Fox News, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Trenton Times, and Knight Ridder. And in other articles from the Courier Times and the Courier Post, it’s also written in just initial caps. In the non-archive search, only the Trentonian writes it LINE. The other four sources write it Line. --Rob Kennedy 19:26, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Abbreviations of proper names

This manual says:

Proper names of specific institutions (for example, Harvard University, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, :George Brown College, etc.) are proper nouns and require capitalization.
However, the words for types of institutions (university, college, hospital, high school, etc.) do not require :capitalization if they do not appear in a proper name:
The University offers programs in arts and sciences.
The university offers… or The University of Ottawa offers…

In some cases I think this may be misleading. For example: "Captain X was fired by the Los Angeles Police Department. The Department said the reason for the firing was...". In the second sentence I've set the initial "D" in "Department" in capital because this is just an abbreviated proper name. This circumstance should be mentioned in the style manual. Michael Hardy 21:27, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

AP style disagrees with you. In its entry for “police department,” it says this: “Lowercase the department whenever it stands alone.” It allows you to capitalize Police Department under certain circumstances, though.
The Chicago Manual of Style also disagrees with you. The passage that would help your case the most is from section 8.73: “Such generic terms as school and company are usually lowercased when used alone but are sometimes capitalized to avoid ambiguity or for promotional purposes.” I don’t see any potential for ambiguity in your example, though. CMOS gives many examples. Here are some:
  • the Department of History; the department; the Law School
  • the University of Chicago Press; the press or the Press
  • the Cleveland Orchestra; the orchestra
  • Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band; the band
  • the Hudson’s Bay Company; the company
  • Waukeegan West Middle School; the middle school
In your example, the Department can be interpretted as an abbreviation for the Los Angeles Police Department, but it can just as easily be interpretted as a generic nound describing what the police organization is: a department. --Rob Kennedy 19:41, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Question about author citations

Question: When an author writes a book under a pen name but that author's name is known would it not be proper to cite the pen name followed by the author's real name (in parenetheses)? If this area is the wrong place to pose such a question I kindly request that someone redirect me to the correct area. Thanks in advance. (Netscott) 13:59, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

I think you should stick with whichever name the author is more commonly know by. For instance, would readers really benefit if every time we cite Atlas Shrugged we attribute it to Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum instead of Ayn Rand? How about attributing quotes to François-Marie Arouet instead of the much more common Voltaire? I think it’s sufficient to wikilink the pen name, as I’ve done here. If Samuel Clemens published something under his real name, then go ahead and use his real name in the attribution. Otherwise, stick with Mark Twain.
This is all assuming that the work is just being mentioned in passing. If the work is actually the subject under discussion, and it’s relevant that it was published under a pseudonym, then say so, and use more than just a parenthetical to do it. --Rob Kennedy 20:14, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Exactly. In the case under discussion, the issue also touches on WP:BLP because the author in question is a living person who tends to avoid mentioning her real name in public. Beit Or 20:35, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Rob Kennedy, in the particular article Dhimmitude from which this talk stemmed from there is some pertinency of mentioning the author's name but since the article isn't specifically talking about her your logic is applicable. Thanks for providing your insight into this question. (Netscott) 20:43, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

New template idea (crosspost)

(Sorry to abuse this important talk page, but I honestly don't know where else to go with this suggestion. It's a minor change I'm suggesting, but it could potentially end up on a major number of pages).

I have an idea for making IPA symbols more comprehensible, like this: ʒ (try rolling over that with your mouse). That is, {{Ʒ}}. To discuss the concept, go here: template talk:Ʒ. If this idea were to come into use, it would need clear style guidelines on when it is preferred, when it is optional, and when it is a bad idea. I expect all three cases would exist. -- 18:54, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (lists of works)

I've overhauled Wikipedia:Manual of Style (lists of works) based on a 2nd round of feedback. Possibly it's complete and ready to be called a style-guideline? Feedback (at it's talkpage) or improvements welcome :) --Quiddity 20:54, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Style for URL case

I can't seem to find a standard for the case style of URLs (when case sensitivity doesn't matter, of course). I've always figured lowercase is the standard, but a quick glance at the articles for Apple and Martha Stewart Living show two, opposite, styles... And I can't find anything here, or on the two potentially relevant submanuals (capital letters or links)... Chicago seems to prefer lowercase, but they seem to indicate they're not sure yet, either. Anybody familiar with a pre-existing Wiki style standard, or have advice on what to do to get clarification? Thanks in advance! Justen 06:56, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

URLs are usually cut-and-pasted, so I think the primary recommendation should be match the source. Anything other than cut-and-paste introduces an unnecessary opportunity for error. --Gerry Ashton 18:08, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Cut and paste from where? If we're talking about, and if we're talking about copying the url from the address bar, my browser automatically lowercases the domain name portion of any url. The domain name portion of any url is case insensitive, meaning would work just as well as or So, the question is, should the standard be to use title or camel case, for example, and, or use lowercase, and Justen 00:15, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
If a URL is being written out, then it’s obviously intended to be read by a human. Otherwise, it should just be a hyperlink behind a descriptive text. Therefore, write or Camel case is especially useful — it helps the reader pick out the words that make up the address, and should therefore make it more likely that the reader will remember it and spell it correctly when typing it into the address bar later. I’d even recommend dropping the leading www if the shorter address still goes to the same place. --Rob Kennedy 05:01, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
Very logical. I think this should be clarified on the Style page. Do you agree? Right now, there's no standard from page to page. If there was a style to cite, I think it would help start to build some consistency... Justen 05:50, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (geographic names)

The proposed convention, now up for adoption, on geographic names discusses the use of alternate names in text, and therefore is also to some extent a manual of style. I think the guideline is consistent with this page, although far more detailed; comments are welcome. Septentrionalis 22:00, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Help reach consensus on flags in infoboxes

See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biography#Flag icons next to birth and death locations in infoboxes. – flamurai (t) 03:06, 9 December 2006 (UTC)

What Is The Policy Regarding {{seealso}}?

Thanks. A reply on my talk page will be greatly appriecated.100110100 07:31, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

You asked the same question a month ago. It’s not any less vague than it was before. Please be more specific about what it is you’re actually looking for. Since there doesn’t seem to be a “policy” regarding the seealso template, perhaps you can suggest one to get the discussion going. What sort of policy were you expecting to find? --Rob Kennedy 08:06, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I asked this before? I was just wondering if it should be at the end or start of a section? Thanks Rob for letting me know you've posted a reply.100110100 08:24, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
At the start of a section, I believe. Neonumbers 10:21, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

American Spellings

Why can't Wikipedia set a rule to use either the English spelling or American, throughout the whole of Wikipedia. I think it would be the best idea to use the English (as I am English!) but mainly due to the fact the English spellings were the original and the language is, after all, called "English" I suppose. Either that or use the American spellings, as that is the (much!) bigger country. I stand up in order to be shot down.

Please Sign your names: ~~~, not ~~~~, as that produces the date and time too.

  • YES
    • Arriva436
    • Ground Zero t
    • Kieran T (talk) — I'd love to see a clever but simple bit of software which could change the spellings as the page was rendered. But we'll never address the national bias of certain articles that way. *sigh*
  • NO
    • Gerry Ashton: If I tried to write using English spelling and grammar, I'm sure I would misspell some word without realizing it. Also, I do not have a dictionary that shows English spellings. (Fair enough Arriva436)
    • JoergenB: Vide infra.
    • Best Username Ever
    • BlankVerse 04:33, 22 December 2006 (UTC)


Arriva436 20:25, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

I think it could be an interesting idea, in that then there could be some sort of dynamic, on-the-fly "translation" built into Wikipedia. For example, en-uk and en-us articles could be automatically translated, with the former carrying colour, centre, rationalise, etc. and the latter carrying color, center, rationalize, etc. It's one of those rare language things that can be pretty much completely automated... Does that make sense? Justen 20:32, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
It could not be done automatically because the original spelling would have to be preserved in quotations, and automatically detecting quotation would be difficult. --Gerry Ashton 21:11, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
It would be impossible, because many quotations are in non-standard templates like template:cquoteMichael Z. 2006-12-12 21:34 Z

There are differences in spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. That's a lot to fix automatically (also disregarding the quotation troubles). I also think the trend to 'protect' American English users from seeing English English, and vice versa, should not be encouraged. It is bad enough that many books are 'translated' when crossing the Atlantic.JoergenB 13:19, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps the "Media Wiki", or whatever Wikipiedia's system is called, should create a system where you can save a preference (in your user account) to see the English or American spelling. However this is near imposible, and was be really hard to do. Perhaps we should just stick to seeing each others spellings, but hopefully not in the same article! Arriva436 19:36, 13 December 2006 (UTC)
Another reason to not use British spelling only is that it's nonphonetic. For example, catalogue is pronounced [kætəlɔg], so why would you put a -ue at the end of the word? It isn't pronounced [kætəlɔguε]. There is no valid reason for the spelling. Another example would be moustache, in which the o serves no purpose other than to confuse ESL speakers. American's write it as mustache.--Best Username Ever 03:54, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
Sometimes the older spelling (whichever country it comes from) explains the etymology better than "simplified" versions, which I think is useful and quite important in terms of educating people about the language. And, depending on accent as well as dialect, there are plenty of examples where the different spellings do make a difference. I'd say "favour" and "favor" were good examples of words where both implied pronunciations are in use. – Kieran T (talk) 04:43, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

Someone did a formal proposal to standardize on American English spelling about a year ago. The vote was over 100 to 1 against the proposal when I took it off my watchlist. BlankVerse 04:33, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

On the point raised (in the proposal) about the "original" spellings, a cautionary tale comes in the form of the word, "tyre" / "tire". It seems that the spelling used in Britain was originally the same as that from the United States: "tire". It became "tyre" after somebody in Britain patented that word in the context of the pneumatic tyre, and the invention captured the public's attention sufficiently for the spelling to become standardised usage. So the current United States version is actually the original in that case. I say this is a cautionary tale because I prefer to stick to "older" spellings which give some hint to the etymology and origins of a word, and thus help in its understanding. But that should never mean that we presume that the "old world" spellings are the originals. – Kieran T (talk) 04:43, 22 December 2006 (UTC)