Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Draft Trim
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This Manual of Style has the simple purpose of making things look alike — it is a style guide. The following rules don't claim to be the last word. One way is often as good as another, but if everyone does it the same way, Wikipedia will be easier to read and use, not to mention easier to write and edit. In this regard the following quote from The Chicago Manual of Style deserves notice:
- Rules and regulations such as these, in the nature of the case, cannot be endowed with the fixity of rock-ribbed law. They are meant for the average case, and must be applied with a certain degree of elasticity.
Clear, informative and unbiased writing is always more important than presentation and formatting. Writers are not required to follow all these rules. The joy of wiki editing is that perfection is not required. Copy-editing wikipedians will refer to this manual, and pages will either gradually be made to conform with this guide or this guide will itself be changed to the same effect.
Please see Wikipedia:How to edit a page for information on how to use all the different forms of markup. There is much more available than just bold or italic. This article concentrates on when to use them, although the examples usually also show the markup.
Please see Wikipedia:Guide to Layout for some simple suggestions on laying out an article. For articles about a particular event, it may be a good idea to understand News Style as convention for presenting materials in a straightforward way.
Contributors, note that because this document is considered policy, significant changes should be discussed on the talk page first, or they will be removed.
- 1 Article names
- 2 Links
- 3 Headings
- 4 Capital letters
- 5 Contractions
- 6 Punctuation
- 7 Scientific style
- 8 Sections
- 9 Simple tabulation
- 10 Usage and spelling
- 11 Words as words
- 12 Pictures
- 13 Identity
- 14 Style recommendations regarding the use of Categories
- 15 Detailed Wikipedia style manuals
- 16 Miscellaneous notes
- 17 Explain jargon
- 18 External links
See Wikipedia:Naming conventions for choosing a name for your article. It is customary for the title to be the subject of the first sentence of the article. Make article titles bold in the first sentence using
''' — do not self-link to embolden the title. Avoid putting links inside the emboldened title. Use
''''' in the first sentence only for terms that would be in italics even if they were not set in bold, for example, book titles (this does not mean only terms that are always in italics; whether a word or phrase is in italics or not depends on context).
The use of so-called "free links" to other topics relevant to your article, for example,
[[grammar]], is encouraged. Try to use links for all words and terms that are relevant to your article.
Avoid making too many links. A suggestion is that if 10% of the words are already linked, then perhaps some less vital link can be removed when more important links are added. Don't link every occurrence of a word; simply linking the first time the word appears will usually be enough. For dates like
[[25 March]] [] wikify every time so that the date preference of the reader will be used. Both day-month and year must be linked for the preference to work correctly.
Avoid linking words in article titles; find other ways to include and then link those words.
Links that follow the Wikipedia naming conventions are much more likely to lead to existing articles, and, if there is not yet an article about that subject, good links will make the creation of a correctly-named article much easier for later writers.
It is possible to link words that are not exactly the same as the linked article title,
[[English language|English]] for example. Make sure, however, that it is still clear what the link refers to without having to follow the link. You can form plurals, adjectives and other phrases thus:
Try to link accurately. If an article you want to link doesn't yet exist, do a quick search to find out if that is really the case. The article may have a different name than you expect. Never use "click here" as the text for a link.
 Wikipedia is not a link collection and an article with only links is actively discouraged. See also Wikipedia:External links.
Syntax The syntax for referencing a URL is simple. Just enclose it in single brackets:
The URL must begin with
http:// or another common protocol, such as
In addition, putting URLs in plain text with no markup automatically produces a link, for example http://en.wikipedia.org. However, this feature may disappear in a future release. Therefore, in cases where you wish to display the URL because it is intrinsically valuable information, it is better to use the short form of the URL (host name) as the optional text:
[http://en.wikipedia.org/ en.wikipedia.org] produces en.wikipedia.org.
Link titles You can add a title to an external link by supplying descriptive text after the URL separated by a space and enclosing it all in square brackets. For example, to add a title to a bare URL such as
http://en.wikipedia.org (this is rendered as "http://en.wikipedia.org"), use the following syntax:
[http://en.wikipedia.org an open-content encyclopedia] (this is rendered as "an open-content encyclopedia").
Some URLs are ugly and uninformative; in such cases, it is better for a meaningful title to be displayed rather than the URL itself. For example, "European Space Agency website" is much more reader-friendly than "http://www.esa.int/export/esaCP/index.html". If the URL is displayed, make it as simple as possible; for example, if the index.html is superfluous, remove it (but be sure to check in preview mode first). The "printable version" of a page displays all URLs in full, including those given a title, so no information is lost.
URLs as footnotes Without the optional text, an external reference appears as a footnote: For example,
is displayed like this:
Position in article In most cases, it is preferable to group external links together at the bottom of the article in bullet point format under the heading:
As with other top-level headers, two equal signs should be used to markup the external links header (see Headings elsewhere in the article). It is also possible to include an inline URL reference within the body of an article. For example:
One good example of a cooperative online community is the [http://en.wikipedia.org Wikipedia, an open-content encyclopedia].
is displayed like this: One good example of a cooperative online community is the Wikipedia, an open-content encyclopedia. If an article has used information from an external webpage or it is to be indicated that more information regarding the article will be available, such as statistics, picture gallery, essays on a website, then such links should be part of the "External links" section at the bottom of the article. If the external reference to be cited pertains to only a paragraph or a line in the article, then the use of inline external links as footnotes serves as a proper citation. Numbered footnote links can be used throughout the article.
Foreign-language sites Since this is the English Wikipedia, webpages in English are highly preferred. Linking to non-English pages may still be useful for English-language readers in some cases: when linking to pages with maps, diagrams, photos, tables; explain the key terms with the link, so that people who do not know the language can still interpret them for example, if the subject of the article is a Spanish-language newspaper In such cases indicate what language the site is in. For example:
File type If the link is not to an HTML file, but to a file which must be opened in an external program, such as a PDF or Microsoft Word document, a remark about that is useful to help the user decide whether opening or first downloading is preferred.
File size If the link is to a large file (in the case of html, including the images) a note about that is useful. Someone with a slow connection may decide not to use it.
Headings Use the
== style markup for headings, not
''' (bold). Example:
==This is a heading==
which produces This is a heading Note that when
==This is a heading== is used, no blank line under the headline is needed. Extra blank lines are optional, and their presence (or absence) will not affect the appearance of your article.
If you mark headings this way, then a table of contents is automatically generated from the headings in an article, sections can be automatically numbered for users with that preference set and words within properly marked headings are given greater weight in searches. Headings also help readers by breaking up the text and outlining the article. Start the letter of the first word and any proper nouns in headings with a capital letter, but leave the rest in lower case. Avoid links within headings. Overuse of sub-headings should be avoided. For more information, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (headings).
Headings As discussed in the Headings section above, only the first letter of the first word and proper nouns in headings should be in capitals.
Job titles Job titles such as president, king, or emperor start with a capital letter when used as a title (followed by a name): "King Lear", not "king Lear". This is not the case when used generically: "when Hirohito was a Japanese emperor." However, if one is using the correct formal name of an office, it is treated as a proper noun. So: "Hirohito was Emperor of Japan". Exceptions may apply for specific offices. In the case of a prime minister, write Prime Minister or prime minister. For example: "there are many prime ministers around the world." but "The British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said today . . . " Remember also, users of American English and British English differ in their inclination to use capitals. British English uses capitals far more widely than American English does. This may apply to titles for people. If possible, as with spelling, use rules appropriate to the cultural and linguistic context. In other words, do not enforce American rules on pages to do with British topics. Neither should one rigidly enforce British rules on pages that are concerned with American topics.
Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines and their adherents Names of religions should start with a capital letter. Mormonism requires special care — see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Mormonism). The name of a follower of a religious faith, or an adjective describing a religious faith should also begin with a capital letter. As per The Chicago Manual of Style, deities in both monotheistic and polytheistic religions should start with a capital letter: God, Allah, Freya. This also applies to transcendent ideas in the Platonic sense : Good and Truth. Similarly, alternative and descriptive names for deities: the Lord, the Supreme Being, the Messiah. Pronouns referring to deities or nouns (other than names) referring to any material or abstract representation of any deity should not start with a capital letter. However, philosophies, doctrines, and systems of economic thought should not start with a capital letter, unless the name is derived from a proper noun. Lowercase republican refers to a system of political thought, uppercase Republican refers to a specific Republican Party (each party name being a proper noun).
Calendar items Months, days, and holidays begin with a capital letter: June, Monday, Fourth of July. Seasons Seasons begin with lowercase letters when they are used generally. ("This summer was very hot", fall, autumn, winter, spring) This is not always the case when they are used with another noun and function as proper nouns. (Winter Solstice, Autumn Open House) Or when they are personified. ("I think Spring is showing her colors", Old Man Winter)
Animals, plants, and other organisms Whether the common names of species should start with a capital letter has been hotly debated in the past and has remained unresolved. As a matter of truce both forms are acceptable (except for proper names), but a redirect should be created from the alternative form. See: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Tree_of_Life#Article_titles_and_common_names See: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna) See: Capitalization
Celestial bodies Names of other planets and stars are proper nouns, and should begin with a capital letter. For example, "The planet Mars can be seen tonight in the constellation Gemini". The words sun, earth, and moon begin with a capital letter when used in an astronomical context as proper nouns: "The Sun is a main sequence star, with a spectral class of G2." In a non-scientific context, lowercase letters are used: "It was a lovely day and the sun was warm." However, these words only begin with a capital when they refer to the name of a specific body. "The Moon orbits the Earth", but "Pluto's moon Charon".
Directions and regions Directions (such north and southwest) do not begin with a capital letter, unless they form part of proper nouns, including widely known expressions such as Southern California. Follow the same conventions for their related forms: a person from the American South is a Southerner, but a road that leads north might be called a northern road. Where you are unsure whether a region has attained proper-noun status, we suggest using lowercase.
Contractions In general, we prefer formal writing. Therefore, contractions — such as don't, can't, won't, and so on — are discouraged, except when you are quoting directly.
Punctuation In most cases, simply follow the usual rules of English punctuation. A few points where the Wikipedia may differ from usual usage follow.
Quotation marks With quotation marks, we suggest splitting the difference between American and British usage. Although not a rigid rule, try to use the "double quotes" for most quotations, as they are easier to read on the screen, and use 'single quotes' for "quotations 'within' quotations". Note however the following problem with single quotes: if a word appears in an article with single quotes, such as 'abcd', the Wikipedia:Searching facility will find it only if you search for the word with quotes (when trying this out with the example mentioned, remember that this article is in the Wikipedia namespace). When punctuating quoted passages, put punctuation where it belongs, inside or outside the quotation marks, depending on the meaning, and not rigidly within the quotation marks. This is the British style. (Fowler has good guidelines for this). For example, "Stop!" has the punctuation inside the quotation marks. However, when using "scare quotes", the comma goes outside. Another example: Arthur said the situation was "deplorable". (we're quoting only part of a sentence) Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." (full sentence is quoted) For longer quotations, an indented style may be better. This is done by prepending a colon to the first line. Since quotations are already marked by quotation marks or indentations, they need not be in italics.
Use straight quotation marks and apostrophes For uniformity and to avoid complications use straight quotation marks and apostrophes: ' "
not curved (smart) ones or grave accents:
- ‘ ’ “ ” `
If you are pasting text from Microsoft Word, remember to turn off the smart quotes feature by unmarking this feature in AutoEdit and "AutoEdit during typing"! . Many other modern word processors have a smart quotes setting — please read the appropriate documentation for your editor.
The grave accent ( ` ) is also used as a diacritical mark to indicate a glottal stop; however, the straight quote should be used for this purpose instead (e.g., Hawai'i, not Hawai`i).
Spaces after periods/stops
There are no current guidelines on whether to use one or two spaces after a period but note that the difference only shows up in the edit box (unless you use
to force it otherwise). See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (spaces after a period).
As stated by Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White, and other sources, when a conjunction joins the last two elements in a series of three or more elements, a comma is used before the conjunction: "The wires were brown, blue, and green." The reason for the final serial comma is to prevent the last two elements from being confused as a unit. Consider its utility in this sentence: "The author would like to thank her parents, Sinead O'Connor and Pope John-Paul II."
The use of dashes on Wikipedia is often under dispute. Please read Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes) and its talk page for details.
- See Wikipedia:Technical terms and definitions
- For units of measure use SI units; see also Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers). Note that the Wikipedia Style for very large numbers is 10,000 or scientific notation and not the SI notation 10 000 with a space.
- In articles about chemicals and chemistry, use the style of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry for chemical names wherever possible, except in article titles, where the common name should be used if different, followed by mention of the IUPAC name.
- In periodic table groups, use the new IUPAC names: (these use Arabic numerals, not Roman numerals or letters).
- For mathematics and mathematical formulae, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics
All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line and sometimes also in italic if that word or phrase is normally in italics or should be in italics for some other context-dependent reason; see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles). The title or subject can almost always be made part of the first sentence, but some articles simply have names.
- The Pythagorean theorem is named after and attributed to the 6th century BC Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras
The '''Pythagorean theorem''' is named for and attributed to the [[6th century BC]] Greek philosopher and mathematician [[Pythagoras]]
- Tom and Jerry — Pairing of names from Pierce Egan's Life in London
'''Tom and Jerry''' — Pairing of names from [[Pierce Egan]]'s ''Life in London''
If the subject of the article has more than one name, each new form of the name should be in bold on its first appearance.
'''Sodium hydroxide''' ([[sodium|Na]][[oxygen|O]][[hydrogen|H]]), also known as '''caustic soda''' or '''lye'''
It is preferable to make the context clear in the first few words. For example,
- In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
In [[quantum physics]], the '''Heisenberg uncertainty principle'''
The lead section is the section before the first headline. It is shown above the table of contents (for pages with more than three headlines). The appropriate lead length depends on the length of the article, but should be no longer than three paragraphs in any case. See Wikipedia:Lead section for more details.
"See also" and "Related topics" sections
Ideally, topics related to an article are included within the text of the article as free links. If the article is divided into sections and See also refers to a particular section only, references to related articles that have not been linked from free links in the text may be handled by this form, placed at the bottom of the section:
''See also:'' [[Internet troll]], [[flaming]]
The above form may also be used in short articles without sections.
When the See also refers to the entire article, not just a section, it should be a heading of level 2 so that it appears in the table of contents. It should be placed at the bottom of the article, but before External links. Again, do not add any links to the "See also" section that are already present in the text of the article. If you remove a redundant link from the See also section of an article, it may be an explicit cross reference (see below), so consider making the link in the main text bold instead.
Which appears as:
Another equally valid form is:
Sometimes it is useful to have an explicit cross-reference in the text, for example, when a long section of text has been moved somewhere else, or there is a major article on a subtopic. In these cases, make the link bold so that its significance is easier to identify. Example:
- The legal situation with regard to circumcision varies from country to country (see Legal status of circumcision).
- The legal status of circumcision varies from country to country.
Other common sections (in their preferable order) are:
Any line that starts with a blank space becomes a fixed font width and can be used for simple tabulation. See English plural for many examples.
foo bar baz alpha beta gamma
A line that starts with a blank space with nothing else on it forms a blank line which may be just what you want or not if you are one of those typists who put two spaces after a period. You can cause a blank line unknowingly if those blanks are wrapped to the beginning of the next line.
Usage and spelling
Cultural clashes over grammar, spelling and when to use capital letters are a common experience on Wikipedia. Remember that millions of people may have been taught to use a different form of English from yours. For the English Wikipedia, there is no preference among the major national varieties of English. However, there is a certain etiquette generally accepted on Wikipedia:
- Each article should have uniform spelling and not a haphazard mix of different spellings (it can be jarring to the reader). In particular, for individual words and word-endings. For example, do not use center (American) in one place and centre (British) in another.
- Proper names should retain their original spellings. For example, United States Department of Defense and Australian Defence Force.
- Articles which focus on a topic specific to a particular English-speaking country should generally aim to conform to the spelling of that country (for instance the British "Labour Party"). A reference to "the American labour movement" (with a U) or to "Anglicization" (with a Z) may be jarring. However, a reference to "the American labour movement" would be okay on New Labour.
- When referring to the United States, please use "U.S."; that is the more common style in that country, is easier to search for automatically, and we want one uniform style on this. When referring to the United States in a long abbreviation (USA, USN, USAF), periods should not be used.
- If the spelling appears in an article name, you should make a redirect page to accommodate the other variant, as with Aeroplane and Airplane, or if possible and reasonable, a neutral word might be chosen as with Glasses.
- If the spelling appears within the article text, also consider a consistent synonym such as focus or middle rather than center/centre.
- If an article is predominantly written in one type of English, aim to conform to that type rather than provoking conflict by changing to another. (Sometimes, this can happen quite innocently, so please don't be too quick to make accusations!)
- Consult Wikipedia articles such as English plural and American and British English differences.
- Scholarly abbreviations of Latin terms like i.e., or e.g. should be avoided and English terms such as such as and for example used instead.
- If all else fails, consider following the spelling style preferred by the first major contributor (that is, not a stub) to the article who used a word with variant spellings in the article or the title.
- If a word or phrase is generally regarded as correct, then prefer it to an alternative that is often regarded as incorrect. Thus "other meanings" should be used rather than "alternate meaning" or "alternative meaning". Some dictionaries discourage or do not even acknowledge this latter use of alternate. The American Heritage Dictionary "Usage Note" at alternative says: "Alternative should not be confused with alternate." But, alternative is also not entirely acceptable because of the very common connotations in American English of "non-traditional" or "out-of-the-mainstream". Some traditional usage experts consider alternative to be appropriate only when there are exactly two alternatives.
- For topics that have unique vocabularies, for example rail transport, effort should be made to adequately explain jargon or avoid its use where possible. This has another purpose, as in the case given, disparate terminology has evolved in different locations around the world (see rail terminology as an example). In other words, even experts in another location may not be familiar with jargon used in your location.
Words as words
Put words in italics when they are being written about, rather than being used to write about what they refer to. Similarly for letters.
- The term panning is derived from panorama, a word originally coined in 1787
The term ''panning'' is derived from ''panorama'', a word originally coined in []
- The letter E is the most common letter in English.
Main article: Wikipedia:Picture tutorial
Articles with a single picture are encouraged to have that picture at the top of the article, right-aligned, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Portraits with the head looking to the right should be left-aligned (looking into the article). Please put the image at the top of the article, before the text begins.
The current image markup language is more or less this:
[[Image:picture.jpg|thumb|Blah blah caption]]
Photos and other graphics should have captions unless they are "self-captioning" as in reproductions of album or book covers, or when the graphic is an unambiguous depiction of the subject of the article. For example, in a biography article, it is presumed that the portrait is that of the person in the article, thus a caption is not necessary (unless more than one person is in the picture).
See Wikipedia:Captions for tips on writing captions.
This is perhaps one area where wikipedians' flexibility and plurality are an asset, and where one would not wish all pages to look exactly alike. Nevertheless, here are some guidelines:
- When writing an article about specific people or specific groups, use the terminology which they themselves use (self identification).
- Use the most specific terminology available: describe people of Ethiopian descent as Ethiopian, not African.
- In case this is objectionable, often a more general name will prove to be more neutral or more accurate. For example, although to have a List of African-American composers would be acceptable, a List of composers of African descent, in this case, is more useful.
- If possible, instead of using nouns directly, terms should be given in such a way that they qualify other nouns. Thus, black people, not blacks; gay people, not gays; adults with disabilities, not the disabled; and so forth.
- Do not assume that any one term is the most inclusive or accurate.
Style recommendations regarding the use of Categories
Detailed Wikipedia style manuals
Dates, numbers, measurements
Linking to sister projects
Separate Wikipedia style manuals exist for material in the English Wikipedia regarding several other cultures and languages. These attempt to lay out Wikipedia standards for transliteration to English, renderings of place names, name order and other thorny cultural and linguistic issues.
- Manual of Style for China-related articles
- Manual of Style for Japan-related articles
- Manual of Style for Thailand-related articles
If you can't find anything specific enough for a particular type of article, see Wikipedia:WikiProject — some of these WikiProjects set out boilerplates for certain areas of knowledge.
When all else fails
If you are faced with a fine point, please use other resources, such as The Chicago Manual of Style (from the University of Chicago Press) or Fowler's Modern English Usage (from the Oxford University Press). Where this page differs from the other sources, the usage on this page should be preferred, but please feel free to carry on a discussion on Wikipedia_talk:Manual of Style, especially for substantive changes.
Even simpler, look at an article that you like and open it for editing to see how the editors have put it together. You can then close the window without saving changes, though almost every article can be improved.
Keep it simple
It's easier for you and whoever follows you if you don't get too fancy with your markup. Even with markup as suggested here, don't assume that any markup you put in is guaranteed to have a certain appearance when it is displayed.
It's easier to display the Wikipedia and edit it, if the markup is no more complex than necessary to display the information in a useful and comprehensible way. A useful encyclopedia is the first goal, but ease of editing and maintaining that encyclopedia is right behind it.
Among other things, this means use HTML markup sparingly and only with good reason.
It is a good idea to read through and understand these documents:
Note to contributors to this page: We need to go over all these and make sure they're up-to-date too.
- Wikipedia:Introduction is a gentle introduction to the world of Wikipedia.
- Wikipedia:Be bold in updating pages should define your attitude toward page updates.
- Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines is the main stop for policies and, well, guidelines.
- Wikipedia:Avoiding common mistakes gives a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Lee's notes on writing style contains one Wikipedian's advice on good language usage.
- Wikipedia:Editing policy has even more editing guidelines.
- Wikipedia:How to edit a page will explain the mechanics of what codes are available to you when editing a page, to do things like titles, links, external links, and so on.
- Wikipedia:Perfect stub article shows what you should aim for at a minimum when starting a new article.
- Wikipedia:WikiProject History — style guidelines for history
Formatting issues such as font size, blank space and color are issues for the Wikipedia site-wide style sheet and should not be dealt with in articles except in special cases.
Make comments invisible
Try to avoid highlighting that the article is incomplete and in need of further work. Similarly, there is little benefit to the reader in seeing headings and tables without content.
If you want to communicate with other potential editors, make comments invisible to the ordinary article reader. To do so, enclose the text which you intend to be read only by editors within
For example, the following:
<!-- This is a comment. -->
is displayed (or rather, is not displayed) as:
so the comment can be seen when viewing the HTML or wiki source.
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