Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Glossaries

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Manual definition lists / Hierarchical Non–glossary lists / Non–Non–structured lists[edit]

Resolved: (Apparently.) Mostly moot; one issue is Won't fix; any others lost in the TL;DR.

Regarding §Non-glossary lists using glossary formatting and §Actual XHTML output of structured glossaries, a few are things are confusing, perhaps until WP:LIST#Definition lists gets updated? I'm not sure if the plan is to keep "Non-glossary lists" in other sections of this article... Because {{term}} & {{defn}} insert class=glossary It would seem that "manual" HTML is currently the only way? (I find it easier any way). The article makes "wikimarkup equivalent, the leading ;" sound scary. Also, because the output is the same, it's unclear why {{term}} should not be used.

The {{term}} template should only be used for actual glossaries. For non-glossary lists that simply use glossary formatting, use a bare <dt>...</dt> structure, or its wikimarkup equivalent, the leading ; character:

  ;term 1
  :Definition of term 1.

Shouldn't it be this?

  {{term|term 1}}
  {{defn|Definition of term 1.}} 

Or this? (per class≠glossary)

  <dt id="term 1">term 1</dt>
  <dd>Definition of term 1.</dd>

Somehow, I got the impression a linkable anchor would be automatically inserted when using <dt>...</dt> so that it's equivalent to {{term}}. It seems I got confused, (it's not automatic). Using span tags are mentioned but they don't seem to work inside a <dt>...</dt>, so maybe it should recommend adding an id attribute? (or the {{anchor}} template, if possible, and more than one link target is required)?

Possibly in §Technical notes it should mention that it's not referring to the "manual" HTML markup in item 4, (unless it's somehow related):

4. Forthcoming: When a known MediaWiki bug is fixed, so that the [X]HTML element <dfn> is properly supported, the {{term}} template will also identify the term as the defining instance of its usage in the page.

In the §lead, second paragraph, should it read?

Glossaries can be formatted in a structured, non-structured or manual html manner, each of which can appear much the same to the human reader. Glossaries can be stand-alone list articles or embedded in-article list sections; either may be structured non-structured or manual html. (Glossaries can constructed as flat list or hierarchically as well). There are thus six (or twelve) basic types of glossary on Wikipedia. Regardless of the type selected, there are guidelines for making them useful, consistent, reader-friendly, and editor-friendly. There are also rationales for selecting which type to use.

I just wanted to touch on one last thing in §Alphabetization, is it necessary to dictate "Alphabetize term entries from A to Z"? Hierarchical lists, for example, might not necessarily be sub–sorted alphabetically at each level, and the hierarchy itself could be informative for the reader—without insisting on strict determinism for each of its parts. WP:LIST#Definition lists seems to be a little more circumspect. One hopes the order in which a flat glossary should be sorted could go without saying... Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 10:06, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

  1. Most of this is moot, due to more recent major editing.
  2. If someone wants a generic version of the template with no class parameter or a different value because they don't like the style applied by class="glossary" (which is none at all; it's simply reserved), they can copy the code, paste it into Template:Dl-dl, and take out/change the class, and do the same with matching Dl-dt and Dl-dd templates if they want. There's no reason to make the glossary template either more complicated or dumbed down.
  3. If there are other out-standing issues, please raise them in new threads, one issue at a time, not in a long post raising multiple issues, or my asplode (not that I personally WP:OWN this stuff, of course, but I wrote 95% of it, and understand it better than anyone else, both as to the tech and as to the purposes, so if there's a problem it'll probably be me fixing it). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 00:00, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
Why would “someone want a generic version”? “because they don't like the style ... which is none at all” in other words, you want people to copy a bunch of your templates for no particular reason… I agree, that can neither more complicated nor dumb. Could there be any doubt you “understand it better than anyone else”? No, no problem that I'm aware of requires you to be fixing it. Certainly, henceforth, I shall provide each WTF individually, as you require. How gracious that years later you've called my attention to the fact that until now, you completely ignored it. Indeed, TL;DR is moot, and fair enough, the “asplode” of TL;DR barely covered 5% of the page's preaching, confusion and lousy advice. But my apologies, how presumptuous: you're on the dispensing end of the advice.—Machine Elf 1735 12:59, 12 February 2012 (UTC)

Taking advantage of semicolon-colon Wiki markup[edit]

Resolved: MediaWiki's parser is badly broke on this; the italics problem has been fixed at MediaWiki:common.css.

Bravo on these efforts to standardize glossaries and make them accessible. I have one suggestion, however: doesn't it make sense to take advantage of the nifty Wiki markup for association lists as much as possible? The semicolon-colon markup does almost everything we want it to do here, as long as the "terms" get wrapped with <dfn>..</dfn> tags. Thus, for example, the following Wiki markup:

;{{term|term 1}}
:Term 1 definition
;{{term|term 2}}
;{{term|alternate term 2}}
:Term 2 definition 1
:Term 2 definition 2

renders, upon parsing by MediaWiki (assuming that the "term" template simply wraps <dfn>..</dfn> tags around the term:

<dt><dfn>term 1</dfn></dt>
<dd>Term 1 definition</dd>
<dt><dfn>term 2</dfn></dt>
<dt><dfn>alternate term 2</dfn></dt>
<dd>Term 2 definition 1</dd>
<dd>Term 2 definition 2</dd>

which is a perfectly accessible HTML 4/5 association list. In fact, the <dfn> tag is so unobtrusive, that I don't think it is asking too much of editors to simply do the following, to the same effect:

;<dfn>term 1</dfn>
:Term 1 definition
;<dfn>term 2</dfn>
;<dfn>alternate term 2</dfn>
:Term 2 definition 1
:Term 2 definition 2

which is almost as simple as using the template format. All the matters of style could be handled in MediaWiki:common.css or any of the various skins. If we want to present the glossary in a particular style, it could be wrapped in the "gloss" template, and then styled in the css style sheets. For example, the style sheet could define an html class in which the terms are on the same line as the definitions. That way, the styling is completely separated from the content, and different Wikipedia skins can present the glossaries differently.

By the way, now that the <dfn> tag is recognized by Wikipedia, I have just added some default styling for the tag in common.css. As it now stands, adding a <dfn> tag within the <dt>...</dt> tags of an association list does not change the default styling, which is bold, no italics. In other words, including the <dfn> tag to designate the "names" in an association list as being a "defined term" does not unexpectedly convert the terms to bold italics. COGDEN 19:54, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

I spoke too soon. The formatting I added to common.css is apparently controversial (at least for now), and has been removed. The consequence of this is that <dfn>-tagged terms within glossaries will show up as bold italics in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and Safari, but will show up as just bold in Chrome. This happens if you use the "term" and "defn" templates as well. If that's not what you want, then please speak up at MediaWiki:common.css. COGDEN 03:01, 10 May 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Glossaries/DD bug test cases; the entire point of all this templating is that MediaWiki's parser is badly broken when it comes to ;/: markup. I have no idea what they're doing with making <dfn>...</dfn> do weird stuff; it shouldn't have any style whatsoever, it's pure semantic metadata. I've used {{dfn}} to undo this with local style, and this fix propagates to {{term}}. I've filed an editprotected at MediaWiki:common.css to permanently fix the italics problem. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 23:28, 11 February 2012 (UTC) Update: The italics fix is now in common.css. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 23:33, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

<Dfn> support[edit]

Update (8 May 2011): Now that a known MediaWiki bug has been fixed in Wikipedia's software engine, and the HTML element <dfn>...</dfn> is properly supported, the {{term}} template will now also identify the term as the defining instance of its usage in the page, as en.wikipedia has in fact installed the upgraded version of MediaWiki. (This update was moved here from WP:Manual of Style/Glossaries#Technical notes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:50, 19 October 2014 (UTC))

Revamp begun[edit]

I've begun simplifying the instructions, focusing them on the 3 styles of glossary format. I've shortened the styles' names, for easier reading. I've removed the term "structured", so it won't get confused with the phrase "structured list", which refers to outlines.

I've removed a lot of redundancy from the page, but there is still a lot more in there. Sometimes things are explained 2 or 3 times.

For some unknown reason, the Terminology section (an embedded glossary) wasn't following the guideline. It does now.

My eyes have glazed over, so I'll give it a rest for a day or two and will return to continue copy editing for clarity and conciseness.

We need to get some proofreaders to critique it, preferably some who have never built glossaries before. The Transhumanist 04:32, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

I put a few snippets back in because they're important for reasons that may be orthogonal to your concerns, but overall agree with the changes, and it's nice to have someone else paying attention, as well as adding stuff I didn't think about, like material on the Outlines. Not sure how I feel about losing things like "the importance of getting basic information into an article and sourcing it greatly exceeds any formatting considerations", etc., but have left all that out. The stuff I put back was largely technical or in a few places things like "If a glossary consists of few entries, all with lengthy definitions, consider instead formatting the article as a subheaded-style glossary, in regular paragraphs.", because it isn't safe to assume that everyone will read the entire page top-to-bottom, so it needs sectional cross-references. PS: Nice edit summaries, too; helped me grok what you were doing and why. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 22:55, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

All glossary templates nominated for deletion[edit]

Resolved: TfD closed as keep.

Please see WP:Templates for discussion/Log/2014 October 22#Glossary templates (and the related WP:Templates for discussion/Log/2014 October 20#Template:Gbq), as the outcome will strongly affect MOS:GLOSSARIES.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:04, 22 October 2014 (UTC)

Categorization of glossary terms[edit]

Some glossaries have an accompanying category (e.g., Glossary of geology and Category:Geology terminology). Other glossaries don't have a matching terminology categorization; conversely, some categories of terms don't have a glossary yet. Can we come up with some guidance on this? Making a good categorization is a good way for preparing the field for a future glossary. Even the naming is not uniform: sometimes it's "terms" other times it's "concepts", etc. Fgnievinski (talk) 07:07, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

@Fgnieinski: Agreed. Did you have some specific wording to suggest?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:15, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

Naming convention change request[edit]

A glossary is by definition a list of terms. So, the title "Glossary of education terms" is redundant, because it means a "list of terms of education terms".

At least for some of the glossaries, they started out as "List of subject terms", and when they got renamed to glossaries, the word "terms" was inadvertently left in the title.

Also, a glossary is essentially a dictionary that is part of a book, rather than a stand-alone book. A dictionary is a collection of terms. So, "Dictionary of psychology terms" would be redundant. Therefore, in the publishing field, "Dictionary of Subject" is standard. It should be the same for glossary titles (except that on Wikipedia, the subject isn't capitalized unless it is a proper noun).

Therefore, I request we change the standard naming convention for glossaries from "Glossary of subject terms" to "Glossary of subject", except when that wording would be awkward (such as "Glossary of Asteraceae"). The Transhumanist 13:04, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

IMHO, it is not redundant. Suppose there were two glossaries of photography terms, one with modern terms and one with historically common ones (presumably still needed in articles about old cameras and old photography practices). I would want "Glossary of photography terms" and "Glossary of historical photography terms" (maybe there is a better word than "historical"). The terms are what's historical, not the photography.
More importantly, the terms are what's being glossed. Many books say "Glossary of Terms", not just "glossary". It's true that glossaries on Wikipedia will usually be glossaries of technical terms, but you can also have a "glossary of symbols" (found in math books), or just a glossary of a language (these are found in books used for learning that language; they differ from a dictionary by virtue of providing a gloss only for words occurring in the text, and also, providing a gloss which is specifically relevant to the text. A gloss, here, is not a definition, since it need only work in the one context.) (talk) 08:03, 11 June 2016 (UTC)
I concur with the anon. A "Glossary of historical photography" might be something very different (a glossary of modern terms about historical photography). We also have other complications, such as the fact that there can be glossaries of other things than terms (e.g., equations, symbols, etc.), and glossaries of terminology that are not just lists of terms and definitions, but have more conventional article content on the systematics of a terminological system. Finally, using titles like "Glossary of basketweaving" is simply telegraphic writing, and parses as extremely awkward to some of us, even confusing and questionably grammatical/logical. It's the pursuit of concision to an extreme that defies common sense and the other naming criteria like WP:Precision and WP:Recognizability. Another way of looking at this is that "Glossary of" and "List of" are themselves "redundant" in the same sense: we could move all list articles to bare plural forms (usurping plural redirects and moving non-list articles to singular where necessary), e.g. moving "List of physics journals" to just "Physics journals"; and we could likewise move all glossaries to titles like "Physics terms". But this would not serve either reader interests or editorial, information-architecture interests. As anyone who's even taken a Linguistics 101 class knows, natural language has a great deal of redundancy in it, of many kinds, and this is because humans are not machines; our proper interpretation often requires some degree of redundancy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:12, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

Should we link from the term or the definition?[edit]

Some glossaries link directly from the term (Glossary of architecture, Glossary of biology, Glossary of genetics), while others link from the definition (Glossary of spider terms, Glossary of bird terms, Glossary of sculpting). There doesn't seem to be any consistency and I couldn't find any guidance in the MoS (except the tangentially related WP:BOLDAVOID, which says "Links should not be placed in the boldface reiteration of the title in the opening sentence of a lead."). What are people's opinions on this? Kaldari (talk) 20:36, 27 May 2017 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish, The Transhumanist, and Machine Elf 1735: Any opinions? Kaldari (talk) 23:36, 28 September 2017 (UTC)
  • Link from the term - This seems to be the simplest and most intuitive option. Kaldari (talk) 20:36, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
  • No real case for a rule, but probably for an explanation. This should be up to (guided) editorial discretion. At the "flagship" Glossary of cue sports terms – used as the testbed for all this stuff, including the templates, and still probably our longest and most complex glossary article – we've been using {{ghat}} (a custom hatnote template for use inside glossary entries) to link to articles where we don't want to have a redundant explanation in the glossary page, or we want a short summary and a "Main article: ...." link per WP:SUMMARY style. A good example of the latter is Glossary of cue sports terms#century. But in other cases we're using in-text contextual links inside the glossary definitions, e.g at Glossary of cue sports terms#eight-ball because multiple articles are implicated. In a much more simple glossary, it would probably make more sense to just link the term, rather than something in the definition, especially if the text is very tight and doing it in the definition would require repeating the term for the sole sake of creating a link. Title linking comes at the cost, in template-structured glossaries anyway, of extra care being needed, to do this in the {{term|content=}} parameter. Some people also philosophically object to an inbound link target (the term) also being an outbound link to somewhere else.

    It would probably make the most sense to just document all of these approaches, as available options and when they work best. That would be especially consonant with WP:CREEP concerns, that MOS and other guidelines should not reduce editorial choice without a demonstrable need to do so, both because it's annoying and because it leads to too many rules.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:27, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

  • Follow the MOS on the formatting of headings – while it is more intuitive to link the term, the MOS states "Headings should normally not contain links". This has something to do with accessibility. So, except in cases where the term is a heading, I would link the term. For glossaries with headings, you do have the option of changing the format so that the terms are no longer headings. ;) The Transhumanist 05:50, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Speaking of length and detail ...[edit]

I've been thinking of splitting this into an MoS page and a Help:Glossaries how-to, with most of the technical details moving to the latter. The technical complexity of this page is the only reason it still has a proposal or draft template on it, since it's actually been in daily use for years, but a proposal to put a guideline tag it, at WT:MOS several years ago, came back with a general "not yet, too complicated" response. It's actually less complicated than MOS:ACCESS and its subpages, but whatever. "Go with the flow." An argument can be made to just put {{Guideline}} on it right now, since it's actually in use as one. But as the primary author of it, I don't think I'm in a position to do that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:37, 29 September 2017 (UTC)