Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Layout

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WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject icon This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.

Introductory Paragraph Needed[edit]

This page does not seem to have an adequate introductory paragraph, at least from the point of view of someone who isn't very experienced in the subject. Ok, this page may be some type of a sacred cow and other editors don't want it flagged, but when someone like me come along who actually needs to learn something from the page they find a lack of an adequate introduction to the page. A newcomer to the subject might really appreciate an introductory paragraph to orient them to the couple of guiding principles that are supposed to help us create excellent Wiki page layouts. This paragraph seems to be absent from the current page, merely redirecting users to the entire Manual of Style isn't very helpful. Unfortunately this isn't a project where I really have the experience to be very helpful, except to point out there is a real need. Atani (talk) 02:42, 4 December 2014 (UTC)

Although I reverted you here for tagging the lead as too short as though it's a Wikipedia article, I agree that the lead should be significantly bigger than what it currently is. Flyer22 (talk) 02:47, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Can you help me see what the problem is with the current length? The "short" lead is followed by a table of contents that tells the reader where to click for the "guiding principles" regarding layout. The link in the lead to the entire Manual of Style tells the reader where to look for "writing style," not layout, guidance. (I'm not even sure what a "guiding principle" would be vis-à-vis layout. "Put article elements in the assigned order"? That said, I did make soe text changes to make the lead more accessible to non-insiders.) Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 13:01, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
ButwhatdoiknowThanks for your input. The basic problem is that the lack of an introduction wasn't helpful to me, and if it wasn't helpful to me it probably wasn't helpful to other people as well. Simply to orient my thinking in the right direction to better understand the rest of the material I would have found it helpful to have had one or two well written paragraphs [probably not more] that would explain the general principles and standard practices that generated the rest of the document - this could be an extract from the Manuel of Style or something more. Pointing to outside references, is fine but less than helpful, it can be downright confusing. An introduction should do three things, introduce us to what is there, what to do with it [or how to use it], and why it is important.Atani (talk) 21:28, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, I tried. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 13:33, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Atani You are correct twice. There ought to be an introduction here, and people are shy about editing pages with site-wide policy on them. Until September last year, there was no introduction. In that month, I proposed some changes and wrote an introduction in the first section. A lot of what I proposed did not stick, so my introduction was not useful, and other people made changes much more insightful than what I proposed originally and the result of all those revisions is the version that exists now. I am much happier with the outcome than with what I proposed, and in my opinion, the page is stable at this point after some deep revision.
I feel that if someone wanted to write an introduction, then now would be a reasonable time to do so. Part of the reason why no introduction is here is because of fear of solidifying policy, uncertainty about the stability of recent changes, and difficulty in understanding the right things to say. I am not sure what an introduction should say but I feel that it should summarize in words the ordered list in the first section, and explain why that list matters even if it seems obvious. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:14, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
BluerasberryThanks for your input. At this point I spend most of my time as an 'editor' making things I can't understand in the pages I come across understandable to me and pointing out problems where I see problems. I remember at the time I first signed up for this project reading, "Be bold!" Maybe that principle has been revoked. Hopefully I've at least generated enough interest here to break the ball loose from the ice.
Writing a good introduction to anything is actually pretty difficult, you really have to understand the subject matter and be able to teach it, not just cut and past, make some lists, or point to off-page references. There must be some guiding principles of organization, or a set of priorities that will orient a new user to properly understanding the subsequent information - ones that have been found to work well and are widely used. Ok, if the principles are the same principles of organizing a research paper, or laying out a webpage, then what are those? or the most important ones for a Wiki article? Atani (talk) 21:03, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
Bluerasberry Oh, forgot to add, if you've already written some material post it below, I'd like to see it. I can at least tell you if it was helpful to me or not.Atani (talk) 21:30, 4 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm unclear what you mean by "principles". This isn't a design page, so design principles like the Rule of thirds are irrelevant. Mostly, the page says "Put stuff in a sensible order. 'Sensible' is defined as 'the order that would seem good to someone who had a comprehensive understanding of WP:ACCESS problems and had studied thousands of well-written articles'." WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:29, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

Wiktionary box[edit]

In what position shall the Wiktionary lookup box come? Before or after maintenance tags? Please add info about this to the guideline. Iceblock (talk) 19:39, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

I would say that they fall within "Navigational boxes (header navboxes)" as the last item before the TOC. But this page does need to agree with WP:SISTER. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:11, 10 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Redrose64! Iceblock (talk) 04:17, 13 December 2014 (UTC)
Iceblock, can you give me the name of the template you're talking about? WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:22, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing, yes, the template is Template:Wiktionary. I'm sorry I didn't write this in the first place; I probably will do next time! :-) Iceblock (talk) 17:13, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Works cited[edit]

I think that "Works cited" should not be given as an option for both the list of explanatory footnotes ("other articles use 'Notes', 'Footnotes', or 'Works cited'") and the list of full citations or general references ("For a list of full citations or general references: 'References' or 'Works cited'"). "Works cited" should be given as an option only for the list of full citations or general references as is done in academic literature. --Omnipaedista (talk) 13:13, 16 December 2014 (UTC)

This seems to be on point: Wikipedia:Perennial_proposals#Changes_to_standard_appendices. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 01:35, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
"The term works cited is used in the MLA Style and Chicago Style (humanities style)"; it describes a reference list not a set of footnotes. [1] --Omnipaedista (talk) 20:33, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
"About the names of the section headings, different academic fields use different terms, and Wikipedia editors do not want to impose the convention preferred by one academic discipline on articles in another discipline." - Wikipedia:Perennial_proposals#Changes_to_standard_appendices. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 01:53, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Just one question: in which academic discipline is "works cited" used to mean "footnotes"? I am aquainted with a wide range of scientific literature and have never come across an instance where "works cited" means "footnotes." I have edited tens of thousands of Wikipedia articles and I have rarely found this practice followed, so it is not an established Wikipedia practice either. --Omnipaedista (talk) 10:26, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
In other words, what I propose is not covered by "Perennial proposals" which states that it is not appropriate for one to propose that section titles "should be changed to the system preferred by the editor/a particular professional field/the editor's school". My objection is that, as far as I know, no professional school and no group of Wikipedia articles employs the title "works cited" to indicate footnotes; certain schools employ it to indicate "bibliography". So my concern is not the use of the title "works cited" in general, just the use of "works cited" to indicate "footnotes." I may be wrong about my "no professional school" assertion though; If so, please correct me. --Omnipaedista (talk) 12:17, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Who is claiming that "works cited" indicates footnotes? --Redrose64 (talk) 13:31, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

(outdent) Currently the page says: Title: Editors may use any section title that they choose.[10] The most frequent choice is "References"; other articles use "Notes", "Footnotes", or "Works cited" (in diminishing order of popularity) for this material. This formulation by itself is ambiguous; it puts in the same group "Notes", "Footnotes", or "Works cited" as if they refer to the same type of appendix, i.e., list of explanatory footnotes or shortened citation footnotes. What follows in the documentation two paragraphs below clarifies the issue: For a list of full citations or general references: "References" or "Works cited". But shouldn't it be explicit somehow in the first part I quoted that "works cited" is a possible section title of the list of full citations or general references, not the possible section title of the list of explanatory footnotes or shortened citation footnotes? I do not think that this is self-evident as the text stands now. --Omnipaedista (talk) 20:00, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Under the heading "Notes and references", WP:FNNR is describing all sections that fall under that umbrella. They may be full references; shortened footnotes; or explanatory notes. It is suggesting titles for the section(s) without mandating any specific one, and is not implying that "works cited" is synonymous with "footnotes". Many articles have just one of these sections, and "References" seems to be the most popular title for that; quite a few have two such sections (a few weeks ago I made a small survey to show just how diverse the choices have been for those two headings in articles that use Shortened footnotes); some even have three, such as LB&SCR A1X Class W8 Freshwater#Notes (although I added the "Citations" heading, I don't personally like it). --Redrose64 (talk) 20:39, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Very interesting survey. If no one else besides me thinks that the current version is implying that "works cited" is synonymous with "footnotes", I withdraw my proposal for changing it. Thanks for the informative reply. --Omnipaedista (talk) 23:38, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

See also links and hatnotes[edit]

If something is linked in a hatnote, should it also appear in the See also section? What if something is indirectly linked via a dabhat and then specifically linked in See also? The latter situation has just arisen at Tarkhan (Punjab). - Sitush (talk) 01:52, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Hello! For an article as short as Tarkhan (Punjab), repeating any links makes no sense. On the other hand, if an article is quite long, repeating some links in its "See also" section might make sense for strongly related topics. — Dsimic (talk | contribs) 02:36, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]

Perhaps somebody should add a note to it telling editors not to confuse further reading with the bibliography of sources section as I've just had somebody twice get their wires crossed with the Meryl Streep article and then cite WP:FURTHER as the reason why articles should not have bibliographies and only further reading sections.♦ Dr. Blofeld 12:00, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

@Dr. Blofeld, Dr.K.: You could direct them to Shortened footnotes, perhaps they are unfamiliar with that referencing system. Regarding the title for that section, "Further reading" is certainly not suitable; but "Bibliography" is a poor title as it's ambiguous, see MOS:APPENDIX#Works or publications and MOS:APPENDIX#Notes and references. Personally I use "References", as I did at NBR 224 and 420 Classes, but that would mean amending two headings at Meryl Streep. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:11, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, nobody expressed concern with "bibliography" at the Enid Blyton and Philip Seymour Hoffman FACs of late, and most articles seem to state bibliography. Perhaps somebody like Ian Rose or Graham Beards could offer a better insight into whether it's acceptable. I'm pretty sure most articles going through will have a bibliography section under references. The only confusion I can see is people thinking the bibliography is book written about them or by them, but if it's sub sectioned under references it should be clear.♦ Dr. Blofeld 12:17, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
There is little consistency; see my comments of 20:39, 18 December 2014 at #Works cited above, particularly the parenthesis beginning "a few weeks ago". --Redrose64 (talk) 12:33, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
I know Tim riley prefers "Sources" rather than bibliography, but as you say there's a range of formatting ideas and titles permitted. But bibliography of sources should never be confused with further reading!♦ Dr. Blofeld 12:39, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Tks DrB. Personally I use Notes for citations and References for books consulted but using Bibliography for the latter still appears to be acceptable as far as MOS is concerned and, while it is, I expect it to be acceptable at FAC. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 12:40, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for the ping Redrose. Personally, I'm ok with anything except "Further reading" which is misleading. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 12:54, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks guys. Ian Rose, what do you do when you have some actual footnotes to add though above the citation section, do you call it "Footnotes"?♦ Dr. Blofeld 13:05, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Well I do find "Footnotes" above "Notes" a bit odd-looking so I generally treat it as a Kobayashi Maru and find a way around using the footnote... ;-) Seriously though, in my early days I would just put a footnote in the Notes section (as you find in some books) and in a later article I used a Footnotes section followed by a Citations section instead of a Notes section. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 13:43, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Usually I put true "notes" in the same section as the "short footnotes", distinguished by index mark (letters for the true "notes"), see NBR 224 and 420 Classes mentioned above. In only one case did I use three sections, and I also mentioned it at 20:39, 18 December 2014 (search for "some even have three"). --Redrose64 (talk) 14:24, 27 January 2015 (UTC)
Redrose64, precisely why I disagree with the use of Bibliography for persons that aren't authors, because it is misleading. Further reading means exactly what it states ("publications that would help interested readers learn more about the article subject"), unlike "Bibliography", which is wholly ambiguous. If the purported "Bibliography" section is a list of sources used then they should just be listed under "References". --Lapadite (talk) 01:33, 28 January 2015 (UTC)

Interwiki links[edit]

I wish that the section "Order of article elements" included an item "Interwiki links".

Knife-in-the-drawer (talk) 03:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

It used to have one, but was removed once Wikidata became the normal place for interlanguage links. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:15, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for that info. Today, I was fixing Checkwiki #53 errors ("An interwiki appears before the last category") for the first time. Consulting this MOS/Layout article, I saw that "Interwiki links" weren't specified, and I didn't know where they should be placed in relation to stub templates. Knife-in-the-drawer (talk) 16:01, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
If there are any, they should be after the stubs - per this version from just over two years ago, which was the last one to mention them. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:12, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Redrose64. Very helpful. Knife-in-the-drawer (talk) 01:46, 27 March 2015 (UTC)