Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Lead section

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Hypocorisms[edit]

Could you please add an example of an inappropriate hypocorism? I would suggest it for William Franklin "Billy" Graham as it seems once a month over the past six months someone has claimed a different reason for removing the Billy from the opening paragraph. If that's a sufficiently common hypocorism, I'll be surprised as "Will" is far more common today. Walter Görlitz (talk) 04:21, 20 October 2017 (UTC)

  • It's not a particularly big deal to me either way, but for what it's worth, our article on hypocorisms lists "Billy" as being a hypocorism for "William." Lepricavark (talk) 05:02, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
  • What are you saying is inappropriate? The article title Billy Graham, or the way his name is written in the lead, or what? Dicklyon (talk) 05:06, 20 October 2017 (UTC)
  • It's normal practice to have something like "Alice Beatrice (Bea) Ceesdale" or "Alice Beatrice Ceesdale, better known as Bea Ceesdale," in leads. I'm unaware of any consensus to remove that, i.e. to give "Alice Beatrice Ceesdale" in the lead sentence at an article titled "Bea Ceesdale", and just use "Bea Ceesdale" after the lead sentence. Hypocorisms shouldn't use quotation marks (those are for nicknames and aliases). For non-native English speakers, the fact that a hypocorism is common doesn't make it immediately understandable that it's a variant of the same name and refers to the same person (e.g., a Russian might be as unfamiliar with the fact that "Billy" is a diminutive of "William" as an American or Brit probably is that "Dima" is a Russian diminutive of "Dmitri"). PS: I don't actually like the use of quotation marks for hypocorisms, diminutives, and initials, and would suggest parentheses, reserving quotation marks for actual nicknames; but a proposal in that regard several years ago didn't reach consensus.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  03:32, 23 October 2017 (UTC); rev'd. 03:06, 10 November 2017 (UTC)

Mathematical symbols[edit]

The MOS:INTRO section should be expanded with a reference to Mass–energy equivalence. "Mathematical equations and formulas should be avoided when they conflict with the goal of making the lead section accessible to as broad an audience as possible, but an article about an equation or formula may need to include the subject; see Mass–energy equivalence." 208.95.51.38 (talk) 13:08, 27 October 2017 (UTC)

Rule of thumb about length of article lead should be defined more[edit]

It says four well-composed paragraphs, but what would be the length of each paragraph in terms of lines? Thinker78 (talk) 02:18, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

That entirely depends on what size screen you view it on. —David Eppstein (talk) 02:25, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Good point. Then how could the paragraph length be measured? Word count comes to mind but that is maybe only for those who have a word processor that counts words. Thinker78 (talk) 03:23, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
How about: By whether it adequately summarizes the rest of the article? —David Eppstein (talk) 03:46, 3 November 2017 (UTC)
Agreed with David Eppstein, though it's not hard to ferret out of teh Interwebs some general advice: There seems to be overall agreement that paragraphs should usually be 3–8 sentences, many sources on writing advising 5 on average. Sentence length advice in various sources ranges from 10 to 35 words, average around 20 for formal-ish writing (versus 15 for journalism, 25 for academic material). We actually tend to keep lead material short, paragraph-wise, for ease of readability and "digestion". However, the first sentence or two are often fairly long, due to what they are and what we typically have in them (especially for bios, with vital stats like full names, birth/death dates/places, nationality, occupation(s), "best known for", etc.; for things that need pronunciation keys and other language info; and for subjects with various alternative names). Many visitors only read the lead unless they really need additional detail, so we try to pack everything important in there, but not have it be one monolithic text-wall. Many, many of our leads need better organization, both into more, non-run-on sentences, and into multiple, shorter paragraphs. We could in theory add a compressed summary of what I just said about numbers, but people might be apt to try to over-apply averages as rules if it wasn't written very carefully.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  05:19, 3 November 2017 (UTC)

One-sentence paragraphs are possible[edit]

It is good idea not to prohibit short paragraphs if ideas are completely different. I can skip ending of paragraph if I understand first words.

It is difficult to read paragraph when ideas are actually different. I cannot skip anything if ideas are mixed in one paragraph. D1gggg (talk) 23:35, 9 November 2017 (UTC)

@D1gggg: Nothing in this guideline prohibits short paragraphs, so it's unclear why this is posted here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  02:49, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: correct. This might be considered WP:CONSENSUS if one decides to place such note.
I saw several articles where short paragraphs were mashed in one but less readable. Breaks should be logical or consistent, not based on size.
I don't think this affect many articles. D1gggg (talk) 03:00, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
It has nothing to do with article leads in particular.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  03:04, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
Maybe about WP:LEADPARAGRAPH and WP:BEGINNING
I don't know other MOS about paragraphs. D1gggg (talk) 03:18, 10 November 2017 (UTC)
Maybe D1gggg is referring to what MOS:Paragraphs states? Betty Logan and I are often against single-sentence paragraphs. I recently reverted an IP because of his choppy paragraphs that inhibited flow and made a section look bigger than it was. I then commented on the IP's talk page about it. One way to fix a paragraph involving different aspects is to add a topic sentence at the beginning of it. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:05, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
@Flyer22 Reborn: 811928654 is a good example when exact boundaries of paragraphs aren't crystal clear - but "after" seems better.
Some real world authors are known to make 0,5-1,5 page long paragraphs. Their books are very difficult to follow: 1. use less words to tell the same 2. don't exhaust readers with many long paragraphs where they need to read from start to end D1gggg (talk) 23:19, 30 November 2017 (UTC)
On the MOS:Paragraphs talk page, a possible revision to the guideline was recently discussed. An editor wanted stricter wording for avoiding subheadings for short paragraphs. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:11, 27 November 2017 (UTC)
While very short paragraphs are warranted when they are used properly, more often than not they are used as a lazy option on Wikipedia so I think it is good practise to discourage them. More substantial paragraphs generally lead to superior prose when they are properly written. It encourages editors to integrate edits into an existing train of thought rather than just adding random sentences here, there and everywhere. This often involves reworking the whole paragraph to make it work as a whole idea/theme, but it ends up more encyclopedic IMO. This, for example, is basically written as a twitter feed and should be discouraged. Betty Logan (talk) 09:56, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Shorcut changes[edit]

Shorcut changes that concern this guideline are currently being discussed at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#"WP:" vs. "MOS:". A permalink for it is here. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 21:08, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Merge bio material from MOS:LEAD to MOS:BIO[edit]

Merge bio material from MOS:LEAD to MOS:BIO[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see section merge discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies#Merge bio material from MOS:LEAD to MOS:BIO.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  08:40, 30 November 2017 (UTC)