Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Text formatting

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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.

Italics for names of climbing routes[edit]

MOS does not say whether or not climbing routes should be italicised. WikiProject Climbing/Article Guidelines#Routes says "Route names should be italicized". One editor had suggested (somewhat weakly) in 2009 that route names should be italicized. Another editor questioned this in 2010 and got no response. Should they be italicised? I'm surprised to see it myself. Nurg (talk) 00:31, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

IMO they shouldn't, and it seems that most aren't. I don't think WikiProject guidelines are enough – WP:ITALICS ought to be amended if this should ever go up. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:46, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikiprojects' pseudo-guidelines never trump broader consensus, as at MOS. This is matter of policy at WP:LOCALCONSENSUS. Wikiprojects are not magical fiefdoms with their own rules; they are simply pages at which editors agree to coordinate their collaborative editing on particular topics. If editors at WP:CLIMBING want to make a special case for italicization of climbing routes, they need to gain consensus at WT:MOS for it. This would be a much broader discussion that they might realize, since it will also implies rules for hiking and biking trails, among other things. I'd bet good money that the consensus will be that it's yet another case of the WP:Specialist style fallacy, in which devotees of some particular area insist on trying to impose on a general encyclopedia some precious style only used in their specialist publications, that makes no sense to anyone outside their club. MOS bends over backwards to accommodate quirks of various fields, but only where they do not violate the principle of least astonishment for the largest number of users (i.e. everyone else who speaks English, vs. a tiny minority of specialists).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  05:27, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Should translated title be italicized?[edit]

If we have an article on a magazine with a foreign title, we italicize that title and in the lead put the English translation behind it between parentheses (e.g. La Salamandre (English: The Salamander) is a nature magazine...). My question is, should the English translation be italicized or not? The guideline is not clear about that (or, at least, I couldn't find any clear guidance). Thanks. --Randykitty (talk) 08:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

The English title should only be italicized (and capitalized) if it is used as a title by that magazine or by other reputable sources; in this case, I would use La Salamandre (the salamander); there's no need to explain that the term in parentheses is English. On the other hand, the German title of its children magazine should be called Der Kleine Salamander because that's what the publishers call it (despite their dubious use of caps for the German adjective "kleine"). -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:17, 15 October 2013 (UTC)


Added a section on substituting PUA characters so the article can be edited by AWB, and tagging them for tracking. — kwami (talk) 02:55, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Font size[edit]

I would like to add the following text under the Font size section:

The use of reduced fontsize should be used sparingly. In no case should the resulting fontsize drop below 11px (85% on systems using 96 dpi display setting) to avoid illegible text. A common mistake is the use of smaller fontsizes (using {{small}} or inline CSS) inside infoboxes and navboxes, which already use a smaller fontsize.

Comments? Edokter (talk) — 18:20, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Terms like 11px and 85% of 96 dpi are of no use to the editor. Say what to do or not do in the wiki source. Dicklyon (talk) 19:29, 4 January 2014 (UTC)
Continued at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Accessibility#Font size Edokter (talk) — 20:06, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Website italicisation[edit]

I have been engaged in slightly parallel discussions about italicisation of websites in general at CS1 talk, and on my talk page about the BBC News website in particular. There are two issues at hand:

  1. the change to CS1, and the creation of |website= as an alias of |work= making a de facto italicisation of any website that is input as data into the parameter.
  2. I have been confronted on my talk page about my de-italicising BBC News in citations.

In neither case am I'm not going to rehash the arguments, as anyone interested can read for themselves before commenting. I've asked the question here before and never received an definitive response. Indeed, the discussion at this level is rather limited. Nevertheless, I would appreciate some views. -- Ohc ¡digame! 05:25, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

On the first point, I’m in general agreement with the notion of equating websites to major works–like books, journals, albums, &c., presented in italics (and web-page titles to those of short works: articles, stories, poems, songs, &c., in quotes). On the second point, I’d say the publisher is the BBC, and indeed one might quibble that the site itself appears to be called just BBC, BBC News being in a directory … I don‘t suppose this is the best place to discuss whether or not a large department without its own domain name is a “website“ … Anyway, for example today’s top news story is on a page titled “BBC News - Obama orders curbs on NSA data use”, which is how I’d cite it.—Odysseus1479 08:16, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
On the first point, I think the names of websites that are just websites, and not news sources or books, should not be italicised. I agree with Ohc that there should not be a |website= parameter as well as a |work= parameter. This is a bit similar to the tiresome situation with |publisher= and |work= in "cite news", where |publisher= is almost always redundant and causes confusion when editors think they have to fill it in because it's there.
On the second point, WP:ITALICS says "Online magazines, newspapers, and news sites with original content should generally be italicized ( or The Huffington Post)". BBC News (when by that we mean the website, which used to be called "BBC News Online" but is now just called BBC News) is a "news site with original content" and I cannot see any case for not italicising it if we are going to italicise things like The Huffington Post. I would say the same about, NBC News, etc. when we specifically mean their news websites rather than their broadcasting outlets. -- Alarics (talk) 08:56, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
  • I don't understand why people have any difficulty with this. BBC is a publisher, a business entity that publishes (and it broadcasts like NBC does, and so on), just like Houghton Mifflin publishes books, and Metropolis Records publishes CDs and vinyl music releases. It is not a work, and it is more obviously not an author. The news site BBC produces, titled by them BBC News just like their TV and radio news shows, in a big logo right there for us to see, with "BBC" aligned vertically over the word "News", is the name of a publication, a work, just like War and Peace is the name of a novel, and Breaking Bad is the name of a TV show, and The Joshua Tree is the name of pop album, all also italicized as works. BBC News is not a publisher, nor an author of course. In this particular case, BBC News also happens to be the name of an operational division of the BBC corporation, responsible for producing the online, TV and radio BBC News publications/shows, but this is irrelevant for citation purposes; it would not be italicized in that context, any more than we'd italicize "Marketing Department". Next, "Putin calls Obama to discuss Ukraine" is an article (a title) at the work BBC News, by the publisher BBC. The style of that title we would normalize to "Putin Calls Obama to Discuss Ukraine" in source citations here, BTW. It is a title just like a song on an album, a chapter in a book, a named segment on a news broadcast, an episode of a TV show. It is not a work by itself, nor is it, obviously, a publisher or an author. Authors are individual people, or committees/working groups, or often unidentified (in such case it is good to use author=<!--staff writer(s); no by-line--> so no one thinks the author was left off by accident and wastes time looking for it. The work is occasionally the same as the hostname of the site, in the url, but most often that assumption is false; Salon is often called, but its actual title really is Salon. This is really simple. I'm perpetually mystified by the number of times I run into people misusing the publisher parameter to list the work, as if they can't tell the difference between Apple Records and The Magical Mystery Tour. There are quite literally thousands of cases of this particular error all over Wikipedia. It's maddening.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  05:16, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Mixed right-to-left text[edit]

The examples of bad right-to-left formatting now display correctly. Are these work-arounds no longer necessary? Or is this maybe the effect of browser updates? — kwami (talk) 22:34, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

Kwamikagami, I looked at two of your changes to the guideline. Instead of, at this time, checking all of the changes you made to it, I have decided to ask you what are the changes you made to it and why? Keep in mind that, as the tag on Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting page states, changes made to that page should reflect WP:Consensus. Flyer22 (talk) 22:55, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Mostly copy editing. I changed the section title to make it more explicit, and added anchors and shortcuts. I corrected an error in a font name (Gentium) and in the code range of the PUA, noted that either &#x...; or &#...; coding is acceptable, and changed the wording for substituting &#x...; values for raw PUA. (I don't know the jargon here, perhaps other wording would be preferable.) The only substantive changes were a link to the tracking category for articles with PUA and that I made it clearer that PUA and invisible characters should be removed when possible ("Such characters should be removed or replaced where possible.") Maybe "practical" would be better than "possible"; it's always possible to just delete s.t. I've seen people substitute PUA characters with &#x...; coding (what's the word for that?) when they should have replaced them with their Unicode equivalents instead, so I thought we should make that more explicit. Since I'm the one who's been taking care of most of the PUA characters on WP, and this topic receives very little attention, I figured my thoughts on this was as good as we're likely to get, but please improve anything you think could use it. I'd be happy for this to get more attention, so we get this addressed as well as possible. — kwami (talk) 23:13, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
Okay. Thanks for being careful with the changes (such as adding WP:Anchors) and for explaining. Flyer22 (talk) 23:22, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm adding two more paragraphs. They're nothing new, so I don't think there should be any problem, but feel free to c.e., expand, or even delete as you see fit. One is to make it still clearer that we shouldn't blindly decimalize PUA characters just so AWB can edit the article, because that means CHECKWIKI won't pick up on them, and they're likely to remain in the article longer without being corrected. (The PUA category is getting populated enough that, now that the CHECKWIKI backlog has been taken care of, CHECKWIKI is more likely to get people's attention, but we can certainly change this way of doing things if people want.) The other is that when we do retain PUA, we should specify a supporting font. That's implicit from the example, and is stated in the template instructions, but for some reason I overlooked it here. It also reflects my experiences correcting 128 of the 132 articles that CHECKWIKI flagged in the last two runs for PUA, and seeing how others have tried dealing with them. — kwami (talk) 23:35, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
I think the bits about AWB belong in an AWB manual or help page, not here.—Odysseus1479 01:06, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

kwami I agree with Odysseus. The problem is not that AWB can't edit the article is that PUA characters show different in various systems and in most cases show nothing. This is the reason we fix them. The Manual of Style should remain independed of faulty software etc. -- Magioladitis (talk) 07:53, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

I created Wikipedia:AutoWikiBrowser/Pages skipped by default to move the paragraph you wrote there. -- Magioladitis (talk) 08:05, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
Okay. — kwami (talk) 08:22, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Bad example for MOS:BOLD#Other uses[edit]

Resolved: Poor example removed without dispute.

MOS:BOLD#Other uses includes this:

Use boldface ... in a few special cases:


In the first two cases, the appropriate markup automatically adds the boldface formatting; do not use the explicit triple-apostrophe markup.

However List of Australian inventions is a bad example - it does not use appropriate markup described in (Description (definition, association) lists - it uses the explicit triple-apostrophe markup expressly "forbidden" by MOS. Surely we can find a better example. Mitch Ames (talk) 14:26, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

In the absence of any feedback, I've removed "List of Australian inventions" as an example.

Bot-proof hyphens[edit]

On the MOS talk page, we're discussing bot-proof hyphens. I think this might be a good place to mention them. Maybe s.t. like the following?

Occasionally hyphens rather than dashes are the correct punctuation for the pages of a reference, for example when the source text labels chapter 2, page 4 as "page 2-4". Several bots will automatically change that to "pages 2–4", meaning pages 2 through 4 and breaking the reference. Manual oversight often fails to catch such mistakes. Therefore, when a hyphen is needed in a page reference, the template {{hyphen}} can be used:
page = 2{{hyphen}}4

kwami (talk) 06:46, 26 January 2014 (UTC)

{{sic|2-4|hide=y}} should do it, too. Either way, you can include a note: {{sic|2-4|hide=y|reason=This is "chapter 2, page 4" not "pages 2-4".}} or 2{{hyphen|reason=This is "chapter 2, page 4" not "pages 2-4".}}4 if you think people may not understand what you're doing. Anyway, if there's a bot that is still incorrectly "fixing" these hyphens inside {{sic}}, it needs to be recoded to stop doing that. Nothing in {{sic}} should ever be altered by any bot.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  04:47, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Italics for named automobiles?[edit]

Under "Named vehicles", MOS:ITALIC explicitly states that italics should be used for ship names and trains and locomotives. But what about named automobiles? Currently there's a great deal of inconsistency regarding the use of italics in named automobile articles. For example (the first 5 named automobile articles I thought of):

  • General Lee (car): italics are used for the article title, the lead, the infobox, and most occurrences throughout the article
  • FAB 1: italics are used for most occurrences throughout the article, but not for the lead, the article title or the infobox
  • Popemobile: italics are used in the lead and one image caption but not the article title or throughout the article
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (car): italics are used for the article title but nowhere else
  • Goldenrod (car): Italics are used for most occurrences throughout the article but not the lead

I think it be helpful if MOS:ITALIC gave some guidance in this matter. Thanks. DH85868993 (talk) 11:28, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

No evidence of italicization of land vehicles ("automobiles" is rather too limiting) in most reliable sources. It seems be limited to water vessels and (by analogy) to air- and spacecraft, though it's not as consistently applied to the latter two as to the former, where it borders on universal. Agree MOS should cover these cases. Amphibious vehicles, like the hovercraft ferries used in some places, would be treated as per boats, since they are boats that also happen to go up on land a bit.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  04:42, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
More really obvious carticles:
It may well be worth looking through edit histories of the previously mentioned articles that do show some italicization, and see if it's the same editor going around italicizing them. It seems weird to me that the individually named land vehicles best known in popular culture are not italicized by anyone, anywhere, as I just demonstrated, yet 5 cases suddenly turn up, on articles much less likely to be watchlisted (seriously, why does General Lee (car) exist as a separate article?), where italics are being used to differing degrees of consistency.
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  17:46, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Forced mixed fonts?[edit]

At MOS:NUM, there is a discussion over whether we should force numbers to use mixed fonts when uncertainties are involved, to ensure that they line up exactly. Under 'Uncertainty', the MOS currently gives an example with default fonts, but then advises us to use a template that changes this to monospace, though for only part of the number. The question is whether the template should be changed to accommodate the MOS, or if the MOS should be changed to accommodate the template. Currently, there are only 33 articles that have monospace uncertainties, and over 800 that do not (they use a different template), but at least one editor is insisting that the MOS and the other 800+ articles be brought into line with the 33, and discussion has come to a standstill. — kwami (talk) 02:49, 21 February 2014 (UTC)


Most fonts already use the same width for numbers, with one notable exception: Georgia. Unfortunately, that font is used for example text on help pages. The best solution is to ditch Georgia in favor of a font with equal number widths. Edokter (talk) — 14:27, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
I concur with Edokter, but be careful not to specify something that isn't likely to be on the average Windows, Mac, *n*x and Android system.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  04:38, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Italicization of self-refs[edit]

The wording at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting#Uses of italics that are specific to Wikipedia reading:

A further type of cross-reference may occur within a paragraph of text, usually in parentheses. For example:

At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France).

Unlike many traditional reference works, the convention on Wikipedia that has evolved is that "see" or "see also" are not in italics. Nor are the article titles put in quotation marks.

appears to not represent consensus at all. In fact, it flies in the face of over a decade of consistently italicizing such WP self-references and other instructions to the reader/editor, both in mainspace and in policyspace. This very MOS subpage itself uses the italicization convention! See, e.g., MOS:TEXT#Article title terms:

The most common use of boldface is to highlight the article title, and often synonyms, in the lead section. This is done for the majority of articles, but there are exceptions. See Lead section – Format of the first sentence for in-depth coverage.

It is correct that the practice, favored in some academic journals, of italicizing only the "see" or "see also" part is eschewed on Wikipedia, and that's an important and valid thing to note.

We should clarify this entire section, and give examples:

  • Correct: At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France). – italicization of entire self-ref, including the parentheses (round brackets)
  • Incorrect: At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France). – no italics
  • Incorrect: At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France). – italicization of "see" by itself

At any rate, the idea that the first of these is suddenly incorrect on Wikipedia is total nonsense. It's how literally hundreds of thousands of such cross-references have been done, surely the vast majority of them. I regularly correct non-italicized ones to italicized, and I don't recall anyone ever, even once, reverting me on that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  04:35, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

PS: all of the examples of in-article selfrefs like this given at MOS:SELFREF are italicized.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  07:03, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
PPS: Every single one of the large number of templates for such self-refs ({{See also}}, {{Main}}, etc., etc.) auto-italicize it all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  07:53, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
PPPS: List of horse breeds is in severe need of cleanup to fix the "see Criollo horse"-style half-itacization; it has over a hundred misusages in it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  08:32, 29 March 2014 (UTC)