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.

Revisiting MOS:ITALICS#Foreign terms[edit]

As someone brought up on my talk page, our examples, esprit de corps and praetor, of what to not italicize when it comes to foreign borrowings are both actually italicized at each of their respective articles! D'oh. I bet that a review of all major style guides that happen to include praetor or comparably familiar ancient Roman titles, like legatus, lictor and quaestor (i.e. less familar than centurion, consul, and prefect, but much more so that obscure ones like cubicularius, praefectus urbi and signiferi), will not italicize them, nor other familiar ones in other languages (czar/tsar, caliph, kaiser, etc., vs. Feldwebel, shàngjiàng and kuningatar). For the French phrase, in question, esprit de corps, I'd bet that a significant number of style manuals do still italicize that phrase. It's mid-way on the adoption curve. Like force majeure, éminence grise, and enfant terrible, it's not nearly as familiar as everyday terms like laissez-faire, tour de force, ménage à trois, carte blanche, cordon bleu, but much more familiar to most people in most contexts that adoptions that are almost always still italicized, like fait accompli, coup de grâce, noblesse oblige, etc. Dance and cooking terms like folie à deux and soufflé are almost never italicized any longer. A similar "adoption curve" would be easy to come up with for Spanish, German, even Japanese. We need to more clearly spell out that super-familiar, fully-assimilated things like zeitgeist, macho, chic, and samurai don't need italics (nor German capitalization of common nouns), but uncommon ones (Weltanschaaung, Sagrada Familia, objet trouvé) do, and need to better convey that uncertain cases should be based on what sources are doing (not specialist sources, which will either italicize nothing, ever, that's familiar in that field, or conversely italicize everything as a form of overcorrection and emphasis). "Sources" here means modern (e.g. last 25 years) a) style guides intended for general English language writing, b) examples of general English-language writing like usage in major newsweeklies, and c) dictionaries that do italicize some of these phrases, when uncommon, and do not when common (some dictionaries italicize no entries at all, and others probably over-italicize virtually all modern borrowings, no matter how well-assimilated they are.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:28, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

@Kwamikagami: In a recent edit, you changed the text to say that some non-Latin scripts shouldn't be italicized. This implies that some can be italicized. As far as I know, all non-Latin scripts should not italicized, and I can't think of any exceptions, so please explain. — Eru·tuon 22:35, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

We have a Russian source as a reference, that's an article in a journal. The article title would be placed in quotation marks, and the journal title would be placed in italics. That would be true whether we gave them in Cyrillic or in Latin transliteration. — kwami (talk) 22:48, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
@Kwamikagami: Not sure what you're saying: that journal titles in non-Latin alphabets are given in italics? If so, that is an exception relating to refs. In other situations, Cyrillic is not presented in italics, as in the intro of Fyodor Dostoyevsky or the examples throughout Russian phonology. — Eru·tuon 02:55, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
It's not really even an exception. Rather: You add the Cyrillic (which happens to be a title, but this rule doesn't care), and do not italicize it, being Cyrillic. But you then (under a separate rule that doesn't make exceptions) italicize it because it's a title. So, I think that "some" addition needs to be reverted. Instead add and note about "except when italicized as the title of major creative work". Simple solution.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:56, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Italicization of quotations again[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussions elsewhere.

I've opened an RfC at Template talk:Tq#Removing the italics option that could affect the unwanted incidence of italicization of quotations simply because they're quotations. See also Template talk:Qq#Italicization disputed for some related discussion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:39, 14 October 2014 (UTC)

Succession box use of bold[edit]

Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Succession Box Standardization#Unnecessary bold proposes removal of bold from succession boxes as that bold is contrary to MOS:BOLD. Comments on that page are welcome. One obvious questions is: should we consider updating MOS:BOLD to include use of bold in succession/nav/info boxes? (I think not, but one must ask the question.) Mitch Ames (talk) 06:02, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Italicization of space vessels again[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere

The discussion about whether to italicize the names of spacecraft, per MOS:TEXT, has been reopened at Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)/Archive 48#Should this be italicized?.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:25, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Thanks for opening this, SMcC. I think User:Philosopher got it right in the linked discussion. I think its clear that the names of individually named spacecraft should be italicized (e.g., Eagle (Apollo 11 lunar lander), Columbia (Apollo 11 command module; also space shuttle), Challenger (space shuttle)), following the accepted precedent of italicizing individually named sea vessels (e.g., U.S.S. Enterprise) and individually named aircraft (e.g., Spirit of St. Louis). Numbered space missions (e.g., Apollo 11, STS-124) should not be italicized when the spacecraft was given a separate name different from the numbered mission. To my way of thinking, it is far less clear what to do about numbered space missions/spacecraft that were not individually named (e.g., Ranger 8), the key question being is "Ranger 8" a mission, a spacecraft, or both? Perhaps someone else has already thought through this last example. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:38, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Both; depends on context. "Ranger 8 passed the orbit of ..." vs. "As a Ranger 8 mission control technician, she ...".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:00, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

Invitation to comment on VP proposal: Establish WT:MoS as the official site for style Q&A on Wikipedia[edit]

There is a proposal at the Village Pump that WT:MoS be established as Wikipedia's official page for style Q&A. This would involve actively guiding editors with style questions to WT:MoS and away from other pages, such as this one. Participation is welcome. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:22, 17 May 2015 (UTC)

Use templates and HTML markup instead of wiki markup?[edit]

Why do the sections on boldface and italic advocate using templates and HTML code instead of wiki markup? I understood that Wikipedia favors use of wiki markup and discourages use of HTML code. Using templates makes editing even more complex for typical people who would like to edit Wikipedia.—Finell 23:42, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

Could you point to the sections/paragraphs you object to? I noticed that you replaced the suggested coding of emphasised text, {{em}}, with wikimarkup for italics, '' … ''. I agree with the reasoning at Template:Em/doc and suggest you restore the previous guidance. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 03:18, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
Template documentation is neither policy nor even a guideline; it is written by the template's author(s), who want to justify their template. MediaWiki wiki markup, like the MediaWiki application, was designed to be used on Wikipedia. The buttons above standard Wikipedia edit box apply wiki markup for bold and italic. Wikipedia:Tutorial/Formatting instructs editors to use wiki markup for bold, italic, and bold italic. Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia#Markup, formatting and layout, based on communal consensus, instructs editors to use wiki markup for these attributes. So does the first line of Help:Cheatsheet. None of these sources even mentions using templates instead of the most basic wiki markup. Using templates in place of wiki markup is a needless complication. Complication is the main reason that most new editors quickly give up editing Wikipedia—and that is a serious problem for the project. I edit Wikipedia fairly often, and have done so for many years. I cannot remember ever seeing templates used for italic or boldface.—Finell 07:55, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
Could you point to the sections/paragraphs you object to? Where are templates advocated to create bold or italic output? Note that {{em}}, {{strong}}, {{var}} are not templates to achieve italics – they have a special meaning although they might, or might not, render text in italics. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 11:27, 24 May 2015 (UTC)
Before I changed it, § 2.2 ("Emphasis") said to use HTML markup <em> ... </em> or Template:em. However, § 1.4, which said to use italic rather than boldface for emphasis, showed only wiki markup. However, § 2.2 ("Emphasis") in the main MOS said to use italic sparingly for emphasis, with no mention of using a template or HTML. On this page, § 1 ("Boldface") says that boldface "is usually created by surrounding the text to be boldfaced with triple apostrophes: ..., but can also be done with the <b>...</b> HTML element." No reason exists for the MOS to mention HTML as an alternative to wiki markup.
WP:MOS, like every published style guide, prescribes specific uses of italic, boldface, and small caps. Neither WP:MOS nor any other published style guide prescribes typeface conventions that distinguish among multiple levels of emphasis. You can immediately spot text created using MS Word's styles for subtle emphasis, emphasis, intense emphasis, and strong, each with its own combination of italic and bold and, by default, color(!)—and you immediately know that whoever did this has no idea what a published document should look like.—Finell 02:03, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Applicability to citation styles[edit]

I propose adding the following to the "Other text formatting concerns" section:

Text formatting in citations should follow established citation styles. The formatting applied by citation templates, such as Citation Style 1 and Citation Style 2 templates, should not be adjusted. Parameters should be accurate and should not be omitted if the formatting applied by the template is not in agreement with the text formatting guidelines above.

The reason is that the formatting applied by many citation templates do not match the guidelines set forth on this page. Nonetheless, the formatting applied by many citation templates is the result of broad consensus for how citations should be formatted, non-Wikipedia guidelines (eg. MLA style), or technical reasons. This issue has been the subject of several discussions, particularly in relation to italicization of works, such as (ordered somewhat in order of depth/relevance):

This is also an issue that seems to arise often at featured content reviews. There really needs to be something in the MOS to reconcile the differences between the text formatting guidelines on this page and the formatting style used by citation templates. Since most citation pages aren't part of the MOS, I think this page is a good location for such a guideline. AHeneen (talk) 21:36, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

@AHeneen: Overall, I agree. We do need to allow for the fact that some external citation styles do things not conscionable under MOS normally. With externally-derived citation styles, I guess it's just a lost cause. We do need to allow for the fact that some externally-derived citation styles do things not conscionable under MOS normally. This exception would not apply to CS1/CS2 when used to generate WP's own internal citation style, which would always be normalized to MOS (or MOS tweaked to account for the citation variance). In a related thread at WT:CS1, I went into this in more detail, and I think this approach resolves all these issues:

When CS1/CS2 are used in their default "native" Wikipedia citation style mode (i.e., not being used to generate an externally-derived citation style like Vancouver), they should entirely comply with MOS (but that doesn't mean what it sounds like). If there is some way in which they do not, then either they need to change, or a variance needs to be accounted for in the fine print over here at MOS:TEXT, and it will probably be the latter (though there have been some exceptions, I think).

In some cases this conflict is actually illusory anyway: We do not italicize the names of websites. But they are being italicized in {{Cite web}}. It's not because it's an error or because CS1 is recalcitrant, it's because a different rule is being applied secondarily. The website name is being added without italics because it's a website (a default rule for that medium, as with application software). Then italicization is being added after the fact by a rule (italicize titles of major works) that is general and applies regardless of medium. So, in the specific context of a reference citation where the site is the |work=, then it would be italicized, because it's being contextualized as a major published work, not as an online service, business enterprise, or any other kind of "thing". Illusory or not, it's liable to be confusing without clarification, so we should account for it as a variance (because the usage in the cite templates is correct), rather than de-italicize in the template, and certainly rather than declaring MOS and CS1 to be in some kind of conflict. I would strongly suggest that this same kind of analysis be applied to any other apparent conflicts between MOS and the cite templates (in "native" mode). We just fix them.

What would be undesirable is addition of a rule exception for citation templates across the board at MOS:TEXT, because that would allow later divergence of CS1/CS2 in "native" mode from MOS for no reason (raising WP:LOCALCONSENSUS issues, people fighting about it). Our own internal citation styles should always be in agreement with our own internal style guide (even that mostly means MOS makes a variance for CS1/CS2). As long as we only add a rule in MOS:TEXT saying "does not apply to externally-derived citation styles like Vancouver, ..." or something to this effect (to keep people from stripping smallcaps or whatever), this should basically mean that MOS and the internal citation style are never out of synch for more than a brief time in which a simple discussion will resolve the newly arisen discrepancy. Easy-peasy.

 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:32, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

A specific rewording, addressing several needs at once, might run like this:

Text formatting in citations should follow, consistently within an article, an established citation style or system. Options include either of Wikipedia's own template-based Citation Style 1 and Citation Style 2, and any other well-recognized citation system (see WP:CITEVAR). The formatting applied by citation templates should not be evaded.[fn] Parameters should be accurate, and should not be omitted if the formatting applied by the template is not in agreement with the text formatting guidelines above. Those guidelines do not apply to any non-Wikipedia citation style, which should not be changed to conform to them.
fn. In unusual cases the default formatting may need to be adjusted to conform to some other guideline, e.g. italicization of a non-English term in a title that would otherwise not be italicized.

[What footnote system is used doesn't matter, of course, or it could be done not as a footnote at all. Any way you like.]

This provides more information and links, reinforces consistency within the article, distinguishes between WP and off-WP cite styles, permits necessary adjustments, and warns against alteration of non-MOS styles in externally-derived cite styles (important because some of them are quite jarring and frequently inspire "correction", especially to remove smallcaps).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:36, 18 June 2015 (UTC)

PS: See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Titles#Clarification on websites, on when and when not to italicize website titles.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:01, 18 June 2015 (UTC)