Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 15

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Archive 10 Archive 13 Archive 14 Archive 15 Archive 16 Archive 17 Archive 20

AD, BC, et al.

Starting with archive 9, people began discussing whether to use "BC" or "BCE", whether to add periods between the letters, whether to add "AD" to articles bout dates, etc. Som eof the issues and related pages that cropped up:

  • "Believe it or not, there are plenty of articles with numbers greater than 2070 which ignore the rules about articles for years vs. numbers." --anon
  • CE? AD? AD 101? 101 AD? Discussion starts in archive 9 & 11. No decision; articles currently at the bare number to avoid choosing among these, to the disgruntlement of number theorists.
  • BC v. BCE? Having both, with one as a redirect, seems obvious. Should there be a recommendation on which to use, for style? Articles currently at BC.

See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/proposed revision for discusion of BC vs BCE. --JK the unwise 14:35, 11 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Please add to the above overview. +sj + 01:04, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

More on year vs. number

Pulled from this page's archives:

I think that it is more logical for an article named something like "60" to refer to the number sixty. It can be distinguished from the date by titling the date articles "AD 60" or "60 BC". If a user searches for "60", doesn't it make sense that they want the number 60, not AD 60?

Perhaps, but if a user searches for 1997, it almost certainly means that he/she is looking for the article about the year 1997. Years are linked to in almost every article, so changing this would take a lot of work, both on the technical side and on mindset. — David Remahl 15:57, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I don't understand the rationale for the many number articles in general. Maurreen 17:26, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Many people find numbers interesting, and they have arguably encyclopaedic properties. — David Remahl 17:40, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
1997 is a prime number! So it is possible that the user is looking for information about this number! I think that 1997 is a number and in the Gregorian calendar it is associated to a year. But it is a number in first place. Fupis 20:43, 05 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Talk:1 (about the number and year)

Symbols vs. abbreviations

In section Style for numbers, weights, and measures:

"use standard abbreviations or symbols for metric units without an added s in the plural — m for metre, kg for kilogram, etc. (see SI for the list) — and two-letter abbreviations for inch-pound units — in for inch (not "), ft for foot (not '), yd for yard (not yds), mi for mile, lb for pound (not lbs), gal for gallon, pt for pint, qt for quart, and so forth."

"m" is a symbol for metre, but "yd" is an abbreviation for yard—like the text says—and should thus, in my humble opinion, be followed by a period: "yd.". I agree that it gets a little awkward with cubic yards etc., which would become "yd.³", but the English units are awkward themselves already. I can also see, that a few of these abbreviations are of a special kind, not being contractions of the actual English name: engl. pound -> lat. libra -> lb. I'd also like a (linked) normative list of abbreviations for English units and a suggested style for disambiguity prefixes and suffixes, e.g. for ounce (fluid/mass, US/Imperial, Avoirdupois/Troy) or gallon (US/Imperial, dry/wet). There should perhaps be a note on using the applicable unit, e.g. pound vs. pound-force. Christoph Päper 11:38, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

20m or 20 m, etc.

So why is there no space after say "20m"? i thought 20m was the accepted form and 20 m was incorrect? that's the way we always did it at school. 20 metres, but 20m (no space) SpookyMulder

Maybe it's a national difference. I'd prefer that units are spelled out. For one thing, that avoids confusion between meters and miles. Maurreen 15:24, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It's good typesetting practice to put a space between a number and unit. ISO 31 uses a space. In printed typesetting this would normally be a thin space ( ) but on HTML that doesn't have the "non-breaking" property of   (one could achieve a non-breaking thin space using a Unicode "word joiner" character but that isn't yet supported by many browsers). See the archives for this talk page, and also [1]. Gdr 16:51, 2004 Nov 16 (UTC)

See SI#SI writing style. For metric units, there should be a space between the number and the units. Also, there are official symbols (not called "abbreviations") for metric units, and we should ban the use of abbreviations that cound be confused with such symbols. (For example, ban the use of "m" as an abbreviation for "mile".) For non-metric units, there are often no standardised symbols, so it's probably a good idea to avoid abbreviations of units that are already fairly short (like "mile"), but I see no harm in using abbreviations for units that have long names (like "BTU" for "British Thermal Unit". —AlanBarrett 22:14, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)
20 m (inserted by Gene Nygaard for comparison purposes)
20⁠ ⁠m (20⁠ ⁠m) seems to be supported by several browsers, including the Mozillas and Apple's WebKit (including Safari). I guess that "many browsers" primarily means Internet Explorer, as usual... However, I'm not sure I want to encourage the use of 24 characters between the value and the unit in wiki markup. — David Remahl 07:05, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
There is a Unicode character named "NARROW NO-BREAKSPACE" at U+202F ( ) which might work, except that my browser (IE6) fails to render it properly (like this). --Phil | Talk 11:54, Nov 25, 2004 (UTC)
You have a weird notion of "supported", when my Mozilla Firefox on Windows XP renders your supposed "nonbreaking thin space" with more space than just writing "20 m" as I have done in the comparison entry above. It didn't butcher it with boxes or anything, I did get space--but I wouldn't call that "supported".
However, a bigger problem is a misperceived need for a nonbreaking space here. We don't need to avoid a break between a number and its unit symbol, but we should avoid a break within a number itself (but Wikipedia style frowns on the space as a thousands separator) and to avoid breaks within a unit measure itself (that problem can usually be avoided by using a middot for a separator rather than a space (the middot is likely narrower than a full space as well as nonbreaking), as in N·s/kg rather than N s/kg, or the incorrect version still encountered on Wikipedia Ns/kg). Gene Nygaard 11:16, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Guideline suggestion: Avoid "January 14th" and "January of 2005"

I believe these guidelines should be placed in this document:

  • Avoid ordinal suffixes in dates: "February 14" rather than "February 14th" (Note that this should be a non-issue if full-length dates are linked properly, but could be an issue when the year is omitted)
  • No "of" should be used when referencing a month in a specific year: "January 2005" rather than "January of 2005" (This should definitely be included: I see this a lot, and we don't always link in this situation)

– flamuraiTM 05:06, Feb 4, 2005 (UTC)

The first point needs to be tweaked a little for clarity (such as "... dates: Use 'February 14' ..." Maurreen 07:24, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
What's the reasoning behind such a guideline? Is it just to achieve uniformity? (I ask largely because the format “14th February 1956” is pretty standard in the U.K.; indeed, I'd say that “14 February” looks to our eyes rather odd and machine-like — and “February 14” positively bizarre). Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 23:07, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I concur wholeheartedly with both guidelines, but (to avoid possible misunderstandings) would tweak the wording further, thus: "... dates: Use 'February 14' or '14 February' rather than 'February 14th', '14th February', etc." (Post edit conflict PS: I'm surprised by User:Mel Etitis's comments; I didn't think that was the case. The reasoning, in any event, is so that the neat automagic wikilinked date format conversion gadget can kick in: see "Preferences".) Hajor 23:47, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I also concur with both guidelines. "February 14th" just doesn't work with the date preference settings -- it's left as is, rather than being converted to 14 February, February 14, etc. -- Arwel 00:11, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
What is the reason for avoiding "January of 2005"? It often works better gramatically and stylisticly, IMO. "In January of 2005 John Doe first discovered....". The link to the year can be preserved in any case, and as others are suggesting elsewhere on this page links to month, year without a complete date are of limited value. DES 17:15, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Dates of birth and death suggested revision

suggestion: that the examples in this section reflect the format guidance in the Dates section. Proposed revision:

I propose to follow ISO8601 and use a solidus (slash) to indicate a range of time:
  • Charles Darwin (1809-02-12/1882-04-19)
which would look as follows in your personal setting of preferred date format:
This is an encylopedia, not a computer program. The object is to convey information to humans, and most humans would not understand that format. Plus, the solidus is only used with ISO 8601 dates, so once the date is converted, it would just be wrong. – flamurai (t) 23:15, Feb 26, 2005 (UTC)
Woodstone 22:15, 2005 Feb 26 (UTC)
  • Date format to be that used by local English speakers at the location of the event in accordance with the guidance in the Dates section above.

...dave souza 22:55, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

But this is completely irrelevant if dates are properly wikilinked - I see both birthdates exactly the same. I frequently get annoyed when dates are pointlessly switched from one format to the other. We should be encouraging the wikilinking of all dates, rather than get sidetracked like this. -- Arwel 00:15, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I agree that it is irrelevant. I don't think it's necessary to note this, either. It would fit with the overall English variant being discussed here. – flamurai (t) 01:25, Feb 10, 2005 (UTC)
The only people to whom this particular guideline would matter whatsoever would be people editing the article source, as those people would be the only ones ever to see the distinction between the above two examples. I think that it is best to have no guideline in this area. Moreover: Whenever I wikify a biographical article as part of new page patrol, I always wikify using true ISO 8601 format ([[1809-02-12]]) if possible. I do this for several reasons; one of which is that it is culturally neutral, and another of which is, quite simply, that it is the shortest form and the simplest to type. I'd strongly object to a guideline that wanted me to do a lot of extra work involving determining what date format was used at the location of the event (which could well differ between birth and death, indeed), and thus which of several date formats to use — especially given how pointless such work would actually be. Uncle G 02:38, 2005 Feb 10 (UTC)

Incidentally: The MOS up until now has given a divided ISO 8601 format ([[YYYY]]-[[MM-DD]]) as its sole example. This can cause confusion if an unspaced dash is used to separate dates of birth and death. Consider the above examples in divided ISO 8601 format and with an unspaced hyphen: [[1809]]-[[02-12]]-[[1882]]-[[04-19]]. It's liable to error in maintenance. However, the software actually also supports undivided ISO 8601 format, too. [[1809-02-12]]-[[1882-04-19]] is somewhat clearer and less prone to error. I've amended the page to mention this additional ISO 8601 form, so that people using ISO 8601 style can at least work out from it that they can eliminate the superfluous, unsightly, and confusing extra square brackets in this way. It certainly wasn't something that I was aware of when I first started editing. Uncle G 03:09, 2005 Feb 10 (UTC)

But that form still doesn't work correctly for B.C. dates—see my examples in #BCE in Y/M/D format above. Gene Nygaard 03:28, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Presumably there's no visible difference because you've set your preferences to show dates the way you want them, which is fine but won't apply to new users who haven't registered, or for that matter to people like me who haven't set this preference. In a spirit of compromise I've brought the sample dates shown into line with the format policy, but haven't added other dates or the comment...dave souza 22:16, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Number names

This part isn't followed at all:

Whole numbers between zero and ten should be spelt in full. Numbers higher than ten may be represented by numerals, except where they appear as the first word in a sentence, in which case they should be written out in full.

In fact, I think the other way is more common. I think this is an example of the MoS getting too tight. What's wrong with either style as long as it's consistent?

– flamurai (t) 11:09, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Flamurai, jguk 12:34, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure what is meant by the "other way". olderwiser 13:22, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)
Using numerals for numbers 0 to 10 (like that). – flamurai (t) 16:46, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)

I'm proposing we replace that paragraph with the following:

Numbers may be written as words or numerals. Editors should use a consistent guideline throughout an article. A number should not appear in both forms in the body (excluding tables and figures) of the same article.

– flamurai (t) 17:01, Feb 15, 2005 (UTC)

Any objections? – flamurai (t) 17:53, Feb 18, 2005 (UTC)

I edited this into the article. – flamurai (t) 01:16, Feb 20, 2005 (UTC)

Square feet

The section on measures is ambiguous on the question of square feet. It is clear that square meters are m², but should square feet be the more traditional sq. ft., or be modeled after the metric equivalents (ft²). I'd favor the former, because a traditional measure should have a traditional abbreviation. Also, I think that sq. ft. will be more readily read as "square feet" than the more obtuse ft². I've changed ft² to sq. ft. on a few pages, but have been occasionally been reverted. It'd be nice to have a set policy to point to. Thoughts? Nohat 07:20, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I've been doing a little poking around on Google and it seems that "sq. ft." is definitely a more traditional abbreviation than ft², for whatever that's worth. Nohat 07:26, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think it's time for us to don our waders. Google won't search for ², and probably doesn't give consistent results for the use of html superscripts, the use of a caret to indicate exponentiantion (ft^2), and the use of ² and ² and ², and all the other ways which do not use "sq". So it is very difficult to get an accurate picture of the relative frequency using Google. Gene Nygaard 14:38, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
One doesn't need Google to know that, in the U.K., 'sq. ft' is the standard abbreviation ('sq. feet' sometimes being encountered as a halfway house), 'ft²' only being used (in the past) in scientific contexts. Now that science uses metric measurements, 'sq. ft' has the field almost unopposed. I can't speak for the U.S. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 14:48, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
AltaVista is marginally more useful than Google at weeding out the bullshit (it does search for ², though it lumps it together with 2, which is actually a pretty good thing in this case).
Gene Nygaard 17:01, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
But the problem with any such search is that it shows you which usage is more common on the Internet — not at all the same thing as the most common. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 17:15, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
That internet usage is much more than sufficient to disprove your claims about
  1. "'ft²' only being used (in the past) in scientific contexts" and
  2. "'sq. ft' has the field almost unopposed."
Gene Nygaard 17:55, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Is it not most pragmatic to use "square feet" in text, because it is most readable, and 'ft²'—or 'ft.²'—in tables, because it is the shortest? (Nobody would count '′²' as acceptable, right?) Also, if in the same context 'm²' is used, 'ft²' fits in better—and where would you use square feet without mentioning square metres? Christoph Päper 17:51, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Well, that's an answer to a different question. Gene Nygard seems to have missed my point in two respects, though. First, I drew attention to the difference between common usage on the Internet and common usage in general, and secondly I explained what was the case in the U.K, and disavowed knowledge of the U.S. Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 18:01, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You have a very good point. Someone might write square feet without using square meters—but it's not likely to stay that way for long. I would bet that in a survey of all publications using both, in print and on the internet, there will be a small percentage which mix "m²" and "sq ft" in any of a zillion different combinations of capitalization and periods, a few more which use "sq m" and "sq ft", and a clear majority using "m²" and "ft²". Gene Nygaard 18:14, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I can get on board with the SI m² because there's an official SI standard for symbolization of their measures, but shouldn't square feet, as a traditional measure, have a traditional abbreviation? Also, I think the consistency argument for ft² is unpersuasive. Consistency has never been regarded as a valid reason to do something in a particular way when there are readability, usability, and tradition arguments at play, all of which are at play in this case.
But what about the fact that, to the profoundly benighted, sq. ft. may be understood and ft² will not? ("what's a foot two?"). Also there is the fact that sq. ft. is a more straightforward translation of what it should be read as, which is square feet. It requires much less thinking to convert sq. ft. square feet than ft² when reading.
Also, I can add that in American real estate, sf is the pretty much the standard abbreviation for square feet. I can't recommend that we use that, of course, because it's vague and whatnot, but use of ft² in real estate is limited pretty much entirely to crypto-metric interlopers. Nohat 18:37, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Two other things: first, I don't think that empirical evidence of the "majority uses X" type will be of much help here because I don't it will be possible to collect that data in a reasonable way that everyone can agree on. We'll have to defer to a priori argument and other authorities. Second, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" [2]. Nohat 18:41, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I prefer "square feet," then "sq. ft." I also agree that the exponent use will be unfamiliar to many people. Maurreen 05:03, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Here is a proposal:
  • Metric units may be given in SI formats. To do otherwise would be bizarre. Note that SI formats include units written in full (kilograms) or as symbols (kg).
  • Non-metric units may also be given in SI formats i.e. in full (pounds) or as symbols (lb).
  • In prose text (but not tables or lists etc) a limited set of non-metric units may additionally be formatted as a popular abbreviation for that unit. We encourage constraining this to the use of a single abbreviation/punctuation option. We would discourage the use of multiple abbreviation/punctuation options. Thus the commonplace "sq ft" would be acceptable in prose but we would discourage "sqft", "sf", "sft", "sqf", "sq.ft", "sq-ft", "sq. ft." etc.
Constraints on format that are not important in the US and UK are important in an international medium like this. Readers may not be familiar with english or with non-metric units. If they are familiar with neither, they are much more likely to be able to work out 'ft/s' than 'fps'. We also benefit a lot from the efforts of translators, variable formats makes their work harder.
Bobblewik  (talk) 16:18, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Without significant further debate, I boldly added "sq ft (not ft²)" to the manual on suggested abbreviations for traditional units. Nohat 16:24, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
There has been no consensus to support either of your changes. Gene Nygaard 16:56, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
There was consensus, because there was no opposition. Consensus does not require waiting around for people to register their opinions. You seem to be the opposition. Do you have an actual problem with the change or do you just oppose it on the grounds that the there was no consensus? Nohat 17:03, 3 May 2005 (UTC)
There was no consensus.
I stongly oppose it.
I showed that the support of Mel Etitis was based on a false premise (i.e., that ft² are never used in the U.K.)
Christoph Päper opposed you. He supported only spelling out "square feet" or using "ft²" or "ft.²". He did not accept any variant involving "sq." or "sq" with or without a period in any context.
Maurreen supported something different from your change (sq. ft.).
Bobblewik did not support your change. He said that ft² are acceptable. His proposal would only accept "sq ft" as acceptable (but not exclusive as you wrote it) and only in prose, not in tables.
So there clearly was no consesus even for your listing of "sq ft" as acceptable, and especially no consensus for your listing of "ft²" as unacceptable. Gene Nygaard 17:49, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm surprised there is any opposition against saying that "sq ft" is acceptable - it's a standard abbreviation used in many many contexts. Of course it should be acceptable. As to ft², that looks unusual to me. Plus it risks being read as "foot squared" rather than "square foot". This is important as 2 foot squared equals 4 square foot. I'd rather not risk the potential ambiguity, jguk 19:05, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

It may be common usage in the US, the place where that unit is used, to abbreviate it "sq ft" (dots and spacing as you like), but there it is usually used alone, without square metres appearing next to it. In the international, English-language Wikipedia we have to use international measures. English units only appear out of courtesy to lesser educated US citizens or because of historic or US context. Therefore you will always (at least after the next edit) have "square metres" or "m²" where square feet may occur. So I can't see any reason against using "square feet" and "ft²"—except that I prefer to abbreviate non-SI units with a period and would like to avoid using English units altogether.
Your "2 ft² = four square feet" assertion is void, I think you call it a strawman argument. It may confuse some people whether to apply the exponent to a prefix too (which the English system does not use), but people applying the exponent to the number are too dumb to read an encyclopaedia in the first place.
In my humble opinion, we can and should be stricter in the MoS than many contributing people are willing to. After all it should describe the ideal state (only) and most articles will need a long time to get anywhere close to that. We can also decide to not follow some outside traditions or rules in order to achieve a higher goal, like an in itself uniform appearance and good readability of Wikipedia. Christoph Päper 14:39, 4 May 2005 (UTC)
The inclusion of non-SI units is not for people who aren't familiar with the SI units, but for the vast majority of Americans who are familiar with them, but don't use them in an everyday way, and so quantites expressed in units don't take on a sense of scale for comparison. Areas of building interiors are exclusively described in square feet here in the U.S., and even though I have an idea of how big a square meter is, if someone tells me an apartment is 50 square meters, that holds no meaning to me. On the other hand, if someone says an apartment is is 550 square feet, I know in an instant that it's a fairly small apartment. Similarly, if someone says their house is 375 square meters, that means nothing to me, but if they say their house is 4000 square feet I know it's a very large house, possibly to be considered a mansion. Same thing with heights of people. I know how long a centimeter is, but if someone tells me they are 173 cm tall, I can't visualize that at all. On the other hand, if someone says they are 5'8" tall, I know they are approximately average height for an adult male. And so on. Contrary to popular belief, we Americans are in fact well educated in our schools about the metric system and SI units. We just don't actually use the metric system for everyday purposes, so our sense of how big or how hot or how heavy something is in traditional units, and it's not an effortless process to mentally convert SI measurements to a known comparable quantity. Whenever I encounter an article that contains only metric measurements, I have to open up a converter and convert the quantities to units I am familiar with if I want to have a real sense of what those measurements mean. My point of all this is that including non-SI units should not be considered some kind of condescending nicety for benighted Americans, but a practical necessity for articles that contain measurements to be meaningful to most Americans. Nohat 19:05, 4 May 2005 (UTC)

Negative numbers

Shouldn't negative numbers be set with a true minus (−) rather than a hyphen? Some articles use the minus, but many use the hyphen. The Manual of Style doesn't seem to mention the minus at all, and the section Style for numbers, weights, and measures suggests

[…] a small number such as 0.0000000000234 can be written as 2.34&times;10<sup>-11</sup>.

which I believe should be

[…] a small number such as 0.0000000000234 can be written as 2.34&times;10<sup>&minus;11</sup>.

Note that the code -11 (displayed as -11) was replaced by te code &minus;11 (displayed as −11). Are there, perhaps, browsers that don't display the minus correctly? –Peter J. Acklam 12:13, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

In many cases, my initial reaction is that it is an unnecessary complication, including the superscripts you mentioned (and I should point out that in several of the cases where you do see the minus sign, it has been added by me). It ought to be mentioned as a possibility, but there is no reason to require it or to go around changing all occurrences of negative numbers. Browser support may be a factor, but at most a small part of it. Using that minus sign can make editing more difficult, not only in the initial entry, but in reading the page when further editing is being done. It does serve some good purposes—unlike the hyphen, the minus sign is nonbreaking. But that nonbreaking consideration does not apply to
  • those superscripts mentioned above (looks might be a reason to change, however)
  • most entries in tables, unless the possibility of a line break is anticipated (an explicit line break might help there)
  • lists where the number appears fairly near the beginning of a line
There are also minor differences in the looks, with the minus sign usually a little bit larger than the hyphen. For the superscripts you mentioned, you need to look at how they are displayed as superscripts, not as how they are displayed without being superscripted: 10-11 versus 10−11
On a related point, the disadvantages might outweigh the advantages of using this sign rather than a hyphen as a subtraction operator.
A bigger problem is the use of the similar looking en dash to separate a range of numbers. I'd like to see the MoS discourage that. It can be replaced by the word to or something along those lines, especially in contexts where the numbers might be negative, as in a range of temperature readings. Gene Nygaard 16:14, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I think &minus; should be mentionend, but only be favoured as soon as the English Wikipedia has finally been converted to UTF-8 (all other versions have taken this step already, AFAIK). You then wouldn't have to use the HTML entity reference anymore. Christoph Päper 17:31, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)
The advantage of using the HTML entities for the dashes is that it becomes easy to see which dash is being used when the text is being edited. On a low resolution device like a monitor—and particularely with monospaced typefaces—the minus, en-dash, and hyphen sometimes look exactly the same. HTML entities make the text harder to read in the editing window, but the preview is there for a reason.
I'd like to see the use of the true minus encouraged, but not required. I like to get the typography right. It gives a more professional look. On high-resolution devices, like good printers, a trained eye can easily spot the difference between a minus and a hyphen. In most typefaces—if not all—the minus is both longer and thinner than the hyphen. –Peter J. Acklam 09:49, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Date of death unknown

Can someone suggest a form for the case where a person's date of death is unknown? Since an unknown date of birth is expressed as

it would seem logical to express an unknown date of death as

  • Robert Lyon (born 1789)

but this would conflict with the form for a person still living:

This is not a hypothetical question. I have just written an article on Robert Lyon, for whom I can't find a date of death. Hesperian 23:56, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Maybe "(born 1789, date of death unknown)". Maurreen 03:37, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, that seems sensible.
James F. (talk) 14:47, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Year in music/sports/etc. links

This was removed from the Manual of Style, but I think we need to develop a replacement guideline on whether/when to link to 2004 in music, 2005 in sports, etc. – flamurai (t) 23:27, Mar 2, 2005 (UTC)

One thing to consider in whatever guidelines develop. Using those links as pipes in a normal date interferes with the working of the preferences settings. Compare the following with preferences set for year, month, and day order:
or these with preferences set for Month dd, yyyy:
Gene Nygaard 00:56, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)

I've never understood the preference issue and the linking to dates because of it. Gene, can you explain what it's about, if you have a minute? SlimVirgin 01:08, Mar 3, 2005 (UTC)

Number names, revisited

I didn't happen to notice the change proposed here a few weeks ago. To my eye, a statement like "There were 2 different armies advancing on the city" looks very sloppy. The previous guideline was:

Whole numbers between zero and ten should be spelt in full. Numbers higher than ten may be represented by numerals, except where they appear as the first word in a sentence, in which case they should be written out in full.

In different style guides, I've seen this rule, or one for spelling out numbers through 20, or even through 99. I can live with writing "13" instead of "thirteen" but the single numeral just makes me cringe. The guideline should, however, note an exception -- it's OK to use numerals where it helps facilitate a comparison with another number that's properly given in numeral form. For example, one would write, "The mayor claimed credit for reducing the annual number of murders from 50 to 7." With this addition, however, I think we should return to the previous guideline. The sentence about the murder rate would be followed by, "His claim was disputed by all three of his opponents", not "all 3 of his opponents". JamesMLane 13:49, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I agree; digits only for numbers > 20 (or at very least, 10), and never as the first word in a sentence.
James F. (talk) 14:46, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)