Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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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.


Why can't the collapse feature be used to hide a complete bibliography that is longer than the biography? The wording says it can only be used in tables, which I assume means having rows and columns. Why tables and nothing else? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 21:18, 3 July 2015 (UTC)

Because of accessibility of article-proper content. The reference to tables is probably for infoboxes, navboxes, and sidebars. --Izno (talk) 00:49, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
If I can collapse a filmography section because it is a table, why can't I collapse a bibliography. What makes rows and columns special? If I format it as a table the effect will still be the same. I have never seen a table within a "infoboxes, navboxes, [or] sidebar". The result was the deletion of the section, since it wasn't allowed to be collapsed. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 02:05, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
Infoboxes, navboxes and sidebars are also tables; each may contain "child" infoboxes, navboxes etc. which since they use the same code are sub-tables of the main table. --Redrose64 (talk) 10:36, 4 July 2015 (UTC)
  • If the rule was meant to cover "infoboxes, navboxes and sidebars" it would explicit say so. --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 03:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Yes, it is, and yes, it should. I've already twice in the last few months run into instances of editwarring to hide (non-nav) table content in articles, using the vagueness of this guideline's wording on the matter as the excuse. "I think this table's data is boring" is not a rationale for making it difficult to get to (especially on mobile devices) for those to whom it's more meaningful. Normal tables of in-article data (such as filmographies) should never be arrived at in a collapsed state (either by default with collapsed or conditionally by the presence of other tables with autocollapse. It's perfectly fine for them to be manually collapsible. This is a basic Web usability matter, as well as an accessibility issue, and a matter of simple encyclopedic presentation. WP is not some clickbait blog, and we do not bury the lede in any way, including the contents of tables. It also interferes with in-page searching, linking to anchors in tables, printing, etc. It's just a terrible idea to ever have article content collapsed upon arrival.

      Whether a references section is longer than a stub's actual article content is irrelevant. WP is not about how vertically balanced anyone thinks the page layout is – WP isn't an artsy design showcase site, either; it's entirely about the content and the sources for it. While some grocery store clerk looking for the episode list of their favorite TV show probably doesn't care about source citations, many users care primarily about the source citations on WP, including most students using WP as part of their initial research for papers. The primary use of WP by students (while doing school work, not goofing off), is getting a handle on what sources to look for in their university library and its journal search resources.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:03, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

Why pick on grocery clerks? EEng (talk) 04:38, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
Not picking on anyone. I selected it as an "average person" kind of reader, i.e. someone looking for information in the main article body, not someone looking primarily for source citations for material to obtain for their own research.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:10, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

MOS:GNL and the term actress[edit]

MOS:GNL from the WP:MOS states that Wikipedia should use gender-neutral language. I note that the MOS does not give any guidance regarding whether the gender neutral term "actor" is preferred over "actress" to refer to female thespians. Following the general guidance in MOS:GNL, I propose that the MOS be amended to include a statement that the gender neutral term "actor" should be used for female and male thesps. In 2010 the UK Observer and the Guardian put out a joint style guide which stated "Use [actor] for both male and female actors; do not use actress except when in name of award, eg Oscar for best actress." The guide's authors argued that "actress comes into the same category as authoress, comedienne, manageress, 'lady doctor', 'male nurse' and similar obsolete terms that date from a time when professions were largely the preserve of one sex (usually men)."[1] OnBeyondZebraxTALK 22:54, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

"Actor" is gendered male only, and hence is not gender neutral. RGloucester 23:57, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
It was gendered, RG. Now it's moving to the center. English isn't always logical or consistent about these things.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary,[2] "the suffix [-ess] gratuitously calls attention to gender when there are often neutral words ending in -or or -er. The implication of the feminine ending varies. Sometimes it implies that the task at hand somehow differs when performed by a woman than by a man or that the task is rightfully the realm of men." It mentions "actor" specifically.
According to Oxford Dictionaries,[3] "[In the 1660s], female performers were then called either actors or actresses—it was only later that actor became restricted to men—and it seems that we are returning to the original situation."
So we can say with confidence that "actor" is a gender-neutral term. Here's the necessary question: do we need a rule about this? Remember how seriously so many people take rules on Wikipedia or anything that looks like a rule. This would be a correct change but is it a necessary one? Would it cause more fights than it prevents? Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:19, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
I believe, then, that "actress" is a gender neutral term. All those who act must be termed "actresses", regardless of gender. RGloucester 02:53, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
You believe no such thing, nor does anyone else. Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 04:12, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
No, "actress" is gender-specific.
I see what you're getting at: "Why is it sexist to write 'he' as if it meant all people, male and female, but not sexist to write 'actor' as if it meant all people whose profession is acting, male and female?" Because that's how it worked out. English usage isn't always logical and consistent. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:57, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
English is logical. It is only illogical to those who choose to make it so, and those are not people that we may follow here. RGloucester 14:54, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Unlike in most professions, male and female thespians are not interchangeable. A male and a female banker, doctor, or truck driver do the same things and each could normally be replaced by the other. But in western culture at least, male roles are played almost exclusively by males, and female roles by females. Thus there are very few roles which an actor and an actress can actually compete for, and the gendered term tells you a great deal about the kinds of roles that a person might take on. It is still the first piece of info that a producer would want to know before hiring someone. Therefore it is misleading and incorrect to fail to use "actress" for a female, just as much as it would be to use it for a male. In most cases I am all for gender-neutral language, and have been using it for many years, but this case is one of the few where it simply doesn't work. DES (talk) 04:08, 19 July 2015 (UTC)

  • It is sexist to use a marked form for females and an unmarked form for males. It is one of the ironies of such a binary that it should evolve to the unmarked form as gender-neutral; but it has done, and this should be common practice on en.WP. I agree with Darkfrog. Tony (talk) 11:55, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Actor is generic when applied to groups, and can be when applied to individuals, but this isn't the preferred usage for everyone.. Usage has not sufficiently shifted in the real world that zero readers find it jarring, so I don't think MOS should try to decide one way or the other. This is not the case with some other terms; "Jane Smith is an aviatrix" sounds like it was written in 1920. There's no principle by which we must apply an allegedly gender-neutral term that isn't gender-neutral in majority usage in sources. That said, we don't need separate categories for actresses vs. actors, even if we end up preferring "actress" in running prose or in disambiguations for female actors.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:13, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment I think this is a context issue rather than a MOS isue. Generally, "actor" can be applied to female performers (and indeed, some actresses prefer to be referred to as actors) and in the interests of gender neutrality we probably should make efforts that way when we don't have a good reason to use "actress". What good reasons are there for using the term "actress"? Well, the industry still makes that distinction for one, like with the oscars. I recently saw Meryl Streep referred to as an oscar winning actor (not on here), which misrepresents her i.e. she won a Best Actress oscar, so even if we generally refer to her as an actor she's still an oscar winning actress. Also, I absolutely loathe the Guardian style "female actor" terminology? What? The whole point of using "actor" for women is to remove the gender identification from the occupation so how is "female actor" any better than "actress"? That seems to be argument for using a different word, to me. As someone points out above, actresses tend to play female characters so there is a major functional difference between an "actress" and "actor" (in the male sense) which is captured at a categorization level. Therefore, there are plenty of good reasons why we would refer to someone as an actress and the MOS shouldn't attempt to prohibit natural usage of the word "actress", but when the distinction truly doesn't matter then perhaps we should default to "actor". Betty Logan (talk) 23:59, 19 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree with Betty about this being a context issue and that some actresses prefer "actor." And I agree with Darkfrog24 and Betty that "actor" is increasingly seen as gender-neutral these days. The Actor article also addresses a bit of this. I also agree with everyone who thinks that we should not have the WP:MOS prohibit use of the word actress. Flyer22 (talk) 00:28, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Things that make you go hmmm, and should cause others to pause: Academy Award for Best Actress, Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, British Academy Television Award for Best Supporting Actress, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role . . . shall I list them all? There are many, many more, but I believe these are the most prestigious awards given to actors of the female gender within the industry. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 01:25, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
    • That's actually totally meaningless in this context. The fact that some award categories are gender-divided and that this leads them to use "actress" and a gendered meaning of "actor" has nothing to do with whether it is or isn't okay to refer to an "actress" as an actor in contexts where no such division is being forced. Some of the very same film industry people handing out those awards use "actor" in the generic sense all time. Cf. the name of the Screen Actors' Guild. It's not the Screen Actors and Actresses Guild, and as the SAG it is not limited to male membership.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:15, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Not really, SMcC. Not at all, in fact. When the hyper-over-sensitivity is at war with the real world language, someone needs to periodically point out the logical inconsistency in taking the gender neutrality movement's good intentions to their illogical extremes. The English-language film, television and entertainment industry is one of the most progressive, culturally sensitive subcultures in the Anglophone world; yet not one single award within the industry -- not a single one -- has been restyled to "best female actor". That says a great deal: the word "actress" simply means a woman who acts, nothing more, nothing less; you can write "female actor" if you want, if you feel the need, in circumstances that require the distinction between actors of opposite genders. But female actors are not lining up to return their "best actress" awards, nor refusing to accept those awards in 2015 because they are offended by the word "actress." I think Betty Logan and Flyer22's statements above embody good sense: gender neutrality is a worthy goal, and the gender-neutral word "actor" may apply to either gender in 2015, but when circumstances of the text require the gender distinction between male and female actors (e.g., "Hollywood's highest paid actress"), the word "actress" bears no "sexist" stigma in that context. And repeating the sexism! mantra -- over and over again -- does not make it so. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:07, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
        • Except I already pointed out why they're not logically inconsistent. This comes across as a personal political issue for you, due to pejoratively labeling such concerns "hyper-over-sensitivity". Resistance to censorious pseudo-liberal nonsense cannot be knee-jerk, or it conflates the nonsense with legitimate issues just because they occasionally converge on something. The reason not to "enforce" actor for women except in formal titles of awards, etc., isn't because "hyper-over-sensitivity", but because the linguistic-descriptive (not usage-prescriptive) facts don't support such a move yet.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
          • "personal political issue"? For me? No. You've confused me with other editors -- on both sides of this issue. In fact, you've missed the point entirely: for the overwhelming majority of occupational descriptors and professional titles -- e.g., author, aviator, doctor, executor, lawyer, manager, officer, president -- there is simply no reason to draw a gender-based distinction, and such constructions as aviatrix and executrix sound archaically quaint to the modern ear, and are wholly unnecessary because there is no material difference in the job description of an aviator and that of an "aviatrix." Lady lawyer or doctor woman, on the other hand, do have a vaguely condescending and distinctly sexist ring to them in professions where the job description has nothing to do with gender. But let's compare that with the acting profession, where most acting roles are specifically written for actors of a particular gender. Meryl Streep is a fine actor, but she cannot reasonably be expected to play Franklin Roosevelt with any measure of on-screen credibility. Likewise, no serious producer is ever going to cast Daniel Craig as Catherine the Great. In the context of the acting profession and entertainment industry, gender-based roles are the norm, not some artificial gender-based distinction because someone thought it cute to add trix, ette or ess to the end of the job title in the 18th or 19th century. "Actress" remains a perfectly acceptable alternative to "female actor" within the profession and industry, as well as in the mainstream of English-language writing; that does not make the word a good candidate for Bowdlerization in the name of gender neutrality. Context matters, SMcC, and I do expect more nuanced comments from someone of your erudition. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:17, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
    • It's not unusual for proper names to reflect archaic or outdated usage. These awards were mostly established decades ago when gender roles were more strictly defined and enforced, and may not reflect current usage. At best, they provide evidence of the state of language when they were established. Pburka (talk) 02:42, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Pburka, but the award titles are not outdated: see my comment above. Not a single industry award has been restyled "best female actor" or anything remotely similar. Not one. Would you like me to list them all -- in every English-speaking country? Or have I made my point? And there are occasions when the gender distinction does matter -- in gender-based award categories, in particular. As I said above, "actor" may be used for either gender, but it seems silly to refer to Meryl Streep as best "female actor" when we already have a perfectly fine single word that means exactly that. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:18, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
        • As with my argument, you don't seem to quite understand the one Pburka is making.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
          • Wrong: I understand Pburka's rationale perfectly well. That said, the word actress is not "archaic" or "outdated," and remains in widespread, every-day usage in the English-speaking world. I refer you to the definitions of archaic and outdated, which are being used above as pejoratives contrary to present mainstream linguistic reality, to advance the knee-jerk purge of the the word "actress." Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:25, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Ignoring the nonsensical comments, I'll point out that GNL says "Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision." While there is a shift in using actor as a gender neutral term, it's by no means universal. I think we'd be jumping the gun at this point. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 03:25, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Sure, and you may write "actor" instead of "actress" in most circumstances, but where the context requires a male-female distinction "actress" should remain an acceptable option instead of "female actor". Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:07, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Absolutely. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 04:22, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
        • EGF, then we're on the same page. I feel in very safe company with you, Flyer22 and Betty all in agreement. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:37, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
          • And this one, even if our rationales differ a bit.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Keep both actor/actress, if this is some kind of request for comment. I don't feel feminine/masculine words are sexist in the least; many languages have gendered nouns and there is nothing "sexist" about it! (in French swimming pool is feminine, desk is masculine, letter is feminine, etc!). It's just the way language evolved. People can see from my contribs that I very much support personal gender identity (I created the articles for both I Am Cait and I Am Jazz) but I don't see any reason for this obsession with gender-neutral nouns. The few gendered nouns we have in English are not offensive in the least and should not be stripped from our language. МандичкаYO 😜 08:36, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Please don't make the error of conflating grammatical and biological gender. The biologically female "actress" is in no way parallel to a grammatically feminine "piscine". Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 09:32, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
        • In my view, "actress" should be gently discouraged, without making strict rules about it at this stage. A good defence would be if the subject herself insists on the term, or if an editor who has invested in an article takes a strong stand against a change from "actress" to "actor". Mass changes from "actress" to "actor" should be discouraged, given that some editors still vehemently object. Tony (talk) 08:55, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
          • Yes, respect subject wishes here. The subject is the most reliable source for what their own occupational term is (aside from edge cases, e.g. astrologers claiming to be "scientists"). WP:ABOUTSELF applies here, as does the logic behind WP:IDENTITY. This is broadly applicable. If someone identifies as social psychologist, we should not relabel them a socio-pstchologist, psycho-sociologist, psychological sociologist, anthro-ethologist, etc., even if one of these terms can be sourced as equally accurate to describe the subject's notable output. The differences may be meaningful in the context of the subject and their professional life. If I'd pursued what I actually got a degree in, I'd be a cultural anthropologist, and absolutely not an ethnologist, even though these words are often treated as synonymous. As with the sexual politics of "actress" vs. "actor", there a field-internal politico-academic difference between ethnology and cultural anthropology. Context matters, and we can't always accurately predict when or in what way. The "follow the sources" maxim is important in this regard.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
One point that hasn't been made yet. The Guardian/Observer style guide is not a neutral arbiter of the English language. It is one style guide among many, for a newspaper group that has a particular political stance. If a consensus of style guides for publishers across the opinion spectrum were to agree on a particular usage, that would be persuasive. In this case, the Guardian/Observer is an outlier and not representative of usage generally. --Nicknack009 (talk) 18:25, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
  • FWIW, a simple Google News search of "female actor" pulls just shy of 4000 hits for me. "Actress" pulls 30,000,000. Real world usage still very clearly favours "actress". Resolute 18:36, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Resolute: nobody advocates replacing "actress" with "female actor", which would defeat the purpose. To find out how prevalent use of "actor" was for females, you'd have to go through a statistically significant number of hits for "actor" and find out how many of them refer to females. Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 20:39, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Granted. However, I suspect the outcome would remain the same. Certainly my very small sample look at ET Online's recent movie stories regarding female actors uniformly calls them actresses. Resolute 20:48, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
        • TitanTV, a convenient TV schedule for multiple channels, seems to consistently use 'actor' as a gender-neutral form. No idea if they are leading or following. Gah4 (talk) 21:14, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
          • "As anyone who follows entertainment news has become aware over the last decade or so, most thespians of the female persuasion now refer to themselves as actors, not actresses."—Los Angeles Times. January 18, 2009.Bagumba (talk) 22:52, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Per WP:PROPOSAL, proposals should reflect existing practices: "Most commonly, a new policy or guideline simply documents existing practices, rather than proposing a change to them." As a start, perhaps supporters should look first to change the lead sentence of bios to use actor instead of actress. For example, Tina Fey uses comedian in its lead sentence instead of comedienne, but uses actress instead of actor. Presumably, the gender-specific form is not needed in the lead. Come back with an MOS proposal when this becomes a generally accepted practice for bio leads.—Bagumba (talk) 19:27, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Comedienne is going the way of aviatrix. It's rarely encountered in modern, high quality sources, but more like People magazine and TV Guide, in the same kind of prose in which a party is a "gala", a singer is a "chanteuse", and so on.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:56, 23 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I completely disagree that anyone should start systematically changing "actress" to "actor" on actresses' article pages. There is clearly no consensus for such actions here and they would be highly disruptive. The distinction between the generic and specific usages of "actor", and the still-widespread usage of "actress" when referring to an individual (as in award titles) has been clearly given above. Many actress articles also have reliable sources such as interviews referring to them as "actresses", including for example Helen Mirren where some editors have insisted on referring to her individually as an "actor" without providing a reliable source for that, leading to a slow edit war against the many readers (like me in the past) who decide to correct what looks like a typo. I would have no objection to the usage of "actor" when someone has decided to self-determine herself as such: the suggestion is that Mirren has, but there is no reliable source provided to support that which would prevent the edit warring, and sources in the article use "actress" to describe her. --Mirokado (talk) 23:26, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

Consensus seems to be that "actor" is better than "actress" but "actress" should not be banned. Do any of you think we need to take any other action, like explicitly state that both terms are allowed? (This would be appropriate if, for example, someone was brought up on AN/I for using "actress," even if no punishment was given or if there have been edit wars over the terms.) For my part, I think we're good for now. This is an English-in-transition matter. We can always change the MoS in a few years if things get more solid. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:04, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Yes, Darkfrog, I think that sums up the discussion quite nicely: conventional thinking is that "actor" is more gender-neutral, but "actress" is still in common and accepted usage. No, further action at this time is not desirable. And if anyone gets taken to ANI for using the word "actress," please ping me, so I can throw stones at the silly person(s) who initiated the complaint. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 22:50, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
  • Agreed, though ANI is still possible (and reasonable) if someone is doing disruptive things like trying to eradicate one usage or other en masse.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:00, 23 July 2015 (UTC)



Example needed[edit]

We need an example after "Values and units used as compound modifiers are hyphenated only where the unit is given as a whole word; when the unit symbol is used, it is separated from the number by a non-breaking space" that illustrates capitalizing the first letter at the beginning of a sentence. I provided one and someone who didn't seem to understand it reverted it[1]. So, what's a better one?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:09, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia's "Manual of Style/Text formatting" should allow boldfacing of "row headings"[edit]

Proposal: Include the following in the short list of things that it is permissible to boldface:

  • As an inline heading (also known as a row heading) in a list, between the * at the beginning of the list entry and the rest of the entry's content, and having the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading, rather than of discursive text.

[Proposal was WP:REFACTORed to top of section, because the nom's draft version and later-accepted version are both buried in a lot of oddly-formatted material. I helped draft the final version, so consider me co-nominator, but I disclaim any connection to the off-topic material below by the original nominator.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:29, 26 July 2015 (UTC)]

Wikipedia’s “Manual of Style/Text formatting” currently does not explicitly permit the boldfacing of inline, or row, headings. Under Boldface, at, under == Boldface ==, then under === Other uses ===, the advice reads (all below is quoted material until the line):

Use boldface in the remainder of the article only in a few special cases:

  • To identify terms in the first couple of paragraphs of an article, or at the beginning of a section of an article, which are the targets of redirects to the article or section (e.g. sub-topics of the article's topic, rather than the synonyms as already boldfaced per the above). (See Wikipedia:Redirect § What needs to be done on pages that are targets of redirects? for examples and further details.)
  • Mathematical objects traditionally written in boldface such as vectors and the rational number symbols Q and Z.
  • In some citation formats, for the volume number of a journal or other multi-volume works.

As a result, a STiki Barnstar of Bronze Merit-winner who has been keeping tabs on my edits in a particular article (“Patterson-Gimlin film”) has deleted the boldfacing of over a dozen inline headings, including some that pre-existed my editing. When I protested, he cited the aforesaid Manual via “MOS:BOLD”.

However, lower down on the same page in that very Manual, the boldfacing of inline headings is employed (all below is quoted material until the line):

Italic type (text like this) should be used for the following types of names and titles, or abbreviations thereof:

  • Major works of art and artifice, such as albums, books, video games, films, musicals, operas, symphonies, paintings, sculptures, newspapers, journals, magazines, epic poems, plays, television programs, radio shows. Medium of publication or presentation is not a factor; a video feature only released on video tape, disc or the Internet is considered a "film" for these purposes, and so on. (See WP:Manual of Style/Titles § Italics for details.)
  • Court case names: FCC v. Pacifica. (Case citation or law report information is presented in normal font)

In addition to the fact of exiting common use, documented above, boldfacing of row headings is fairly common and unobjectionable in publishing. It's user-friendly for the same reason that the boldfacing of standalone headings is helpful. It helps the reader grasp the outline of the material, and helps the re-reader navigate it more easily; it provides readers with visual "handholds" in a blank wall of normal text. (These advantages can be seen in a second instance of the Style Manual's use of a boldfaced inline heading style, at the end of its References section.)

The deleter of my boldfacings is acting in good faith, and he has a good case as the Manual is currently worded. And furthermore, even if he were to agree to undo his deletions, which I think he may have hinted at in his latest comment, another person could come along and justifiably delete them again, based on the Manual’s wording. So that wording should be expanded. Here’s what I suggest as a new second item in the Manual’s list above. Improvements welcome:

“* As an inline heading, also known as a row heading, in a list format (preceded by an *), which should come at the beginning of the text and have the concise characteristics of higher-level, own-line headings, rather than of discursive text.” RogerKni (talk) 18:33, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

@SMcCandlish: :@Melonkelon: :@Herostratus: SMcCandlish has commented on my write-up above in a different location, Village Pump: Policy, where I posted it before posting here. (I should have waited another 12 hours before posting here, in which case I'd have reorganized my comment above as he suggested, and put the proposed new text first, and the rationale second.) He provided these additional justifications for this change to the Style Manual:

"The real rationale #1 for this is that a heading is a heading, and doesn't serve a suddenly-different purpose when it is put inline to better suit the format of a list or other layout need. "The #2 rationale is that it's already deployed in similar situations, so not permitting it for lists is inconsistent and confusing. Examples: a) row and column headers in tables (a world-wide default in GUI browsers, not just on WP); b) glossary entries and any other things that resolve to dt markup in HTML (the boldfacing is hardcoded into MediaWiki as the default font-weight for the element); c) inline headers for infoboxes, navboxes, and similar templates; d) list entries on disambiguation pages and set index articles; d) ... [there are probably other examples]."

He's also suggested some tweaks to the wording I proposed for the Manual in the last paragraph of my submission just above, which I've accepted, so it now reads:

'* As an inline heading (also known as a row heading) in a list, between the * at the beginning of the list entry and the rest of the entry's content, and having the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading, rather than of discursive text.' RogerKni (talk) 20:32, 25 July 2015 (UTC)


  • Support the version at the top of the thread, which the proponent agreed to, as seen later in the proposal. My rationale in detail is discernible here, from previous discussion, but boils down to: 1) A heading doesn't magically become a not-heading when it is formatting inline, to fit the needs of the presentation. 2) This is consistent with a myriad of other inline headings in Wikipedia, all boldfaced, including list entries already in disambiguation pages, set index articles, and many others; data table column and row headers; infobox and navbox headers; glossary entries; etc. It is also used frequently through WP:POLICY pages include MOS itself. In short, it's simply a glaring omission. Nothing about it requires boldfacing, or conversion to a format that would suggest boldfacing, or that any particular punctuation or other formatting mandates boldfacing; it's simply permitting what most of us are already doing. PS: I suggested removing all the inter-editor venting and the weird formatting before posting, but didn't do so promptly enough, I gather. That stuff shouldn't prejudice the actual wording proposed, which I massaged; I'm essentially the co-nominator of the text at the very top. Amenable to tightening, BTW.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:29, 26 July 2015 (UTC)


Well, you have a reasonable point. I think that you went way down the primrose path at Patterson–Gimlin film, sprinkling boldfacing throughout the article text far too liberally, and this is why the the other editor went on a general rampage of cutting out bolding in the article, including the instances you cite as being OK. This has perhaps poisoned the well a little bit? Any, just on the merits of your point:

You have a reasonable point, and your example (showing the use of bolding in WP:BOLD in a way not actually prescribed in that article) is quite amusing. However, I'm not convinced. First of all, I don't know as it'd an improvement to always require this. For instance, I'm not certain that

  • Major works of art and artifice, such as albums, books, video games...

is really that much better than

  • Major works of art and artifice, such as albums, books, video games...

It might be. Matter of taste, maybe. However, I'm all in favor of allowing but not requiring it because I'm a let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom kind of guy. Others aren't, they are more lets-look-like-a-publication-with-an-actual-stylebook-rather-than-your-sisters-scrapbook people, and that's reasonable too. Herostratus (talk) 22:46, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

This example does not actually qualify at all, though, if this were article text:
  • Major works of art and artifice, such as albums, books, video game...
That's is discoursive text running directly with the prose that follows it. MOS, as a policy page, is not written in encyclopedic style but is a work of technical writing, and its own use of "* Boldfacing, follow-on material in same sentence" in many cases, also found on lots of WP:POLICY pages, isn't what's at issue here, or illustrative of the "rule". The proposed addition also would not be "requiring" much less "always requiring" it. The recommendation for the whole section in which the new item would appear is "should", and that's fine. Something serving as a heading should have this formatting, whether block or inline (cf. table headers, etc.). It doesn't mean everything with a colon is a heading, or mean anything else other than it says. The thousand flowers can bloom as they will:
This is dialogue. (I think there is a convention for that, maybe it's italics or bold, I don't remember, and I don't know if it's a convention MOS supports; not germane to this discussion.)
  • MacGyver: "I don't use guns."
This isn't really a heading per se but a simple identifier; the years would be in sequential numeric order, and nearly identical, so boldfacing them serves no purpose, except maybe when each list entry is substantial block of text; up to editorial discretion to treat it as an inline heading or not:
  • 2015: Won the [insert a bunch of award stuff here]
In the case of these two:
  • Psychology – Introduced by [whoever], the concept initially described [blah blah], and today encompasses [yadda yadda] ...
  • Anthropology – In physical anthropology, the term denotes [foo] and is distinguished from the meaning [bar] in cultural anthropology and linguistics ...
those are obviously inline headings, despite the en-dash format instead of colon usage. And so on. I'm skeptical that we really need to spell all this out, but some examples like this could be used to illustrate the point. It should not be done here (MOS is long already!), but at a new little subsection at MOS:LIST. If we add one, include an instruction not to mix and match styles in the same list, and that's probably about all we'd need to say.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:51, 26 July 2015 (UTC)


@SMcCandlish: :@Melonkelon: :@Herostratus:

In light of the feedback above, I've modified my proposal to read:

Under the 'Boldface' section of the Manual of Style (MOS), then immediately under the 'Other uses' subheading, insert the following:

"Boldface may be used, but need not be:

"* For an inline heading (also known as a row heading) in a list, between the * at the beginning of the list entry and the rest of the entry's content, and having the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading, rather than of discursive text."

How is this for wording in 'a new little subsection at MOS:LIST'? (I'll add an appropriate heading when I get there. Suggestions welcomed now.)

• "* Inline headings need not be followed by any particular punctuation mark, or by any punctuation mark at all, provided the boldfaced text could stand alone as a heading; in other words, provided it has 'the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading.'

• "* Boldfaced inline headings should be avoided in a list of one-line entries whose inline headings have a similar and predictable nature, such as a list of consecutive years, and in borderline cases, impossible to define by rule, where boldfacing would look too 'busy.' "

RogerKni (talk) 22:01, 27 July 2015 (UTC)


"Need not be" is fine, and would help prevent over-bolding (a potential concern raised above).

Both bullet points for MOS:LIST seem fine in meaning, though could use some wordsmithing (e.g. in the second one, "... avoided in a list of one-line entries whose inline headings have a similar and predictable nature, such as a numeric sequence; or other cases where boldfacing may be more distracting than helpful."). The first bullet would be better saying something about the characteristics than quoting the statement about them, but nothing comes instantly to mind. I'm unable to think of a case that would have no punctuation at all; inline use would seem to require some demarcation between inline heading and follow-on text (indeed, it would be necessary for WP:ACCESSIBILITY purposes, since text-to-speech and some text-only browsers have no boldfacing, so it would just produce a run-on). We should specify that some divider is needed, and suggest that the colon (:) and the en dash () are common choices, but that whatever is used, it should be consistent throughout the list, and that a change of style from one to another in the same article should be avoided for lists of a similar character [It's often desirable to use a different style for completely different kinds of lists, though]. This reminds me, we should probably eventually have a template for this, that has a CSS class; I can handle that myself if the proposal is accepted. I don't see any outright objections so far, but the messy formatting of this, with all these horizontal lines, makes it hard to parse (and I'm not trying to 'count votes", just observing that there don't seem to be many objections to address in re-drafting, or any objections to the whole idea. Specific wording suggestions for MOS:LIST can be made over at WT:MOSLIST later, after hammering out here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:34, 27 July 2015 (UTC)

SMcCandlish wrote, just above: "I'm unable to think of a case that would have no punctuation at all; inline use would seem to require some demarcation between inline heading and follow-on text (indeed, it would be necessary for WP:ACCESSIBILITY purposes, since text-to-speech and some text-only browsers have no boldfacing, so it would just produce a run-on)."

I think it would not be unusual for list items to lack a punctuation mark after their boldfaced inline heading, and yet not produce an accessibility problem. Here’s an example, consisting of lead-in text followed by three list-entries, in which only the "Author-(letter)" portion is boldfaced:

Authors have expressed themselves as follows on the XYZ Affair:

  • Author-A says it’s an outrage, citing . . .
  • Author-B insists it’s no worse than a dozen other scandals . . .
  • Author-C couldn’t be reached for comment; his answering machine . . .

Text-to-speech software would not produce a funny-sounding run-on in those cases. Therefore, I suggest appending the last sentence below to the first paragraph of advisory’s text, so the proposal's text reads:

• "* Inline headings need not be followed by any particular punctuation mark, or by any punctuation mark at all, provided the boldfaced text could stand alone as a heading; in other words, provided it has 'the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading.' If no punctuation is employed, the boldfaced text should be the subject of the sentence or clause that follows.

• "* Boldfaced inline headings should be avoided in a list of one-line entries whose inline headings have a similar and predictable nature, such as a list of consecutive years, and in borderline cases, impossible to define by rule, where boldfacing would look too 'busy.' "

Modifications welcome. RogerKni (talk) 06:31, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

@RogerKni: But "Author-A says it's an outrage, citing ..." has no inline heading; it's entirely discursive text. The "If no punctuation is employed, the boldfaced text should be the subject of the sentence or clause that follows" bit is directly contradicting "the concise characteristics of a higher-level, own-line heading". Doing something like "Author-A says it's an outrage, citing ..." is precisely what we don't want, and what people would kill this proposal to prevent!
As an aside, if someone did "Author-A: "It's an outrage." (citing ...), that's dialogue reporting, in which the speaker identification should probably be treated as an inline heading. I checked around; usage in external sources is wildly inconsistent, but leans toward boldface, italics, ALLCAPS, and SMALLCAPS, the latter two of which are more or less banned on Wikipedia, and the second of which will conflict with other uses of italics, which just leaves bold, in exactly the style we're recommending: "Author-A: 'It's an outrage.' (citing ...)" I.e., give dialogue as an example of when to use this, if we end up giving exmples. This last iteration of the proposal text doesn't see to address anything I raised above, BTW.
It's not helpful to keep repeating what everyone is saying and repeating the barely-modified blocks of text. This has already gotten so long that other editors won't read it. Better to hash out some wording tweaks for a while, then produce a redraft after some more iterations, or we'll just lose everyone. It would also be helpful if you learned our conventional ways of formatting talk page posts, indenting replies with ":" at the beginning of a line and replies to replies below them with "::", and so on. The discussion will be much easier to follow for other editors (which is who we're trying to attract to the discussion). [I'm trying to command you to do this or that, I'm saying as a practical matter there's basically only one way to do it or people will mostly just ignore it and move on.]  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:21, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

Usage of & versus a break[edit]

Hi all, although I believe that breaks are better usage, still wanted to confirm, what is the MOS for separating two names in a list order? Which one should it be from the following:

  • Ryan Murphy & Brad Falchuk
  • Ryan Murphy <br> Brad Falchuk

There is an existing problem with all the American Horror Story articles using the former as opposed to the latter. —Indian:BIO [ ChitChat ] 04:32, 25 July 2015 (UTC)

Using it where? I just looked at American Horror Story and did not see it. Agreed, use linebreaks (unless the two people are a team and credited as such), but it's <br /> not <br> (the shorter, sloppy version makes the server do extra parser work for no reason). Depending on the nature of the infobox field, it may be ,<br />, when giving a short inline list and you want it to break at a specific point. PS: There are also templates for doing inline lists {{plainlist}} and {{comma separated entries}}, and MOS should probably start recommending them where appropriate (probably not in MOS proper, but at MOS:LIST and WP:INFOBOX, because the coding and semantic markup results will be superior, and it will be easier for wiki editors who are not "HTML people" to maintain.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:01, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Hi SMcCandlish the usage is at American Horror Story: Freak Show and American Horror Story: Hotel in the episode lists, sorry should have guided you to the edit area. Thanks for clarifying, I think {{plainlist}} should be better for using it. Shall I change in the article? —Indian:BIO [ ChitChat ] 05:31, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
@IndianBio: Oh, under the "Written by" column. I'd thought this was about infoboxes. Okay. I wouldn't, after all, use the inline list templates (two isn't a "list", really), nor <br />, since there's no need to line-break it for people with wide montitors (it all fits on one line for me, and would look weird and vertical-space-wasting to line-break forcefully between those two names. It's just regular text, and should use "and", or "," not "&" (which implies they're a unit of some kind); "and" is clearer, but if space is at a premium, comma will do. If the intent is to just ensure that, at narrower window widths, the individual's names don't line-break, but the cell's content can break at the conjunction, just {{nobr}} around each name::
  • {{nobr|[[Ryan Murphy]]}}, {{nobr|[[Brad Falchuk]]}}
 — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:53, 26 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for confirming, will implement as you suggested. —Indian:BIO [ ChitChat ] 07:09, 26 July 2015 (UTC)

is this a policy on wikipedia[edit]

is this a policy on wikipedia — Preceding unsigned comment added by A8v (talkcontribs)

These are guidelines that are widely accepted by the community. See this page to read about what policies and guidelines are. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 21:08, 27 July 2015 (UTC)
Short answer... No... it isn't "Policy"... but it is excellent guidance, and is widely accepted as such. The MOS itself states that we can make an exception to this guidance if necessary ... but it takes a fairly solid consensus to do so. Be prepared to make a compelling case that an exception is necessary. Blueboar (talk) 01:11, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
Blueboar is right to advise caution. In my experience, people treat the MoS as if it were a set of non-negotiable rules, even though they're technically not supposed to. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:02, 28 July 2015 (UTC)
In my opinion, a lot of that stems from Wikipedia's over use of short-cuts... when a policy or guideline has too many short-cuts pointing to its various sub-devisions, people tend to only pay attention to the sub-devision that is linked by the short-cut... and ignore the rest of the policy or guideline... such as the part where it says it's OK to make exceptions to it. MOS is not the only guideline or policy where that is an issue. Blueboar (talk) 20:09, 28 July 2015 (UTC)