Manual of Style

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The Manual of Style (often abbreviated MoS or MOS) is a style guide for all Wikipedia articles. This is its main page, covering certain topics (such as punctuation) in full and presenting the key points of others. Subpages, linked via this page's menu and listed at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Contents, provide detailed guidance on particular topics or subject areas.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} The Manual of Style documents Wikipedia's house style. It helps editors write articles with consistent, clear, and precise language, layout, and formatting. The goal is to make Wikipedia easier and more intuitive to use. Consistency in language, style, and formatting promotes clarity and cohesion. Writing should be clear and concise. Plain English works best; avoid ambiguity, jargon, and vague or unnecessarily complex wording.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Style and formatting should be consistent in an article, though not necessarily throughout Wikipedia. Where more than one style is acceptable, editors should not change an article from one of those styles to another without a good reason. Edit warring over optional styles is unacceptable.[1] If discussion cannot determine which style to use in an article, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Discuss style issues on the MoS talk page. Some of the past discussions that led to decisions on aspects of style guidance are recorded at the MoS register. In case of discrepancy, this page has precedence over its subpages and the Simplified Manual of Style.

Article titles, headings, and sections

Article titles


When determining the title of an article, refer to the Article titles policy. A title should be recognizable (as a name or description of the topic), natural, sufficiently precise, concise, and consistent with the titles of related articles. If these criteria are in conflict, they need to be balanced against one another.

For guidance on formatting titles, see the Article title format section of the policy. The following points are noteworthy:

The guidance contained elsewhere in the MoS, particularly in the section below on punctuation, applies to all parts of an article, including the title. (The policy page Wikipedia:Article titles does not contain detailed rules about punctuation.)

Section organization


An article should begin with an introductory lead section, which does not contain section headings (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section). The remainder is divided into sections, each with a section heading (see below) that can be nested in a hierarchy. If there are at least four section headings in the article, a navigable table of contents is generated automatically and displayed between the lead and the first heading.

If the topic of a section is also covered in more detail in a dedicated article, show this by inserting Template:Tlx directly under the section heading (see also Wikipedia:Summary style).

As explained in more detail in Standard appendices and footers, optional appendix and footer sections containing the following lists may appear after the body of the article in the following order:

  • books or other works created by the subject of the article (under a section heading "Works", "Publications", "Discography", etc. as appropriate);
  • internal links to related English Wikipedia articles (section heading "See also");
  • notes and references (section heading "Notes" or "References", or a separate section for each; see Citing sources);
  • relevant books, articles, or other publications that have not been used as sources (section heading "Further reading");
  • relevant websites that have not been used as sources and do not appear in the earlier appendices (added as part of "Further reading" or in a separate section headed "External links").
  • internal links organized into navigational boxes (sometimes placed at the top in the form of sidebars)
  • categories
  • interlanguage links

Other article elements include disambiguation hatnotes (normally placed at the very top of the article) and infoboxes (usually placed before the lead section).

Section headings

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Equal signs are used to mark the enclosed text as a section heading: ==Title== for a primary section; ===Title=== for the next level (a subsection); and so on to the lowest-level subsection, with =====Title=====. (The highest heading level technically possible is =Title=; but do not use it in articles, because it is reserved for the automatically generated top-level heading at the top of the page containing the title of the whole article.) Spaces between the equal signs and the heading text are optional, and will not affect the way the heading is displayed. The heading must be typed on a separate line. Include one blank line above the heading, and optionally one blank line below it, for readability in the edit window. (Only two or more consecutive blank lines will add more white space in the public appearance of the page.)

The provisions in Article titles (above) generally apply to section headings as well (for example, headings are in sentence case, not title case). The following points apply specifically to section headings:

  • Headings should not refer redundantly to the subject of the article, or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer. (Template:Xt is preferable to Template:!xt when his refers to the subject of the article; headings can be assumed to be about the subject unless otherwise indicated.)
  • Headings should not normally contain links, especially where only part of a heading is linked.
  • Section and subsection headings should preferably be unique within a page; otherwise section links may lead to the wrong place, and automatic edit summaries can be ambiguous.
  • Citations should not be placed within or on the same line as section and subsection headings.
  • Headings should not contain images, including flag icons.
  • Headings should not contain questions.
  • Avoid starting headings with numbers (other than years), because this can be confusing for readers with the "Auto-number headings" preference selected.

Before changing a section heading, consider whether you might be breaking existing links to that section. If there are many links to the old section title, create an anchor with that title to ensure that the links still work. Similarly, when linking to a section of an article, leave an invisible comment at that section, specifying the names of the linking articles so that if the title is altered, others can fix the links. For example: Template:Xt2

Do not place an invisible comment outside the "== ==" markup but on the same line as the heading:[3] Template:!xt2 Template:!xt2

National varieties of English


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The English Wikipedia prefers no major national variety of the language over any other. These varieties (e.g. American English vs. British English) differ in many ways, including vocabulary (elevator vs. lift), spelling (center vs. centre), date formatting ("April 13" vs. "13 April"), and occasionally grammar (see Plurals, below). The following subsections describe how to determine the appropriate variety for an article. (The accepted style of punctuation is covered in the punctuation section, below.)

Articles such as English plural and Comparison of American and British English provide information on the differences between these major varieties of the language.

Opportunities for commonality


Wikipedia tries to find words that are common to all varieties of English. Insisting on a single term or a single usage as the only correct option does not serve the purposes of an international encyclopedia.

  • Universally used terms are often preferable to less widely distributed terms, especially in article titles. For example, [[Glasses|Template:Xt]] is preferred to the national varieties Template:!xt (British English) and Template:!xt (American English); "tens of millions" is preferable to Template:!xt (Indian English).
  • If one variant spelling appears in an article title, make a redirect page to accommodate the other variants, as with artefact and artifact, so that all variants can be used in searches and in linking.
  • Terms that are uncommon in some varieties of English, or that have divergent meanings, may be glossed to prevent confusion, for example, Template:Xt.
  • Use a commonly understood word or phrase in preference to one that has a different meaning because of national differences (rather than Template:!xt, use Template:Xt or Template:Xt depending on which sense is intended).

Consistency within articles



While Wikipedia does not favor any national variety of English, within a given article the conventions of one particular variety should be followed consistently. The exceptions are:

Strong national ties to a topic


{{#invoke:see also|seealso}} An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the English of that nation. For example:

For articles about modern writers or their works, it is sometimes decided to use the variety of English in which the subject wrote (especially if the writings are quoted). For example, the articles on J. R. R. Tolkien's works, such as The Lord of the Rings, use British English with Oxford spelling.

This guideline should not be used to claim national ownership of any article; see Wikipedia:Ownership of articles.

Retaining the existing variety


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In general, disputes over which English variety to use in an article are strongly discouraged. Such debates waste time and engender controversy, mostly without accomplishing anything positive.

When an English variety's consistent usage has been established in an article, it is maintained in the absence of consensus to the contrary. With few exceptions (e.g. when a topic has strong national ties or a term/spelling carries less ambiguity), there is no valid reason for such a change.

When no English variety has been established and discussion cannot resolve the issue, the variety used in the first non-stub revision is considered the default. If no English variety was used consistently, the tie is broken by the first post-stub contributor to introduce text written in a particular English variety. The variety established for use in a given article can be documented by placing the appropriate Varieties of English template on its talk page.

An article should not be edited or renamed simply to switch from one valid use of English to another. Editors who alter an existing variety can be advised of this guideline via the placement of {{subst:uw-lang}} on their talk pages.

Capital letters


Sentence case rather than title case is used in Wikipedia article titles and section headings; see Article titles and Section headings above. For capitalization of list items, see Bulleted and numbered lists. Other points concerning capitalization are summarized below; full information can be found at the MoS page on capital letters.

Do not use capitals for emphasis

Do not use capital letters for emphasis; where wording alone cannot provide the emphasis, use italics.

Incorrect: Template:!xt.
Incorrect: Template:!xt.
Correct: Template:Xt.

Capitalization of "The"


Generally do not capitalize the definite article in the middle of a sentence: Template:Xt (not Template:!xt). However there are some conventional exceptions, including most titles of artistic works: Template:Xt (but Template:Xt); Template:Xt.

For treatment in band and album names, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music#Names (definite article).

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Titles of works

{{#invoke:main|main}} {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

The English-language titles of compositions (books and other print works, songs and other audio works, films and other visual media works, paintings and other artworks, etc.) are given in title case, in which every word is given an initial capital except for certain less important words (as detailed at WP:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Composition titles). The first and last words in a title are always capitalized. Capitalization in foreign-language titles varies, even over time within the same language; generally, retain the style of the original. Many of these items should also be in italics, or enclosed in quotation marks.

Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Titles of people


Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines


Calendar items


{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Animals, plants, and other organisms



When using scientific names, capitalize the genus but not the species or taxonomic rank below species if present: Template:Xt, Template:Xt. No exception is made for proper names forming part of scientific names. Higher taxa (order, family, etc.) are capitalized in Latin (Template:Xt, Template:Xt) but not in their English equivalents (Template:Xt, Template:Xt).

Common (vernacular) names are given in lower case, except where proper names appear (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt, but Template:Xt). Some editors prefer to capitalize the IOC-published common names of birds (Template:Xtd) in ornithological articles; do not apply this style to other categories. Use a consistent style for common names within an article. Create redirects from alternative capitalization forms of article titles.

General names for groups or types of animals are not capitalized except where they contain a proper name (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt).

Celestial bodies


Compass points


Do not capitalize directions such as north, nor their related forms (Template:Xt), except where they are parts of names (such as Template:Xt or Template:Xt).

Capitalize names of regions if they have attained proper-name status, including informal conventional names (Template:Xt; Template:Xt), and derived terms for people (e.g. a Southerner as someone from the Southern United States). Do not capitalize descriptive names for regions that have not attained the status of proper names, such as Template:Xt.

(Composite directions may or may not be hyphenated, depending on the style adopted in the article. Template:Xt and Template:Xt are more common in American English; but Template:Xt and Template:Xt in British English. In cases such as Template:Xt and Template:Xt an en dash is used; see en dashes, below.)



Names of particular institutions are proper nouns and require capitals, but generic words for institutions (university, college, hospital, high school) do not. For example: Template:Xt, but Template:Xt.

The word the at the start of a title is usually uncapitalized, but follow the institution's own usage (Template:Xt; but Template:Xt).

Similar considerations apply to political or geographical units, such as cities and islands: Template:Xt, but Template:Xt (an official name). (Note also the use of Template:Xt to refer to the City of London.)


Ligatures should be used in languages in which they are standard, hence Template:Xt is preferable to Template:!xt. Ligatures should not be used in English outside of names, hence Template:Xt, not Template:!xt.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Abbreviations


Write out both the full version and the abbreviation at first occurrence

  • When an abbreviation is to be used in an article, give the expression in full at first, followed immediately by the abbreviation in parentheses (round brackets). In the rest of the article the abbreviation can then be used by itself:
Template:Xt, at the first mention of the New Democratic Party; and
Template:Xt, at a subsequent mention.
Make an exception for very common abbreviations; in most articles they require no expansion (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt).
  • Do not apply initial capitals in a full version simply because capitals are used in the abbreviation.
Correct (not a proper noun): Template:Xt
Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct (a proper noun): Template:Xt
  • If the full version is already in round brackets, use a comma and or to indicate the abbreviation.
Plural and possessive forms
Acronyms, like other nouns, become plurals by adding Template:Xt or Template:Xt (Template:Xt; Template:Xt). As with other nouns, no apostrophe is used unless the form is a possessive.

Periods (full stops) and spaces

US and U.S.{{safesubst
In American and Canadian English, Template:Xt (with periods) is the dominant abbreviation for Template:Xt. Template:Xt (without periods) is more common in most other national forms of English. Some major American guides to style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), now deprecate Template:Xt and prefer Template:Xt. Use of periods for acronyms should be consistent within any given article, and congruent with the variety of English used by that article. In longer abbreviations incorporating the country's initials (Template:Xt, Template:Xt), do not use periods. When the United States is mentioned with one or more other countries in the same sentence, Template:Xt or Template:Xt may be too informal, especially at the first mention or as a noun instead of an adjective (Template:Xt, not Template:!xt). Do not use the spaced Template:!xt, nor the archaic Template:!xt, except when quoting. Do not use Template:!xt or Template:!xt, except in a quotation or as part of a proper name (Template:Xt), as these abbreviations are also used for United States Army and other names.
To indicate approximately, the unitalicized abbreviation Template:Xt (followed by a space) is preferred over circa, ca., or approx. The template {{circa}} may be used.
Do not use Template:Vanchor
Avoid abbreviations when they might confuse the reader, interrupt the flow, or appear informal. For example, do not use Template:!xt for Template:Xt or Template:Xt, except to reduce the width of an infobox or a table of data, or in a technical passage in which the term occurs many times.
See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers for when to abbreviate units of measurement.
Do not invent abbreviations or acronyms
Generally avoid making up new abbreviations, especially acronyms (Template:Xt is good as a translation of Template:Xt, but neither it nor the reduction Template:!xt is used by the organization; so use the original name and its official abbreviation, Template:Xt). If it is necessary to abbreviate a heading in a wide table of data, use widely recognized acronyms (for Template:Xt use Template:Xt and Template:Xt, with a link if the term has not already been written out: Template:Xt; do not use the made-up acronym Template:!xt).
HTML elements
Either the <abbr> element or the Template:Tlx template can be used for abbreviations and acronyms: <abbr title="World Health Organization">WHO</abbr> or Template:Tlx will generate WHO; hovering over the rendered text causes a tooltip of the long form to pop up. MediaWiki, the software on which Wikipedia runs, does not support <acronym>.



The ampersand (&) substitutes for the word and (it is a form of Latin et). In normal text, and should be used instead: Template:Xt, not Template:!xt. Retain ampersands in titles of works or organizations, such as Up & Down or AT&T. Ampersands may be used with consistency and discretion in tables, infoboxes, and similar contexts where space is limited. Modern editions of old texts routinely replace ampersands with and (just as they replace other disused glyphs, ligatures, and abbreviations), so an article's quotations may be cautiously modified, especially for consistency where different editions are quoted. (For similar allowable modifications see Quotations, below.)




Italics may be used sparingly to emphasize words in sentences (whereas boldface is normally not used for this purpose). Generally, the more highlighting in an article, the less its effectiveness.
Use italics when introducing or distinguishing among terms (Template:Xt).


Use italics for the titles of works of literature and art, such as books, pamphlets, films (including short films), television series, named exhibitions, computer and video games (but not other software), music albums, and paintings. The titles of articles, chapters, songs, television episodes, and other short works are not italicized; they are enclosed in double quotation marks.
Italics are not used for major revered religious works (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt).
Many of these items should also be in title case.
Use italics when mentioning a word or letter (see Use–mention distinction) or a string of words up to one full sentence (Template:Xt; Template:Xt). When a whole sentence is mentioned, quotation marks may be used instead, with consistency (Template:Xt; or Template:Xt). Mentioning (to discuss such features as grammar, wording, and punctuation) is different from quoting (in which something is usually expressed on behalf of a quoted source).
Foreign words
Use italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that are not common in everyday English. Proper names (such as place names) in other languages, however, are not usually italicized.
Scientific names
Use italics for the scientific names of plants, animals and other organisms at the genus level and below (italicize Template:Xt but not Template:Xt). The hybrid sign is not italicized (Template:Xt), nor is the "connecting term" required in three-part botanical names (Template:Xt).
Quotations in italics{{safesubst
For quotations, use only quotation marks (for short quotations) or block quoting (for long ones), not italics. (See Quotations below.) This means that (1) a quotation is not italicized inside quotation marks or a block quote just because it is a quotation, and (2) italics are no substitute for proper quotation formatting. One way to distinguish long block quotes from ordinary text is to use {{quotation}}, which will box the text. Citation links may not work within such templates; if so, it may be necessary to use {{quote}}.
Italics within quotations
Use italics within quotations if they are already in the source material. When adding italics on Wikipedia, add an editorial note Template:Xt after the quotation.
If the source has used italics (or some other styling) for emphasis and this is not otherwise evident, the editorial note Template:Xt should appear after the quotation.
Effect on nearby punctuation
Italicize only the elements of the sentence affected by the emphasis. Do not italicize surrounding punctuation.
Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt
      (Note the difference between Template:!xt and Template:Xt. The question mark applies to the whole sentence, not just to the emphasized Template:Xt.)
Correct: Template:Xt
(The commas, the period, and the word and are not italicized.)
Italicized links
The italics markup must be outside the link markup, or the link will not work; however, internal italicization can be used in piped links.
Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt

Non-breaking spaces


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A non-breaking space (also known as a hard space) is recommended to prevent the end-of-line displacement of elements that could be awkward at the beginning of a new line.

Technical information

  • A hard space can be produced with the template {{space}} or the HTML code &nbsp; instead of the space bar: 19&nbsp;kg yields a non-breaking Template:Xt.
  • A literal hard space, such as one of the Unicode non-breaking space characters, should not be used, since some web browsers will not load them properly during editing.
  • Non-breaking text can also be achieved by use of the {{nowrap}} template: Template:Tlc produces a non-breaking Template:Xt. This is especially useful for short constructions requiring two or more hard spaces, as in the preceding example. This template has the disadvantage that if the enclosed text starts or ends with a space, these spaces are forced outside in the resulting HTML, and unpredicted breaks may occur. If &nbsp; occurs right before Template:Tlf, or at the start of text within Template:Tlf, some browsers allow a break at that point.
  • In some older browsers, quotation marks separated by a hard space are broken at the end of a line: "She said 'Yes!'&nbsp;" (Template:!xt). Use "She said 'Yes!{{'"}} (Template:Xt) instead.
  • If you seek to separate an apostrophe from a quotation mark in a citation template that automatically places quotation marks for a particular field, such as the title of a work that ends or begins with an apostrophe, you can use &thinsp; to place the separation.
  • It is possible to use non-breaking spaces within wikilinks like World War II (encoded as [[World War&nbsp;II]]).[4]
  • Unlike normal spaces, multiple hard spaces are not compressed by browsers into a single space.


It is advisable to use a non-breaking space to prevent the end-of-line displacement of elements that would be awkward at the beginning of a new line:



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Original wording

The wording of the quoted text should be faithfully reproduced. Where there is good reason to change the wording, enclose it within square brackets (for example, [her father] replacing him, where the context identifying "him" is not included in the quotation: Template:Xt). If there is a significant error in the original statement, use Template:Xt or the template {{sic}} to show that the error was not made by Wikipedia. However, trivial spelling and typographic errors should simply be corrected without comment (for example, correct Template:!xt to Template:Xt and Template:!xt to Template:Xt), unless the slip is textually important.

Use ellipses to indicate omissions from quoted text. Legitimate omissions include extraneous, irrelevant, or parenthetical words, and unintelligible speech (Template:!xt, and Template:!xt). Do not omit text where doing so would remove important context or alter the meaning of the text. When a vulgarity or obscenity is quoted, it should appear exactly as it does in the cited source; words should never be bowdlerized by replacing letters with dashes, asterisks, or other symbols. In carrying over such an alteration from a quoted source, Template:Xt may be used to indicate that the transcription is exact.

Typographic conformity

A quotation is not a facsimile, and in most cases it is not desirable to duplicate the original formatting. Formatting and other purely typographical elements of quoted text should be adapted to English Wikipedia's conventions without comment; this practice is universal among publishers. These are alterations which make no difference when the text is read aloud, such as:

  • Changing capitalization so that sentences begin with capital letters and do not have unnecessary capitals in the middle (Template:Xt).
  • Styling of dashes and hyphens: see Dashes, below. Use the style chosen for the article: unspaced em dash or spaced en dash.
  • Styling of apostrophes and quotation marks
    • These should all be straight, not curly or slanted. See Quotation marks, below.
    • When quoting a quotation that itself contains a quotation, single quotes may be replaced with double quotes, and vice versa. See Quotations within quotations below.
  • Replacing non-English typographical elements with their English equivalents. For example, replace guillemets (Template:!xt) with straight quotation marks.
  • Removing spaces before punctuation such as periods and colons
  • Generally preserve bold and italics (see Italics, above), but most other styling should be altered. Underlining and spacing  w i t h i n  w o r d s  (as found in typewritten documents) should be changed to italics, and other unusual forms of emphasis (colored highlighting, all caps or small caps, etc.) should likewise generally be normalized to italics or boldface. It is also permissible to add appropriate non-emphatic italics or quotation marks, for example to mark the title of a book or poem within a quotation.
  • Expanding abbreviations
  • Normalizing archaic glyphs and ligatures, when doing so will not change or obscure the meaning or intent of the text. Examples include æ→ae, œ→oe, ſ→s, and ye→the. See also ampersand, above.

However, national varieties should not be changed, as these may involve changes in vocabulary, and because articles are prone to flipping back and forth. For example, a quotation from a British source should retain British spelling in an article that otherwise uses American spelling. (See Consistency within articles above.)

Quotations within quotations

For quotations within quotations, use double quote marks outermost and, working inward, alternate single with double quote marks (Template:Xt. For two or more quote marks in immediate succession, use the {{" '}}, {{' "}}, or (as in the example just given) {{" ' "}} templates, which add appropriate space between the quote marks (as well as making that space non-breaking).


The author of a quote of a full sentence or more should be named; this is done in the main text and not in a footnote. However, attribution is unnecessary with quotations that are clearly from the person discussed in the article or section. When preceding a quotation with its attribution, avoid characterizing it in a biased manner.


As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes, which may clutter the quotation, violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader.

Block quotations


Format a long quote (more than about 40 words or a few hundred characters, or consisting of more than one paragraph, regardless of length) as a block quotation, which Wikimedia's software will indent from both margins. Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks (and especially avoid decorative quotation marks in normal use, such as those provided by the {{centered pull quote}} template, which are reserved for pull quotes). Block quotations using a colored background are also discouraged. Block quotations can be enclosed between a pair of <blockquote>...</blockquote> HTML tags; or use {{quote}} or {{quote box}}.

Poetry, lyrics, and other formatted text may be quoted inline if they are short, or presented in a block quotation. If inline, line breaks should be indicated by /, and paragraph or stanza breaks by //. Wikipedia's MediaWiki software does not normally render line breaks inside a <blockquote>, but the Template:Xtag extension can be used to preserve them:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more."

This will result in the following, indented on both sides (it may also be in a smaller font, depending on browser software): Template:Xt2

The {{quote}} template retains line breaks but not leading spaces (use hard spaces, &nbsp;, instead), and adds a parameter for the attribution.

Foreign-language quotations

Quotations from foreign-language sources should appear in translation. Quotations that are translations should be explicitly distinguished from those that are not. Indicate the original source of a translation (if it is available, and not first published within Wikipedia), and the original language (if that is not clear from the context).

If the original, untranslated text is available, provide a reference for it or include it, as appropriate.




  • Consistent use of the straight (or typewriter) apostrophe (Template:Xt) is recommended, as opposed to the curly (or typographic) apostrophe (Template:!xt). For details and reasons, see Quotation marks, below.
  • Where an apostrophe might otherwise be misinterpreted as Wiki markup, use the templates Template:Tn, Template:Tn, and Template:Tn, or use Template:Xtag tags.
  • Foreign characters that resemble apostrophes, such as transliterated Arabic ayin (Template:Xt) and alif (Template:Xt), are represented by their correct Unicode characters (that is, U+02BF MODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RING and U+02BE MODIFIER LETTER RIGHT HALF RING respectively), despite possible display problems. If this is not feasible, use a straight apostrophe instead.
  • For usage of the possessive apostrophe, see the summary of usage issues at Possessives, below.
  • For a thorough treatment of all uses of the apostrophe (possessive, elision, formation of certain plurals, specific foreign-language issues) see the article Apostrophe.

Quotation marks



The term quotation in the material below also includes other uses of quotation marks such as those for titles of songs, chapters, episodes, unattributable aphorisms, literal strings, "scare-quoted" passages, and constructed examples. Quotation marks existing in other sources should be changed to match the format described below when being brought into Wikipedia.

Enclose quotations with double quotation marks (Template:Xt). Enclose quotations inside quotations with single quotation marks (Template:Xt). This is by far the dominant convention in current practice; see other reasons, below.
  • There are some conventional codified exceptions, such as single quotation marks for plant cultivars (Template:Xt); see WP:FLORA.
Article openings
An article title may include quotation marks, and these should be in bold just like the rest of the title when it appears at the start of the lead (from "A" Is for Alibi: Template:Xt).
When a title is shown altered in the lead, any added quotation marks should not be in bold (from Jabberwocky: Template:Xt; from Bill Clinton: Template:Xt).
Block quotes
As already noted above, we use quotation marks or block quotes (not both) to distinguish long quotations from other text. Multiparagraph quotations are always block-quoted. The quotations must be precise and exactly as in the source (except for certain allowable typographical changes, also noted above). The source should be cited clearly and precisely to enable readers to locate the text in question, and to quote it accurately themselves from Wikipedia.
Quotation characters
Do not use grave and acute accents or backticks (Template:!xt) as quotation marks (or as apostrophes). Likewise, avoid using the „low-high“ or guillemets (Template:!xt) quotation marks that are common in several foreign languages.
There are two possible methods for rendering quotation marks at Wikipedia (that is, the glyphs, displayed with emphasis here, for clarity):
Whenever quotation marks or apostrophes appear in article titles, make a redirect from the same title but using the alternative glyphs.

Reasons to prefer straight quotation marks and apostrophes (and double quotation marks)

Typographical, or curly, quotation marks and apostrophes might be read more efficiently; and many think they look more professional. But for practical reasons the straight versions are recommended, and double rather than single quotation marks as primary.

  • Consistency keeps searches predictable. Search facilities have differences that many readers (and editors) are unaware of:
  • Double quotation marks are more difficult to mistake for apostrophes than single quotes are:
Template:!xt (slows the reader down)
Template:Xt (clearer)
  • Straight quotation marks are easier to type and edit reliably regardless of computer configuration.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Names and titles

{{#invoke:main|main}} {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

Quotation marks should be used for the following names and titles:

  • Articles and chapters (books and periodicals italicized)
  • Sections of musical pieces (pieces italicized)
  • Individual strips from comics and webcomics (comics italicized)
  • Poems (long or epic poems italicized)
  • Songs (albums, song cycles, operas, operettas, oratorios italicized)
  • Individual episodes of television and radio series and serials (series title italicized)

For example: The song "Example" from the album Example by the band Example...

Do not use quotation marks or italics for:Template:Clarify

  • Ancient writings
  • Concert tours
  • Locations
  • Myths and epics
  • Prayers

Many, but not all, of the above items should also be in title case.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Punctuation inside or outside


On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not, irrespective of any rules associated with the variety of English in use. This practice is sometimes referred to as logical quotation. It is used here because it has been deemed by Wikipedia consensus to be more in keeping with the principle of minimal change. This punctuation system does not require placing final periods and commas inside or outside the quotation marks all the time but rather maintaining their original positions in (or absence from) the quoted material.

Correct: Template:Xt
(The period is known to be in the source.)
Correct: Template:Xt
(The period is known not to be in the source, its presence in the source is uncertain, or its coverage within the quotation is considered unnecessary.)
Correct: Template:Xt
(The question mark belongs inside because the quoted text itself was a question.)
Correct: Template:Xt
(The very quote is being questioned, so the question mark belongs outside; any punctuation at the end of the original quote is omitted.)
When a quoted sentence fragment ends in a period, some judgment is required: if the fragment communicates a complete sentence, the period can be placed inside. The period should be omitted if the quotation is in the middle of a sentence.
Correct: Template:Xt
If the sequence of juxtaposed punctuation marks seems distracting or untidy, try an acceptable alternative.
Correct: Template:Xt

Brackets and parentheses


These rules apply to both round brackets Template:Xt, often called parentheses, and square brackets Template:Xt.

If a sentence contains a bracketed phrase, place the sentence punctuation outside the brackets Template:Xt However, where one or more sentences are wholly inside brackets, place their punctuation inside the brackets. (For examples, see Sentences and brackets, below.) There should be no space next to the inner side of a bracket. An opening bracket should be preceded by a space, except in unusual cases; for example, when it is preceded by an opening quotation mark, another opening bracket, or a portion of a word:


There should be a space after a closing bracket, except where a punctuation mark follows (though a spaced dash would still be spaced after a closing bracket), and in unusual cases similar to those listed for opening brackets.

If sets of brackets are nested, use different types for adjacent levels of nesting; for two levels, it is customary to have square brackets appear within round brackets. This is often a sign of excessively convoluted expression; it is often better to recast, linking the thoughts with commas, semicolons, colons, or dashes.

Avoid adjacent sets of brackets. Either put the parenthetic phrases in one set separated by commas, or rewrite the sentence:

Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt

Square brackets are used to indicate editorial replacements and insertions within quotations, though this should never alter the intended meaning. They serve three main purposes:

  • To clarify. (Template:Xt, where this was the intended meaning, but the type of school was unstated in the original sentence.)
  • To reduce the size of a quotation. (Template:Xt may be reduced to Template:Xt.) When an ellipsis (...) is used to indicate that material is removed from a direct quotation, it should not normally be bracketed (see Ellipses, below).
  • To make the grammar work. (Referring to someone's statement Template:Xt, one could properly write: Template:Xt.)

Sentences and brackets

  • If any sentence includes material that is enclosed in square or round brackets, it still must end—with a period, or a question or exclamation mark—after those brackets. This principle applies no matter what punctuation is used within the brackets:
  • However, if the entire sentence is within brackets, the closing punctuation falls within the brackets. (This sentence is an example.) This does not apply to matter that is added (or modified editorially) at the beginning of a sentence for clarity, which is usually in square brackets:
That is preferable to this, which is potentially ambiguous:
But even here consider an addition rather than a replacement of text:
  • A sentence that occurs within brackets in the course of another sentence does not generally have its first word capitalized just because it starts a sentence. The enclosed sentence may have a question mark or exclamation mark added, but not a period. See the indented example above, and also:
It is often clearer to separate the thoughts into separate sentences or clauses:

Brackets and linking

If the text of a link needs to contain one or more square brackets, "escape" these using <nowiki>...</nowiki> tags or the appropriate numerical character reference, or use the {{bracket}} template.

He said "I spoke to [[John Doe|John &#91;Doe&#93;]] that morning."

He said "I spoke to John [Doe] that morning."

He said "I spoke to [[John Doe|John {{bracket|Doe}}]] that morning."

He said "I spoke to [[John Doe|John Template:Bracket]] that morning."

*Branwen, Gwern (2009). [ <nowiki>[WikiEN-l]</nowiki> Chinese start caring about copyright].

If a URL itself contains square brackets, the wiki-text should use the url-encoded form: Template:Xt rather than Template:!xt to avoid truncation of the link text after "xxx". Of course, this issue only arises for external links as MediaWiki software forbids square brackets in page titles.



An ellipsis (plural ellipses) is an omission of material from quoted text; or some other omission, perhaps of the end of a sentence, often used in a printed record of conversation. The ellipsis is represented by ellipsis points: a set of three dots.

Ellipsis points, or ellipses, have traditionally been implemented in three ways:
  • Three unspaced periods (Template:Xt). This is the easiest way, and gives a predictable appearance in HTML. Recommended.
  • Pre-composed ellipsis character (Template:!xt); generated with the &hellip; character entity, or as a literal "…". This is harder to input and edit, and too small in some fonts. Not recommended.
  • Three periods separated by spaces (Template:!xt). This is an older style that is unnecessarily wide and requires non-breaking spaces to keep it from breaking at the end of a line. Not recommended.
Function and implementation
Use an ellipsis if material is omitted in the course of a quotation, unless square brackets are used to gloss the quotation (see above, and points below).
  • Put a space on each side of an ellipsis (Template:Xt), except that there should be no space between an ellipsis and:
    • a quotation mark directly following the ellipsis (Template:Xt).
    • any (round, square, curly, etc.) bracket, where the ellipsis is on the inside (Template:Xt).
    • sentence-final punctuation, or a colon, semicolon, or comma (all rare), directly following the ellipsis (Template:Xt).
  • Only place terminal punctuation after an ellipsis if it is textually important (as is often the case with exclamation marks and question marks, and rarely with periods).
  • Use non-breaking spaces (&nbsp;) as needed to prevent improper line breaks, for example:
Pause or suspension of speech
Three periods (loosely also called ellipsis points) are occasionally used to represent a pause in or suspense of speech, in which case the punctuation is retained in its original form (Template:Xt). Avoid this usage on Wikipedia, except in direct quotations.
With square brackets
An ellipsis does not normally need square brackets around it, because its function is usually obvious—especially if the guidelines above are followed. Square brackets, however, may optionally be used for precision, to make it clear that the ellipsis is not itself quoted; this is usually only necessary if the quoted passage also uses three periods in it to indicate a pause or suspension. The ellipsis should follow exactly the principles given above, but with square brackets inserted immediately before and after it (Template:Xt).



Commas are the most frequently used marks in punctuation and can be the most difficult to use well. Some important points are made in the Semicolons section below. Other points:

  • Pairs of commas are often used to delimit parenthetic material, forming a parenthetical remark. This interrupts the sentence less than a parenthetical remark in (round) brackets or dashes. Do not be fooled by other punctuation, which can mask the need for a comma, especially when it collides with a bracket or parenthesis, as in this example:
Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct:    Template:Xt
  • In geographical references that include multiple levels of subordinate divisions (e.g., city, state/province, country), a comma separates each element and follows the last element (unless followed by other punctuation). Dates in month–day–year format also require a comma after the day and also after the year (unless followed by other punctuation). In both cases, the last element is treated as parenthetic.
Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct:    Template:Xt
Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct:    Template:Xt
  • Modern practice is against excessive use of commas; there are usually ways to simplify a sentence so that fewer are needed.
Awkward: Template:!xt
Much better:    Template:Xt
  • Before a quotation embedded within a sentence, the use of a comma is optional. Template:Xt or Template:Xt Many editors prefer a colon in this position if the quotation forms one or more complete sentences: Template:Xt

Serial commas


A serial comma (also known as an Oxford comma or a Harvard comma) is a comma used immediately before a conjunction (and or or, sometimes nor) in a list of three or more items: the phrase Template:Xt includes a serial comma, while the variant Template:Xt omits it. Editors may use either convention on Wikipedia so long as each article is consistent within itself. However, there are some times when the serial comma can create or remove confusion:

Sometimes omitting the comma can lead to an ambiguous sentence, as in this example: Template:!xt, which may list either four people (the two parents and the two people named) or two people (O'Connor and Obama, who are the parents).

Including the comma can also cause ambiguity, as in this example: Template:!xt, which may list either two people (O'Connor, who is the mother, and Obama) or three people (the first being the mother, the second O'Connor, and the third Obama).

In such cases of ambiguity, there are three ways to clarify:

  • Use or omit the serial comma to avoid ambiguity.
  • Recast the sentence.
  • List the elements by using a format, such as one with paragraph breaks and numbered paragraphs.

Recasting example one:

Recasting example two:

  • To list two people: Template:Xt
  • To list three people: Template:Xt
    The clarity of the last example depends on the reader's knowing that Obama is male and cannot be a mother. If we change the example slightly, we are back to an ambiguous statement: Template:!xt



A colon (Template:Xt) informs the reader that what comes after it demonstrates, explains, or modifies what has come before, or is a list of items that has just been introduced. The items in such a list may be separated by commas; or, if they are more complex and perhaps themselves contain commas, the items should be separated by semicolons:


A colon may also be used to introduce direct speech enclosed within quotation marks (see above).

In most cases a colon works best with a complete grammatical sentence before it. There are exceptional cases, such as those where the colon introduces items set off in new lines like the very next colon here. Examples:

Correct: Template:Xt
Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct (special case):    Template:Xt

Sometimes, more in American than British usage, the word following a colon is capitalized, if that word effectively begins a new grammatical sentence, and especially if the colon serves to introduce more than one sentence:


No sentence should contain more than one colon. There should never be a hyphen or a dash immediately following a colon. Only a single space follows a colon.



{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} A semicolon (Template:Xt) is sometimes an alternative to a full stop (period), enabling related material to be kept in the same sentence; it marks a more decisive division in a sentence than a comma. If the semicolon separates clauses, normally each clause must be independent (meaning that it could stand on its own as a sentence); often, only a comma or only a semicolon will be correct in a given sentence.

Correct: Template:Xt
Incorrect:    Template:!xt

Above, "Though he had been here before" cannot stand on its own as a sentence, and therefore is not an independent clause.

Correct: Template:Xt
Incorrect:    Template:!xt

This incorrect use of a comma between two independent clauses is known as a comma splice; however, in very rare cases, a comma may be used where a semicolon would seem to be called for:

Accepted: Template:Xt (citing a brief aphorism; see Ars longa, vita brevis)
Accepted: Template:Xt (reporting brisk conversation, like this reply of Newton's)

A sentence may contain several semicolons, especially when the clauses are parallel in construction and meaning; multiple unrelated semicolons are often signs that the sentence should be divided into shorter sentences, or otherwise refashioned.

Unwieldy: Template:!xt
One better way:    Template:Xt

Semicolons are used in addition to commas to separate items in a listing, when commas alone would result in confusion.

Clear: Template:Xt
Confusing:   Template:!xt

A semicolon does not force a capital letter in the word that follows it.

Semicolon before "however"


The meaning of a sentence containing a trailing clause that starts with the word "however" depends on the punctuation preceding that word. A common error is to use the wrong punctuation, thereby changing the meaning to one not intended.

When the word "however" is an adverb meaning "nevertheless", it should be preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma. Example:

Meaning: Template:Xt

When the word "however" is a conjunction meaning "in whatever manner", or "regardless of how", it may be preceded by a comma but not by a semicolon, and should not be followed by punctuation. Example:

Meaning: Template:Xt

In the first case, the clause that starts with "however" cannot be swapped with the first clause; in the second case this can be done without change of meaning:

Meaning: Template:Xt

If the two clauses cannot be swapped, a semicolon is required.

A sentence or clause can also contain the word "however" in the middle if it is an adverb meaning "though", which could have been placed at the beginning but does not start a new clause in mid-sentence. In this use the word may be enclosed between commas. Example:

Meaning: Template:Xt




Hyphens (Template:Xt) indicate conjunction. There are three main uses.

  1. In hyphenated personal names: Template:Xt.
  2. To link certain prefixes with their main word (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt).
  3. To link related terms in compound modifiers:[5]
Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt (entered as 9&nbsp;mm gap)
Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt

Multi-hyphenated items: It is often possible to avoid multi-word hyphenated modifiers by rewording (Template:Xt may be easier to read as Template:Xt). This is particularly important where converted units are involved (Template:Xt might be possible as Template:Xt, and the ungainly Template:!xt as simply Template:Xt).

For optional hyphenation of compound points of the compass such as southwest/south-west, see Compass points above.

Hyphenation rules in other languages may be different. Thus in French a place name such as Template:Xt ("Three Rivers") is hyphenated, when it would not be in English. Follow reliable sources in such cases.

Spacing: A hyphen is never followed or preceded by a space, except when hanging (see above) or when used to display parts of words independently, such as the prefix Template:Xt and the suffix Template:Xt.

Image filenames and redirects: Image filenames are not part of encyclopedic content; they are tools. They are most useful if they can be readily typed, so they always use hyphens instead of dashes. Similarly, article titles with dashes should also have a corresponding redirect from a copy of the title with hyphens: for example, Template:Xt redirects to Template:Xt, because the latter title, although correct, is harder to search for.

Non-breaking: A non-breaking hyphen can be created by using the HTML code &#8209;.

Soft hyphens: A soft hyphen is used to indicate optional locations where a word may be broken and hyphenated at the end of a line of text. Use of soft hyphens should be limited to special cases, usually involving very long words or narrow spaces (such as captions in tight page layouts, or column labels in narrow tables). Widespread use of soft hyphens is strongly discouraged, because it makes the Wikisource text very difficult to read and to edit, and may have the effect of intimidating editors from working on an article (for example, in&shy;tim&shy;i&shy;dat&shy;ing ed&shy;i&shy;tors from work&shy;ing on an ar&shy;ti&shy;cle).

Hyphenation involves many subtleties that cannot be covered here; the rules and examples presented above illustrate the broad principles that inform current usage.



Two forms of dash are used on Wikipedia: en dash (Template:Xt) and em dash (Template:Xt). Type them in as &ndash; (–) and &mdash; (—) or click on them to the right of the "Insert" tab under the edit window; or see How to make dashes.

  • When naming an article, do not use a hyphen as a substitute for an en dash that properly belongs in the title, for example in Eye–hand span (since eye does not modify hand). To aid searching and linking, provide a redirect from the corresponding article title with hyphens in place of en dashes, as in Eye-hand span. Make a similar redirect for categories that contain a dash, so that WP:HotCat recognizes them.

Sources use dashes in varying ways, but for consistency and clarity Wikipedia adopts the following principles.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}}Punctuating a sentence (em or en dashes)


Dashes are often used to mark divisions within a sentence: in pairs (parenthetical dashes, instead of parentheses or pairs of commas); or singly (perhaps instead of a colon). They may also indicate an abrupt stop or interruption, in reporting direct speech.

There are two options. Use either unspaced em dashes or spaced en dashes consistently in an article.

Unspaced em dash

Do not use spaces with em dashes.


Spaced en dash

To ensure correct linewrap handling, the {{spaced ndash}} can be used:
Another "planet" was detected{{spaced ndash}} but it was later found to be a moon of Saturn.

However, do not use the template where the en dash is unspaced (see #En dashes: other uses below).

Dashes can clarify the sentence structure when there are already commas or parentheses, or both.

Use dashes sparingly. More than two in a single sentence makes the structure unclear; it takes time for the reader to see which dashes, if any, form a pair.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}}En dashes: other uses


The en dash (–) has other roles, beyond its use as a sentence-punctuating dash (see immediately above). It is often analogous to the hyphen (see the section above), which joins components more strongly than the en dash; or the slash (see the section below), which separates alternatives more definitely. Consider the exact meaning when choosing which to use.

In ranges that might otherwise be expressed with to or through

Do not mix en dashes with prepositions like between and from.

If negative values are involved, an en dash might be confusing. Use words instead.

The en dash in a range is always unspaced, except when at least one endpoint of the range includes at least one space.

In compounds when the connection might otherwise be expressed with to, versus, and, or between

Here the relationship is thought of as parallel, symmetric, equal, oppositional, or at least involving separate or independent elements. The components may be nouns, adjectives, verbs, or any other independent part of speech. Often if the components are reversed there would be little change of meaning.


A slash or some other alternative may occasionally be better to express a ratio, especially in technical contexts (see Slashes below).

An en dash is not used for a hyphenated personal name.

  • Template:Xt with a hyphen: named after John Lennard-Jones

An en dash is used for the names of two or more people in an attributive compound.

A hyphen is used by default in compounded proper names of single entities.

  • Template:Xt; Bissau is the capital, and this distinguishes the country from neighboring Guinea
  • Template:Xt, a single city named after two people, but Template:Xt, a union of two cities
  • Template:Xt, an individual named after two families

The en dash in all of the compounds above is unspaced.

Instead of a hyphen, when applying a prefix (but not a suffix) to a compound that includes a space

Use this punctuation when there are compelling grounds for retaining the construction. For example, from a speech that is simply transcribed and cannot be re-worded; or in a heading where it has been judged most natural as a common name. Otherwise recasting is better.

The en dash in all of the compounds above is unspaced.

To separate items in certain lists

Spaced en dashes are used within parts of certain lists. Here are two examples:

Other dashes

Do not use substitutes for em or en dashes, such as the combination of two hyphens (Template:!xt). These were typewriter approximations.

For a negative sign or subtraction operator, use a minus sign (Template:Xt, Unicode character U+2212 MINUS SIGN). Input by clicking on it in the insert box beneath the edit window or by typing &minus;.



Generally avoid joining two words by a slash, also known as a forward slash or solidus (Template:Xt). It suggests that the two are related, but does not specify how. It is often also unclear how the construct would be read aloud. Replace with clearer wording.

An example: Template:!xt Must both be present? (Then write Template:Xt.) Must at least one be present? (Then write Template:Xt.) Are they the same person? (Use a hyphen: Template:Xt.)

In circumstances involving a distinction or disjunction, the en dash (see above) is usually preferable to the slash: Template:Xt.

An unspaced slash may be used:

A spaced slash may be used:

  • to separate run-in lines in quoted poetry or song (Template:Xt), or rarely in quoted prose, where careful marking of a paragraph break is textually important
  • to separate items that include at least one internal space (Template:Xt), where for some reason use of a slash is unavoidable

Spaced slashes should be coded with a leading non-breaking space and a trailing normal space, as in x&nbsp;/ y (which renders as Template:Xt), to prevent improper line breaks.

Do not use the backslash character (Template:!xt) in place of a slash.

Prefer the division operator (Template:Xt) to (Template:!xt) when representing elementary arithmetic in general text: Template:Xt. In more advanced mathematical formulas, a vinculum or slash is preferred: or Template:Xt. (See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Common mathematical symbols and Help:Displaying a formula.)



Avoid the construct and/or on Wikipedia. In general, where it is important to mark an inclusive or, use Template:Xt, rather than Template:!xt. For an exclusive or, use Template:Xt, and optionally add Template:Xt, if it is necessary to stress the exclusivity.

Where more than two possibilities are presented, from which a combination is to be selected, it is even less desirable to use Template:!xt. With two possibilities, at least the intention is clear; but with more than two it may not be. Instead of Template:!xt, use an appropriate alternative, such as Template:Xt; Template:Xt.

Sometimes or is ambiguous in another way: Template:!xt. Are wild dogs and dingoes the same or different? For one case write: Template:Xt or Template:Xt (meaning dingoes are wild dogs); for the other case write: Template:Xt.

Number signs


Avoid using the Template:!xt symbol (known as the number sign, hash sign, or pound sign) when referring to numbers or rankings. Instead use the word "number", or the abbreviation "No." The abbreviation is identical in singular and plural. For example:

Incorrect:    Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt

An exception is issue numbers of comic books, which unlike for other periodicals are given in general text in the form Template:Xt, unless a volume is also given, like Template:Xt or Template:Xt.

When using the abbreviations, type Template:Xt or Template:Xt. Do not use the symbol Template:!xt.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}}Terminal punctuation




In normal text, never put a space before a comma, a semicolon, a colon, or a terminal punctuation mark (even in quoted material; see Allowable typographical changes, above). Put a space after these, unless they end a paragraph or are followed by a closing parenthesis, quotation mark, or similar.

Spaces following terminal punctuation

The number of spaces following the terminal punctuation of a sentence in the wiki markup makes no difference on Wikipedia; the MediaWiki software condenses any number of spaces to just one when rendering the page (see Sentence spacing). For this reason, editors may use any spacing style they prefer on Wikipedia. Multiple spacing styles may coexist in the same article, and adding or removing a double space is sometimes used as a dummy edit.

Consecutive punctuation marks


Where a proper noun that includes terminal punctuation ends a sentence, do not add a second terminal punctuation mark. Where such a noun occurs mid-sentence, punctuation may be added.

Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt
Correct: Template:Xt

Punctuation and footnotes



<ref>...</ref> (ref tags) are used to create footnotes (sometimes called endnotes or notes). The ref tags should immediately follow the text to which the footnote applies, with no intervening space. Any punctuation (see exceptions below) must precede the ref tags. Adjacent ref tags should have no space between them. Ref tags are used for explanatory notes but are more often used for citation footnotes.

When ref tags are used, a footnote list must be added, and is usually placed in the Notes and References section near the end of the article in the standard appendices and footers.

[Note: Dummy note links in these examples are not clickable.]

Exceptions: ref tags are placed before dashes, not after; and where a footnote applies only to material within parentheses, the ref tags belong just before the closing parenthesis.

Punctuation after formulae

A sentence that ends with a formula should have terminal punctuation (period, exclamation mark, or question mark) after the formula. Within a sentence, other punctuation (such as comma or colon) is used after a formula just as it would be if the text were not a formula. See Punctuation after formulae at the mathematics MoS page.

Dates and time


For ranges of dates and times, see En dashes above.

Dates should only be linked when they are germane and topical to the subject, as discussed at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking#Chronological items.

Time of day

Template:Rellink Time of day is normally expressed in figures rather than being spelled out. Context determines whether the 12- or 24-hour clock is used.



  • For full dates, use the format Template:Xt or the format Template:Xt. Similarly, where the year is omitted, use Template:Xt or Template:Xt. For choice of format, see below.
  • Do not use numerical date formats such as "03/04/2005", as this could refer to 3 April or to March 4. If a numerical format is required (e.g. for conciseness in long lists and tables), use the YYYY-MM-DD format: Template:Xt.

Choice of format

  • All the dates in a given article should have the same format (day-month or month-day). However, for citations, see Wikipedia:Citing sources#Citation style. These requirements do not apply to dates in quotations or titles.
  • Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that country (month-day for the US, except in military usage; day-month for most others; articles related to Canada may use either consistently).
  • Otherwise, do not change an article from one form to another without good reason. More details can be found at WP:MOSNUM#Dates.



  • For month and year, write Template:Xt, with no comma.
  • Abbreviations for months, such as Template:Xt in the United States or Template:Xt in most other countries, are used only where space is extremely limited.



  • Avoid ambiguous references to seasons, which are different in the southern and northern hemispheres.
  • Names of seasons may be used when there is a logical connection to the event they are describing (Template:Xt) or when referring to a phase of a natural yearly cycle (Template:Xt). Otherwise, neutral wording is usually preferable (Template:Xt, not Template:!xt).

Years and longer periods


  • Do not use the year before the digits (Template:Xt, not Template:!xt), unless the meaning would otherwise be unclear.
  • Decades are written in the format Template:Xt, with no apostrophe. Use the two-digit form ('80s) only with an established social or cultural meaning. Avoid forms such as Template:!xt that could refer to 10 or 100 years.
  • Years are denoted by AD and BC or, equivalently, CE and BCE. Use only one system within an article, and do not change from one system to the other without good reason. The abbreviations are written without periods, and with a non-breaking space, as in Template:Xt. Omit AD or CE unless this would cause ambiguity.

More information on all of the above topics can be found at WP:MOSNUM#Dates, including the handling of dates expressed in different calendars, and times corresponding to different time zones.


{{#invoke:see also|seealso}}

Use of the term "current" should be avoided. What is current today may not be tomorrow; situations change over time. Instead, use date- and time-specific text. To help keep information updated use the {{as of}} template.

Incorrect: Template:!xt
Correct: Template:Xt



MOSNUM clarifies a number of situations, including the following:



  • Use the full abbreviation on first use (Template:Xt for the U.S. dollar and Template:Xt for the Australian dollar), unless the currency is already clear from context. For example, the Government of the United States always spends money in American dollars, and never in Canadian or Australian dollars.
  • Use only one symbol with ranges, as in Template:Xt.
  • In articles that are not specific to a country, express amounts of money in United States dollars, euros, or pounds sterling. Do not link the names or symbols of currencies that are commonly known to English-speakers (Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt), unless there is a particular reason to do so; do not use potentially ambiguous currency symbols, unless the meaning is clear in the context.
  • In country-specific articles, use the currency of the country. On first occurrence, consider including conversion to US dollars, euros, or pounds sterling, at a rate appropriate to the context. For example, Template:Xt. Wording such as "approx." is not appropriate for simple rounding-off of the converted amount.
  • Generally, use the full name of a currency, and link it on its first appearance if English-speakers are likely to be unfamiliar with it (Template:Xt); subsequent occurrences can use the currency sign (just Template:Xt).
  • Most currency signs are placed before the number; they are unspaced (Template:Xt), except for alphabetic signs (Template:Xt).

Units of measurement


  • The main unit in which a quantity is expressed should generally be an SI unit or non-SI unit officially accepted for use with the SI. However:
    • Scientific articles may also use specialist units appropriate for the branch of science in question.
    • In non-scientific articles relating to the United States, the main unit is generally an American customary unit (Template:Xt).
    • In non-scientific articles relating to the United Kingdom, although the main unit is generally a metric unit (Template:Xt), Imperial units are still used as the main units in some contexts (Template:Xt).
  • Where English-speaking countries use different units for the same measurement, provide a conversion in parentheses. Examples: Template:Xt; Template:Xt. The {{convert}} template is useful for producing such expressions.
  • In a direct quotation, always keep the source units. If a conversion is required, it should appear within square brackets in the quote, or else an obscure use of units can be explained in a footnote.
  • Where space is limited (such as tables, infoboxes, parenthetical notes, and mathematical formulas) use unit symbols. In main text it is usually better to spell out unit names, but symbols may also be used when a unit (especially one with a long name) is used repeatedly. However, spell out the first instance of each unit in an article (for example, Template:Xt), except for unit names that are hardly ever spelled out (e.g. the degree Celsius). Most unit names are not capitalized. Use "per" when writing out a unit, rather than a slash: Template:Xt, not Template:!xt. (For spelling differences, follow National varieties of English, above.)
  • Potentially unfamiliar unit symbols should be introduced parenthetically at their first occurrence in the article, with the full name given first: for example, Template:Xt
  • For ranges, see En dashes: other uses (above) and MOSNUM.
  • When dimensions are given, each number should be followed by a unit name or symbol (e.g. write Template:Xt, not Template:!xt).
  • When they form a compound adjective, values and unit names should be separated by a hyphen: for example, Template:Xt.
  • Unit symbols are preceded by figures, not by spelled-out numbers. Values and unit symbols are separated by a non-breaking space. For example, Template:Xt. The percent sign, and units of degrees, minutes, and seconds for angles and coordinates, are unspaced.
  • Standard unit symbols do not require a full stop (period). However non-standard abbreviations should always be given a full stop.
  • No s is appended, e.g. Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt, not Template:!xt, Template:!xt, Template:!xt.
  • Write powers of unit symbols with HTML, e.g. Template:Xt not Unicode superscripts and subscripts.
  • For quantities of bytes and bits, specify whether the binary or decimal meanings of K, M, G, etc. are intended. The IEC prefixes kibi-, mebi-, gibi-, etc. (symbols Ki, Mi, Gi, etc.) are not familiar to most readers, and should not generally be used (for exceptions, see MOSNUM).

Common mathematical symbols


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Grammar and usage



For the apostrophe character, see #Apostrophes above. For thorough treatment of the English possessive see Apostrophe.

Singular nouns

Plural nouns

Official names

  • Official names (of companies, organizations, or places) should not be altered. (Template:Xt should therefore not be rendered as Template:!xt, even for consistency.)


First-person pronouns


Wikipedia articles must not be based on one person's opinions or experiences, so never use I, my, or similar forms (except in quotations).

Also avoid we, us, and our: Template:!xt (personal rather than encyclopedic). But these forms are acceptable in certain figurative uses. For example:

Second-person pronouns


{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}Template:Main other Do not use the second person (you, your); it is often ambiguous and contrary to the tone of an encyclopedia (see also Instructional and presumptuous language, below).



{{#invoke:see also|seealso}} {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} Use the appropriate plural; allow for cases (such as excursus or hanif) in which a word is now listed in major English dictionaries, and normally takes an s or es plural, not its original plural: Template:Xt, not Template:!xt as in Latin; Template:Xt, not Template:!xt as in Arabic.

Some collective nouns—such as team (and proper names of them), army, company, crowd, fleet, government, majority, mess, number, pack, and party—may refer either to a single entity or to the members that compose it. In British English, such words are sometimes treated as singular, but more often treated as plural, according to context. Exceptionally, names of towns and countries usually take singular verbs (unless they are being used to refer to a team or company by that name, or when discussing actions of that entity's government). For example, in Template:Xt, England refers to a football team; but in Template:Xt, it refers to the country. In North American English, these words (and the United States, for historical reasons) are almost invariably treated as singular; the major exception is when sports teams are referred to by nicknames that are plural nouns, when plural verbs are commonly used to match. See also National varieties of English above.




Uncontracted forms such as do not or it is are the default in encyclopedic style; don't and it's are too informal. But contractions should not be expanded mechanically. Sometimes rewriting the sentence as a whole is preferable; occasionally contractions provide the best solution anyway.

Gender-neutral language


Use gender-neutral language where this can be done with clarity and precision. This does not apply to direct quotations or the titles of works (Template:Xt), which should not be altered, or to wording about one-gender contexts, such as an all-female school (Template:Xt).


Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neutral forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. As with all optional styles, articles should not be changed from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Military history#Pronouns.

Contested vocabulary

Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality, that are unnecessarily regional, or that are not widely accepted. See List of English words with disputed usage and Wikipedia:List of commonly misused English words; see also Identity (below) and Gender-neutral language (above).

Instructional and presumptuous language

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Avoid such phrases as remember that and note that, which address readers directly in an unencyclopedic tone. Similarly, phrases such as of course, naturally, obviously, clearly, and actually make presumptions about readers' knowledge, and call into question the reason for including the information in the first place. Do not tell readers that something is ironic, surprising, unexpected, amusing, coincidental, etc. Simply state the sourced facts and allow readers to draw their own conclusions.

Subset terms

A subset term identifies a set of members of a larger class. Common subset terms are including, among, and et cetera (etc.). Do not use redundant subset terms (so avoid constructions like these: Template:!xt or Template:!xt). Do not use including to introduce a complete list, where comprising, consisting of, or composed of would be more accurate.


  • Disputes over how to refer to a person or group are addressed by policies such as Verifiability, and Neutral point of view (and Article titles where the term appears in the title of an article). When there is a discrepancy between the term most commonly used in reliable sources for a person or group and the term that person or group uses for themselves, Wikipedia should use the term most used in sources; if it isn't clear which is most used, use the term the person or group uses. (For example, see the article Jew, which demonstrates that most Jews prefer that term to "Jewish person".)
  • An exception to this is made for terms relating to gender. In such cases we favor self-designation, even when source usage would indicate otherwise. Any person whose gender might be questioned should be referred to by the pronouns, possessive adjectives, and gendered nouns (for example "man/woman", "waiter/waitress", "chairman/chairwoman") that reflect that person's latest expressed gender self-identification. This applies in references to any phase of that person's life, unless the subject has indicated a preference otherwise. Direct quotations may need to be handled as exceptions (in some cases adjusting the portion used may reduce apparent contradictions, and "Template:Sic" may be used where necessary).
  • Use specific terminology. For example, often it is more appropriate for people from Ethiopia (a country in Africa) to be described as Ethiopian, not carelessly (with the risk of stereotyping) as African.
  • The adjective Arab (never to be confused with Muslim or Islamic) refers to people and things of ethnic Arab origin. The term Arabic refers to the Arabic language or writing system, and related concepts (Template:Xt).

Foreign terms



Foreign words should be used sparingly.

No common usage in English
Use italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that are not current in English.
Common usage in English
Loanwords and borrowed phrases that have common usage in English—Template:Xt, Template:Xt, Template:Xt—do not require italics. A rule of thumb is not to italicize words that appear unitalicized in major English-language dictionaries.
Spelling and romanization


Names not originally written in a Latin alphabet (written for example in Greek, Cyrillic, or Chinese scripts) must be given a romanized form for use in English. Use a systematically transliterated or otherwise romanized name (Template:Xt, Template:Xt); but if there is a common English form of the name (Template:Xt, Template:Xt), use that form instead.
The use of diacritics (such as accent marks) for foreign words is neither encouraged nor discouraged; their usage depends on whether they appear in verifiable reliable sources in English and on the constraints imposed by specialized Wikipedia guidelines. Provide redirects from alternative forms that use or exclude diacritics.
Spell a name consistently in the title and the text of an article. See relevant policy at Article titles; see also Naming conventions (use English). For foreign names, phrases, and words generally, adopt the spellings most commonly used in English-language references for the article, unless those spellings are idiosyncratic or obsolete. If a foreign term does not appear in the article's references, adopt the spelling most commonly used in other verifiable reliable sources (for example other English-language dictionaries and encyclopedias). For punctuation of compounded forms, see relevant guidelines in Punctuation, above.
Sometimes the usage will be influenced by other guidelines such as National varieties of English, above, which may lead to different choices in different articles.

{{safesubst:#invoke:anchor|main}} Technical language


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Some topics are intrinsically technical, but editors should try to make them understandable to as many readers as possible. Minimize jargon, or at least explain it; or tag it using {{Technical}} or {{Technical-statement}} for other editors to fix. For unavoidably technical articles a separate introductory article (like Introduction to special relativity) may be the best solution. Avoid excessive wikilinking (linking within Wikipedia) as a substitute for parenthetic explanations such as the one in this sentence. Do not introduce new and specialized words simply to teach them to the reader when more common alternatives will do. When the notions named by jargon are too complex to concisely explain in a few parenthetical words, write one level down. For example, consider adding a brief background section with {{main}} tags pointing to the full treatment article(s) of the prerequisite notions; this approach is practical only when the prerequisite concepts are central to the exposition of the article's main topic, and when such prerequisites aren't too numerous. Short articles like stubs generally do not have such sections.

Geographical items

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Places should generally be referred to consistently by the same name as in the title of their article (see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)). Exceptions are made if there is a widely accepted historical English name appropriate to the given context. In cases where such a historical name is used, it should be followed by the modern name in round brackets (parentheses) on the first occurrence of the name in applicable sections of the article. This resembles linking; it should not be done to the detriment of style. On the other hand, it is probably better to provide such a variant too often than too rarely. If more than one historical name is applicable for a given context, the other names should be added after the modern English name, that is: "historical name (modern name, other historical names)".



{{#invoke:main|main}} {{#invoke:see also|seealso}}

  • Infoboxes, images, and related content in the lead must be right-aligned.
  • Use captions to clarify the relevance of the image to the article (see Captions, below).
  • Each image should be inside the major section to which it relates (within the section defined by the most recent level 2 heading or at the top of the lead), not immediately above the section heading.
  • Avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other, and between an image and an infobox or similar.
  • It is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text. However, it is not necessary to reverse an image simply to have the subject facing the text.
  • Multiple images in the same article can be staggered right-and-left (for example, Timpani).
  • The thumbnail option may be used ("thumb"), or another size may be fixed. The default thumbnail width is 220 pixels; users can adjust this in their preferences. Lead images should be no wider than "upright=1.35" (by default this is 300 pixels). See Manual of Style/Images for information on when and how to use other sizes.
  • Link to more images on Wikimedia Commons when appropriate; see Wikipedia:Wikimedia sister projects for advice and methods. The use of galleries should be in keeping with Wikipedia's image use policy.
  • Avoid referring to images as being on the left or right. Image placement is different for viewers of the mobile version of Wikipedia, and is meaningless to people having pages read to them by assistive software. Instead, use captions to identify images.
  • Alt text takes the place of an image for text-only readers, including those using screen readers. Images should have an alt attribute added to the Template:Para parameter. See WP:ALT for more information.

Avoid entering textual information as images

Textual information should almost always be entered as text rather than as an image. True text can be colored and adjusted with CSS tags and templates, but text in images cannot be. Images are not searchable, are slower to download, and are unlikely to be read as text by devices for the visually impaired. Any important textual information in an image should also appear in the image's alt text, caption, or other nearby text.




Photographs and other graphics should always have captions, unless they are "self-captioning" images (such as reproductions of album or book covers) or when they are unambiguous depictions of the subject of the article. In a biography article no caption is necessary for a portrait of the subject pictured alone; but one might be used, to give the year, the subject's age, or other circumstances of the portrait along with the name of the subject.

Formatting of captions

  • Captions normally start with a capital letter.
  • Most captions are not complete sentences, but merely sentence fragments that should not end with a period. If any complete sentence occurs in a caption, all sentences and any sentence fragments in that caption should end with a period.
  • The text of captions should not be specially formatted (with italics, for example), except in ways that would apply if it occurred in the main text.
  • Captions should be succinct; more information about the image can be included on its description page, or in the main text.
  • Captions for technical charts and diagrams may be substantially longer than those for other images. Captions for technical images should fully describe all the elements of the image, and the image's significance.

Bulleted and numbered lists


{{#invoke:main|main}} Template:See

  • Do not use lists if a passage is read easily as plain paragraphs.
  • Use proper wikimarkup- or template-based list code (see WP:Manual of Style/Lists and Help:List).
  • Do not leave blank lines between items in a bulleted or numbered list unless there is a reason to do so, since this causes the Wiki software to interpret each item as beginning a new list.
    • Indents (such as this) are permitted if the elements are "Children" items
  • Use numbers rather than bullets only if:
    • A need to refer to the elements by number may arise;
    • The sequence of the items is critical; or
    • The numbering has some independent meaning, for example in a listing of musical tracks.
  • Use the same grammatical form for all elements in a list, and do not mix sentences and sentence fragments as elements.
    • For example, when the elements are:
      • Complete sentences, each one is formatted with sentence case (its first letter is capitalized) and a final period (full stop).
      • Sentence fragments, the list is typically introduced by a lead fragment ending with a colon.
      • Titles of works, they retain the original capitalization of the titles.
      • Other elements, they are formatted consistently in either sentence case or lower case.



{{#invoke:main|main}} Template:See

Make links only where they are relevant and helpful in the context: Excessive use of hyperlinks can be distracting, and may slow the reader down. Redundant links (like the one in Template:!xt) clutter the page and make future maintenance harder. High-value links that are worth pursuing should stand out clearly.

Linking to sections: A hash sign (#) followed by the appropriate heading will lead to a relevant part of a page. For example, [[Apostrophe#Use in non-English names]] links to a particular section of the article Apostrophe.

Initial capitalization: Wikipedia's MediaWiki software does not require that wikilinks begin with an upper-case character. Only capitalize the first letter where this is naturally called for, or when specifically referring to the linked article by its name: Template:Xt

Check links: Ensure that the destination is the intended one; many dictionary words lead to disambiguation pages and not to complete or well-chosen articles.

External links


Do not use external links in the body of an article. Articles can include an external links section at the end, pointing to further information outside Wikipedia as distinct from citing sources. The standard format is a primary heading, ==External links==, followed by a bulleted list of links. Identify the link and briefly indicate its relevance to the article. For example:

* [ History of NIH]
* [ National Institutes of Health homepage]

These will appear as:

When applicable, use external link templates such as {{Official website}}, {{Official websites}} and {{URL}}, which are preformatted to specify links for official websites.

Add external links with discretion; Wikipedia is not a link repository.


Keep markup simple


The simplest markup is often the easiest to edit, the most comprehensible, and the most predictable. Markup may appear differently in different browsers. Use HTML and CSS markup sparingly; in particular, do not use the CSS float or line-height properties because they break rendering on some browsers when large fonts are used.

An HTML entity is sometimes better than the equivalent Unicode character, which may be difficult to identify in edit mode; for example, &Alpha; is understood where Α (the upper-case form of Greek α) may not be.

Formatting issues

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Modifications in font size, blank space, and color (see Color coding, below) are an issue for the Wikipedia site-wide style sheet, and should be reserved for special cases only.

Typically, the use of custom font styles will:

  • reduce consistency, since the text will no longer look uniform;
  • reduce usability, since it might be impossible for people with custom style sheets (for accessibility reasons, for example) to override it, and it might clash with a different skin as well as inconvenience people with color blindness (see below); and
  • cause disputes, since other editors may disagree aesthetically with the choice of style.

Outside article text, different font sizes are routinely used in navigation templates and infoboxes, tables (especially in larger ones), and some other contexts where alternatives are not available (such as table captions). Specify font sizes relatively (for example in CSS with font-size: 80%) rather than absolutely (like font-size: 8pt).

Color coding



Information should be accessible to all. Do not use color alone to mark differences in text: they may be invisible to people with color blindness. Also, black-and-white printouts, older computer displays with fewer colors, and monochrome displays (older PDAs and cell phones) cannot show such distinctions.

Choose colors that can be distinguished by the readers with the commonest form of colorblindness (red–green), such as maroon and teal; and mark the differences with change of font or some other means (maroon and alternative font face, teal). Avoid low contrast between text and background colors. Viewing the page with Wickline can help with the choice of colors. See also color coding.

Scrolling lists and collapsible content


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Scrolling lists, and boxes that toggle text display between hide and show, should not conceal article content, including reference lists, image galleries, and image captions. They especially should not be used to conceal "spoiler" information (see Wikipedia:Spoiler). Collapsible sections or cells may be used in tables that consolidate information covered in the main text, and in navboxes. When scrolling lists or collapsible content are used, take care that the content will still be accessible on devices that do not support JavaScript or CSS.

Invisible comments

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}Template:Main other {{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}



Editors use invisible comments to communicate with each other in the body of the text of an article. These comments are visible only in the wiki source—that is, in edit source mode, not in read mode or in VisualEditor.

Invisible comments are useful for flagging an issue or leaving instructions about part of the text, where this is more convenient than raising the matter on the talk page. They should be used judiciously, because they can clutter the wiki source for other editors. Check that your invisible comment does not change the formatting, for example by introducing white space in read mode.

To leave an invisible comment, enclose the text you intend to be read only by editors between <!-- and -->. For example: Template:Xt



Pronunciation in Wikipedia is indicated in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). In most situations, for ease of understanding by the majority of readers and across variants of the language, quite broad IPA transcriptions are best for English pronunciations. See Wikipedia:IPA for English and Wikipedia:IPA (general) for keys, and {{IPA}} for templates that link to these keys. For English pronunciations, pronunciation respellings may be used in addition to the IPA.

See also

Template:Wikipedia books


  • Annotated article – is a well-constructed sample article, with annotations.
  • Article development – lists the ways in which you can help an article grow.
  • Avoiding common mistakes – gives a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them.
  • Be bold – suggests a bold attitude toward page updates.
  • Citing sources – explains process and standards for citing references.
  • Disinfoboxes – argues that infoboxes are not always useful.
  • Editing – is a short primer on editing pages.
  • Style guide – contains links to the style guides of some magazines and newspapers.
  • Wiki markup – explains the codes and resources available for editing a page.


Other community standards

Guidelines within Manual of Style

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} (Links to policy and guidelines on specific questions.)



Language varieties

Foreign terms used in English

Quotations in articles

Numbers, times, and dates


Punctuation guidance


  1. These matters have been addressed in rulings of the Arbitration Committee. See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Jguk#Optional styles and Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Sortan#Preferred styles.
  2. Using phrases like Template:Xt is acceptable for section headings.
  3. Placing comments in this way is discouraged as it disrupts the software's handling of section edits and their edit summaries. For example, if one clicks the edit section button the section heading is not automatically added to the edit summary; or in some cases the edit section button fails to appear at all.
  4. Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 115#nbsp in a link
  5. Specifically, compound attributives, which are modifiers of a noun that occur within the noun phrase. (See hyphenated compound modifiers.)

Style guides on other Wikimedia projects

Further reading

Wikipedians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with other guides to style and usage, which may cover details that are not included in this Manual of Style. Among these are: Template:Refbegin


Search engines

Template:Writing guides Template:Wikipedia policies and guidelines Template:Style wide