Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Alpha Archive 2

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"Christian" writing style

The Ten Plagues uses a number of writing conventions that look typical of writing about Christianity by some Christians, including the liberal sprinkling of Biblical references like "(Ex 9:18-21; 12:1-13)" and the capitalization of "His". I have some queries about the content of the article dealt with on its talk page, but it also raises some wider stylistic issues when writing about Christian topics.

I consider the capitalization inappropriate (except in a quotation of a Christian speaking about God).

I also wonder whether a less ugly way to add Biblical referencing can be found. --Robert Merkel 04:42, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If someone is quoting from a English Biblical translation and that translation uses "His" rather than "his" (not all of them do) then it probably should be capitalized as in the text whether the person is Christian or not. Myself, I tend to use translations that don't follow this convention or sometimes I mix translations including some translating of my own, especially when making a linguistic point and wanting to be extra literal.
I also generally spell out the names of the books of the Bible with a link on the first mention and use a more modern style for chapter and verse reference, e.g. "(Exodus 9.18–21;12.1–13)". I use the same style when dealing with various classical authors and normally avoid all use of Roman numerals for chapters, sections, or subsections. Such documentation is sometimes ugly, but I would always rather have a writer provide full indications as to where information is found than to have it omitted, e.g. not just "in the book of Exodus" or "in Ovid's Metamorphoses". jallan 00:22, 15 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Chicago Manual of Style says that deities (Allah, God, Freyja), alternate names of deities (the Lord, the Almighty), and prophets (the Buddha, John the Baptist) should be capitalized, however, pronouns referring to God or Jesus should NOT be capitalized. (And, as a side note, Platonic ideas should also be capitalized. I only mention this because it's one of my favorite style rules ever.) I think the MoS already reflects this, no? Snowspinner 19:16, Jul 1, 2004 (UTC)

Citing poetry style guide somewhere ?

I'm often looking for a style guide page when adding a sample poem in biography articles. I.e see Li Bai. I don't know how to emphazise the title, where to write infos (as date and translator). I saw in Jonathan Swift that the font used is fixed and wonder if its usefull (and beautifull) in this case. I'd like to have a page where common usage is described. gbog 07:04, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

You might want to ask at Wikipedia:WikiProject Poetry. Angela. 08:09, May 21, 2004 (UTC)
Ok, thanks for the help. gbog 10:15, 21 May 2004 (UTC)

Classical music titles

Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (titles)#Classical music titles for my explanation of the accepted style for classical music titles. — Flamurai 01:53, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Thank you, Flamurai. That is an excellent and concise guideline which I much appreciate. - Amgine 04:17, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Computer game titles

What's the style for the titles of computer games? Or other games, for that matter? Italics, quotes, simple Roman? —Simetrical (talk) 00:44, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I think there is at least a discussion of this in a different section of the style guide, but I don't remember exactly where. Other games are in Roman. Maurreen 12:09, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style (titles)#Italics says to use italics. It makes sense to me and it's what I've been doing. —Triskaideka 22:06, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Copyediting article

This is really minor, but if you're interested, I'm looking for input on "copyediting" vs "copy editing" vs "copy editor"; see Talk:Copy editing. Elf 18:02, 1 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Country order

We might want to consider how to avoid or resolve alphabetic international rivalry within Wikipedia. For example, when listing items, do you have a preference for either of these two formats: "U.K. style guides, U.S. style guides" or "American style guides, British style guides" ? Maurreen 16:30, 1 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Do we have a standard form for writing ellipses? It seems to me that most style guides use "x . . . y", with spaces before and after each dot. Many people seem to use "x...y" or "x ... y", however. A standard would be nice. --Simetrical 01:18, 21 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The spacing effect may just be a by-product of text justification, I would say. The ellipsis (…) is not written with spaces in between the dots. I would use the style "x... y". Peter O. (Talk) 06:04, Jan 21, 2005 (UTC)
It's definitely acceptable to put spaces in between the dots of an ellipse, it's just not that common in the USA. It's more common in fine book typography than in periodicals, as well. – flamuraiTM 18:37, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)
In HTML and XML with an XHTML profile, use … which causes …. Choose a font which has the amount of spacing in the ellipses you like. x… y, bla bla blah….
Ellipses look better (to me) if there are no spaces between the dots. I suppose it all comes down to aesthetics in the end, jguk 19:07, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree completely that it's a matter of taste, because mine is the other way (I prefer a space before and after each dot, including the first and last). I think this is another item that people should handle as they please and not waste time fiddling with what other editors have written. JamesMLane 08:48, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I lean toward agreement with James on this. Maurreen 07:11, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Just type … when you want an ellips: then font preference can decide if there is a lot or very little spacing between the dots. This has the advantage that it will remain one character instead of three or six. User:Anàrion/sig 07:32, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The common solution among typesetters and graphic designers is right in the middle:

-- an ellipses character (which separates the three periods slightly, but not as much as a full space), preceded and followed by a "thin space." This solution isn't really available outside of typesetting situations, but that's the ideal from a publisher's point of view. KJCampbell 14:38, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

If everyone used Firefox, we could do that, but IE doesn't like abnormal spaces. It only accepts the basic space ( ), the non-breaking space ( ), the zero-width space (​), and the ideographic space ( ). Firefox, however ƒ is different. :) You IE users see that as a frigging enormous space, but we Firefoxers get a thin space, just as intended. —Simetrical (talk) 00:40, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Not sure what you're on about. I'm using Firefox and ( ) looks wider than ( ). OK, that's weird. I began by wanting to say that the spaced around the ellipses above looked pretty wide. Then in preview, the space actually looked wider than a normal space--I swear I thought it did. But after saving, I could see a difference. olderwiser 02:58, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)


We need guidelines about equations. Some people are treating equations in articles as the continuation of the sentence even though they are on a different line (embedded math tags look really bad), which leads to a comma or period at the end of the equation. I feel this is confusing to the reader, who wonders where the dropped multiplication operand is...

My suggestion is to write equations stand-alone and introduce them mostly through colons. Do not treat them as part of the sentence. I did not want to start a fruitless edit war, so I looked here for guidelines. And found zilch.


Urhixidur 03:18, 2005 Jan 12 (UTC)

I agree at least generally having equations stand alone and introducing them through colons. But I'm not sure we need to add it. Maybe whoever is writing it differently just hadn't thought of another way. Maurreen 05:11, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This is a matter best discussed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics, not here, jguk 05:59, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Explanatory text

What's the policy on articles containing explanatory text, e.g. "This article will detail how one goes about proving that all cows are green." Is it bad? Good? Uncertain? Graft

It's useful in certain articles, such as anarchism -- the explaination helps people find what they're looking for much quicker. -- Sam
I agree it's useful, but we don't always operate based on what's most useful... I am wondering more if people think (or have thought) that this violates some sort of encyclopedia etiquette, or if it munges with the "voice" of the encyclopedia in some taboo way... Graft
An alternative would be to have some sort of stub text (maybe links to other sites if available) then put the explanatory text on the talk page. Personally I have nothing against explanatory text on pages for a short time though -- Chris Q 09:26 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

Fictional characters

I've seen a bunch of articles that italicize fictional characters, for example, "Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs." I've never seen this before. Is there any precedent for this? I've also seen character names placed in quotes instead of italics. Should something about this be placed in the style guide? – flamuraiTM 08:00, Jan 17, 2005 (UTC)

A completely undesirable development. I agree with banning it in the style guide asap and then enforcing that ban before the custom becomes too widespread to stop, jguk 08:16, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Certainly it can't be banned, but the style guide should remind editors to use formatting sparingly. If it's used too much, it loses its meaning. --Sean Kelly 22:03, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

"Ban" is a strong word here. I also agree that that style shouldn't be used. Peter O. (Talk) 19:22, Jan 17, 2005 (UTC)

I agree that the names of fictional characters shouldn't be italicized, but I don't see the need to add it to the style guide. Maurreen 05:23, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Fictional Universe Format

While most of the pages have, as thier first sentence the particular universe they're from, I was thinking if it would be good for the first line of every entry like this to appear as something like this:

Part of the Star Trek fictional universe.

Then the start of the article text (after a single empty line), just so there's something universal to differentiate fictional articles from non-fictional. --Barry 16:46, Sep 24, 2004 (UTC)

Only if there are variants available. "Fictional universe" is not a designation associated with all fictional story-settings. (Tolkien, for example, preferred the term "legendarium", which is more appropriate in this case. Middle-earth is in this universe, not a fictional one.)
It would seem more reasonable to simply suggest that all articles referring to fictional settings should clearly indicate the setting in an appropriate manner. [[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 17:09, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Nor does one normally refer to the "Oliver Twist fictional universe" or the "Romeo and Juliet" fictional universe. That would sound absurd. And overstandardization is often worse than no standardization. Simply indicate that the article concerns something fictional and identify where it comes from in any words that is clear and appropriate to the subject. Jallan 17:36, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Unless the article is written from the POV of someone in the universe, (which is not a good idea), it should just be part of the first sentence or two. Too many "standardized" notifications will make Wikipedia seem more like a database of facts and less like an encyclopedia siroχo

I wasn't speaking for every single fictional reference. Just the one from the large and complex ones. Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkien, etc. Just a single point to tie them together. --Barry 14:07, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)

gender usage?

Is there a preferred form for gender when speaking in the abstract? It seems like it should be at least consistent within the article. Thanks. Planders 06:05, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)


  • Capitalism is a system where a worker sells his labor.
  • Capitalism is a system where a worker sells his or her labor.
  • Capitalism is a system where workers sell their labor.
We don't have a style, but I like "... their labor." It is neutral without being clunky. Maurreen 07:22, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The third example is obviously always ok. You probably want to avoid "his or her" as it can get to be a nuisance if you have to do it frequently. I prefer the traditional masculine singular form to the informal 'their' form. But as one grammarian wrote about this issue, "everyone must decide for himself (or for himself and herself, or for themselves)." —Mike 09:06, Jan 8, 2005 (UTC)

guidelines for article splitting/merging/refactoring..?

Are there any guidelines advising on when two articles should be merged together, or one article broken into multiple ones? I didn't find anything in the manual of style or elsewhere adamrice 21:29, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Dunno where you'd put it ... two articles should be merged when they're really about the same thing, or when a bunch of very short articles really should be sections of a longer article and work that way pretty much as-is. Articles tend to be split, or at least made into a summary of more detailed articles, when they hit 32 kilobytes - which is a technical limit, but seems to work quite well as an editorial one - David Gerard 13:23, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)
I vaguely remember something somewhere - but opinions are all over the place, for instance on whether a game sequel should have its own article. Different areas tend to have different consensuses too; wikiprojects often document what there is for agreed standards for their areas. Stan 17:38, 7 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Italics vs. quotes

This is still a confusing area of the style manual many editors don't understand. I think a sentence or two differentiating between the two should be added along the lines of, "Quotation marks are only used around quotations from an outside source. Italics are used in all other situations." The words as words section is not strong enough. — [[User:Flamurai|flamuraiTM]] 01:30, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

Is "from an outside source" needed? Maurreen 06:42, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Not necessarily. I didn't really edit that sentence – just wrote it as I posted. — [[User:Flamurai|flamuraiTM]] 09:30, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)


I've seen a few potentially libelous articles, with statements along the lines of someone was "arrested for ..." If the person hasn't been convicted or pleaded guilty, the sentences should be reworded. Does anyone object to adding an explanation in the style guide about this? Maurreen 23:16, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)

At least in the U.S., people are generally arrested for a specific crime, that is they are charged with that crime at the arrest. This does not mean the same thing as they are convicted of. They were charged with is similar but can mean arrested for or might mean merely that a warrant was issued for their arrest for a specific crime. Rmhermen 23:42, Sep 29, 2004 (UTC)
To say that someone is "arrested for" a crime at least implies that the person committed that crime. This is from the Associated Press stylebook:
"To avoid any suggestion that someone is being judged before a trial, do not use a phrase such as 'arrested for killing.' Instead, use 'arrested on a charge of killing.' Maurreen 00:39, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Being arrested simply means that the police thought that they did the crime, not that we do. Intrigue 23:34, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The issue is not the arrest, but the word "for." For example, "Joe Blow was arrested for killing his wife" says Joe was arrested because he DID kill his wife.
That can be avoided by writing "Joe Blow was arrested and charged with killing his wife" or "... arrested in connection with his wife's death" or "on suspicion of killing his wife."
"Sued for" represents a similar problem. Maurreen 02:19, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)
(William M. Connolley 18:37, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)) I agree with Maurreen about the "for".