|This page documents an English Wikipedia editing guideline.|
|This page in a nutshell: It is necessary to provide links and disambiguation pages so that readers typing in a reasonably likely topic name for more than one Wikipedia topic can quickly navigate to the article they seek.|
Disambiguation in Wikipedia is the process of resolving conflicts that arise when a potential article title is ambiguous, most often because it refers to more than one subject covered by Wikipedia, either as the main topic of an article, or as a subtopic covered by an article in addition to the article's main topic. For example, Mercury can refer to a chemical element, a planet, a Roman god, and many other things.
There are three important aspects to disambiguation:
This page discusses the standard ways of handling the above issues. For detailed advice about the format of disambiguation pages, see the style manual.
Disambiguation is required whenever, for a given word or phrase on which a reader might search, there is more than one existing Wikipedia article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead. In this situation there must be a way for the reader to navigate quickly from the page that first appears to any of the other possible desired articles.
There are three principal disambiguation scenarios, of which the following are examples:
For how to decide which of these scenarios is appropriate in a given case, see the following two sections:
Main page: Wikipedia:Broad-concept article
If the primary meaning of a term proposed for disambiguation is a broad concept or type of thing that is capable of being described in an article, and a substantial portion of the links asserted to be ambiguous are instances or examples of that concept or type, then the page located at that title should be an article describing it and not a disambiguation page. Where the primary topic of a term is a general topic that can be divided into subtopics, such as chronologically (e.g., History of France) or geographically (e.g., Rugby union in the British Isles), the unqualified title should contain an article about the general topic rather than a disambiguation page. A disambiguation page should not be created just because it is difficult to write an article on a topic that is broad, vague, abstract, or highly conceptual. Where there are additional meanings that are not instances or examples of a Foo primary concept or type, those should be included on a Foo (disambiguation) page.
In writing articles on these subjects, it is useful to directly address the scope of the term and the history of how the concept has developed. Each of the examples of the concept or type of thing should be included at some point in the article, possibly in a list, so that no information is lost from what would have been presented in the disambiguation page format. Consider using summary style to incorporate information about the subtopics into the main article.
Pages needing to be expanded to describe the concept may be tagged with
"WP:PRIMARYTOPIC" redirects here. For the Manual of Style guideline, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages § Linking to a primary topic.
See also: § Incomplete disambiguation
This guideline section should be read in conjunction with the article titles disambiguation policy.
Although a word, name, or phrase may refer to more than one topic, sometimes one of these topics can be identified as the term's primary topic. This is the topic to which the term should lead, serving as the title of (or a redirect to) the relevant article. If no primary topic exists, then the term should be the title of a disambiguation page (or should redirect to a disambiguation page on which more than one term is disambiguated). The primary topic might be a broad-concept article, as mentioned above.
While Wikipedia has no single criterion for defining a primary topic, two major aspects that editors commonly consider are these:
In most cases, the topic that is primary with respect to usage is also primary with respect to long-term significance; in many other cases, only one sense of primacy is relevant. In a few cases, there is some conflict between a topic of primary usage (Apple Inc.) and one of primary long-term significance (Apple). In such a case, consensus may be useful in determining which topic, if any, is the primary topic.
There are no absolute rules for determining whether a primary topic exists and what it is; decisions are made by discussion among editors, often as a result of a requested move. Tools that may help to support the determination of a primary topic in a discussion (but are not considered absolute determining factors, due to unreliability, potential bias, and other reasons) include:
https://encrypted.google.com/webhp?complete=0&hl=en&pws=0, but may be helpful if other methods are inconclusive.
Some general principles for determining a primary topic include:
Perhaps the most commonly rejected criterion is that the primary topic should only belong to what "first comes to mind". This argument is inevitably tainted by the personal background, location, biases, ethnicity, and other pieces of one's own life, but we are trying to build an encyclopedia that is untainted by systemic bias. The primary topic is therefore determined without regard to (for example) the national origin, if any, of the article or articles in question.
Because many topics on Wikipedia are more interesting or pertinent to particular groups, one potential criterion to commonly avoid is what "first comes to mind". An American might first think of the city in Alabama when Birmingham is mentioned, but primary topic belongs to the city in England, which is far more notable and whose article is read much more often. A Scot might think of the Scottish city when the city of Perth is referred to, but the primary topic belongs to the Australian city for essentially the same reasons as for Birmingham. Raleigh takes you directly to the American city, even though a Brit may not even know of the city and only think of the explorer or bicycle manufacturer when Raleigh is mentioned. What first comes to your mind when you hear the word Java? It may be coffee or a programming language, but the primary topic belongs to the island with over 140 million people living on it.
Partial title matches should also be considered. Consider what users searching with the term in question are most likely to be seeking. For instance, New York City is a partial title match for "York" and is far more notable and likely to be sought (more page views) than is the British city from which it got its name, and the vast majority of the time that "York" is used in books, it is used in the names "New York City" and its containing state of "New York".[a] However, since users are unlikely to search for New York with the search term "York", which is supported by the rare use of unqualified "York" to refer to "New York" in reliable sources, York still hosts an article on the British city, and no suggestion to change that would be seriously entertained. Likewise, "Sofia" has been the first name of countless girls and women throughout history; however, as a single term it most commonly refers to the Bulgarian capital, and anyone searching with plain "Sofia" is most likely looking for that city.[b]
To be clear, it is not our goal to astonish our readers, and the topic that comes first to mind indeed often is suitable as the primary topic. Anne Hathaway, as one of countless examples, takes the reader to the modern-day American movie star's page, not to the article on the wife of William Shakespeare. But in no case do "what comes first to mind" or "what is astonishing" have much bearing, either positive or negative, on which topic, if any, actually is the primary topic.
The title of the primary topic article may be different from the ambiguous term. This may happen when the topic is primary for more than one term, when the article covers a wider topical scope, or when it is titled differently according to the naming conventions. When this is the case, the term should redirect to the article (or a section of it). The fact that an article has a different title is not a factor in determining whether a topic is primary. For example:
((redirect))hatnote linking to Danzig (disambiguation).
There are times when a disambiguated article title, such as Apostrophe (punctuation), may be moved to its base name (unqualified title) based on a consensus that this is the primary topic for the unqualified term. When such a page move is made, the redirect template
((R from unnecessary disambiguation)) should be used to categorize the redirect that results from the move
under Category:Redirects from unnecessary disambiguation. Using the above example, Apostrophe (punctuation) would redirect as follows (where Apostrophe's topic is primary):
# REDIRECT [[Apostrophe]] ((Redirect category shell| ((R from move)) ((R from unnecessary disambiguation)) ))
When a disambiguation page lists only one existing article by that name (all other suggested articles are red-linked), the normal rules for primary topic still apply. The existing article is not automatically the primary topic nor is there automatically no primary topic. So:
Please note, MOS:DABMENTION still applies: any red-linked entry must still have a blue link to an article that covers the redlinked topic.
For more about hatnotes, see § Hatnotes.
For rules about naming disambiguation pages and combining similar terms on a single page, see § Disambiguation pages.
As discussed above, if an ambiguous term has no primary topic, then that term needs to lead to a disambiguation page. In other words, where no topic is primary, the disambiguation page is placed at the base name.
If a disambiguation page is needed, but one of the other topics is of particular interest, then it may be appropriate to link to it explicitly as well as linking to the disambiguation page. For example, Inflation is about the primary topic—a rise in prices—and a hatnote links to both Inflation (cosmology) and Inflation (disambiguation).
If there are multiple topics (even just two) to which a given title might refer, but per the criteria at § Is there a primary topic? there is no primary topic, then the base name should lead the reader to the disambiguation page for the term. For example, John Quested is a disambiguation page for the two people by that name who can be found in the encyclopedia:
If there is a primary topic located at the base name, then the question arises whether to create a disambiguation page, or merely to link to all the other meanings from a hatnote on the primary topic article.
If there are only two topics to which a given title might refer, and one is the primary topic, then a disambiguation page is not needed—it is sufficient to use a hatnote on the primary topic article, pointing to the other article. (This means that readers looking for the second topic are spared the extra navigational step of going through the disambiguation page.)
If a disambiguation page does not appear to be needed because there are only two topics for the ambiguous title and one of them is the primary topic, but there could reasonably be other topics ambiguous with the title on Wikipedia now or in the future, an
((about)) hatnote can be used to link to a disambiguation page (either in addition to or instead of a link directly to the other article). At the same time, the
((One other topic)) template should be added to the top of the disambiguation page, which will inform users that the page has only two ambiguous terms, one of them primary; thus it may be deleted if, after a period of time no additional ambiguous topics are found to expand the disambiguation page. The
((One other topic)) template will also list the article in Category:Disambiguation pages containing one non-primary topic, allowing other editors to locate these pages and help in expanding them. If the two-dab page has been expanded to include additional ambiguous topics,
((One other topic)) template should be removed and a direct link in the primary article to the other article may not be needed anymore as a link to the disambiguation page alone may be sufficient.
For example, Retrograde motion (disambiguation)[clarification needed]—which is now deleted—contained links to only two articles, of which Retrograde motion was the primary topic and Apparent retrograde motion the second. The disambiguation page is not needed since each article links to the other with a hatnote. However, if some more disambiguation links had been added, it could have been useful to expand the hatnote with a link to the disambiguation page.
If there are two or three other topics, it is still possible to use a hatnote which lists the other topics explicitly, but if this would require too much text (roughly, if the hatnote would extend well over one line on a standard page), then it is better to create a disambiguation page and refer only to that.
If the titles of two articles differ only in capitalization or the separation or non-separation of components (as per WP:DIFFCAPS or WP:PLURALPT), the articles each should contain a hatnote to link to each other: for example Ice cube and Ice Cube.
For disambiguating specific topic pages by using an unambiguous article title, several options are available:
Natural disambiguation that is unambiguous, commonly used, and clear is generally preferable to parenthetical disambiguation; for instance, Fan district and hand fan are used instead of Fan (district) and fan (implement). If no unambiguous, commonly used, and clear natural disambiguation is available, another type of disambiguation is used. If there are several possible choices for parenthetical disambiguation, use the same disambiguating phrase already commonly used for other topics within the same class and context, if any. Otherwise, choose whichever is simpler. For example, use "(mythology)" rather than "(mythological figure)".
Naming conventions applicable to certain subject areas are listed in the box to the right; these often contain detailed guidance about how to disambiguate. In particular, for articles about people, see the Disambiguating section in the people naming convention.
To conform to the naming conventions, the phrase in parentheses should be treated just as any other word in a title: normally lowercase, unless it is a proper noun (like a book title) that would appear capitalized even in running text.
For common disambiguation words, see User:Jarry1250/Findings.
For broader coverage of this topic, see Wikipedia:Hatnote.
"WP:DABLINK" redirects here. For links to disambiguation pages, see § Links to disambiguation pages.
Users searching for what turns out to be an ambiguous term may not reach the article they expected. Therefore, any article with an ambiguous title should contain helpful links to alternative Wikipedia articles or disambiguation pages, placed at the top of the article using one or more of the templates shown below.
Disambiguation hatnotes are not article content—they are associated with the title, rather than any article topic content.
In some cases there are multiple templates available, one including and another omitting information about the topic of the article. The shorter hatnote may be chosen if omitting the information is not likely to confuse the reader.
On a primary topic page for a term that has one secondary topic only (no disambiguation page):
On a secondary topic page for a term that has one other topic only (no disambiguation page):
On a primary topic page that has an associated disambiguation page:
((other uses))to produce:
((other uses|NAME))to produce:
When the primary topic redirects to another page:
((redirect|REDIRECT|TOPIC 2|ARTICLE (2)))on the target page to produce:
Other variations on these templates are available, including templates for specific subjects such as places, numbers, etc. Templates are listed and illustrated at Wikipedia:Hatnotes#Templates.
A disambiguation page is a non-article page that lists and links to encyclopedia articles covering topics that could have had the same title. The purpose of disambiguation pages is allowing navigation to the article on the topic being sought. The information on a disambiguation page should be focused on getting the reader to their desired article.
A single disambiguation page may be used to disambiguate a number of similar terms. Sets of terms which are commonly so combined include:
Editorial judgement should be used in deciding whether to combine terms in the ways described above. If a combined disambiguation page would be inconveniently long, it may be better to split the disambiguation page into separate pages.
When a combined disambiguation page is used, redirects to it (or hatnotes, as appropriate) should be set up from all the terms involved.
"WP:DABNAME" redirects here. For the Manual of Style guideline on people's names in disambiguation pages, see MOS:DABNAME.
See also: Wikipedia:Article titles
The title of a disambiguation page is the ambiguous term itself, provided there is no primary topic for that term. If there is a primary topic, then the tag "(disambiguation)" is added to the name of the disambiguation page, as in Jupiter (disambiguation).
When a disambiguation page combines several similar terms, one of them must be selected as the title for the page (with the "(disambiguation)" tag added if a primary topic exists for that term); the choice should be made in line with the following principles:
In addition, when a disambiguation page exists at the ambiguous term, there should also be a redirect to it from the "(disambiguation)" title; in other words, if "Term ABC" is a disambiguation page, a redirect from "Term ABC (disambiguation)" should be created if it does not already exist. This type of redirect is used to indicate any intentional links to the disambiguation page, to distinguish them from accidental or erroneous incoming links that should be disambiguated to the appropriate article.
Each disambiguation page comprises a list (or multiple lists, for multiple senses of the term in question) of similarly titled links.
Include the template ((disambiguation)) (or another disambiguation template, such as
((Hndis))) at the bottom as an indicator of the page's status. For more information, see the relevant Manual of Style subpage.
For prime examples of disambiguation pages, see Lift and Aurora (disambiguation).
The purpose of a disambiguation page is to direct a reader seeking information on a topic to the right page. It is common to add a little additional information (which may make reference to the full article unnecessary). For example, the disambiguation page for Roosevelt contains the entry "Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), 32nd U.S. president". On the other hand, "Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945), US president 1933–1945, Democratic Party, a central figure in world events, creator of the New Deal, in a wheelchair from polio since 1921, died in office" would be inappropriate; it summarises the article rather than merely disambiguating.
A disambiguation page is not a list of dictionary definitions. A short description of the common general meaning of a word can be appropriate for helping the reader determine context. Otherwise, there are templates for linking the reader to Wiktionary, the wiki dictionary; see Template:Wiktionary. It is also not an interlanguage dictionary; while Geneva is Ginebra in Spanish and other languages, Ginebra is not listed in the Geneva article, so the Ginebra disambiguation page should not include Geneva.
"WP:PARTIAL" redirects here. For information about Wikipedia's policy on partial blocks, see Wikipedia:Partial blocks.
"WP:PTM" redirects here. For the article title guideline on primary topics, see WP:TITLEPTM.
A disambiguation page is not a search index. A link to an article title that merely contains part of the disambiguation page title, or a link that includes the page title in a longer proper name, where there is no significant risk of confusion between them, is considered a partial title match, and should not be included. For example, Louisville Zoo is not included at Zoo (disambiguation) because people outside Louisville would not readily identify it as the "Zoo", and including all zoos in the world in the disambiguation page is impractical (though List of zoos is listed in the "See also" section). Add a link only if the article's subject (or the relevant subtopic thereof) could plausibly be referred to by essentially the same name as the disambiguated term in a sufficiently generic context—regardless of the article's title. For instance, the Mississippi River article could not feasibly be titled Mississippi, since that name is used by the US state article, but it is included at Mississippi (disambiguation) because its subject is often called "the Mississippi".
Placenames are often divided between a specific and generic part, for example North Carolina (where "Carolina" is the specific, and "North" the generic part). Common generics are compass points, upper/lower, old/new, big/small, etc. It is entirely proper to include such placenames in disambiguation pages with the specific title (North Carolina is properly listed at Carolina (disambiguation)); but only exceptionally under the generic title: Kingston upon Hull is properly listed at Hull (disambiguation)[e] but we do not expect to see North Carolina in North (disambiguation), just as we do not expect to see Mississippi River in River (disambiguation)).
Instead of listing partial title matches, consider adding the
((look from)) or
((intitle)) templates in the "See also" section, which link to all articles starting with or containing a particular term, respectively.
To prevent disambiguation pages from getting too long, articles on people should be listed at the disambiguation page for their first or last name only if they are reasonably well known by it. We reasonably expect to see Abraham Lincoln at Lincoln (disambiguation), but very few sources would refer to the waltz composer Harry J. Lincoln by an unqualified "Lincoln", so he is listed only at the Lincoln (surname) anthroponymy article. This is even more widespread for first names—many highly notable people are called Herb, but typing in Herb gets you an article on plants. Herb (disambiguation) does not even list any people named "Herb", but instead links to Herb (surname) and Herb (given name), where articles on people named "Herb" are listed. Consensus among editors determines if an article should be listed on the disambiguation page.
Include articles only if the term being disambiguated is actually described in the target article. For example, a use of the term set is discussed in the article on volleyball, so Set (disambiguation) legitimately includes an entry for "Set, a team's second contact with the ball in volleyball".
Do not add articles to abbreviation or acronym disambiguation pages unless the target article includes the acronym or abbreviation—we are resolving an ambiguity, not making yet another dictionary of abbreviations. If an abbreviation is verifiable, but not mentioned in the target article, consider adding it to the target article and then adding the entry to the disambiguation page. In particular, do not include people and other things simply because of their initials, unless those initials have been widely used. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is widely known as JFK and this is discussed in the article, so the initials are appropriately disambiguated; however, Marilyn Monroe was never commonly known as "MM", nor was A. A. Milne known as either "AA" or "AAM". Omit descriptions that are obvious from the title, like (for PNP): "Philippine National Police, the national police force of the Republic of the Philippines".
Disambiguation entries can, under certain circumstances, be created for articles that exist in a Wikipedia in another language.[f] Links to Wiktionary may be appropriate in some contexts. Entries where the content is on any other sister project, like Wikidata or Wikivoyage, should not be created.
Do not include references in disambiguation pages; disambiguation pages are not articles. Incorporate references into the articles linked from the disambiguation page, as needed.
Do not include external links, either as entries or in descriptions. Disambiguation pages disambiguate Wikipedia articles, not the World Wide Web. To note URLs that might be helpful in the future, include them on the talk page.
Before constructing a new disambiguation page, determine a specific topic name for all existing pages, and the name for the disambiguation page. Move any page with a conflicting title (e.g. the same exact title) to its more specific name. Use the What links here list for the moved page to update pages that link to that page.
If an article has been moved to make way for the disambiguation page, use the What links here list of the moved page to access the redirect page created by the move, and replace that redirect page with the new disambiguation page.
Use the new disambiguation page to find and replace (see Table of keyboard shortcuts#Text editing) any existing disambiguation links in existing pages with a link to the new disambiguation page.
Note that the standard link templates will actually point to a Term XYZ (disambiguation) version of the new name.
Use the red-link on an existing page to create a redirect page marked with the
((R to disambiguation page)) template.
For example, Term XYZ (disambiguation) could be redirected to the new disambiguation page Term XYZ as follows:
# REDIRECT [[Term XYZ]] ((R to disambiguation page))
A double disambiguation is a link to a disambiguation page from another disambiguation page. This kind of disambiguation is typically more specific than one with a simplified name. This kind of disambiguation is relatively rare on Wikipedia.
For example, Montgomery is a disambiguation page that includes a link to Montgomery County, a secondary disambiguation page. Because the intended target page is also a disambiguation page, the link is to "Montgomery County (disambiguation)" rather than directly to "Montgomery County". There are two reasons for this: One is so the page will not show up as an error needing to be fixed, and the other is so our readers know it is a link to a disambiguation page.
Usually, a qualified title that is still ambiguous has no primary topic, and therefore should redirect to the disambiguation page (or to a section of it). This aids navigation and helps editors avoid accidentally creating new articles under the still-ambiguous title. Such redirects should be marked with
((R from incomplete disambiguation)) (which places them under Category:Redirects from incomplete disambiguation). For example, Aurora (album) is a redirect:
# REDIRECT [[Aurora (disambiguation)#Albums]] ((R from incomplete disambiguation))
In some cases, it may be more appropriate to redirect readers to a list rather than a disambiguation page. For example, Cleveland (NFL) should not be a disambiguation page, but should instead redirect to List of Cleveland sports teams#Football.
In individual cases consensus may determine that a parenthetically disambiguated title that is still ambiguous has a primary topic, but the threshold for identifying a primary topic for such titles is higher than for a title without parenthetical disambiguation. As with any other term with a primary topic, it should either be the title of the article for that topic or redirect to it. See List of partially disambiguated article titles.
Pure disambiguation pages should contain interlanguage links only where a similar problem of disambiguation exists in the target language; that is, they should refer to another disambiguation page, not to one of the many meanings from the list.
Links to disambiguation pages may be intentional (see below), but in many cases they are not. If a link to a disambiguation page is intended for one or another of the topics with the ambiguous name, it should be changed to link to the appropriate article. The Wikipedia:Disambiguation pages with links (DPL) project tracks such links and lists tools and practical suggestions for fixing them.
Links previously pointing to an article may suddenly become links to a disambiguation page. This can happen, for example, when a disambiguation page is created over a redirect, when one is moved to a title formerly occupied by an article, or when a redirect is retargeted from an article to a disambiguation page. The resulting links will need to be corrected. For a handful of links, this can be done by the editors who create such disambiguation pages or propose such moves or redirect changes, or by those who carry them out. For changes with larger impacts, a task force may be needed.[g]
Links to disambiguation pages from mainspace are typically errors. In order to find and fix those errors, disambiguators generate reports of links needing to be checked and fixed. Because these reports cannot distinguish cases where an editor has made such a link with the intent to point to the disambiguation page, the community has adopted the standard of routing all intentional disambiguation links in mainspace through "Foo (disambiguation)" redirects. This makes it clear that such links are intended to point to the disambiguation page.
It may be necessary to create the redirect ("Springfield (disambiguation)" in these examples) if it does not already exist. This is described below.
With few exceptions, creating links to disambiguation pages is erroneous. Links should instead point to a relevant article. The purpose of a disambiguation page is to give a list of articles that is likely to include what a reader is looking for when they have typed an ambiguous term into the search box. Disambiguation pages are not articles and so should not be tagged as orphans per the Orphan criteria.
The exceptions, when an intentional link to a disambiguation page is appropriate, are:
To link to a disambiguation page (rather than to a page whose topic is a specific meaning), link to the title that includes the text "(disambiguation)", even if that is a redirect—for example, link to the redirect Springfield (disambiguation) rather than the target page at "Springfield".
((R to disambiguation page)).
This helps distinguish accidental links to the disambiguation page from intentional ones. (For use in navboxes, see the
((D')) template.) There is nothing wrong with linking to a redirect instead of linking directly to the disambiguation page; redirects are "cheap" and are basically transparent to the reader.
Valid causes for redirecting to a disambiguation page include:
The rule about linking through a "(disambiguation)" redirect does not apply to redirects to disambiguation pages: Do not create a double redirect, but make a redirect to the disambiguation page directly (thus Bill Cox, a redirect from an alternative name, redirects to the disambiguation page and does not go through the redirect William Cox (disambiguation)). Although it is permissible for this redirect to be made, it generally should not be linked to in an article for the same reasons direct links to disambiguation pages are discouraged.
See Category:Redirects to disambiguation pages.
Links to disambiguation pages can be displayed in orange in the settings under "Gadgets" by checking "Display links to disambiguation pages in orange".
Although disambiguation pages are not articles, a disambiguation page may be listed at Articles for deletion to discuss whether the disambiguation page should be deleted.
Disambiguation pages are not articles and should not be categorized as such. Article categories should lead readers to relevant articles; disambiguation pages should be placed in disambiguation categories only. Some categories are automatically provided by use of the
((disambiguation)) template and parameters (geo, surname, etc.). Hidden categories may appear due to maintenance or other tags and templates, but other explicit categories (such as "Category:Mountains of Fooland") should not be used on disambiguation pages. When a disambiguation page includes a list of name-holders (in cases where the separate anthroponymy list article has not yet been created), explicit categories such as "Category:Fooish surnames" are acceptable on the disambiguation page until the anthroponymy article is split from the disambiguation page.
|This page is referenced in the Wikipedia Glossary.|