This Manual of Style (MoS or MOS) is the style manual for all English Wikipedia articles (though provisions related to accessibility apply across the entire project, not just to articles). This primary page is supported by further detail pages, which are cross-referenced here and listed at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Contents. If any contradiction arises, this page has precedence.[a]

Editors should write articles using straightforward, succinct, easily understood language and structure articles with consistent, reader-friendly layouts and formatting (which are detailed in this guide).

Where more than one style or format is acceptable under the MoS, one should be used consistently within an article and should not be changed without good reason. Edit warring over stylistic choices is unacceptable.[b]

New content added to this page should directly address a persistently recurring style issue.

Retaining existing styles

Sometimes the MoS provides more than one acceptable style or gives no specific guidance. The Arbitration Committee has expressed the principle that "When either of two styles is acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change."[c]

Edit-warring over style, or enforcing optional style in a bot-like fashion without prior consensus, is never acceptable.[b][d]

Unjustified changes from one acceptable, consistently-applied style in an article to a different style may generally be reverted. Seek opportunities for commonality to avoid disputes over style.

If you believe an alternative style would be more appropriate for a particular article, seek consensus by discussing this at the article's talk page or – if it raises an issue of more general application or with the MoS itself – at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. If a discussion does not result in consensus for the change at the article, continue to use the already-established style there. If discussion fails to reach a consensus regarding which of two or more competing styles to use at all, then default to the style that was used in the first post-stub version of the article in which one of the applicable styles appeared. (This fall-back position does not give unchallengable primacy to that particular style during consensus discussion, nor give the editor who imposed that earliest style any more say in the discussion.)

For retention of an article's established national variety of English (and potential reasons to change it), see § National varieties of English.

Article titles, sections, and headings

Article titles

Main page: Wikipedia:Article titles

A title should be a recognizable name or description of the topic that is natural, sufficiently precise, concise, and consistent with those of related articles. If these criteria are in conflict, they should be balanced against one another.

For formatting guidance see the Wikipedia:Article titles § Article title format section, noting the following:

Subject both to the above and to Wikipedia:Article titles, the rest of the MoS, particularly § Punctuation, applies also to the title.

See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles, for cases where a Wikipedia article about a published work has a title that coincides with the work's title.

Section organization

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout

An article's content should begin with an introductory lead section – a concise summary of the article – which is never divided into sections (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section). The remainder of the article is typically divided into sections.

Infoboxes, images, and related content in the lead section must be right-aligned.

Certain standardized templates and wikicode that are not sections go at the very top of the article, before the content of the lead section, and in the following order:

If an article has at least four section headings, a navigable table of contents appears automatically, just after the lead.

If the topic of a section is covered in more detail in a dedicated article (see Wikipedia:Summary style), insert ((main|Article name)) or ((further|Article name)) immediately under the section heading.

As explained in detail in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout § Standard appendices and footers, several kinds of material (mostly optional) may appear after the main body of the article, in the following order:

Stand-alone list articles have some additional layout considerations.

Section headings

See also: Help:Section, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Headings, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout § Order of article elements, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Section headings

Section headings should generally follow the guidance for article titles (above), and should be presented in sentence case (Funding of UNESCO projects in developing countries), not title case (Funding of UNESCO Projects in Developing Countries).[e]

The heading must be on its own line, with one blank line just before it; a blank line just after is optional and ignored (but do not use two blank lines, before or after, because that will add unwanted visible space).

For technical reasons, section headings should:

These technical restrictions are necessary to avoid technical complications and are not subject to override by local consensus.

As a matter of consistent style, section headings should:

These are broadly accepted community preferences.

An invisible comment on the same line must be inside the == == markup:[h]

==Implications<!--This comment works fine.-->==

==<!--This comment works fine.-->Implications==
==Implications==<!--This comment causes problems.-->

<!--This comment breaks the heading completely.-->==Implications==

It is more usual practice to put such comments below the heading.

Before changing a heading, consider whether you might be breaking existing links to it. If there are many links to the old title, create an anchor with that title to ensure that these still work. Similarly, when linking to a section, leave an invisible comment at the heading of the target section, naming the linking articles, so that if the heading is later altered these can be fixed. For (a combined) example:

<!-- Section linked from [[Richard Dawkins]], [[Daniel Dennett]]. -->

which will be saved in the article as:

==Implications<span class="anchor" id="Consequences"></span>==
<!-- Section linked from [[Richard Dawkins]], [[Daniel Dennett]]. -->

The advantage of using ((subst:Anchor)), or simply inserting the <span> tags directly, is that when edits are made to the section in the future, the anchor will not be included in page history entries as part of the section name. When ((Anchor)) is used directly, that undesirable behavior does occur. Note: if electing to insert the span directly, do not abbreviate it by using a self-closing tag, as in ==Implications<span id="Consequences" />==, since in HTML5 that XML-style syntax is valid only for certain tags, such as <br />.[1] See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking § Avoiding broken section links for further discussion.

Heading-like material

The above guidance about sentence case, redundancy, images, and questions also applies to headers of tables (and of table columns and rows). However, table headings can incorporate citations and may begin with, or be, numbers. Unlike page headings, table headers do not automatically generate link anchors. Aside from sentence case in glossaries, the heading advice also applies to the term entries in description lists. If using template-structured glossaries, terms will automatically have link anchors, but will not otherwise. Citations for description-list content go in the term or definition element, as needed.

National varieties of English

See also: Wikipedia:Article titles § National varieties of English, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling

National varieties of English (for example, American English or British English) differ in vocabulary (elevator vs. lift ), spelling (center vs. centre), and occasionally grammar (see § Plurals, below). Articles such as English plurals and Comparison of American and British English provide information about such differences. The English Wikipedia prefers no national variety over others.

An article's date formatting (February 6, 2024 vs. 6 February 2024) is also related to national varieties of English – see MOS:DATEFORMAT and especially MOS:DATETIES and MOS:DATEVAR.

Consistency within articles

See also Wikipedia:Consistency for additional policies and guidelines on consistency.

Within a given article the conventions of one particular variety of English should be followed consistently. Exceptions include:

Opportunities for commonality

For an international encyclopedia, using vocabulary common to all varieties of English is preferable.

For assistance with specific terms, see Comparison of American and British English § Vocabulary, and American and British English spelling differences; most dictionaries also indicate regional terms.

Strong national ties to a topic

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Strong national ties to a topic, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Unit choice and order

An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the (formal, not colloquial) English of that nation. For example:

For topics with strong ties to Commonwealth of Nations countries and other former British territories, use Commonwealth English orthography, largely indistinguishable from British English in encyclopedic writing (excepting Canada, which uses a different orthography).

Retaining the existing variety

See also: § Retaining existing styles, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Retaining the existing format

"WP:RETAIN" redirects here. For the editing policy, see WP:PRESERVE.

When an English variety's consistent usage has been established in an article, maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary. With few exceptions (e.g., when a topic has strong national ties or the change reduces ambiguity), there is no valid reason for changing from one acceptable option to another.

When no English variety has been established and discussion does not resolve the issue, use the variety found in the first post-stub revision that introduced an identifiable variety. The established variety in a given article can be documented by placing the appropriate variety of English template on its talk page.

An article should not be edited or renamed simply to switch from one variety of English to another. ((subst:uw-engvar)) may be placed on an editor's talk page to explain this.

Capital letters

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters

Wikipedia article titles and section headings use sentence case, not title case; see Wikipedia:Article titles and § Section headings. For capitalization of list items, see § Bulleted and numbered lists. Other points concerning capitalization are summarized below. Full information can be found at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters. The central point is that Wikipedia does not capitalize something unless it is consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources.

Capitalization of The

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Capitalization of The

Generally, do not capitalize the word the in mid-sentence: throughout the United Kingdom, not throughout The United Kingdom. Conventional exceptions include certain proper names (he visited The Hague) and most titles of creative works (Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings – but be aware that the may not be part of the title itself, e.g., Homer composed the Odyssey).

There are special considerations for: band names · institution names · nicknames · titles of works · trademarks.

Titles of works

Main page: WP:Manual of Style/Titles of works

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 Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Composition titles). The first and last words in an English-language title are always capitalized.

Capitalization in foreign-language titles varies, even over time within the same language; generally, retain the style of the original for modern works, and follow the usage in current[i] English-language reliable sources for historical works. When written in the Latin alphabet, many of these items should also be in italics, or enclosed in quotation marks.

Titles of people

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Titles of people

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines, and their adherents

Further information: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Religion

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles § Religious texts

Calendar items

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Calendar items

Animals, plants, and other organisms

For more detail on capitalization, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Animals, plants, and other organisms; on italicization, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Italic face. See also Wikipedia:Lead section § Organisms for handling of first sentence. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (flora) for article title guidelines.

When using taxonomic ("scientific") names, capitalize and italicize the genus: Berberis, Erithacus. (Supergenus and subgenus, when applicable, are treated the same way.) Italicize but do not capitalize taxonomic ranks at the level of species and below: Berberis darwinii, Erithacus rubecula superbus, Acacia coriacea subsp. sericophylla; no exception is made for proper names forming part of scientific names. Higher taxa (order, family, etc.) are capitalized in Latin (Carnivora, Felidae) but not in their English equivalents (carnivorans, felids); they are not italicized in either form, except for viruses, where all names accepted by the ICTV are italicized (Retroviridae).

Cultivar and cultivar group names of plants are not italicized, and are capitalized (including the word Group in the name); cultivar names appear within single quotes (Malus domestica 'Red Delicious'), while cultivar groups do not (Cynara cardunculus Scolymus Group).

English vernacular ("common") names are given in lower case in article prose (plains zebra, mountain maple, and southwestern red-tailed hawk) and in sentence case at the start of sentences and in other places where the first letter of the first word is capitalized.[e] They are additionally capitalized where they contain proper names: Przewalski's horse, California condor, and fair-maid-of-France. This applies to species and subspecies, as in the previous examples, as well as to general names for groups or types of organism: bird of prey, oak, great apes, Bryde's whales, livestock guardian dog, poodle, Van cat, wolfdog. When the common name coincides with a scientific taxon, do not capitalize or italicize, except where addressing the organism taxonomically: A lynx is any of the four medium-sized wild cat species within the genus Lynx. Non-English vernacular names, when relevant to include, are handled like any other foreign-language terms: italicized as such, and capitalized only if the rules of the native language require it. Non-English names that have become English-assimilated are treated as English (ayahuasca, okapi).

Standardized breeds should generally retain the capitalization used in the breed standards.[k] Examples: German Shepherd, Russian White goat, Berlin Short-faced Tumbler. As with plant cultivars, this applies whether or not the included noun is a proper name, in contrast to how vernacular names of species are written. However, unlike cultivars, breeds are never put in single quotation marks, and their names are never part of a scientific name. A species term appended at the end for disambiguation ("cat", "hound", "horse", "swine", etc.) should not be capitalized, unless it is a part of the breed name itself and is consistently presented that way in the breed standard(s) (rare cases include Norwegian Forest Cat and American Quarter Horse).

Create redirects from alternative capitalization and spelling forms of article titles, and from alternative names, e.g., Adélie Penguin, Adelie penguin, Adelie Penguin and Pygoscelis adeliae should all redirect to Adélie penguin.

Celestial bodies

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Celestial bodies

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (astronomical objects)

The words sun, earth, moon and solar system do not take capitals in general use (The sun was over the mountain top; The tribal people thought of the whole earth as their home). They are capitalized when the entity is personified (Sol Invictus ('Unconquered Sun') was the Roman sun god) or when used as the name of a specific body in a scientific or astronomical context (The Moon orbits the Earth; but Io is a moon of Jupiter).

Names of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, and galaxies are proper names, and therefore capitalized (The planet Mars is in the constellation Gemini, near the star Pollux). The first letter of every word in such a name is capitalized (Alpha Centauri and not Alpha centauri; Milky Way, not Milky way). Words such as comet and galaxy should be capitalized when they form part of a proper name, but not when they are used as a generic term (Halley's Comet is the most famous of the comets; The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy).

Compass points

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Compass points

Do not capitalize directions such as north, or their related forms (We took the northern road), except where they are parts of proper names (Great North Road, Great Western Drive, South Pole).

Capitalize names of regions if they have attained proper-name status, including informal conventional names (Southern California; the Western Desert), 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 southern Poland.

Composite directions may or may not be hyphenated, depending on the variety of English adopted in the article. Southeast Asia and northwest are more common in American English; but South-East Asia and north-west in British English. In cases such as north–south dialogue and east–west orientation, use an en dash; see § En dashes: other uses.

Proper names versus generic terms

Main pages: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Institutions, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters § Capitalization of The

Capitalize names of particular institutions (the founding of the University of Delhi;  the history of Stanford University) but not generic words for institutions (the high school is near the university). Do not capitalize the at the start of an institution's name, regardless of the institution's preferred style. There are rare exceptions, when a leading The is represented by a T in the organization's acronym: The International Cat Association (TICA).

Treat political or geographic units similarly: The city has a population of 55,000;  The two towns merged to become the City of Smithville. Do not mimic the style of local newspapers which refer to their municipality as the City or The City; an exception is the City of London, referred to as the City in a context that already makes the subject clear, as distinct from London and Greater London. When in doubt, use the full name for accessibility reasons; users of text-to-speech systems usually cannot hear a difference between city and City.


See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English) § Modified letters

Ligatures should be used in languages in which they are standard (hence Moreau's last words were clin d'œil is preferable to Moreau's last words were clin d'oeil) but not in English (encyclopedia or encyclopaedia, not encyclopædia), except in proper names (Æthelstan, not Aethelstan).


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Initials

Abbreviations are shortened forms of words or phrases. In strict analysis, they are distinct from contractions, which use an apostrophe (e.g., won't, see § Contractions), and initialisms. An initialism is formed from some or all of the initial letters of words in a phrase. Below, references to abbreviations should be taken to include acronyms, and the term acronym to apply also to initialisms.

Write first occurrences in full

When an abbreviation will be used in an article, first introduce it using the full expression:

an early local area network (LAN) developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) ... DEC's later LAN products were ...

Do not use capitals in the full version merely because capitals are used in the abbreviation: an early Local Area Network (LAN).

Except in special circumstances, common abbreviations (such as PhD, DNA, USSR) need not be expanded even on first use.

Plural forms

Pluralize acronyms by adding -s or -es: Three CD-ROMs and two BIOSes were released. (Do not use apostrophes to form plurals: Three CD-ROM's and two BIOS's were released.)

Punctuation and spacing

An abbreviation may or may not be terminated with a full point (also called a period or full stop). A consistent style should be maintained within an article. North American usage is typically to end all abbreviations with a period/point (Dr. Smith of 42 Drummond St.) but in common British and Australian usage, no period/point is used if the abbreviation (contraction) ends in the last letter of the unabbreviated form (Dr Smith of 42 Drummond St) unless confusion could result. This is also common practice in scientific writing. Regardless of punctuation, words that are abbreviated to more than one letter are spaced (op. cit. not op.cit. or opcit). There are some exceptions: PhD (see above) for "Philosophiae Doctor"; BVetMed for "Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine". In most situations, Wikipedia uses no such punctuation inside acronyms and initialisms: GDP, not G.D.P.

US and U.S.

"MOS:US" redirects here. For the use of the word "us", see Wikipedia:Manual of Style § First-person pronouns.

US is a commonly used abbreviation for United States, although U.S. – with periods and without a space – remains common in North American publications, including in news journalism. Multiple American style guides, including The Chicago Manual of Style (since 2010), now deprecate "U.S." and recommend "US".

For commonality reasons, use US by default when abbreviating, but retain U.S. in American or Canadian English articles in which it is already established, unless there is a good reason to change it. Because use of periods for abbreviations and acronyms should be consistent within any given article, use US in an article with other country abbreviations, and especially avoid constructions like the U.S. and the UK. In longer abbreviations that incorporate the country's initials (USN, USAF), never use periods. When the United States is mentioned with one or more other countries in the same sentence, US (or U.S.) may be too informal, especially at the first mention or as a noun instead of an adjective (France and the United States, not France and the US). Do not use the spaced U. S. or the archaic U.S. of A., except when quoting. Do not use U.S.A. or USA except in a quotation, as part of a proper name (Team USA), or in certain technical and formal uses (e.g., the ISO 3166-1 alpha-3, FIFA, and IOC country codes).


See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Uncertain, incomplete, or approximate dates for examples.

To indicate approximately, the use of ((circa)), showing as c., is preferred over circa, c., ca., or approx.

Avoid unwarranted use

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Units of measurement for when to abbreviate units of measurement.

Avoid abbreviations when they might confuse the reader, interrupt the flow, or appear informal. For example:

Do not invent

Avoid devising new abbreviations, especially acronyms. For example, World Union of Billiards is good as a translation of Union Mondiale de Billard, but neither it nor the reduction WUB is used by the organization or by independent sources; use the original name and its official abbreviation, UMB.

If it is necessary to abbreviate in a tight space, such as a column header in a table, use widely recognized abbreviations. For example, for New Zealand gross national product, use NZ and GNP, with a link if the term has not already been written out in the article: NZ GNP. Do not make up initialisms such as NZGNP.

HTML tags and templates

Either <abbr> or ((abbr)) can be used for abbreviations and acronyms: <abbr title="World Health Organization">WHO</abbr> or ((abbr|WHO|World Health Organization)) will generate WHO; hovering over the rendered text causes a tooltip of the long form to pop up.


In normal text and headings, use and instead of the ampersand (&): January 1 and 2, not January 1 & 2. But retain an ampersand when it is a legitimate part of the style of a proper noun, the title of a work, or a trademark, such as in Up & Down or AT&T. Elsewhere, ampersands may be used with consistency and discretion where space is extremely limited (e.g., tables and infoboxes). Quotations may be cautiously modified, especially for consistency where different editions are quoted, as modern editions of old texts routinely replace ampersands with and (just as they replace other disused glyphs, ligatures, and abbreviations). Another frequent permissible but not required use is in short bibliographic references to works by multiple authors, e.g.: <ref>Lubbers & Scheepers (2002); Van Hiel & Mervielde (2002); Swyngedouw & Giles (2007); Van Hiel (2012).</ref>.


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Italic type


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Emphasis

Italics are used for emphasis, rather than boldface or capitals. But overuse diminishes its effect; consider rewriting instead.

Use <em>...</em> or ((em|...)) for emphasis. This allows user style sheets to handle emphasis in a customized way, and helps reusers and translators.[2]


For complete guidance on the handling of titles of works, see (until the material is better consolidated):

Use italics for the titles of works (such as books, films, television series, named exhibitions, computer games, music albums, and artworks). The titles of articles, chapters, songs, episodes, storylines, research papers and other short works instead take double quotation marks.

Italics are not used for major religious works (the Bible, the Quran, the Talmud). Many of these titles should also be in title case.

Words as words

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Words as words

Use italics when mentioning a word or character (see Use–mention distinction) or a string of words up to one sentence (the term panning is derived from panorama; the most common letter in English is e). When a whole sentence is mentioned, double quotation marks may be used instead, with consistency (The preposition in She sat on the chair is on; or The preposition in "She sat on the chair" is "on"). Quotation marks may also be used for shorter material to avoid confusion, such as when italics are already heavily used in the page for another purpose (e.g., for many non-English words and phrases). Mentioning (to discuss grammar, wording, punctuation, etc.) is different from quoting (in which something is usually expressed on behalf of a quoted source). Quotation is done with quotation marks, never italics, nor both at once (see § Quotations for details).

A closely related use of italics is when introducing or distinguishing terms: The natural numbers are the integers greater than 0.

Foreign words

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Foreign terms

Italics is indicated for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that are not common in everyday English. However, proper names (such as place names) in other languages are not usually italicized, nor are terms in non-Latin scripts. The ((lang)) template and its variants support all ISO 639 language codes, correctly identifying the language and automatically italicizing for you. Please use these templates rather than just manually italicizing non-English material. (See WP:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Other languages for more information.)

Scientific names

Use italics for the scientific names of plants, animals, and all other organisms except viruses at the genus level and below (italicize Panthera leo and Retroviridae, but not Felidae). The hybrid sign is not italicized (Rosa × damascena), nor is the "connecting term" required in three-part botanical names (Rosa gallica subsp. officinalis).

Quotations in italics

See also: § Quotations

Do not use italics for quotations. Instead, use quotation marks for short quotations and block quoting for long ones.

Italics within quotations

Use italics within quotations to reproduce emphasis that exists in the source material. If it is not clear that the source already included italics (or some other styling) for emphasis, add the editorial note [emphasis in original] after the quotation.

If adding emphasis that was not in the original, add the editorial note [emphasis added] after the quotation.

Effect on nearby punctuation

Italicize only the elements of the sentence affected by the emphasis. Do not italicize surrounding punctuation.


Further information: Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources

For the essay, see Wikipedia:Quotations.

"MOS:QUOTE" redirects here. For the section on quotation characters, see MOS:CURLY.

Brief quotations of copyrighted text may be used to illustrate a point, establish context, or attribute a point of view or idea. While quotations are an indispensable part of Wikipedia, try not to overuse them. Using too many quotes is incompatible with an encyclopedic writing style and may be copyright infringement, and so most of the content should be in the editor's own words. Consider paraphrasing quotations into plain and concise text when appropriate (while being aware that close paraphrasing can still violate copyright). It is incorrect to put quotations in italics unless the material would be italicized for some other reason.

Original wording

"WP:PMC" redirects here. For closure of requested moves by page movers, see Wikipedia:Requested moves/Closing instructions § Closure by a page mover.

"WP:PLC" redirects here. For inclusion guidelines for organizations, see Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies). For the handling of the abbreviation "plc" in article titles, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (companies).

Quotations must be verifiably attributed, and the wording of the quoted text must be faithfully reproduced. This is referred to as the principle of minimal change. Where there is good reason to change the wording, bracket the changed text; for example, "Ocyrhoe told him his fate" might be quoted as "Ocyrhoe told [her father] his fate". If there is a significant error in the original, follow it with ((sic)) (producing [sic] ) to show that the error was not made by Wikipedia. However, insignificant spelling and typographic errors should simply be silently corrected (for example, correct basicly to basically).

Use ellipses to indicate omissions from quoted text. Legitimate omissions include extraneous, irrelevant, or parenthetical words, and unintelligible speech (umm and hmm), but do not omit text where doing so would remove important context or alter the meaning of the text. Vulgarities and obscenities should be shown exactly as they appear in the quoted source; Wikipedians should never bowdlerize words (G-d d--m it!), but if the text being quoted itself does so, copy the text verbatim and use ((sic)) to indicate that the text is quoted as shown in the source.

In direct quotations, retain dialectal and archaic spellings, including capitalization (but not archaic glyphs and ligatures, as detailed below in § Typographic conformity).

Point of view

See also: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view § Attributing and specifying biased statements, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch § Expressions of doubt

Quotation should be used, with attribution, to present emotive opinions that cannot be expressed in Wikipedia's own voice, but never to present cultural norms as simply opinional:

Concise opinions that are not overly emotive can often be reported with attribution instead of direct quotation. Use of quotation marks around simple descriptive terms can imply something doubtful regarding the material being quoted; sarcasm or weasel words such as supposedly or so-called, might be inferred.

Typographic conformity

A quotation is not a facsimile and, in most cases, it is not a requirement that the original formatting be preserved. Formatting and other purely typographical elements of quoted text[l] should be adapted to English Wikipedia's conventions without comment, provided that doing so will not change or obscure meaning or intent of the text. These are alterations which make no difference when the text is read aloud, for example:

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles § Typographic conformity for special considerations in normalizing the typography of titles of works.

However, national varieties should not be changed, as these may involve changes in vocabulary. For example, a quotation from a British source should retain British spelling, even in an article that otherwise uses American spelling. (See § Consistency within articles.) Numbers also usually should not be reformatted.

Direct quotation should not be used to preserve the formatting preferred by an external publisher (especially when the material would otherwise be unchanged), as this tends to have the effect of scare-quoting:

Italics can be used to mark a particular usage as a term of art (a case of "words as words"), especially when it is unfamiliar or should not be reworded by a non-expert:

When quoting a complete sentence, it is usually recommended to keep the first word capitalized. However, if the quoted passage has been integrated into the surrounding sentence (for example, with an introduction such as "X said that"), the original capital letter may be lower-cased.

It is normally unnecessary to explicitly note changes in capitalization. However, for more precision, the altered letter may be put inside square brackets: "The" → "[t]he".


The reader must be able to determine the source of any quotation, at the very least via a footnote. The source must be named in article text if the quotation is an opinion (see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view § Attributing and specifying biased statements). When attributing a quotation, avoid characterizing it in a biased manner.

Quotations within quotations

See § For a quotation within a quotation.


Be conservative when linking within quotations; link only to targets that correspond to the meaning clearly intended by the quote's author. Where possible, link from text outside of the quotation instead – either before it or soon after. (If quoting hypertext, add an editorial note, [link in original] or [link added], as appropriate, to avoid ambiguity as to whether the link was made by the original author.)

Block quotations

Format a long quote (more than about forty words or a few hundred characters, or consisting of more than one paragraph, regardless of length) as a block quotation, indented on both sides. Block quotations should be enclosed in ((blockquote)).

Do not enclose block quotations in quotation marks (and especially avoid large, decorative quotation marks; those provided by the ((cquote)) template have been disabled in mainspace). Block quotations using a colored background are also discouraged.

Use ((blockquote)) and so on only for actual quotations; indentation for other purposes is done differently.

It is conventional to precede a block quotation with an introductory sentence (or sentence fragment) and append the source citation to that line. Alternatively, the ((blockquote)) template provides parameters for attribution and citation which will appear below the quotation. (For use of dashes with attributions, see § Other uses (em dash only).) This below-quotation attribution style is intended for famous quotations and is unusual in articles because it may strike an inappropriate tone. A quotation with no cited source should be flagged with ((quote without source)), or deleted.

Line breaks and indentation inside a ((blockquote)) or <blockquote> are generally ignored; use <poem> or ((poem quote)) for poetry, lyrics, and similar material:

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This gives:

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

Or quote such material inline, with line breaks indicated by ((nbsp))/, and paragraph or stanza breaks by ((nbsp))//.

Pull quotes do not belong in Wikipedia articles. These are the news and magazine style of "pulling" material already in the article to reuse it in attention-grabbing decorative quotations. This unencyclopedic approach is a form of editorializing, produces out-of-context and undue emphasis, and may lead the reader to conclusions not supported in the material.

Foreign-language quotations

Quotations from foreign-language sources should appear with a translation into English, preferably a modern[i] one. 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.

When editors themselves translate foreign text into English, care must always be taken to include the original text, in italics (except for non-Latin-based writing systems, and best done with the ((lang)) template which both italicizes as appropriate and provides language metadata); and to use actual and (if at all possible) common English words in the translation. Unless you are certain of your competency to translate something, see Wikipedia:Translation for assistance.


For a brief guide to how some punctuation marks are used in Wikipedia for special purposes, e.g., description lists, see Help:Punctuation.


Quotation marks

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Quotations

In the material below, the term quotation includes conventional uses of quotation marks such as for titles of songs, chapters, episodes, and so on. Quotation marks are also used in other contexts, such as in cultivar names.

Quotation characters

Double or single

Most quotations take double quotation marks (Bob said: "Jim ate the apple.").[m] Exceptions:

For a quotation within a quotation

Use single quotes:

For deeper nesting, alternate between single and double quotes:

For quote marks in immediate succession, add a sliver of space by using ((" ')), ((' ")), or (as in the example just given) ((" ' ")):

Article openings

In the bolded text typically appearing at the opening of an article:

Punctuation before quotations

If a non-quoted but otherwise identical construction would work grammatically without a comma, using a comma before a quotation embedded within a sentence is optional:

The comma-free approach is often used with partial quotations:

A comma is required when it would be present in the same construction if none of the material were a quotation:

Do not insert a comma if it would confuse or alter the meaning:

It is clearer to use a colon to introduce a quotation if it forms a complete sentence, and this should always be done for multi-sentence quotations:

No additional punctuation is necessary for an explicit words-as-words scenario:

Names and titles

For complete guidance on the handling of titles of works, see (until the material is better consolidated):

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

Correct: The Beatles wrote "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" for their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Do not use quotation marks or italics for:

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

Punctuation inside or outside

See also: Wikipedia:Logical quotation on Wikipedia

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Italics: Effect on nearby punctuation

Use the "logical quotation" style in all articles, regardless of the variety of English in which they are written. Include terminal punctuation within the quotation marks only if it was present in the original material, and otherwise place it after the closing quotation mark. For the most part, this means treating periods and commas in the same way as question marks: keep them inside the quotation marks if they apply only to the quoted material and outside if they apply to the whole sentence. Examples are given below.

If the quotation is a single word or a sentence fragment, place the terminal punctuation outside the closing quotation mark. When quoting a full sentence, the end of which coincides with the end of the sentence containing it, place terminal punctuation inside the closing quotation mark.

If the quoted sentence is followed by a clause that should be preceded by a comma, omit the full stop (period) – but other terminal punctuation, such as a question mark or exclamation mark, may be retained.

If the quoted sentence is followed by a clause identifying the speaker, use a comma outside the quotation mark instead of a full stop inside it, but retain any other terminal punctuation, such as a question mark.

Do not follow quoted words or fragments with commas inside the quotation marks, except where a longer quotation has been broken up and the comma is part of the full quotation.

Quotation marks and external links

External links to article titles should have the title in quotes inside the link. CS1 and CS2 templates do this automatically, and untemplated references should do the same.

Quotation marks and internal links

Internal links (wikilinks) accompanied by quotation marks should usually have the quotes outside the link. This applies to titles of works in quotation marks (songs, episodes, etc.)

However, quotation marks are needed inside wikilinks when the quotation mark is part of the link, or where the linked display text includes quotation marks indicating slang, nicknames, common names, or similar usage.

Brackets and parentheses

"MOS:PAREN" redirects here. For use of parentheses (round brackets) in article titles, see WP:Article titles § Parenthetical disambiguation. For deprecated inline parenthetical citations, see WP:Citing sources § Parenthetical referencing.

This section applies to both round brackets ( ), often called parentheses, and square brackets [ ].

If a sentence contains a bracketed phrase, place the sentence punctuation outside the brackets (as shown here). However, where one or more sentences are wholly inside brackets, place their punctuation inside the brackets. There should be no space next to the inner side of a bracket. An opening bracket should usually be preceded by a space. This may not be the case if 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.

Avoid adjacent sets of brackets. Either put the parenthetical phrases in one set separated by semicolons, or rewrite:

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:

If a sentence includes subsidiary material enclosed in square or round brackets, it must still carry terminal punctuation after those brackets, regardless of any punctuation within the brackets.

She refused all requests (except for basics such as food, medicine, etc.).

However, if the entire sentence is within brackets, the closing punctuation falls within the brackets. (This sentence is an example.)

Brackets and linking

Square brackets inside of links must be escaped:

He said, "[[John Doe|John &#91;Doe&#93;]] answered."

He said, "John [Doe] answered."

He said, "[[John Doe|John ((bracket|Doe))]] answered."

He said, "John [Doe] answered."

[ On the first day &#91;etc.&#93;]

On the first day [etc.]

[ On the first day ((bracket|etc.))]

On the first day [etc.]

The <nowiki> markup can also be used: <nowiki>[Doe]</nowiki> or <nowiki>[etc.]</nowiki>.

If a URL itself contains square brackets, the wiki-text should use the URL-encoded form, rather than ...query=[xxx]yyy. This will avoid truncation of the link after xxx.


Use an ellipsis (plural ellipses) if material is omitted in the course of a quotation, unless square brackets are used to gloss the quotation (see § Brackets and parentheses, and the points below).

Pause or suspension of speech
Three dots are occasionally used to represent a pause in or suspense of speech, in which case the punctuation is retained in its original form: Virginia's startled reply was "Could he ...? No, I can't believe it!". When it indicates an incomplete word, no space is used between the word fragment(s) and the ellipsis: The garbled transmission ended with "We are stranded near San L...o", interpreted as a reference to either San Leandro or San Lorenzo.
With square brackets
Square brackets may be placed around an ellipsis that indicates omitted text to distinguish it from an ellipsis that is part of the quoted text: She retorted: "How do I feel? How do you think I ... This is too much! [...] Take me home!". In this example, the first ellipsis is part of the quoted text and the second ellipsis (in square brackets) indicates omitted text.


Serial commas

"MOS:OXFORD" redirects here. For Oxford spelling, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Spelling § British English with "-ize" (Oxford spelling).

A serial comma (sometimes also called an Oxford comma or Harvard comma) is a comma used immediately before a conjunction (and, or, nor) in a list of three or more items.

ham, chips, and eggs  – serial comma
ham, chips and eggs  – no serial comma

Editors may use either convention so long as each article is internally consistent. Serial commas are more helpful when article text is complex, such as a list with multi-word items (especially if one contains its own "and") or a series of probably unfamiliar terms.

However, there are cases in which either omitting or including the serial comma results in ambiguity:

The author thanked her friends, Sinéad O'Connor and Bob Marley  – which may list either four or more people (the friends and the two people named) or two people (O'Connor and Marley, who are the friends).
The author thanked a friend, Sinéad O'Connor, and Bob Marley  – which may list either two people (O'Connor, who is the friend, and Marley) or three people (the first being the friend, the second O'Connor, and the third Marley).

In such cases of ambiguity, clarify one of four ways:


For the "colon trick" (for linking to a category, image, or interwiki link without adding the page to the category, displaying the image, or adding the interwiki link), see Help:Colon trick.

A colon (:) introduces something that 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 or arranged in a bulleted list.

We visited several tourist attractions: the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which I thought could fall at any moment; the Bridge of Sighs; the supposed birthplace of Petrarch, or at least the first known house in which he lived; and so many more.

A colon may also be used to introduce direct speech enclosed within quotation marks. (See § Quotation marks.)

In most cases, a colon works best with a complete grammatical sentence before it. When what follows the colon is also a complete sentence, start it with a capital letter, but otherwise do not capitalize after a colon except where doing so is needed for another reason, such as for a proper name. When a colon is being used as a separator in an article title, section heading, or list item, editors may choose whether to capitalize what follows, taking into consideration the existing practice and consistency with related articles.

Except in technical usage (a 3:1 ratio), no sentence should contain multiple colons, no space should precede a colon, and a space (but never a hyphen or dash) should follow the colon.


For usage in marking up description (definition) lists, see Help:List § Description lists.

A semicolon (;) 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). In many cases, only a comma or only a semicolon will be correct in a given sentence.

Correct: Though he had been here before, I did not recognize him.
Incorrect: Though he had been here before; I did not recognize him.

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

Correct: Oranges are an acidic fruit; bananas are classified as alkaline.
Incorrect: Oranges are an acidic fruit, bananas are classified as alkaline.

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

Accepted: "Life is short, art is long." (two brief clauses in an aphorism; see Ars longa, vita brevis)
Accepted: "I have studied it, you have not." (reporting brisk conversation, such as 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: Oranges are an acidic fruit; bananas are classified as alkaline; pears are close to neutral; these distinctions are rarely discussed.
One better way: Oranges are an acidic fruit, bananas are alkaline, and pears are close to neutral; these distinctions are rarely discussed.

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

Confusing: Sales offices are located in Boston, Massachusetts, San Francisco, California, Singapore, and Millbank, London, England.
Clear: Sales offices are located in Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; Singapore; and Millbank, London, England.

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:

It was obvious they could not convert these people; however, they tried.
Meaning: It was obvious they could not convert these people; nevertheless, they tried.

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:

It was obvious they could not convert these people, however they tried.
Meaning: It was obvious they could not convert these people, regardless of how they tried.

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:

However they tried, it was obvious they could not convert these people.
Meaning: Regardless of how they tried, it was obvious they could not convert these people.

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 "although" that 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:

He did not know, however, that the venue had been changed at the last minute.
Meaning: However, he did not know that the venue had been changed at the last minute.


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

Four-year-old children
Four year-old children
Four-year old children
A man eating fish
A man-eating fish
  1. In hyphenated personal names (John Lennard-Jones, Omar al-Bashir).
  2. To link prefixes with their main terms in certain constructions (quasi-scientific, pseudo-Apollodorus, ultra-nationalistic).
    • A hyphen may be used to distinguish between homographs (re-dress means dress again, but redress means remedy or set right).
    • There is a clear trend to join both elements in all varieties of English (subsection, nonlinear). Hyphenation clarifies when the letters brought into contact are the same (non-negotiable, sub-basement) or are vowels (pre-industrial), or where a word is uncommon (co-proposed, re-target) or may be misread (sub-era, not subera). Some words of these sorts are nevertheless common without the hyphen (e.g., cooperation is more frequently attested than co-operation in contemporary English).[i]
  3. To link related terms in compound modifiers:[o]
    • Hyphens can aid ease of reading (that is, they can be ease-of-reading aids) and are particularly useful in long noun phrases: gas-phase reaction dynamics. But never insert a hyphen into a proper name (Middle Eastern cuisine, not Middle-Eastern cuisine).
    • A hyphen can help to disambiguate (some short-story writers are quite tall; a government-monitoring program is a program that monitors the government, whereas a government monitoring program is a government program that monitors).
    • Compounds that are hyphenated when used attributively (adjectives before the nouns they qualify: a light-blue handbag, a 34-year-old woman) or substantively (as a noun: she is a 34-year-old) are usually not hyphenated when used predicatively (descriptive phrase separated from the noun: the handbag was light blue, the woman is 34 years old). Where there would otherwise be a loss of clarity, however, a hyphen may be used in the predicative form as well (hand-fed turkeys, the turkeys were hand-fed). Awkward attributive hyphenation can sometimes be avoided with a simple rewording: Hawaiian-native speciesnative Hawaiian species.
    • Avoid using a hyphen after a standard -ly adverb (a newly available home, a wholly owned subsidiary) unless part of a larger compound (a slowly-but-surely strategy). In rare cases, a hyphen can improve clarity if a rewritten alternative is awkward, but rewording is usually preferable: The idea was clearly stated enough can be disambiguated as The idea clearly was stated often enough or The idea was stated with enough clarity.
    • A few words ending in -ly function as both adjectives and adverbs (a kindly-looking teacher; a kindly provided facility). Some such dual-purpose words (like early, only, northerly) are not standard -ly adverbs, because they are not formed by addition of -ly to an independent current-English adjective. These need careful treatment: Early flowering plants appeared around 130 million years ago, but Early-flowering plants risk damage from winter frosts; only child actors (no adult actors) but only-child actors (actors without siblings).
    • A hyphen is normally used when the adverb well precedes a participle used attributively (a well-meaning gesture; but normally a very well managed firm, because well itself is modified) and even predicatively, if well is necessary to, or alters, the sense of the adjective rather than simply intensifying it (the gesture was well-meaning, the child was well-behaved, but the floor was well polished).
    • In some cases, such as diode–transistor logic, the independent status of the linked elements requires an en dash instead of a hyphen. See § Dashes.
    • Use a suspended hyphen (also called a hanging hyphen) when two compound modifiers are separated (two- and three-digit numbers; a ten-car or -truck convoy; sloping right- or leftward).
    • Values and units used as compound modifiers are hyphenated only where the unit is given as a whole word; when using the unit symbol, separate it from the number with a non-breaking space (&nbsp;).
Incorrect: 9-mm gap
Correct: 9 mm gap (markup: 9&nbsp;mm gap)
Incorrect:    9 millimetre gap
Correct: 9-millimetre gap
Correct: 12-hour shift
Correct: 12 h shift (markup: 12&nbsp;h shift)

Multi-word hyphenated items: It is often possible to avoid multi-word hyphenated modifiers by rewording (a four-CD soundtrack album may be easier to read as a soundtrack album of four CDs). This is particularly important where converted units are involved (the 6-hectare-limit (14.8-acre-limit) rule might be possible as the rule imposing a limit of six hectares (14.8 acres), and the ungainly 4.9-mile (7.9 km) -long tributary as simply 4.9-mile (7.9 km) tributary).

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

Do not use a capital letter after a hyphen except for a proper name following the hyphen: Graeco-Roman and Mediterranean-style, but not Gandhi-Like. In titles of published works, when given in title case, follow the capitalization rule for each part independently (The Out-of-Towners), unless reliable sources consistently do otherwise in a particular case (The History of Middle-earth).

Hyphenation rules in other languages may be different. Thus, in French a place name such as Trois-Rivières ('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 sub- and the suffix -less.

Image filenames and redirects: Image filenames are not part of the encyclopedic content; they are tools. They are most useful if they can be readily typed, so they usually 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, Michelson-Morley experiment redirects to Michelson–Morley experiment.

Non-breaking: A non-breaking hyphen (((nbhyph))) will not be used as a point of line-wrap.

Soft hyphens: Use soft hyphens to mark locations where a word will be broken and hyphenated if necessary at the end of a line of text, usually in very long words or narrow spaces (such as captions, narrow table columns, or text adjacent to a very wide image), for example: ((shy|Penn|syl|va|nia and Mass|a|chu|setts style themselves com|mon|wealths.)). Use sparingly to avoid making wikitext difficult to read and edit. For more information, see Help:Line-break handling.

Encoding: The hyphen is represented by the ASCII/UNICODE HYPHEN-MINUS character, which is entered by the hyphen or minus key on all standard keyboards. Do not use the UNICODE HYPHEN character.

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


"WP:DASH" redirects here. For the overview of Wikipedia discussions, see Wikipedia:Dashboard.

Two forms of dash are used on Wikipedia: en dash () and em dash (). To enter them, click on them in the CharInsert toolbar, or enter them manually as:

Do not use a double hyphen (--) to stand in for a dash. (See also: Wikipedia:How to make dashes.)

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

In article titles

In article titles, do not use a hyphen (-) as a substitute for an en dash, for example in eye–hand span (since eye does not modify hand). Nonetheless, to aid searching and linking, provide a redirect with hyphens replacing the en dash(es), as in eye-hand span. Similarly, provide category redirects for categories containing dashes. When an en dash is being used as a separator in an article title or section heading, editors may choose whether to capitalize what follows, taking into consideration the existing practice and consistency with related articles.

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 quoted speech. In all these cases, use either unspaced em dashes or spaced en dashes, with consistency in any one article:

Another "planet" was detected—but it was later found to be a moon of Saturn.
Another "planet" was detected – but it was later found to be a moon of Saturn.

Ideally, use a non-breaking space before the en dash, which prevents the en dash from occurring at the beginning of a line (markup: ((spaced ndash)) or ((snd)) or &nbsp;– or &nbsp;&ndash;):

Another "planet" was detected((snd))but it was later found to be a moon of Saturn.

But do not insert a non-breaking or other space where the en dash should be unspaced (see § Other uses (en dash only)).

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.

In ranges that might otherwise be expressed with to or through

This section is about ranges of numbers, dates, or times. For other ranges, such as ranges of physical locations, see § In compounds when the connection might otherwise be expressed with to, versus, and, or between.

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Ranges

For ranges between numbers, dates, or times, use an en dash:

Do not change hyphens to dashes in filenames, URLs, or templates such as ((Bibleverse)) (which formats verse ranges into URLs), even if a range is embedded in them.

Do not mix en dashes with between or from.

The en dash in a range is always unspaced, except when either or both elements of the range include at least one space, hyphen, or en dash; in such cases, ((snd)) between them will provide the proper formatting.

If negative values are involved, an unspaced en dash might be confusing:

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.

Generally, use a hyphen in compounded proper names of single entities.

Use an en dash between the names of nations or nationalities when referring to an association between them. For people and things identifying with multiple nationalities, use a hyphen when using the combination adjectivally and a space when they are used as nouns, with the first used attributively to modify the second.

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

Use an en dash for the names of two or more entities in an attributive compound.

Do not use an en dash for hyphenated personal names, even when they are used as adjectives:

Do not use spaces around the en dash in any of the compounds above.

Instead of a hyphen, use an en dash when applying a prefix or suffix to a compound that itself includes a space, dash or hyphen

The form of category names follows the corresponding main articles, e.g., Category:Trans–New Guinea languages. However, the principle is not extended when compounding other words in category names, e.g., Category:Tennis-related lists and Category:Table tennis-related lists both use hyphens.

To separate parts of an item in a list

Spaced en dashes are sometimes used between parts of list items. For example:


Editors may choose whether to capitalize what follows, taking into consideration the existing practice and consistency with related articles.

Other uses (en dash only)

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 § Hyphens), which joins components more strongly than the en dash; or to the slash (see § Slashes), which separates alternatives more definitely. Consider the exact meaning when choosing which to use.

Other uses (em dash only)

An indented em dash may be used before a name or other source when attributing below a block quotation, poem, etc. This dash should not be fully spaced, though it is best for metadata and accessibility reasons to hair-space it from the name.[r] Most of Wikipedia's quotation templates with attribution-related parameters already provide this formatting.

For example, ((in5))—((hair space))Charlotte Brontë will produce:

     — Charlotte Brontë

Other dashes

Do not use typewriter approximations or other substitutes, such as two hyphens (--), for em or en dashes.

For a negative sign or subtraction operator use U+2212 MINUS SIGN (&minus;), which can also be generated by clicking on the following the ± in the Insert toolbar beneath the edit window. Do not use U+2212 inside a <math> tag, as the character gives a syntax error; instead use a normal hyphen U+002D - .

Slashes (strokes)

"WP:SLASH" redirects here. For information on subpages, which contain a slash in their titles, see WP:SUB.

Generally, avoid joining two words with a slash, also called a forward slash, stroke or solidus ( / ), because it suggests that the words are related without specifying how. Replace with clearer wording.

An example: The parent/instructor must be present at all times. Must both be present? (Then write the parent and the instructor.) Must at least one be present? (Then write the parent or the instructor.) Are they the same person? (Use a hyphen: the parent-instructor.)

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

An unspaced slash may be used:

A spaced slash may be used:

To avoid awkward linebreaks, code spaced slashes (and fraction slashes) with a non-breaking space on the left and a normal space on the right, as in: My mama told me&nbsp;/ You better shop around. For short constructions, both spaces should be non-breaking: x&nbsp;/&nbsp;y. On the other hand, if two long words are connected by an unspaced slash, an ((wbr)) added after the slash will allow a linebreak at that point.

Do not use the backslash character ( \ ) in place of a slash.

Prefer the division operator ( ÷ ) to slash or fraction slash when representing elementary arithmetic in general text: 10 ÷ 2 = 5. In more advanced mathematical formulas, a vinculum or slash is preferred: or xn/n! (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Common mathematical symbols and Help:Displaying a formula).


Avoid writing and/or unless other constructions would be lengthy or awkward. Instead of Most had trauma and/or smoke inhalation, write simply trauma or smoke inhalation (which would normally be interpreted as an inclusive-or to imply or both); or, for emphasis or precision or both, write trauma or smoke inhalation or both. Where more than two possibilities are present, instead of x, y, and/or z write one or more of x, y, and z or some or all of x, y, and z.

Number (pound, hash) sign and numero

For pound sterling and other currency symbols, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Currencies and monetary values.

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

Avoid using the # symbol (known as the number sign, hash sign, pound sign, or octothorpe) when referring to numbers or rankings. Instead write number, No. or Nos.; do not use the symbol . For example:

Incorrect: Her album reached #1 in the UK album charts.
Correct: Her album reached number one in the UK album charts.
Correct: Her album reached No. 1 in the UK album charts.
Correct: Her albums Foo and Bar reached Nos. 1 and 3.
Correct: Her albums Foo and Bar reached numbers one and three in the UK album charts.

An exception is issue numbers of comic books, which unlike for other periodicals are conventionally given in general text in the form #1, unless a volume is also given, in which case write volume two, number seven or Vol. 2, No. 7. Another exception are periodical publications carrying both, issue and number designations (typically one being a year-relative and the other an absolute value); they should be given in the form 2 #143 in citations, or be spelt out as Iss. 2, No. 143 in text. When using the abbreviations, write ((abbr|Vol.|Volume)), ((abbr|Iss.|Issue)), ((abbr|No.|Number)), or ((abbr|Nos.|Numbers)), at first occurrence.

Terminal punctuation


In normal text, never put a space before a comma, semicolon, colon, period/full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark (even in quoted material; see § Typographic conformity).

Some editors place two spaces after a period/full stop (see Sentence spacing); these are condensed to one space when the page is rendered, so it does not affect what readers see.

Consecutive punctuation marks

Where a word or phrase that includes terminal punctuation ends a sentence, do not add a second terminal punctuation mark. If a quoted phrase or title ends in a question mark or exclamation mark, it may confuse readers as to the nature of the article sentence containing it, and so is usually better reworded to be mid-sentence. Where such a word or phrase occurs mid-sentence, new terminal punctuation (usually a period) must be added at the end.

Incorrect: Slovak returned to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1985 after growing tired of What Is This?.
Acceptable: Slovak returned to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1985 after growing tired of What Is This?
Better: Slovak, having grown tired of What Is This?, returned to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1985.
Incorrect: He made several films with Sammy Davis Jr..
Correct: He made several films with Sammy Davis Jr.

Punctuation and footnotes

See also: Wikipedia:Citing sources

Ref tags (<ref>...</ref>) are used to create footnotes (sometimes called endnotes or just notes), as citation footnotes and sometimes explanatory notes. All ref tags should immediately follow the text to which the footnote applies, with no intervening space.[s] Refs are placed after adjacent punctuation, not before (apart from the exceptions below). Adjacent ref tags should have no space between them, nor should there be any between ref tags and inline dispute/cleanup templates.

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

Note: In the examples below, the superscript callouts (for example here[10]) are dummies and are not clickable.

Exceptions: Ref tags are placed before dashes, not after. 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, place other punctuation (such as commas or colons) after the formula just as if the text were not a formula. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Mathematics § Punctuation after formulae.

Dates and time

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items

For ranges of dates and times, see § En dashes: other uses.

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

Time of day

Main article: MOS:TIME

Times of day are normally expressed in figures rather than words. Context determines whether the 12- or the 24-hour format is more appropriate.


Main article: MOS:DATEFORMAT

Full dates are formatted 10 June 1921 or June 10, 1921; or where the year is omitted, use 10 June or June 10.


Main article: MOS:MONTH


Main article: MOS:SEASON

Years and longer periods


More information on all the above topics can be found at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Chronological items, including the handling of dates expressed in different calendars, and times corresponding to different time zones.


See also: Wikipedia:As of and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch § Relative time references

Terms such as "current", "now", and "recent"[i] 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 ((As of)), which will allow editors to catalog and update dated statements.

Incorrect: He is the current ambassador to ...
Correct: As of March 2011, he is the ambassador to ...


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Numbers


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Currencies and monetary values

Units of measurement

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Units of measurement

Common mathematical symbols

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Mathematics

Grammar and usage


For the apostrophe character, see § Apostrophes.

For thorough treatment of the English possessive, see Apostrophe.

Singular nouns

For the possessive of singular nouns, including proper names and words ending in s, add 's (my daughter's achievement, my niece's wedding, Cortez's men, the boss's office, Illinois's largest employer, Descartes's philosophy, Verreaux's eagle). Exception: abstract nouns ending with an /s/ sound when followed by sake (for goodness' sake, for his conscience' sake). If a name ending in s or z would be difficult to pronounce with 's added (Jesus's teachings), consider rewording (the teachings of Jesus).

Plural nouns

Official names

Official names (of companies, organizations, or places) should not be altered. (St Thomas' Hospital should therefore not be rendered as St Thomas's Hospital or St. Thomas Hospital, even for consistency.)


See also: Wikipedia:Writing better articles § Use of pronouns

First-person pronouns

To maintain an objective and impersonal encyclopedic voice, an article should never refer to its editors or readers using I, my, we, us, our, or similar words: We note that some believe that bats are bugs. But some of these words are acceptable in certain figurative uses. For example:

Second-person pronouns

"WP:YOU" redirects here. For "Wikipedia is not about you", see WP:NOTYOU.

Avoid addressing the reader using you or your, which sets an inappropriate tone (see also § Instructional and presumptuous language).


See also: English plurals and Collective noun

For the article title guideline, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals).

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: two excursuses, not two excursus as in Latin; three hanifs, not three hunafa 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 (but singular is not actually incorrect). In North American English, these words are almost invariably treated as singular; the major exception is that when a sports team is referred to by its short name, plural verbs are commonly used, e.g. the Heat are playing the Lakers tonight.

Names of towns and countries usually take singular verbs (even when grammatically plural: the United States is in North America, the Netherlands is also known as Holland), but exceptionally in British English, typically when used to refer to a sports team named after a town or country or when discussing actions of a government, plural is used. For example, in England are playing Germany tomorrow, England refers to a football team; but in England is in the Northern hemisphere, it refers to the country. See also § National varieties of English including § Opportunities for commonality.

Verb tense

"MOS:PRESENT" redirects here. For the guideline on words such as "currently", "soon", and "recently", see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Statements likely to become outdated.

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Tense, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch § Relative time references, and Wikipedia:Writing better articles § Tense in fiction

By default, write articles in the present tense, including those covering works of fiction (see Wikipedia:Writing better articles § Tense in fiction) and products or works that have been discontinued. Generally, use past tense only for past events, and for subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist. Use past tense for articles about periodicals no longer produced, with common-sense exceptions.

Tense can be used to distinguish between current and former status of a subject: Dún Aonghasa is the ruin of a prehistoric Irish cliff fort. Its original shape was presumably oval or D-shaped, but parts of the cliff and fort have since collapsed into the sea. (Emphasis added to distinguish the different tense usages; Dún Aonghasa is a structure that was later damaged by an event.)

Always use present tense for verbs that describe genres, types, and classes, even if the subject of the description (e.g. program, library, device) no longer exists, is discontinued or is unsupported/unmaintained.



Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations § Contractions

Avoid contractions, which have little place in formal writing. For example, write do not instead of don't. Use of o'clock is an exception. Contracted titles such as Dr. and St generally should not be used but may apply in some contexts (e.g., quoted material, place names, titles of works).

Gender-neutral language

"MOS:GENDER" redirects here. For the style guideline regarding pronoun usage for individuals whose gender might be questioned, see MOS:GENDERID.

For an essay with suggestions and sample usage, see Wikipedia:Gender-neutral language.

See also: Wikipedia:Writing about women

Use gender-neutral language – avoiding the generic he and generic she, for example – if this can be done with clarity and precision. This does not apply to direct quotations or the titles of works (The Ascent of Man), which should not be altered, or to wording about one-gender contexts, such as an all-female school (When any student breaks that rule, she loses privileges).

References to space programs, past, present and future, should use gender-neutral phrasing: human spaceflight, robotic probe, uncrewed mission, crewed spacecraft, piloted, unpiloted, astronaut, cosmonaut, not manned or unmanned. Direct quotations and proper nouns that use gendered words should not be changed, like Manned Maneuvering Unit.

Ships may be referred to using either neuter forms ("it", "its") or feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers"). 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 commonly misused English words; see also § Identity.

Instructional and presumptuous language

"MOS:NOTE" redirects here. For footnotes, see Help:Footnotes. For hatnotes, see Wikipedia:Hatnote. For musical notes, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Music § Images and notation.

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch § Editorializing, Wikipedia:Writing better articles § Information style and tone, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Self-references to avoid § Note that ...

Avoid phrases such as remember that and note that, which address readers directly in an unencyclopedic tone and lean toward instructional. They are a subtle form of Wikipedia self-reference, "breaking the fourth wall". Similarly, phrases such as of course, naturally, obviously, clearly, and actually make presumptions about readers' knowledge, may express a viewpoint, and may call into question the reason for including the information in the first place. Do not tell readers that something is interesting, ironic, surprising, unexpected, amusing, coincidental, etc. Simply present sourced facts neutrally and allow readers to draw their own conclusions. Such constructions can usually just be deleted, leaving behind proper sentences with a more academic and less pushy tone: Note that this was naturally subject to controversy in more conservative newspapers. becomes This was subject to controversy in more conservative newspapers.

Avoid rhetorical questions, especially in headings. Use a heading of Active listening and text such as The term active listening, coined in ..., not What is active listening?

For issues in the use of cross-references – e.g., (see also Bulverism) – see § Second-person pronouns.

Subset terms

See also: Wikipedia:Please clarify and Wikipedia:Vagueness

A subset term identifies a set of members of a larger class. Common subset terms are including, among, and etc. Avoid redundant subset terms (e.g., mis-constructions like Among the most well-known members of the fraternity are included two members of the Onassis family or The elements in stars include hydrogen, helium, etc.). The word including does not introduce a complete list; instead, use consisting of, or composed of.


See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies § Child named for parent or predecessor, and Wikipedia:Verifiability § Self-published or questionable sources as sources on themselves

When there is a discrepancy between the term most commonly used by reliable sources for a person or group and the term that person or group uses for themselves, use the term that is most commonly used by recent[i] reliable sources. If it is unclear which is most used, use the term that the person or group uses.

Disputes over how to refer to a person or group are addressed by Wikipedia content policies, such as those on verifiability, and neutral point of view (and article titles when the term appears in the title of an article).

Use specific terminology. For example, it is often more appropriate for people or things from Ethiopia (a country in Africa) to be described as Ethiopian, not carelessly (with the risk of stereotyping) as African.

Gender identity

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Gender identity

Specific guidelines apply to any person whose gender might be questioned, and any living transgender or non-binary person. In summary:

For examples and finer points, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biography § Gender identity.

Foreign terms

See also: WP:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Other languages, WP:Manual of Style/Lead section § Foreign language, Category:Wikipedia Manual of Style (regional), and Help:Interlanguage links

Terms without common usage in English

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Foreign terms

Non-English terms should be used sparingly.

Use italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that are not current in English (except certain cases in other guidance). Where possible, this is best done with the ((lang)) template using the appropriate ISO language code, e.g., ((lang|es|casa)). There are alternatives to the ((lang)) template which also provide additional information about a foreign word or phrase, such as a link to the language name; see Category:Wikipedia multilingual support templates. As Wikipedia does not apply italics to foreign names of people, places, or organizations, the alternative template ((langr)) can be used to apply the language markup without italicizing.[u] The ((lang)) template and related templates automatically italicize text for Latin-alphabet scripts, so do not add separate italics markup around or within them. Non-Latin-based scripts like Chinese should not be italicized, since it is already obvious the material cannot be English, and some such scripts do not support italicization.

Terms with common usage in English

Loanwords and borrowed phrases that have common usage in English – Gestapo, samurai, vice versa – do not require italics. A rule of thumb is to not italicize words that appear in major general-purpose English-language dictionaries.

Spelling and romanization

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English) § Modified letters, Wikipedia:Romanization, and Category:Romanization

Names not originally written in one of the Latin-script alphabets (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 (Aleksandr Tymoczko, Wang Yanhong); but if there is a more common English form of the name (Tchaikovsky, Chiang Kai-shek), 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.

Proper names in languages which use the Latin alphabet can include characters with diacritics, ligatures, and others that are not commonly used in present-day English. Wikipedia normally retains these special characters, except where there is a well-established English spelling that replaces them with English standard letters. Examples:

Such matters are determined on a topic-by-topic basis; a small group of editors cannot "prohibit" or "require" diacritics across a category of articles.[v]

Spell a name consistently in the title and the text of an article. (Relevant policy: Wikipedia:Article titles; see also Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English).) For a foreign name, phrase, or word, adopt the spelling most commonly used in English-language reliable sources, including but not limited to those already cited in the article.[w] For punctuation of compounded forms, see relevant guidelines in § Punctuation.

A non-English proper name should generally not be italicized, unless it would be for some other reason; this is most commonly when it is the title of a major published work, as in Les Liaisons dangereuses; or when it is being compared in a words-as-words manner to another name for the same subject, e.g., Nuremberg (German: Nürnberg). When the name should not be italicized, language markup can still be used to ensure proper pronunciation in screen readers, with the |italic=unset parameter: ((lang|de|italic=unset|Nürnberg)).

Sometimes usage will be influenced by other guidelines, such as § National varieties of English, which may lead to different choices in different articles.

Other non-English concerns

Technical language

"Wikipedia:Jargon" redirects here. For an explanation of jargon used on Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Glossary.

See also: Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not § Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook, or scientific journal; and Wikipedia:Make technical articles understandable

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 general 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 explain concisely 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 are not too numerous. Short articles, such as stubs, generally do not have such sections.

For italicization and other markup of introduced terms, see: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Words as words.

Geographical items

See also: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names) and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Abbreviations § Special considerations

Geographical or place names are the nouns used to refer to specific places and geographic features. These names often give rise to conflict, because the same places are called different things by different peoples speaking different languages. Many place names have a historical context that should be preserved, but common sense should prevail. There can be few places that have not been parts of more than one culture or have had only one name. As proper nouns, all such place names (but not terms for types of places) have major words capitalized.

A place should generally be referred to consistently by the same name as in the title of its article (see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names)). An exception may be made when 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[i] 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)".

This is an English-language encyclopedia, so established English names are preferred if they exist, and spellings in non-English alphabets should always be transcribed into the Roman alphabet. In general, other articles should refer to places by the names which are used in the articles on those places, according to the rules described at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names). If a different name is appropriate in a given historical or other context, then that may be used instead, although it is normal to follow the first occurrence of such a name with the standard modern name in parentheses.

At the start of an article, provide notable equivalent names from other languages, including transcriptions where necessary:

Cologne (German: Köln, IPA: [kœln]) is the ...
Mount Fuji (富士山 Fuji-san, IPA: [ɸuʥisaɴ]) is the ...

Names in languages with no particular present-day or historical ties to the place in question (English excepted, of course) should not be listed as alternatives.

Avoid anachronism. An article about Junípero Serra should say he lived in Alta Mexico, not in California, because the latter entity did not yet exist in Serra's time. The Romans invaded Gaul, not France, and Thabo Mbeki was the president of the Republic of South Africa, not of the Cape Colony. To be clear, you may sometimes need to mention the current name of the area (for example "in what is now France"), especially if no English name exists for that area in the relevant historical period.

Media files

See also: Wikipedia:Creation and usage of media files


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Images

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Images, Wikipedia:Image use policy, and Wikipedia:Picture tutorial

Other media files

See also: Wikipedia:Videos

Other media files include video and audio files. Style recommendations for such files largely follow recommendations for image files (as far as applicable).

Avoid using images to convey text

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Text

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.

For entering textual information as audio, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Spoken Wikipedia.


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Captions

Photographs and other graphics should have captions, unless they are unambiguous depictions of the subject of the article or when they are "self-captioning" images (such as reproductions of album or book covers). 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

Bulleted and numbered lists

Main pages: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lists and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Embedded lists

Further information: Help:List



Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking

See also: Help:Link

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 the tallest people on Earth) 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. Capitalize the first letter only where this is naturally called for, or when specifically referring to the linked article by its name (see also related rule for italics in cross-references): Snakes are often venomous, but lizards only rarely (see Poison).

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

External links

Main page: Wikipedia:External links

External links should not normally be used in the body of an article. Instead, 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:

Where appropriate, use external link templates such as ((Official website)) and ((URL)).

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


Keep markup simple

Other things being equal, keep markup simple. This makes wikitext easier to understand and edit, and the results seen by the reader more predictable. Use HTML and CSS markup sparingly. See: KISS principle.

In general, wikitext formatting is considered easier to use than HTML and wikitext is preferred if there are equivalents; see Help:HTML in wikitext. Obsolete elements and attributes should be updated or removed. There are many templates that allow HTML markup to be used without putting it in articles directly, such as ((em)) (see MOS:EMPHASIS) and ((strong)) (see MOS:BOLD).

An HTML character entity is sometimes better than the equivalent Unicode character, which may be difficult to identify in edit mode; for example, &Alpha; is explicit whereas Α (the upper-case form of Greek α) may be misidentified as the Latin A.

Formatting issues

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting

Modifications in font size, blank space, and color (see § Color coding) 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:

Specify font sizes relatively (for example with font-size: 85%) rather than absolutely (like font-size: 8pt). The resulting font size of any text should not drop below 85% of the page's default font size.

Color coding

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Color

Do not use color alone to mark differences in text: they may be invisible to people with color blindness and useless in black-and-white printouts or displays.

Choose colors such as maroon and teal that are distinguishable by readers with the most common form of colorblindness, and additionally 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. See also color coding.

Even for readers with unimpaired color vision, excessive background shading of table entries impedes readability and recognition of Wikilinks. Background color should be used only as a supplementary visual cue and should be subtle (consider using lighter, less-dominant pastel hues) rather than glaring.


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Indentation

Do not abuse block quotation markup to indent non-quotations. Various templates are available for indentation, including ((block indent)) and (for inline use) ((in5)).

Avoid : (description list markup) for simple visual indentation in articles (common as it may be on talk pages). It causes accessibility problems and outputs invalid HTML. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Indentation for alternatives.

Controlling line breaks

See also: Help:Line-break handling and Template:Spaces

It is sometimes desirable to force a text segment to appear entirely on a single line‍—‌that is, to prevent a line break (line wrap) from occurring anywhere within it.

It is desirable to prevent line breaks where breaking across lines might be confusing or awkward. For example:

Whether a non-breaking space is appropriate depends on context: whereas it is appropriate to use 12((nbsp))MB in prose, it may be counterproductive in a table (where an unattractive break may be acceptable to conserve precious horizontal space) and unnecessary in a short parameter value in an infobox (where a break would never occur anyway).

A line break may occur at a thin space (&thinsp;, or ((thinsp))), which is sometimes used to correct too-close placement of adjacent characters. To prevent this, consider using ((nobr)).

Insert non-breaking and thin spaces as named character reference (&nbsp; or &thinsp;), or as templates that generate these (((nbsp)), ((thinsp))), and never by entering them directly into the edit window from the keyboard – they are visually indistinguishable from regular spaces, and later editors will be unable to see what they are. Inside wikilinks, a construction such as [[World War&nbsp;II]] works but [[World War((nbsp))II]] doesn't.

Scrolling lists and collapsible content

"WP:COLLAPSE" redirects here. For the guideline on collapsing off-topic talk page discussions, see WP:TALKOFFTOPIC.

See also: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Accessibility § Users with limited CSS or JavaScript support

Scrolling lists, and collapsible templates that toggle text display between hide and show, can interfere with readers' ability to access our content. Such mechanisms should not be used to conceal "spoiler" information. Templates should not normally be used to store article text at all, as it interferes with editors' ability to find and edit it.

When such features are used, take care that the content will still be accessible on devices that do not support JavaScript or CSS, and to the greater than 60% of Wikipedia readers who use the mobile version of the site,[x] which has a limited set of features and does not support collapsing (any collapsible templates will either be automatically uncollapsed or hidden entirely). Mobile ability to access the content in question is easy to test with the "Mobile view" link at the bottom of each page.[y]

Collapsible templates should not conceal article content by default upon page loading. This includes reference lists, tables and lists of article content, image galleries, and image captions.

When hiding content is desired, it must be done using the collapsible parameter of relevant templates, or manually-added CSS classes mw-collapsed, and autocollapse (see Help:Collapsing). Other methods of hiding content should not be used, as they may render content inaccessible to many users, such as those browsing Wikipedia with JavaScript disabled, browsing the mobile version,[z] or using proxy services such as Google Web Light.

Collapsed or auto-collapsing cells or sections may be used with tables if they simply repeat information covered in the main text (or are purely supplementary, e.g., several past years of statistics in collapsed tables for comparison with a table of uncollapsed current stats). Auto-collapsing is often a feature of navboxes. A few infoboxes also use pre-collapsed sections for infrequently accessed details. If information in a list, infobox, or other non-navigational content seems extraneous or trivial enough to inspire pre-collapsing it, consider raising a discussion on the article (or template) talk page about whether it should be included at all. If the information is important and the concern is article density or length, consider dividing the article into more sections, integrating unnecessarily list-formatted information into the article prose, or splitting the article.

Invisible comments

"WP:COMMENT" redirects here. For the expression of personal opinions in articles, see Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not § Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought.

For invisible control characters, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Private Use Area and invisible formatting characters.

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hidden text

Editors use "invisible" comments – not shown in the rendered page seen by readers of the article, but visible in the source editing mode when an editor opens the article for editing – to communicate with one another.

Invisible comments are useful for alerting other editors to issues such as common mistakes that regularly occur in the article, a section title's being the target of an incoming link, or pointing to a discussion that established a consensus relating to the article. They should not be used to instruct other editors not to perform certain edits, although where existing local consensus is against making such an edit, they may usefully draw the editor's attention to that. Avoid adding too many invisible comments because they can clutter the wiki source for other editors. Check that your invisible comment does not change the formatting, for example by introducing unwanted white space in the rendered page.

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

This notation can be inserted with a single click in wiki markup, just under the edit pane in edit mode.


Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation

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 Help:IPA/English and Help: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



Other community standards

Guidelines within the Manual of Style

For the major parts of the Manual of Style, see the sidebar at top right of this page (visible only in desktop view, not in mobile view)

(Links to policy and guidelines on specific questions)



  1. ^ This is a matter of policy at Wikipedia:Consensus § Level of consensus: "Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. For instance, unless they can convince the broader community that such action is right, participants in a wikiproject cannot decide that a Wikipedia policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope." And: "Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines than to other types of pages." Subordinate pages include MoS detail pages, style essays, and the Simplified Manual of Style.
  2. ^ a b These matters have been addressed in rulings of ArbCom in 2005, 2006, 2009, and 2015.
  3. ^ See ArbCom decisions in June 2005, November 2005, and 2006
  4. ^ See 2017 ArbCom decision, and Wikipedia:AutoWikiBrowser § Rules of use; bot-like editing that continues despite objections or that introduces errors may lead to a block and to revocation of semi-automated tools privileges.
  5. ^ a b c d Wikipedia uses sentence case for sentences, article titles, section titles, table headers, image captions, list entries (in most cases), and entries in infoboxes and similar templates, among other things. Any MoS guidance about the start of a sentence applies to items using sentence case.
  6. ^ Phrases such as In early life are acceptable (though not required) as section headings. They are also used frequently as part of longer article titles Piracy in the Caribbean, especially when a shorter construction (Caribbean piracy) may have ambiguity issues.
  7. ^ a b c Curly quotation marks and apostrophes are deprecated on the English Wikipedia because straight quotation marks and apostrophes are easier to type reliably on most platforms.
  8. ^ A comment outside the == == but on the same line may cause the section-editing link to fail to appear at all; in other browsers, it may appear, but using it will cause the section heading to not automatically be added to the edit summary.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g In MoS's own wording, "recent", "current", "modern", and "contemporary" in reference to sources and usage should usually be interpreted as referring to reliable material published within the last forty years or so. In the consideration of name changes of persons and organizations, focus on sources from the last few years. For broader English-language usage matters, about forty years is typical. While style guides with fewer than five years in print have not been in publication long enough to have had as much real-world impact as those from around 2000–2015 (on which MoS is primarily based), the corpora used for Google ngrams are updated through 2019, and we frequently rely on what they indicate from the late 20th century and onward.
  10. ^ There are some rare additional exceptions to capitalization of eponyms, in which a term has been strongly conventionalized in lower-case, i.e., is preferred that way in a majority of major English-language dictionaries. For example, parkinsonian describes a patient exhibiting symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Linguistics/orthography use of the terms latinize, romanize, and anglicize are increasingly lower-case, and italic[s] in typography always is.
  11. ^ Breeds guideline added per a December 2018 RfC. "Standardized breed" doesn't have a perfectly clear meaning, but does encompass any breed subject to the breed standard or studbook of a notable breeder/fancier organization. Various other groupings of domesticated animals are not standardized breeds: ancient historical varieties, breed groups, feral populations, landraces, and crossbreeds or hybrids that no major organizations recognize as breeds. Many often are not notable anyway.
  12. ^ "Quoted text" for typographic conformity and many other purposes includes titles of works, names of organizations, and other strings that are, in essence, quoted. Example: things like "Mexican-American War" are routinely corrected to "Mexican–American War" on Wikipedia, including in titles of cited sources. This has no effect on searching for the works we have cited, since all major search engines disregard punctuation marks.
  13. ^ Double quotation marks are preferred to single because they are immediately distinguishable from apostrophes:
    • She wrote that 'Cleanthes' differs from the others', but neither opinion may represent Hume's' (slows the reader down).
    • She wrote that "Cleanthes' differs from the others', but neither opinion may represent Hume's" (clearer).
  14. ^ "Series title italicized" is using series to mean the entire show as a whole. A season (also called a series in British English) with its own title uses quotation marks for that title, as a sub-work.
  15. ^ Specifically, compound attributives, which are modifiers of a noun that occur within the noun phrase. (See English compound § Hyphenated compound modifiers.)
  16. ^ A change from a general preference for two digits, to a general preference for four digits, on the right side of year–year ranges was implemented in July 2016 per this RFC. For more information see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers § Ranges.
  17. ^ It is not logically possible to have a "12–35 victory", except in a game where a lower score is better. Otherwise, use a construction like Clovis beat Portales, 35–12, or Jameson lost the election, 2345 votes to 6789, to Garcia, with parties, result, and number order in logical agreement.
  18. ^ The hair space should be done as ((hair space)) because the actual Unicode character ( ) is almost invisible, the meaning of the numerical HTML entity (&#8202;) is a bit obscure, and the named HTML entity "&hairsp;" is not standard and not supported in many browsers.
  19. ^ A <ref>...</ref> tag can be spaced apart from the preceding content by a hair space in the unusual case that the results of not spacing could be visually confusing, such as when a citation immediately follows an exponent.
  20. ^ a b The passive voice is inappropriate for some forms of writing, but it is widely used in encyclopedia articles, because the passive voice avoids inappropriate first- and second-person constructions as well as tone problems. The most common uses of encyclopedic passive are to keep the focus on the subject instead of performing a news-style shift to dwelling on a non-notable party. Contrast The break-in was reported to police the next morning, versus Assistant manager Peggy Plimpton-Chan reported the break-in to police the next morning.
  21. ^ This has the benefit of helping screen readers pronounce the name correctly. Such a proper name may be italicized when contrasting it with a conventional English form: Munich (German: München).
  22. ^ See: near-unanimous RfC; repeated deletion at Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion of an anti-diacritics "wikiproject", [1]; the policy Wikipedia:Consensus § Levels of consensus; and the Wikipedia:Arbitration Committee's standardized statements of principles on such matters.
  23. ^ Reputable English-language encyclopedias and dictionaries in the aggregate are often helpful in determining the most widely accepted spelling of a place name, loanwords, etc. It may also help (within limits) to compare search results from the Google Scholar journal index, for topics likely to be covered in peer-reviewed academic papers.
  24. ^ See Template:Navbox visibility.
  25. ^ The "Mobile sidebar preview" tool near the bottom of Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-gadgets permits live preview. The "Mobile view" page-bottom feature shows the article only as it currently exists; if using that, and considering a change that could have mobile accessibility implications, please save the change first in a user sandbox and test the mobile version of that. A page's mobile version can also be accessed by changing the in the address bar to and loading that version of the URL. Note also that viewing the normal "desktop" version of the website on a mobile device is not viewing the mobile version of the site, though (depending on mobile browser and what transcoding it is doing) this may be a worthwhile test for some broader accessibility matters, especially on tablets, which do not always use the mobile version of Wikipedia.
  26. ^ Collapsing content using those classes does not work in the mobile version, where such content is simply always shown. However, applying, or using a template that applies, any of the following CSS classes will cause the affected content to be inaccessible to mobile users, and this list may not be exhaustive: navbox, mbox-image, vertical-navbox, nomobile are from wgMFRemovableClasses. No top icons are displayed, so topicon is missing.


  1. ^ "T134423 Deprecate nonstandard behavior of self-closed HTML tags in wikitext". Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  2. ^ Ishida, Richard (2015). "Using b and i elements". W3C Internationalization. World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 1 September 2016. the content of a b element may not always be bold, and that of an i element may not always be italic.
  3. ^ "Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes". Chicago Manual of Style. Retrieved 9 March 2022.

Further reading

External style guides

Wikipedians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with modern editions of other guides to style and usage, which may cover details not included here. Those that have most influenced the Wikipedia Manual of Style are:

For additional reference works, see notable entries at Style guide and Dictionary § Major English dictionaries.