The following is a manual of style for film-related articles under WikiProject Film. The majority of the guidelines focus on writing articles about individual films. Sections under "Primary content" are content that is expected in articles about film on a regular basis. Sections under "Secondary content" are content that may be uncommon. There is no defined order of the sections; please see WikiProject Film's Good Articles and Featured Articles for examples of appropriate layouts. Since the page is a set of guidelines, it is subject to change depending on Wikipedia policies or participant consensus. For other guidelines, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style.

Notability guidelines

The notability guideline for film-related articles helps decide whether a film-related topic should have its own article, and builds on the general notability guidelines and other core Wikipedia policies and guidelines, with additional criteria applicable to film.

Naming conventions

If the film title itself is in doubt, such as whether the word the should appear, it can be resolved as follows:

Article italics

In running text, the film's title should be italicized per Wikipedia's Manual of Style on italic type.

Per Wikipedia's policy on article titles, the title of a film's article should use italics, just as the film's title would be italicized in running text. The template ((Infobox film)) includes coding to italicize the article title automatically. If a film article does not have an infobox, editors are encouraged to add one, which will italicize the article title and provide overview information about the film. If there is a reason not to add an infobox, the ((Italic title)) template can be added instead.

If a film article's title exceeds 50 characters, it will not be italicized automatically. To force the title to be italicized, add the parameter italic title=force to the infobox.

Similarly, if an article title includes brackets (parentheses), that portion and any following it will not be italicized, since it is assumed to be a disambiguating term such as "(film)", not part of the film title itself. If it is actually part of the title, as in I Am Curious (Yellow), the italic title=force parameter will override this behavior and cause the entire title to be italicized.

If the infobox is used in an article with a title other than the film's title, italicization can be suppressed by adding the parameter italic title=no to the infobox.

If an article's title includes both a film title and additional wording that should not be italicized (e.g., List of accolades received by American Beauty), ((Italic title)) or the magic word DISPLAYTITLE can be used. For the given example, the following is included in the list article: ((Italic title|string=American Beauty)) or ((DISPLAYTITLE:List of accolades received by ''American Beauty'')).

If both the ((Infobox film)) template and the DISPLAYTITLE magic word are used, they should be placed in that order, so that DISPLAYTITLE formatting overrides the infobox's built-in italics coding.

Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, Box Office Mojo, and The Numbers are not italicized in prose, footnotes, or External links. Editors may choose to use citation templates ((Cite Rotten Tomatoes)), ((Cite Metacritic)), ((Cite Box Office Mojo)), and ((Cite The Numbers)), respectively.

Primary content

Articles should aim to include each of the sections below. Since coverage in reliable sources can vary greatly, the structuring and ordering of the sections—with the exception of the lead, references, and external links—is left to editorial discretion as to what best suits the article. Some aspects with limited coverage may need to be merged into other sections.


The following subsections are presented in the order in which they typically appear, but the structure and ordering may vary between film articles. See also MOS:SECTIONORDER.

Lead section

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section

The lead should introduce the film and provide a summary of its most important aspects. At minimum, the opening sentence should identify the title, the year of its earliest public release (including film festival screenings), and the primary genre or sub-genre under which it is verifiably classified. See WP:LEADSENTENCE for guidance that applies to other elements, such as reputable directors, starring actors, and source material. Genre classifications should comply with WP:WEIGHT and reflect what is specified by a majority of mainstream reliable sources. If the nationality is singularly defined by reliable sources (e.g., being called an American film), identify it in the opening sentence. If the nationality is not singular, cover the different national interests later in the lead section. For presentation of foreign-language titles, see the naming conventions for foreign-language films.

Succeeding sentences in the first paragraph should identify other elements, such as (in no defined order) the director, the star(s), and any writers or producers who are well known. If the film is based on source material, that material and its creators should be identified. In terms of plot, the general premise should be briefly described, along with any actors' roles within it.

Other paragraphs in the lead should cover aspects not yet mentioned. Examples include major events involving the production, prominent themes, reception, box office grosses and milestones, controversies, summary of awards, spin-offs (such as sequels, remakes, or other media), and any significant cultural impact. Summarize awards and achievements using proper context in a later paragraph, and avoid descriptive phrases like "award-winning" to maintain a neutral point of view. Any summary of the film's critical reception should avoid synthesis, meaning it should reflect an overall consensus explicitly summarized by one or more reliable sources.

References to the film should be written in present tense, as the film still exists, even if it is no longer showing (e.g. "Gone with the Wind is a..."). An exception would be an article on a lost film.


Plot summaries are self-contained sections ("Plot", "Plot summary") in film articles that complement wider coverage about production, reception, themes, and other real-world aspects, following Wikipedia's policy on writing about fiction. Since films are primary sources for their articles, basic descriptions of their plots do not need references to an outside source. The plot summary is an overview of the main events, so avoid minutiae like dialogue, scene-by-scene breakdowns, individual jokes, and technical detail. Do not include actors' names in the plot summary, as it is redundant to the "Cast" section.

As Wikipedia's policy on primary sources says, "... a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge ... Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about information found in a primary source". Provided the film is publicly available, citing it explicitly in the plot summary section is not necessary, since the film is the primary source and the infobox provides its details. Secondary sources must be used for all other cases, such as upcoming films (including those that had sneak previews and only played at film festivals) and lost films, as these would not be considered generally available or verifiable. Complicated plots may occasionally require clarifications from secondary sources; so cite these sources in the section. If there are differing perspectives of a film's events from secondary sources, describe the events on screen as simply as possible in the plot summary and report interpretations in another section of the article.

Plot summaries for feature films should be between 400 and 700 words. The summary should not exceed the range unless the film's structure is unconventional, such as with non-linear storylines, or unless the plot is too complicated to summarize in this range. (Discuss with other editors to determine if a summary cannot be contained within the proper range.)

The plot section describes the events of the original general release. Plot details in alternate versions released theatrically or on home media may be described in other sections if appropriately sourced. Events do not have to be written in the order in which they appear on screen. If necessary, reorder the events to improve understanding of the plot. See how to write a plot summary and copyediting essentials for more in-depth suggestions.

The inclusion of mid- and post-credit scenes should be based on the same criteria used to evaluate the relevance of other scenes. In accordance with the guidelines on content disclaimers and spoilers, every important event in a film should be outlined without censoring details considered to be spoilers, and without the use of disclaimers or "spoiler warnings".


Actors and their roles can be presented in different forms, depending on three elements: 1) the prominence of the cast in the film, 2) the amount of real-world context for the whole cast or its members, and 3) the structure of the article. Editors are encouraged to lay out such content to best serve its readers. If necessary, build toward a consensus. Detailed considerations are:

  1. Casts vary in size and importance. A film may have an ensemble cast, or only a handful of actors. Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, so try to name the most relevant actors and roles that are most appropriate for the film: billing (such as from its poster, opening credits, or main on-end credits), speaking roles, named roles, cast lists in reliable sources, blue links, etc. If there are many of the cast worth identifying, either list the names in two or three columns, or group the names in prose. ((Cast listing)) may be used for listing in columns.
  2. The real-world context for actors and their roles varies by film. Real-world context may be about how the role was written, how the actor came to be cast, or what preparations were necessary for filming. Development of an article means that a basic cast list may evolve into a bulleted list, with several sentences devoted to each character. Alternatively, a list may be accompanied by prose that discusses only a handful of the cast.
  3. A basic cast list in a "Cast" section is appropriate for most stub-class articles. When an article is more developed, information about the cast can be presented in other ways. A "Cast" section may be maintained but with more detailed bulleted entries (ensuring that these do not force any line breaks that reduce accessibility), or a table or infobox (grouping actors and their roles) may be placed in the plot summary or in the "Casting" subsection of a "Production" section. Use tables with care due to their complexity; they are most appropriate for developed, stable articles (and are also recommended to display different casts, such as a Japanese-language voice cast and an English-language voice cast, in a Japanese animated film.)

Names should be referred to as credited, or by common name supported by a reliable source. If roles are described outside of the plot summary, keep such descriptions concise. Subjective interpretation using labels such as protagonist, antagonist, villain, or main character, should be avoided. The plot summary should convey such roles.

For uncredited roles, a citation should be provided in accordance with Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Do not use IMDb as a reference, as it is considered unreliable.

Per MOS:BOLD, limit boldface to table headers and captions. Actors and roles should not be bolded nor put in italics, as per MOS:ITALIC. In accordance with MOS:LISTFORMAT, a list item should not end with a full stop unless it consists of a complete sentence or is the end of a list that forms one. Do not put common nouns within roles in capitals, for example, Saul Williams as Security at Ball should be Saul Williams as security at ball.


A production section should provide a clear and readable narrative of how the film was developed, setting out the key events of its production without detailing all of the day-to-day operations or listing every piece of associated news and trivia. Maintain a production standpoint, referring to public announcements only when particularly noteworthy or revealing. Focus on information that describes how plot elements or settings were decided and produced, rather than simply listing their dates. Include detail regarding casting choices and how actors were found, but only include casting dates (month and year is normally sufficient) when notably relevant.

The "Production" section can be set out in four parts, coinciding with the chronology of creation (see the Filmmaking article):

This section should be structured properly to fit the available content: for example, if there is sufficient material, the section could support subsections such as "development" and "filming". Some topics might be interlinked, such as where a film has had different writers during its development. Thoughts from the cast and crew can be included but should be substantive and avoid a promotional tone, especially during the marketing campaign.


Themes are unifying or dominant ideas and motifs in a film's elements (such as plot, dialogue, photography, and sound) conveying a position or message about life, society, and human nature. Most themes are implied rather than explicitly stated, regardless of whether their presence is the conscious intent of the producer, writer, or director. Inclusion of a treatment of a film's themes—well-sourced and cited to avoid original research—is encouraged since an article's value to a reader and its real-world context will be enhanced. A separate section is not required if it is more appropriate to place the material in the production or reception sections.


A key part of the article should be about the film's release and how it was received. Coverage will vary by film, and editors can structure the content in a way that serves readers best; presentation of content about release and reception can range from a simple "Release" section to several sections with their own subsections. Details about the release can include noteworthy screenings at film festivals and elsewhere, theatrical distribution and related business, setups (e.g. digital, IMAX), and significant release date changes, with sourced commentary where appropriate. Do not include information on the release in every territory (see here).

Home media

If available, provide information on the film's release on home media, such as release dates, revenues, and other appropriate third-party coverage. The section may contain a summary of the extras included with the release, though excessive detail is to be avoided. If supported by filmmaker or third-party analysis, descriptions of deleted scenes included with the release should be placed in the "Production" section; the reason for the footage's removal is the relevant element, not the medium.

The image in the film article's infobox serves as cover art and visually identifies the topic. The inclusion of additional cover art should be restricted to illustrating secondary sources' coverage of the appearance of cover art and packaging.

Box office

Provide a summary of the film's commercial performance (box office grosses), denominated in the film's national currency, if possible. Avoid terminology such as "domestic" and "international", which is used by sites such as Box Office Mojo for box office figures from the United States and Canada, and elsewhere. Also avoid terms such as "North America" which will vary in meaning among Wikipedia readers, and instead specify the countries (for example, use "United States and Canada") or indicate additional figures as outside the primary country or territory. Since countries and territories may not precisely match in count, copy the term used by the source(s) being referenced for box office coverage.

This information can be included under the release section (see above), the reception section, or if sufficient coverage exists, it is recommended that this information is placed in a "Box office" or "Theatrical run" section. In addition to worldwide box office statistics, this section may detail specific results of opening weekends, results from different English-speaking territories, the number of theaters the film was released into, and audience demographics. Coverage of a notable opening in a country not of the film's origin may be included (e.g., an article on an American film set in China may include discussion of the film's performance in that country). Box office statistics can be sourced from dedicated tracking websites such as Box Office Mojo or Deadline Hollywood, and print publications such as Variety or The Hollywood Reporter. Determine a consensus from objective (retrospective if possible) sources about how a film performed and why, but editors should not draw their own conclusions about the success or failure of the film.

Critical reception

See also: Wikipedia:Review aggregators

The overall critical reception to a film should be supported by attributions to reliable sources that summarize reviews; do not synthesize individual reviews. Detailed commentary from reliable sources regarding the critics' consensus (or lack thereof) is encouraged. Individual critics can also be referenced to detail various aspects of the film. Professional film critics are regarded as reliable sources, although reputable commentators and experts—connected to the film or to topics covered by the film—may also be cited. The use of print reviews is encouraged; these will be more reliable in retrospect.

Avoid weasel words. If any form of paraphrasing is disputed, quote the source directly. Describing a film with superlatives such as "critically acclaimed" or "box-office bomb" is loaded language and an exceptional claim that must be attributed to multiple high-quality sources. Be wary of news headlines, which are not reliable sources, that may contain exaggerated or sensationalized claims not supported by the body of the source.

Review aggregation websites such as Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic are citable for data about the ratio of positive to negative reviews. When cited, the score from All Critics should be referenced instead of Top Critics. There is no community consensus about how to summarize Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic scores, and the use of prevalent summary styles or templates is not required. Caution should be exercised when using aggregator scores that combine original and later dated reviews. Also, data from these aggregators is potentially less accurate for films released before the websites existed, so care should be exercised before deciding to cite them. To avoid giving these sites undue weight in such circumstances, consider whether it is best to place the data lower in the section. To maintain a neutral point of view, it is recommended to sample a reasonable balance of these reviews. This may not always be possible or desirable (e.g. for films that have been widely acclaimed or panned), and best judgment should again be used.

Reviews from the film's country of origin are recommended (i.e., Chinese reviews for a Chinese film, French reviews for a French film), although additional evaluations from English-speaking countries are desirable. In the case of films not in the English language, the section should contain quotes translated into English from non-English reviews. For older films, it is important to distinguish between initial critical reception (from reviews published around the time of first release) and subsequent reception (from reviews made at later dates). Use secondary sources to determine if a film's initial reception varies from the reputation it has today.

Audience reception

This content is not necessarily intended to be a standalone section, or a subsection, in a film article. Polls of the public carried out by a reliable source in an accredited manner, such as CinemaScore and PostTrak (include both if available), may be used and placed in the appropriate release or reception-based section, depending on the available context, but the content is not required to be in a "Critical reception" section. Unless quoting an author from a reliable source citing public commentary, do not quote comments from members of the general public (e.g., user comments from, the Internet Movie Database or personal blogs), as they are self-published and their authors have no proven expertise or credibility. Do not include user ratings submitted to websites such as the Internet Movie Database, Metacritic, or Rotten Tomatoes (including its "Audience Says" feature), as these are vulnerable to vote stacking and demographic skew.


For a list of references that can be copied and pasted as inline citations for accolades, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Film/Awards sourcing.

Accolades that a film receives can be covered in their own section. Accolades include award wins and nominations, recognition from film critics' circles, and presence on lists of critically acclaimed films (e.g., AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies). The number of accolades and any related background information can help determine how to present them. For films with only a small number, identifying them in prose may be sufficient. Consider using a wikitable in other situations, with column names such as Award, Category, Nominee(s), and Result. If a table's size overwhelms the rest of the film article, it can be split into a list article that focuses on the accolades (e.g., List of accolades received by Up in the Air). Awards included in lists should have a Wikipedia article to demonstrate notability. Because of the proliferation of film festivals and "award mills", festival awards should be added with discretion, with inclusion subject to consensus. Awards bestowed by web-only entities are not generally included. Avoid accolades, especially listicles, that are mentioned only by the recipient and the awarding body. "Superman was listed at #1 on The Daily Planet's 100 Best Superheroes", sourced solely to the Daily Planet, is unlikely to be appropriate.

The "Accolades" section can also mix prose and lists. Prose can be used within a list of accolades to provide context, such as a general overview or a summary of controversy behind a given accolade. While a concise summary of critics' top-ten lists can be added, avoid adding an individual critic's list unless an exception is made through consensus. For a film that is widely overlooked for awards, a prose summary noting its appearance on such lists may be appropriate; likewise, a film that receives numerous nominations but appears on few such lists may receive the same treatment.

Note: per a discussion, American Film Institute mentions should only include films that made a given list—not those that were only nominated.


Readers should be able to verify information about films, so cite sources that are reliable. Visit the pages below for help on citing sources. If an article already uses an established approach to referencing, respect the existing approach and only change to another approach if there is consensus to do so. For examples of film articles that reference well, visit the Good and Featured Articles listed on the spotlight page.

If web pages are referenced in the article body, include in the citation the date it was last accessed. Sometimes web pages will no longer be accessible online, so retrieve an archived URL of the page using the Wayback Machine and include it in the citation along with the original URL.

External links

Main page: Wikipedia:External links

Wikipedia's guideline for external links is to consider each link on its merits, so review what should be linked, links to be considered, and links to normally avoid. For film articles, include in the "External links" section the official site, if one exists. Wikipedia is not a mere collection of external links, so whenever possible, external links should be converted into references for the article body. Some external links may benefit readers in a way that the Wikipedia article cannot accommodate. For example, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic can provide listings of more reviews than sampled in the article body. They can be included as external links instead of links to individual reviews. Other useful external links include the Internet Movie Database, which provides community interaction, and Box Office Mojo, which provides box office statistics that may be too indiscriminate for the article. Templates for these useful external links are listed below, but judge each external link on its own merits. For example, a film may not be well known enough to have multiple reviews listed at Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic, or it may be too old to have in-depth box office statistics at Box Office Mojo. Alternately, the TCM Movie Database may be a useful external link mainly for classic films, where they would not add anything for most newer films. Avoid linking to fansites unless they are written by a recognized authority. Be aware that including external links to promote a website is considered to be spam.

Secondary content

Adaptation from source material

Many films are adapted from other works of fiction (such as literature, plays, musicals, and other films). When filmmakers adapt this source material, they make changes for creative and conventional reasons. Details from secondary sources about why and how such changes took place, and the reaction to them, can be included within the article body. Writing about changes between a film and its source material without real-world context is discouraged. Creating a section that merely lists the differences is especially discouraged. While articles in the early stage of development (or about newly released films) may contain information which does not easily fit elsewhere, the material should either be moved to the relevant section or removed entirely when the article matures.


Further information: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and Wikipedia:Dispute resolution

For a controversial film, or a controversy stemming from a particular aspect of an otherwise uncontroversial film, editors should closely review Wikipedia's policy on editing from a neutral point of view. If there is contentious editing over a controversial topic, please follow Wikipedia's procedural policy of dispute resolution. Key applications of the NPOV policy include article structure and due weight. Content should not be split by the apparent POV. Policy says, "Try to achieve a more neutral text by folding debates into the narrative, rather than isolating them into sections that ignore or fight against each other." For example, a film that is based on historical events and has elicited contrary views may warrant a neutrally titled "Historical accuracy" section with sources that survey the filmmakers' intent or historians' differing assessments (positive or negative) of the film's historical accuracy.

Due weight means "that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint". Wikipedia aims to describe disputes, so controversial topics should already be covered by reliable, published sources. Policy states, "Discussion of isolated events, criticisms, or news reports about a subject may be verifiable and neutral, but still be disproportionate to their overall significance to the article topic." If a film is considered controversial as a whole, then coverage of that might comprise a large portion of the article. Alternatively, isolated criticism can be set out in summary: for example, complaints about a horror film's poster being too gory could be detailed and cited in the article's "Release" section.


Documentary films require a modified approach for their articles. Instead of a plot summary, a documentary article should have a synopsis that serves as an overview of the documentary. The synopsis should describe the on-screen events without interpretation, following the same guidelines that apply to a plot summary (see WP:FILMPLOT). Since a documentary deals with real-life topics and figures, provide wikilinks to them wherever useful. See the guidelines on link clarity and specificity, and link to terms that match the topic precisely if not closely. If coverage from secondary sources focuses on a specific aspect of the documentary, that aspect can be elaborated to provide context for the coverage. For example, it may mention some statistics (and there is coverage from secondary sources analyzing them), which are not detailed in the synopsis. An "Analysis" section can be written to detail the statistics from the documentary and to report the analytical coverage by secondary sources. Further, sometimes a documentary will be reviewed not just by film critics, but by authorities in the subject matter; their reviews can be referenced. For topics that may be controversial, such as politicized issues, please see the "Controversies" section.

Further reading

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout § Further reading

A film article can provide a reader with additional reading material in a "Further reading" section at the end of the article. The material should not appear elsewhere in the article, so well-developed articles that use many references will not necessarily need this section. An article that is not well-developed and not expected to be anytime soon can provide a "Further reading" section so readers can pursue more about the topic beyond Wikipedia's limited coverage.

Historical and scientific accuracies

Films are mainly works of fiction, and filmmakers sometimes use history or science as the basis of their films. They incorporate these topics in their films in a way that suits their storytelling and filmmaking abilities. Their approaches to incorporating these topics or others' reactions to their approaches can be interwoven in the film article's body in sections such as the "Production" section and the "reception" section, respectively. If ample coverage from secondary sources exists about a film's historical or scientific accuracy, editors can pursue a sub-topic sharing such coverage in a section titled "Historical accuracy" or "Scientific accuracy" ("accuracy" being applied as neutral terminology).

Since Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, policy states, "To provide encyclopedic value, data should be put in context with explanations referenced to independent sources." In addition, Wikipedia's policy of "no original research" states about synthesizing, "Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources." For films based on history or science, analysis should be based on reliable published secondary sources that compare the film with history or with science. If analysis is limited, links should be provided to historical or scientific articles so readers can read about topics based in reality after reading about the work of fiction that uses these topics with dramatic license.


A film's marketing campaign may be detailed in its Wikipedia article if reliable sources exist. Details may be contained in a "Marketing" section, depending on the amount of coverage available, or within another appropriate section of the article. Since films are treated as commercial products, care must be taken to provide a neutral point of view.

Topics that can be covered include target demographics, test screenings, release dates, scale of release (limited vs. wide), merchandising, marketing controversies, and contending for awards. Do not merely identify and describe the content of customary marketing methods such as trailers, TV spots, radio ads, and posters. Instead, use reliable sources to provide useful commentary about a method, such as a trailer's intended effect or the audience's reported reaction to it. For example, the viral marketing campaign for Cloverfield began with an untitled teaser trailer that generated strong hype. For merchandising and other tie-ins, cite reliable sources to demonstrate relevance outside a studio's website(s) or shopping websites. Commentary about product placement, since it is not actual marketing of the film itself, should go elsewhere in the article; for example, it may go in the "Production" section to show how it lowered production costs.


A soundtrack may refer to the film score or a collection of prerecorded songs compiled for the film. If the film score is a key aspect of production, it can be covered in a "Music" subsection of the article's "Production" section. Otherwise, a "Soundtrack" section can be used to provide a summary background about the film score or the collection of prerecorded songs.

The template ((Infobox album)) can be used for the score or the collection, although WikiProject Film consensus is against having cover images in the album infoboxes in the film article. The poster image in the film infobox is sufficient for identification of the topic, and having cover images in the film article's album infoboxes is considered extraneous. If an album is notable enough for a stand-alone article (see notability guidelines for albums), one should be created, and an album infobox with a cover image can exist in the new article. For collections of prerecorded songs, a track listing can be presented to identify the songs and their artists. The ((Track listing)) template can be used for this presentation.

Track listings for film scores are generally discouraged since the score is usually composed by one person and the score's tracks are generic descriptions of scenes from the film. Noteworthy tracks from the film score can be identified and discussed in prose.

Non-prose components


Main pages: Wikipedia:Image use policy and Wikipedia:WikiProject Film/Multimedia

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, so free images are preferred in its articles. Since the majority of films are copyrighted, it may be necessary to use non-free images in Wikipedia articles about films. These images need to meet Wikipedia's non-free content criteria and acceptable uses. The requirements are summarized below in the context of WikiProject Film.

Non-free images used in film articles must meet Wikipedia's non-free content criteria. While all ten non-free content criteria must be met, three are the most pertinent to WikiProject Film: (1) No free equivalent, (3) Minimal usage and minimal extent of use, and (8) Significance. The content guidelines also list acceptable uses for non-free images, including two that are most relevant to WikiProject Film. Film and television screen shots are for critical commentary and discussion of the cinema and television. Promotional material such as posters, programs, billboards, ads are also for critical commentary.

Critical commentary and discussion of the film must come from reliable sources and not original research from the editors themselves. Critical commentary should be embedded in the body of the film article. A non-free image can be used to illustrate the target element of the critical commentary only if it cannot adequately be substituted by a free equivalent image or descriptive text. The non-free image should be significant in increasing the readers' understanding of the topic. Non-free images can illustrate technical or thematic aspects of the film. Examples include, but are not limited to: production design, makeup, costume design, camera technique, visual effects, lighting, and iconic shots.

Since a film article's "Plot" section contains descriptive claims about the information found in the primary source (the film) and not information found in reliable sources regarding the film, the section is not considered critical commentary or discussion of film. Thus, non-free images need to belong in other sections in which they can be supported by critical commentary.

Free licence images

Free licence images can include filming locations, on-set photos, and photos of the cast and crew. Some older films may be in the public domain, and screenshots can be used in articles without fair use constraints. Older films still in copyright may have trailers in the public domain, and screenshots from these trailers can be freely used.

For filming locations, free images of a specific and mostly unchanged location in the film can illustrate the places used in a film's production. On-set photos showing production in process may be used if they are evidenced to have been released under an appropriate licence. The cast and crew can be photographed at the various premieres of the resulting film as well as any components of production on display (such as costumes or vehicles). If marketing materials are captured in freely released photos, caution must be exercised to ensure that they are not derivative works.



Main page: Template:Infobox film

The film infobox is a template that allows summary information of a film to be presented to readers in the upper right corner of an article. The infobox contains parameters to fill out, and the template's documentation page outlines how to determine the input.


Main page: Wikipedia:Categories, lists, and navigation templates § Navigation templates

Navigation templates can be included at the bottom of film articles to link to related articles. Articles should be substantially related to the subject of the navigation template. If the subject is a director, their films can be displayed in the template. If the subject is a film series, the films in the series can be displayed in the template. The number of blue links to related articles should be substantial enough to warrant a navigation template. For example, if a director has only made two films, each film article instead can have a "See also" section linking to the other film article. WikiProject consensus is against including actor templates since not all actors have substantial appearances in all their films and since multiple actors in a film would overpopulate the bottom of a film article with actor templates regardless of role prominence.

Avoid using succession boxes that identify when a film ranked first at the box office and what films preceded and succeeded it at the box office. Instead, include detailed information about the film's box office performance in the article body. (Related discussion: Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2009 August 3 § Box office succession boxes)

Note: While Wikipedia:Navigation templates is only an essay, it can help provide guidance.


Main pages: Wikipedia:Categorization and Wikipedia:WikiProject Film/Categorization

The article should include categories at the bottom. At a minimum, year, country, language and genre categories should be included. The generic categories, among others, are listed below for browsing. If the article title begins with "The" or "A", use ((DEFAULTSORT)) at the top of the list of categories in the article. Categories such as "Foo in film" or "Films featuring foo" are discouraged if the intention is to refer to an element within the film itself. Rather, a category such as "Films about foo" should be used, which will be more clear in its intention that it only be applied to films in which foo is a central aspect.

For films that have yet to be released to the public, add Category:Upcoming films.

For example, you would add the following to the bottom of a page titled "The Movie" for an English-language American comedy film that came out in 2008:

((DEFAULTSORT:Movie, The))
[[Category:2008 films]]
[[Category:2000s comedy films]]
[[Category:American comedy films]]
[[Category:English-language films]]

Please note that WikiProject Film formerly maintained a consensus of requiring base "Country films" (e.g. ‹The template Category link is being considered for merging.› Category:American films) to be "all-inclusive" — that is, in order that the base category served as a complete and thorough directory of all films from that country, a film had to be filed there even if it was already in one or more "Country-genre" or "Country-other characteristic" subcategories. However, this is no longer established practice; due to the extreme size that some countries' categories attained, that practice has been deprecated. A film should no longer be filed there simultaneously with other subcategories within the same country's tree, and should be in a base "Country films" category only if an appropriate genre or time period subcategory does not exist at all, which is only the case in a very small handful of countries that have very few films to categorize at all.

Guidelines for related topics

Film series

A film series article should only be created when the series encompasses at least three films. An article for two films is too premature for consolidating details from both. Exceptions may include franchise articles where films are one of several notable and interrelated components (TV series, comics, etc.). If desired, a film series article can be maintained in the draft space until it meets the threshold.

The film series article can use tables to consolidate cast and crew, box office, and critical and audience reception information. (See "Audience reception" section for guidelines on what to include.) Such an article would also benefit from coverage that discusses the series as a whole, or at least commentators who compare later films to their predecessors.


Once an article has been created for a film, it can be entered into a number of lists to allow easier browsing for viewers. All films should be included in the Lists of films. Each film can be included in lists based on the alphabet, year, language, genre, location, etc. that a film can be included in.

Years in film articles

For years in film articles, such as 2013 in film, please follow these guidelines:

  1. List films by their earliest release date, whether it be at a film festival, a world premiere, a public release, or the release in the country or countries that produced the film, excluding sneak previews or screenings.
  2. List only the director, screenwriter and the main cast, as per the guidance in the starring field of the film infobox.
  3. For the deaths section, a person must have two film credits to be added to the list, no more than two of the most important works attributed to the individual, no red links and no re-directing links.
  4. Do not pipe a link to the genre, simply add the relevant text.
  5. The highest-grossing films chart should only include the top 10 films, along with their rank, title, studio, and worldwide gross.

Screenwriters and writing teams

In the WGA screenwriting credit system, an ampersand (&) is used to indicate a writing team or duo, while "and" is used to separate multiple writers who are not part of a team. Such distinctions are useful to note in tables and in the lead of articles.


Date formatting


Main page: Wikipedia:Trivia sections

Trivia may be a useful section in a film article, as it can serve as a "Miscellaneous" area for important facts (not just fan facts) that may not yet fit easily elsewhere. This is especially true for articles in early stages of development or about new releases. As the article matures, as per the Trivia sections style guideline, these items should be either moved to other sections of the article—preferably written using prose, not bullet points or lists—or removed entirely. Remember to include citations to reliable sources for any facts included in this section; otherwise they can be deleted.

Popular culture

Main page: Wikipedia:"In popular culture" content

Many editors like to create Popular Culture sections in articles which list a number of films or other works of fiction which reference the main subject. These references should be kept to a bare minimum and should not go into great detail about the plot of the story, although a brief synopsis may be appropriate. They should be supported by third-party sources that place the reference into context.


In the past, film articles have sometimes displayed taglines in the lead or standalone sections. Since taglines are generally a small part of a film's marketing campaign, they are usually too indiscriminate to belong in what is intended to be a concise overview of the film article or to belong in sections without context. Exceptions may include famous taglines such as Jaws 2's "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ..." so use reliable sources to back claims to fame. If the tagline is not very famous but still considered relevant to a film's marketing, it can belong in the appropriate section of the article body.


Ratings given to individual films by motion picture rating systems will vary by territories in accordance to their cultures and their types of governance. In film articles, avoid indiscriminate identification of ratings and instead focus on ratings for which there is substantial coverage from reliable sources. Coverage of ratings can include how a film is produced to target specific audiences, the late editing of a film to acquire a specific rating, or controversy over whether or not a film's rating was appropriately assigned. Since this is the English-language Wikipedia and not the American Wikipedia, avoid mere identification of ratings issued by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to counter systemic bias (see Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias for more information). Provide global coverage of how different territories rate individual films if substantial coverage exists. Retrospective coverage is also welcomed to evaluate how films were rated in their time period, such as the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy being X-rated initially by the MPAA. Rating coverage generally belongs in the "Release" section, though coverage can be elsewhere. For instance, the "Production" section can detail the filmmakers' goal to achieve a specific rating in making the film, or a stand-alone section can cover controversy surrounding a rating if enough detail exists.

Flag icons

Following MOS:FLAG, 1. Flag icons are only appropriate where the subject actually represents that country or nationality. In film articles and film award articles this is hardly ever the case. 2. Do not emphasize nationality without good reason. In film award articles the use of flag icons is not appropriate unless nationality is a main topic, like in the List of countries by number of Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. Note that in international film festivals, the films, their directors or other filmmakers and actors do not represent their country, and their nationality is mere parenthetical information. Therefore, flag icons should not be used to accompany titles and names. Apart from these points, the use of flag icons in film infoboxes has been decided against by long-standing consensus.

See also

Film related templates