This guideline is a part of the English Wikipedia's Manual of Style.
|Manual of Style (MoS)|
This is a style guide for military history articles. It is intended to provide editors working on such articles with recommendations in relation to article naming conventions, formatting and presentation, template use, and categories. Advice on notability and content in relation to military history articles can be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Notability guide and Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Content guide.
Many articles may deal extensively, but not exclusively with military-related topics. When in doubt, or when there is no clear consensus, defer to WP:MOS. As a general rule, this guidance should only be used where it is helpful, and should not be used as grounds for extensive disruptive renovations of existing articles.
Consensus to follow this guidance on biographies of living or deceased persons should be based primarily on the prominence of military service in the WP:NOTABILITY of the individual. For example, an article on a Medal of Honor or Victoria Cross recipient, who is notable only for their military service, should most likely follow this guidance. An article on an individual, such as George W. Bush or Elvis Presley, who would be notable had they never served in the military, most likely should not. Biographies of civilians, such as Marise Payne or Ash Carter, who are notable in large part for military-related reasons, but who themselves did not serve in uniform, should generally not follow this guidance.
Biographies of living people (BLPs) and those of people who have recently died must follow Wikipedia's BLP policy.
Further information: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (events)
An article should generally be placed at the most common name used to refer to the event (such as Battle of Gettysburg, siege of Leningrad, attack on Pearl Harbor, or Doolittle Raid). If there is no common name, the name should be a descriptive geographic term such as "battle of X" or "siege of Y", where X and Y are the locations of the operations; see also the section on capitalization. Non-neutral terms such as "attack", "slaughter", "massacre", or "raid" should be used with care.
If disambiguation is needed, the year may be added in parentheses (as in Battle of Salamis in Cyprus (306 BC)). Multiple battles at the same place in the same year should be called "First", "Second", and so forth (as in First Battle of Zurich and Second Battle of Zurich). Alternatively, the month of the battle may be used as a disambiguation (as in invasion of Tulagi (May 1942)); follow usage in reliable sources.
Operational codenames generally make poor titles, as the codename gives no indication of when or where the action took place and only represents one side's planning (potentially leading writers to focus on that side's point of view). It is better to use an appropriate geographical name for the article, creating a redirect from the operational name, for all but the most well-known operations (such as Operation Barbarossa), or for military actions that were never carried out (such as Operation Green).
References to operations are to be in accordance with the following examples, noting the use of capitals in the examples.
Operation Xyz is a compound proper noun and capitalised accordingly. No emphasis, such as quote marks, boldface (see special case, below) or italics are added even in the case of foreign words such as the following. A distinction is made when the correct foreign name or a translation is being offered.
Links to articles in a campaign box are to be italicised but are not preceded by the word 'Operation' – i.e. "Cartwheel" only. Refer to the example in the Solomon Island campaign box for an actual example.
Boldface is used to highlight the first occurrence of the title word in the lead section in accordance with MOS format of the first sentence (lead). It is also used (almost exclusively in the lead) when the operation name is a redirect to a page about the associated battle or an alternative (synonymous or nearly synonymous) name for the operation as in the examples that follow [see also MOS:BOLD, particularly the section on Other uses (of boldface)]:
For the sake of uniformity, ease of understanding and clarity, all articles documenting tanks should include "tank" as a part of its title, generally appended at the end. For instance:
An article about a unit, formation, or base should be placed at "Name" or if "Name" is ambiguous at "Name (disambiguating term)". The name should generally be either the official name used by the armed forces to which the unit or base belongs; or, in cases where no relevant formal name exists or where a formal name is not commonly employed by historians, the most common name used in historical literature.
A name originally in a language other than English should be adapted by translating common terms (such as designations of size and type) and transliterating the remainder of the name. The choice of which components of the name are to be translated (and how) should follow the conventions employed by reputable historical works on the topic; some collected recommendations for specific terms are maintained by the relevant national task forces. The original name should be provided in the first sentence of the article, following the translated name; for example: The 3rd Mountain Division (3. Gebirgs-Division) was... or Boden Fortress (Swedish: Bodens fästning) is....
Names should generally follow the stylistic conventions used by the service or country of origin. For example, while US and British usage has spelled-out numerals for army-level formations and Roman numerals for corps, editors writing about different countries should follow those countries' normal usages; thus, "3. Panzer Armee" becomes "3rd Panzer Army", and "18-ya Armiya" becomes "18th Army".
For units whose name is ambiguous on Wikipedia, the disambiguating term should be the common name of the country whose armed forces the unit belongs to (as in 4th Infantry Division (United Kingdom)), or, if such usage is still ambiguous (or where the unit does not serve a country), the name of the service branch to which the unit belongs (as in 1st Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)). The disambiguating term is not necessary in cases where the name is unambiguous (as in The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada or Preobrazhensky regiment).
In cases where a unit's name can reasonably be expected to be used by multiple armed forces—particularly in the case of numerical unit designations—the units should generally be preemptively disambiguated when the article is created, without waiting for the appearance of a second article on an identically named unit. If this is done, the non-disambiguated version of the unit name should be created as a disambiguation page (or a redirect to the disambiguated version).
For bases whose name is ambiguous on Wikipedia, the disambiguating term should be the region, province, state, or territory in which the base or fortress is located; for example, "Fort Lyon (Virginia)" and "Fort Lyon (Colorado)". The disambiguating is not necessary in cases where the name is unique to a single fortress or base.
When a unit or base has had multiple names over the course of its existence, the title should generally be the last name used; however, exceptions can be made in cases where the subject is clearly more commonly known by one of the previous names.
Root pages for the armed forces of a state are named, if the official name is known, by the official name's English translation (for example, "Australian Defence Force"). If the native language name is most commonly used, this should be kept (for example, "Bundeswehr"). Other national armed forces are only provisionally located at "Military of X", and should be renamed to the translation of the official name when available. Alternately, articles can be renamed if there is consensus over how the armed forces in question are normally referred to in common usage (for example, "United States Armed Forces").
A number of naming conventions exist specifically for category names; most of these are used to ensure consistent naming among all the sub-categories of a particular category.
Further information: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters) § Military terms
The general rule from MOS:CAPS is that wherever a military term is an accepted proper name, as evidenced by consistent capitalization in sources, it should be capitalized in Wikipedia. Where there is uncertainty as to whether a term is a proper name, consensus should be reached on the talk page.
When using numerical model designation, the word following the designation should be left uncapitalized (for example, "M16 rifle" or "M109 howitzer") unless it is a proper noun.
Existing articles related to military history should follow MOS:DATERET as a default, and extensive efforts should not be undertaken to comply with this guidance for its own sake, unless there is strong consensus for the change.
Per MOS:DATETIES, articles on subjects predominately related to militaries or military history should use the standard format adopted by the United Nations: DD Month YYYY (or D Month YYYY). This includes spaces and excludes hyphens or commas. In cases where the day is a single digit, a leading 0 should be omitted. For example:
All articles should follow MOS:DATEUNIFY, and should not mix date formats.
The Manual of Style specifies that an en dash rather than a hyphen should be used. Where there are internal spaces within one or both items, the en dash should be spaced on both sides. Examples:
Consider expressing date ranges without repetition; thus:
It is preferred that the closing year in a year range be four digits rather than two, per MOS:DATERANGE:
Further information: Wikipedia:Manual of Style (flags)
For issues concerning Irish flags, see WP:IMOS FLAGS.
In general, the use of flag icons is not recommended; neither, however, is it prohibited. When deciding whether flag icons are appropriate in a particular context, consider:
When flag icons are used, they should be historically accurate ones. In particular:
When dealing with biographical infobox templates, the most common practice is to use flag icons to indicate allegiance or branch of service, but not place of birth or death. However, there remains considerable disagreement regarding the appropriateness of flags in such cases, so editors should not regard this as a universal rule.
In general, articles should strive to be precise. Where the names of specific operations, formations, or commanders are available, for example, it is usually better to use them instead of more general terms; "The Ninth United States Army would launch an offensive, codenamed Operation Grenade, across the Roer" is likely to be more helpful to the reader than "The United States would launch an offensive across the Roer".
It is important to note, however, that the level of precision in an article should be appropriate for its scope. Articles dealing with narrower and more specialized topics can use more specific terminology than may be feasible in articles dealing with broad overviews or very general topics; and general terminology is often appropriate in an introductory section even where more specific terms are used in the body of the article. Precision should not be pursued to such an extent that it impairs the average reader's understanding of the topic.
For the naming convention for merchant ships, see WP:SHE4SHIPS.
Ships may be referred to either using feminine pronouns ("she", "her") or genderless pronouns ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. As with all optional styles, articles should not be changed from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so.
Try to avoid close, successive uses of the same referent for a ship by carefully using a number of referents in rotation; for example, "it/she", "the ship", and the ship's name.
Overly lengthy continuous blocks of text should be avoided; sections which are so long as to impede reader understanding should be broken down into subsections. There remains some disagreement regarding the precise point at which a section becomes too long, so editors are encouraged to use their own judgment on the matter.
Main page: WP:MIL § Academy § Citations and references
Policy requires that articles reference only reliable sources; however, this is a minimal condition, rather than a final goal. With the exception of certain recent topics that have not yet become the subject of extensive secondary analysis, and for which a lower standard may be temporarily permitted, articles on military history should aim to be based primarily on published secondary works by reputable historians. The use of high-quality primary sources is also appropriate, but care should be taken to use them correctly, without straying into original research. Editors are encouraged to extensively survey the available literature—and, in particular, any available historiographic commentary—regarding an article's topic in order to identify every source considered to be authoritative or significant; these sources should, if possible, be directly consulted when writing the article.
Articles that report on "black projects" and other classified topics are required to fully conform to Wikipedia's policies governing verifiability, original research, and fringe theories. All information presented in such articles must be appropriately cited to reliable sources as outlined above. The inadequacy of public sources may not be used to justify the inclusion of unsourced or poorly sourced material in an article or to relax normal standards of sourcing and citation.
The nature of historical material requires that articles be thoroughly—even exhaustively—cited. At a minimum, the following all require direct citation:
In general, any statement for which a citation has been explicitly requested by another editor should be provided with one as well.
Beyond this, editors are encouraged to cite any statement that is obscure or difficult to find in the available sources, as well as any significant statement in general. There is no numerical requirement for a particular density of citations or for some predetermined number of citations in an article; editors are expected to use their best judgment as to how much citation is appropriate. When in doubt, cite; additional citations are harmless at worst, and will prove invaluable in the long term as one moves toward featured article status.
Further information: Wikipedia:Citing sources § Inline citations
In general, articles may use one of two citation styles:
The final choice of which style to follow is left to the discretion of an article's editors.
Editors should attempt to take a reasonable approach when requesting citations. Unless the accuracy of a statement is in significant doubt, it is generally better to start with a request for citations on the article's talk page, rather than by inserting ((fact)) tags—particularly large numbers of such tags—into the article. Over-tagging should be avoided; if a large portion of the article is uncited, adding an ((unreferenced)) or ((citation style)) tag to an entire section is usually more helpful than simply placing ((fact)) tags on every sentence. Note that some articles contain per-paragraph citations, so checking the citations at the end of a paragraph may yield information about facts or figures in the paragraph as a whole.
The various primary and auxiliary infobox templates and navigation templates maintained by the Military history WikiProject are all coded to use a common set of styling characteristics. This is needed primarily because a number of the templates are designed to be stacked together to present the appearance of a continuous block; it is also beneficial for providing a consistent appearance to the entire set of articles within our scope.
A few general guidelines apply to all military history infoboxes:
A primary infobox is intended to provide a summary table for some topic. It should generally be placed at the top of an article, before the lead section; this will cause it to be displayed in the top right corner. Documentation may give advice on the appropriate way to populate parameters and should be followed.
Several infobox templates that are not specifically designed for military topics are also commonly used on military-related articles:
An auxiliary infobox is a supplementary template intended to be used in conjunction with one of the primary infoboxes; it is usually placed directly below the primary infobox, but other layouts are possile. It is common for multiple auxiliary infoboxes to be used on a single article.
The various navigation templates maintained by the Military history WikiProject are all intended to be implemented through a single base template, which combines the project's common template style with the standard navigation box format. This is needed primarily to allow multiple such templates to be stacked together—with each other, or with infobox templates—to present the appearance of a continuous block; it is also beneficial for providing a consistent appearance to the entire set of articles within our scope.
Any military-related navigational template should be created using the ((military navigation)) base template, as shown below:
hlist, to format content as horizontal lists. In the case of hlists in above or below fields, set bodyclass=hlist, instead.
style=wideis shown below:
[[File:Example.jpg|100px]]. This parameter should be used sparingly, and typically only in conjunction with the full-width template style.
[[File:Example.jpg|100px]]. This parameter should be used sparingly, and typically only in conjunction with the full-width template style.
There are several known issues with the current navigation template design that editors should be aware of:
<br />tag between the words where the wrapping is to occur. This should be done to separate link-text to the right of the 'pipe' (
|), as follows:
[[Article title|Article <br /> title]]. An alternative method is to use ((allow wrap)) for the link-text as follows:
[[A very long article title|((allow wrap|A very long article title))]], which allows the browser to break as-needed.
A "campaignbox" is a type of navigation template that contains links to articles about the battles in a particular campaign, front, theater or war. See the template documentation for details.
There are a number of stub classes available for military history articles. The generic military history stubs are ((mil-stub)) and ((mil-hist-stub)). For military people, see Category:Military personnel stubs. For a complete list of stubs, see the list of military history stubs and the list of military and weaponry stubs.
The category scheme originates in two root categories—Category:War and Category:Military—and can be thought of as two tree structures that intersect at several points. A guide to the top-level sub-categories of these two root categories is presented below; for brevity, a number of categories that are rarely used or lie outside the scope of this project have been omitted.
For naming conventions related to categories, see § Category names.
In general, articles and categories should be placed in the most specific applicable categories, and should not be placed directly in a "parent" category if they are already present in one of its sub-categories. In other words, if an article is placed in Category:Wars involving the United States, there is no need to place it in Category:Military history of the United States as well.
Note, however, that this applies only to direct placement into a "parent" category; it is normal for a category to have multiple indirect paths up to some other category higher in the tree. For example, Category:Naval battles of the Spanish-American War is both a sub-category of Category:Battles of the Spanish-American War (which is a sub-category of Category:Battles involving Spain) and a sub-category of Category:Naval battles involving Spain (which is also a sub-category Category:Battles involving Spain); thus, there are two distinct paths from Category:Naval battles of the Spanish-American War up to Category:Battles involving Spain. This is especially common when dealing with intersection categories.
One important aspect of the "most specific" principle is that if every article in a category belongs to another category, it is sufficient to nest the categories directly, rather than double-categorizing each individual article. For example, Battle of Bosworth Field does not need to be added to Category:Battles involving England directly because Category:Battles of the Wars of the Roses is already a sub-category of it. Similarly, the articles in Category:Military units and formations of the United States Marine Corps do not need to be added to Category:Military units and formations of the United States directly.
In some cases, entire category trees will nest as above. For example, all "by war" categories should be sub-categories of the applicable "by period" category, and that a redundant "by period" label should not be applied to articles where a "by war" one is given (for example, Category:Military units and formations of the Crusades should be a sub-category of Category:Military units and formations of the Middle Ages, so an article already in the first need not be added to the second).
Note that this strategy should be applied only when every article in one category belongs in the other. For example, it is inappropriate to make Category:Battles of the Napoleonic Wars a sub-category of Category:Battles involving the United Kingdom, because there are many battles in the first category in which the United Kingdom was not a participant; thus, Battle of Waterloo must include both categories separately.
In many cases, articles can be categorized through several parallel classification schemes, associating them with the related countries, wars, periods, and other topics. There are two general ways of applying multiple categories from these classification schemes to a particular article. The simplest, which can be sufficient for unusual combinations or small categories, is to apply each category separately. For example, a medieval French unit could be placed in both Category:Military units and formations of the Middle Ages and Category:Military units and formations of France. However, this system is unwieldy as category sizes increase; thus, common combinations of multiple categories can be made explicit by creating an "intersection" sub-category for them; for example, Category:Military units and formations of France in the Middle Ages.
The intersection category can potentially combine an arbitrary number of elements from the overall category structure, but categories that combine two or three are more common. For example, Category:Regiments of France in the Napoleonic Wars (units by size, by country, and by war), Category:Airborne units and formations of the United States Army in World War II (units by type, by branch, and by war), and Category:Naval battles of the American Civil War (battles by type and by war) are all potential intersection categories. It is recommended that intermediate "holder" categories (such as Category:Military units and formations of France by size or Category:Regiments by country) be liberally created in order to keep the overall category system navigable.
Note that the simpler system can still be used in conjunction with intersection categories to avoid the proliferation of extremely small and narrow sub-categories. For example, it may be better to place an article in both Category:Cavalry units and formations and Category:Military units and formations of France in the Middle Ages than to create an additional Category:Cavalry units and formations of France in the Middle Ages. A similar approach should be taken if there is no reasonable way to name a potential intersection category; for example, rather than creating the grammatically atrocious Category:Prisoner-of-war pilot generals of World War II, it is better to leave separate categories (Category:Pilots of World War II, Category:Generals of World War II, and so forth).
The category tree for all conflicts and operations derives from the top-level Category:Military operations, as follows:
A particular country will thus have a tree of categories containing every operation in which it participated. At its greatest extent, the tree will take a form similar to this:
Note that, particularly for countries whose military history does not include the modern period, many of these categories may be omitted. In particular, it is common for the "Battles involving Foo" and "Wars involving Foo" categories to be placed in the corresponding "Military history of Foo" category directly, without a separate "Military operations involving Foo" category between them.
For historical states, categories below the "Military history of ..." level should be kept distinct from those of their successor states. For example, Category:Wars involving England is a sub-category of Category:Military history of the United Kingdom, but not of Category:Wars involving the United Kingdom.
A large war will have a similar tree of categories for every component operation; at its greatest extent, the tree will take the following form:
The full tree is unnecessary for the vast majority of wars; the most common configuration is to have a simple two-level scheme:
Specific conflicts are typically classified as battles, campaigns, or wars for the purposes of categorization. In this context, the terms are generally understood to mean the following:
In general, articles should be classified according to what the topic actually is, regardless of the name used. For example, a series of engagements generally regarded by historians as a campaign should be categorized as one even if it's referred to as the "Battle of X".
Some operations and conflicts may need to be classified into more than one of the above levels; however, this should generally be done only when it substantially adds to a reader's understanding of the events. The possible double-classification scenarios are outlined below:
Articles about wars are usually placed in three sets of categories nested under Category:Wars:
Some larger wars have dedicated categories (such as Category:Hundred Years' War). In this case, it is sufficient to categorize the war category as above; the war article (Hundred Years' War, in this example) need only be placed in the associated war category.
Articles about campaigns are usually placed in three sets of categories nested under Category:Military campaigns:
Articles about battles are usually placed in four sets of categories nested under Category:Battles:
One frequently asked question about this category scheme is why battles are categorized by participants, rather than by location; why are there no "Battles in ..." categories, in other words? The answer is that, unlike categorizing by participants, which is relatively intuitive and extremely useful, categorizing by location produces a scheme that is unintuitive and difficult to work with, at best, and completely meaningless and impossible to maintain, at worst.
There are two basic options when categorizing battles by country: using the modern countries, or using the historical countries that existed at the time of the battle. The first option—using modern countries—results in a category scheme that makes meaningless connections based on changes in geography centuries after the events discussed in the articles in question. The Siege of Königsberg in 1262, for example, would be classified as a siege in Russia, despite Russia not being involved in any way at the time. Similarly, the campaigns of individuals such as Alexander the Great would be scattered among dozens of countries in a fairly arbitrary manner. This is, at best, a less intuitive approach than categorizing by participants.
Categorizing by the historical location is even more problematic. The chief difficulty is that, unlike the participants in a battle (which are almost always uncontroversial), the ownership of the land where a battle was fought is often a matter of significant historical controversy—having, at times, been the cause of the battle itself! In cases where the territory was historically a disputed one, arbitrarily assigning it to one of the countries involved is highly problematic, for obvious reasons. Even in cases where ownership can be determined, however, doing so is quite often neither obvious nor intuitive, and requires an unreasonably detailed knowledge of the various diplomatic events of the surrounding period; this is particularly problematic in medieval and early modern Europe, where cities and territories regularly changed hands. For example, the various sieges of Milan in the early 16th century took place—fairly unpredictably—within the territory of either the Duchy of Milan, France, or Spain, depending on which country had been the last to receive the city in one of the myriad treaties during the period. Unlike categorizing by historical participants, which can be done from almost any description of the battle itself, categorizing by historical location thus requires an exhaustive knowledge of obscure diplomatic concerns, and is at times simply impossible due to underlying territorial disputes.
Articles about units and formations are typically placed into five sets of categories nested under Category:Military units and formations:
A particular article need not be categorized with all of the possible category types; for some topics, certain of the category options are inapplicable or inconvenient labels.
The category tree for all topics related to people involved in warfare derives from the top-level Category:People associated with war:
A large war will have a tree of categories for all people involved in it in some way; the tree will typically take the following form:
For guidance about categorization of articles about military vehicles see Wikipedia:Categorization of military vehicles. Military aircraft are categorized as per other aircraft – see Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft/Categories.