Wikipedia:Article titles

An article title is the large heading displayed above the article's content and the basis for the article's page name and URL.[1] The title indicates what the article is about and distinguishes it from other articles.[2]

The title may simply be the name (or a name) of the subject of the article, or it may be a description of the topic. Because no two articles can have the same title,[3] it is sometimes necessary to add distinguishing information, often in the form of a description in parentheses after the name. Generally, article titles are based on what the subject is called in reliable sources. When this offers multiple possibilities, editors choose among them by considering several principles: the ideal article title precisely identifies the subject; it is short, natural, distinguishable and recognizable; and resembles titles for similar articles.

This page explains in detail the considerations, or naming conventions, on which choices of article titles are based. This page does not detail titling for pages in other namespaces, such as categories. It is supplemented by other more specific guidelines (see the box to the right), which should be interpreted in conjunction with other policies, particularly the three core content policies: Verifiability, No original research, and Neutral point of view.

If necessary, an article's title can be changed by a page move.[4] For information on page move procedures, see Wikipedia:Moving a page, and Wikipedia:Requested moves.

Deciding on an article title

Article titles are based on how reliable English-language sources refer to the article's subject. There is often more than one appropriate title for an article. In that case, editors choose the best title by consensus based on the considerations that this page explains.

A good Wikipedia article title has the five following characteristics:

  • Recognizability – The title is a name or description of the subject that someone familiar with, although not necessarily an expert in, the subject area will recognize.
  • Naturalness – The title is one that readers are likely to look or search for and that editors would naturally use to link to the article from other articles. Such a title usually conveys what the subject is actually called in English.
  • Precision – The title unambiguously identifies the article's subject and distinguishes it from other subjects. (See § Precision and disambiguation, below.)
  • Conciseness – The title is no longer than necessary to identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects.
  • Consistency – The title is consistent with the pattern of similar articles' titles. Many of these patterns are listed (and linked) as topic-specific naming conventions on article titles, in the box above.

These should be seen as goals, not as rules. For most topics, there is a simple and obvious title that meets these goals satisfactorily. If so, use it as a straightforward choice. However, in some cases the choice is not so obvious. It may be necessary to favor one or more of these goals over the others. This is done by consensus. For instance, the recognizable, natural, and concise title United Kingdom is preferred over the more precise title United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (For more details, see § Use commonly recognizable names, below.)

When titling articles in specific fields, or with respect to particular problems, there is often previous consensus that can be used as a precedent. Look to the guideline pages referenced. When no previous consensus exists, a new consensus is established through discussion, with the above questions in mind. The choice of article titles should put the interests of readers before those of editors, and those of a general audience before those of specialists.

Redirects should be created to articles that may reasonably be searched for or linked to under two or more names (such as different spellings or former names). Conversely, a name that could refer to several different articles may require disambiguation.

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