Wikipedia:Manual of Style

The Manual of Style (abbreviated as MoS or MOS) is the style manual for all Wikipedia articles. This is the primary page for the style guidelines: it covers certain topics (e.g. punctuation) in detail and summarizes the key points of others. The detail pages, which are cross-referenced here and linked by this page's menu or listed at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Contents, provide specific guidance on those topics. If any contradiction arises, this page has precedence over all detail pages of the guideline, style essays, and the Simplified Manual of Style. [a]

The Manual of Style presents Wikipedia's house style. The goal is to make using Wikipedia easier and more intuitive by promoting clarity and cohesion while helping editors write articles with consistent and precise language, layout, and formatting. Plain English works best. Avoid ambiguity, jargon, and vague or unnecessarily complex wording. Any new content added to the body of this page should directly address a style issue that has occurred in a significant number of instances.

Discuss style issues on the MOS talk page.

Article titles, headings, and sections

Article titles

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

For guidance on formatting titles, see WP:Article titles § Article title format section of the policy. Note the following:

  • Capitalize the title's initial letter (except in rare cases, such as eBay), but otherwise follow sentence case [b] (Funding of UNESCO projects) not title case (Funding of UNESCO Projects). This does not apply where the title would be title case in ordinary prose. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization).
  • To italicize a title, add {{ italic title}} near the top of the article. For mixed situations, use e.g. instead. Use of italics should conform to WP:Manual of Style/Text formatting § Italic type.
  • Do not use A, An, or The as the first word (Economy of the Second Empire, not The economy of the Second Empire), unless it is an inseparable part of a name (The Hague) or title of a work (A Clockwork Orange, The Simpsons).
  • Titles should normally be nouns or noun phrases: Early life, not In early life. [c]
  • The final character should not be a punctuation mark unless it is part of a name ( Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, What Is To Be Done?) or an abbreviation ( Inverness City F.C.), or a closing round bracket or quotation mark is required ( John Palmer (1814 schooner)).
  • Whenever quotation marks or apostrophes appear in article titles, add a redirect for the same title but using “curly” quotemarks/apostrophes instead of the usual "straight" ones. [d]

The guidance contained elsewhere in the MoS, particularly § Punctuation, applies to all parts of an article, including the title. However, particular guidance in the WP:Article titles policy, for example on punctuation in WP:TITLESPECIALCHARACTERS, takes precedence for formatting article titles.

Section organization

Articles are divided into sections.

All articles begin with an introductory lead section which concisely summarizes the article's contents. The lead appears before any section headings. New information is not always important enough for the lead; it should be placed in the most appropriate section or sections. Infoboxes, images, and related content in the lead section must be right-aligned. Disambiguation hatnotes are placed before the lead.

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}} immediately under the section heading.

As explained in more detail in WP:Manual of Style/Layout § Standard appendices and footers, optional appendix and footer sections may appear after the body of the article, in the following order:

  • books or other works created by the subject of the article (under a section heading "Works", "Publications", "Discography", etc. as appropriate);
  • internal links to related English Wikipedia articles (section heading "See also");
  • notes and references (section heading "Notes" or "References", or a separate section for each; see Citing sources);
  • relevant books, articles, or other publications that have not been used as sources (section heading "Further reading");
  • relevant websites that have not been used as sources and do not appear in the earlier appendices (added as part of "Further reading" or in a separate section headed "External links");
  • internal links organized into navigational boxes (sometimes placed at the top in the form of sidebars);
  • categories.

Section headings

Section headings follow the same formatting guidance as § Article titles.

Use equal signs around a section heading: ==Title== for a primary section; ===Title=== for a subsection; and so on to =====Title=====. (=Title= is never used. [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). Spaces around the Title (e.g. == Title ==) are optional and ignored.

In addition:

  • Headings should not refer redundantly to the subject of the article (Early life, not Smith's early life or His early life) or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer.
  • Headings should normally not contain links, especially where only part of a heading is linked.
  • Section headings should preferably be unique within a page; otherwise section links may lead to the wrong place, and automatic edit summaries for section edits will be ambiguous.
  • Citations should not be placed within, or on the same line as, section headings.
  • Headings should not contain images, such as icons or <math> markup. Doing so can break links to sections and cause other problems.
  • Headings should not be phrased as questions.
  • Avoid starting headings with numbers (other than years), because this can be confusing for readers with the "Auto-number headings" preference selected.

An invisible comment on the same line as the heading should be inside the == == markup: [f]

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

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

==Implications<!--Section linked from [[Richard Dawkins]], [[Daniel Dennett]] (see [[MOS:HEAD]])-->==

Heading-like material:

Several of those provisions are also applicable to content that serves the same basic function as a heading. For example, headers of tables (and of table columns and rows) should follow the advice about sentence case, redundancy, images, and questions. 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.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Wikipedia:Styl
Bahasa Banjar: Wikipidia:Pedoman gaya
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hrvatski: Wikipedija:Stil
Bahasa Indonesia: Wikipedia:Pedoman gaya
norsk nynorsk: Wikipedia:Stilmanual
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Wikipedia:Stil
українська: Вікіпедія:Стиль