Style guide for all Wikipedia articles and editable reader-facing content
This guideline is a part of the English Wikipedia's Manual of Style.
It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.
The MoS presents Wikipedia's house style, to help editors write articles with consistent and precise language, layout, and formatting, making Wikipedia easier and more intuitive for users. Plain English works best. Avoid ambiguity, jargon, and vague or unnecessarily complex wording.
Style and formatting should be consistent within an article. Where more than one style is acceptable under MoS, editors should not change an article from one of those styles to another without a good reason. Edit warring over optional styles is unacceptable. If a style or similar debate becomes intractable, see if a rewrite can make the issue moot.
Any new content added to the body of this page should directly address a style issue that has recurred in a significant number of instances. Discuss style issues on the MoS talk page.
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.
Capitalize the initial letter (except in rare cases, such as eBay), but otherwise follow sentence case[a] (Funding of UNESCO projects) not title case (Funding of UNESCO Projects), except where title case would be expected were the title to occur in ordinary prose. See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (capitalization).
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).
An article 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.
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 immediately under the section heading.
Section headings should follow all of the guidance for article titles (above), and should be presented in sentence case (Funding of UNESCO projects), not title case (Funding of UNESCO Projects).[a]
Use equals signs around a section heading: ==Title== for a primary section, ===Title=== for a subsection, and so on to =====Title=====, with each nesting level having only one more "=" on each side than the prior level so no levels are skipped. (=Title= is never used.[d]) Spaces around the title (e.g. ==Title==) are optional and ignored.
In addition, a heading should:
Not redundantly refer back to the subject of the article (Early life, not Smith's early life or His early life), or to a higher-level heading, unless doing so is shorter or clearer.
Not contain links, especially where only part of a heading is linked.
Be unique within a page (otherwise section links may lead to the wrong place, and edit summaries may be ambiguous).
==<!--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. Combined example:
==Implications== <!--Section linked from [[Richard Dawkins]], [[Daniel Dennett]].)-->
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.