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Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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Style of "External links" Moved from Wikipedia:Village pump

I would like to add something to the style guide Wikipedia:Manual of Style, but am not sure how to do this and with whom I have to discuss this. My question is about "external links": sometimes it is handy to add additional information than just the URL. Unfortunately there is no standard about that and at the moment I am aware of three different methods:

  1. Adam Bede (http://www.abacci.com/books/book.asp?bookID=73)
  2. http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/qt.php -- History of Qt and Harmony
  3. City's own website: http://www.hannover.de/

examples: George_Eliot, Harmony toolkit, Hannover

-- mkrohn 23:05 Apr 7, 2003 (UTC)

I think the Adam Bede method is the preferred method. See external links on this page: [1] (/wiki/Wikipedia:Boilerplate_text) -- Notheruser 23:13 Apr 7, 2003 (UTC)

#1 is the standard. Note that the "printable version" of a page reveals the URL. --mav 23:49 Apr 7, 2003 (UTC)

I object very much to the proposal suggesting two different styles for "External links" heading. Wikipedia is far too confused as it is wrt. the style of the external link heading, and it certainly does not help to confuse the matter further by having two different styles in the "Manual of style". If it is believed that a smaller font size is suitable when there are no other headings in an article (something which in my view looks odd and inconsistent, but that is another issue), then that must certainly be handled by the Wiki markup to html converter. The Wiki markup *must* be consistent. -- Egil 18:55 Apr 8, 2003 (UTC)

I agree, and I've changed it to say that two equals signs should be used, not three apostrophes. The external link header is just like any other header, so this is how it should be treated. I've very rarely seen "external links" marked up any other way, and I change it if I do. --Camembert

Agreed. -- Tarquin

Large image links

Can we devise something better for these than "Click here for larger version"? (http://www.w3.org/2001/06tips/noClickHere ) How about "See a larger version[?]"? -- Tarquin 12:26 Apr 9, 2003 (UTC)

On Rachel Corrie I just used "larger version", which is nice and short :) Martin

Or "See also larger version[?]". Additionally, put the large image on the image description page of the small version, because it is common and intuitive to click the thumbnail itself to get the larger version. See also [2] (/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2002-July/002992), [3] (/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2002-July/003043) - Patrick 13:35 Apr 9, 2003 (UTC)

I used to do that, but I was told off - see wikipedia talk:image use policy. Martin

It may be "common and intuitive" but in the case of Wikipedia all images are clickable and only a very few of our images have larger versions. Therefore the user has no idea without clicking the image if that image has a larger version. That is why media links are used in the caption area below images which directly link to the larger versions. Our users should only expect to see image meta data on an images description page unless the caption area below the image in the article says otherwise. BTW, I use "larger image" for the displayed text of media links. "Click here" bugs the hell out of me and I try to avoid using those words. But I must admit that when there is a substantial description on an Image's description page I will often write "Click image for description" (see Saturn (planet)). It would be great if somebody could think of something better to say. --mav

Okay, I see. But it is a bit confusing: normally, the text that pops up at a link describes what you get when you click; so when xxx.jpg pops up you expect an image; may be the pop-up text should be "description of xxx.jpg". - Patrick 00:21 Apr 10, 2003 (UTC)

That's a very good idea - I suggest you make a feature request. --mav

Well, I just saw a great example of how not to do it, at wasp. :p -- John Owens

let's see if we can't make life easier for ourselves: m:Image pages -- Tarquin 08:51 Apr 10, 2003 (UTC)

Links within headers

Depending on settings, some users may not see them clearly.

I put this earlier, rephrasing "They seem to get buried by the bold type.", but is this really so? Normally links are underlined and/or a different color, so bold links can be distinguished from other bold text. Sometimes the words to be linked are not in the text itself, so links in headers can be convenient, avoiding cumbersome duplication. I agree that links in headers must be avoided if they distract from the meaning of the header as a whole, but I like them in headers like "Transportation in Azerbaijan", where they are the two main generalizations of the subject. - Patrick 11:29 Apr 13, 2003 (UTC)

I really dislike links within headers, because I think the bold interferes with the underline and colour change. I prefer to have them as free links in the first sentence. Or, if it's an important link, to use a "Main article" style to really draw attention to it. Martin

My 2c: links in headings are ugly. Avoid where possible, unless all the headings are links in that particular section of the entry. Mixed colour headlines look really amateurish. Tannin

It should usually be possible to write the first sentence of the section to mention the heading. Eg: "== Foo == \n The {{foo}} were prominent in the bar region...." -- Tarquin 13:14 Apr 20, 2003 (UTC)

Names of people - first names or surnames?

When writing about people, we obviously use their full name (+link) the first time it appears. EG "Saddam Hussein is a very naughty boy". However, later in the article is it correct to say "Hussein did bad stuff" or "Saddam did bad stuff"? I thought I saw advice to do the former, but I can't find it, and I can't recall what the reasoning was... Martin

Just my 2c. In general, use the more formal last name. But there are common sense exceptions - consider, for example, trying to write anout the Wright Brothers that way! Tannin

Well usually the surname. But in this case, "Saddam" is his surname; Hussein is his given name -- Tarquin 13:14 Apr 20, 2003 (UTC)

Righto - thanks for the help :)

Explanatory text What's the policy on articles containing explanatory text, e.g. "This article will detail how one goes about proving that all cows are green." Is it bad? Good? Uncertain? Graft

It's useful in certain articles, such as anarchism -- the explaination helps people find what they're looking for much quicker. -- Sam
I agree it's useful, but we don't always operate based on what's most useful... I am wondering more if people think (or have thought) that this violates some sort of encyclopedia etiquette, or if it munges with the "voice" of the encyclopedia in some taboo way... Graft
An alternative would be to have some sort of stub text (maybe links to other sites if available) then put the explanatory text on the talk page. Personally I have nothing against explanatory text on pages for a short time though -- Chris Q 09:26 May 14, 2003 (UTC)
Whitespace under headings

The chapter "Headline style" says: "Note that with the == brackets used, no space under the headline is needed. The space should be removed.", but if one looks at the source code, not putting an empty line after the heading will result in the first paragraph of the text not being marked with the <p> tag, and for this reason there will be no whitespace rendered under the heading (In my browser anyway). So, in order to make the markup to be produced correctly, it is necessary to put an empty line after the heading. (IMO, this makes the text look somewhat cleaner in the edit window as well). Timo Honkasalo 09:15 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

our parser doesn't use P tags correctly anyway, since they are never closed. -- Tarquin 11:56 14 May 2003 (UTC)

So, it's more of software rather than style issue. After all, the ideal would be that the empty line wouldn't make any difference, because the users are not going to be consistent with it anyway. Timo Honkasalo 13:20 May 14, 2003 (UTC)

Indeed. I've raised the matter with the mailing list a few times ... -- Tarquin 14:54 14 May 2003 (UTC)

Question re: quotation marks

In transcribing the words, for instance, of hymns or poetry, it is frequently necessary to use a single quotation mark to indicate a missing letter, o'er, or o’er, for scansion. My preference is for the latter, as, given the context of the usage, it runs together better. Nevertheless, I can see that someone a little more experienced in Wikipunctuating may be able to offer guidance. Ought I change my solitary submission thus far to the general style of ', or is ’ acceptable? Wooster 11:01 2 Jun 2003 (UTC)

&#8217; is an HTML entity, and will not show on all systems. Best to stick to ' , for the immediate future at least -- Tarquin 11:10 2 Jun 2003 (UTC)

There is an alternative; &rsquo; as in "o’er" is more acceptable as an HTML entity. But I'm still in the "o'er" camp myself. -- John Owens 11:40 2 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Longer Articles and references

Comments please:
First let me apologize for going over some old ground, but I'd like to suggest an approach that seems better to me. The subject is the bottom of article references. I prpose to expand or adjust the style manual. First, for short articles with one or two references, I see no problems with the current general approach of *See also: [[article]], [[article]]. For mega-articles such as countries, I also really like the Main article: [[Article name]]. under a subheading. Enough preamble, I propose that long articles with several references get an ending structure like:

==Additional information== (we could be folksy and use ==To learn more==)
===Wikipedia articles===
*[[article 1]]
*[[article 2]]
===Reference material===
* Book 1 citation (ISBN nnnnn)
* Book 2 citation (ISBN nnnn2)
* Periodical reference
* CD, DVD, VHS tape, etc.
===External links===
*[URL1 description]
*[URL2 description]

I haven't adopted this yet, but the idea was prompted by two articles. Daniel Morgan is already too busy at the bottom of the page. I've also got material to update the Battle of Trenton which would make it as bad or worse. The material is in pages of stuff on my growing to do list, ;-). ....Lou I 18:03 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I don't see the point of adding another level of hierarchy; I don't think anybody capable of reading the article is going to have trouble understanding that the different kinds of end material are for "additional information". I could go with merging external links with references, since there are now many websites that are as good as or better than printed works as authoritative sources. For my part, I would abolish "Further reading" and just use "References", can't see any useful difference between the two. Stan 18:24 21 Jun 2003 (UTC)

You're right, I like your proposal better than my own. I've tried it at the Artemas Ward article. ....Lou I 08:33 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Ah, but "references" are works that were actually used for developing the article. "Further reading" is more comprehensive works that can be read by the reader to get more information. Very often a reference is from a textbook or part of another work that doesn't focus on the subject of an article. So many times all or most of the information that is in the reference has been inputed into an article. But a "further reading" selection should always have way more information than is in the article. So we need both sections. --mav

Thanks, Mav. I agree about Further reading, unless of course the reference is to a video, ;-). Also, I think that if we need the references I'd just as soon call it Sources, since many times you can't take everything in them at face value. I may need to see some longer lists before even having an intelligent preference, so I guess this subject will stay open a while longer. Lou I

To me that's a distinction without a difference. By nature an encyclopedia article is supposed to be a condensed version of the original material, so a reference used to build the article is also legitimate as "further reading", irrespective of whether it's a complete work or not. Conversely, what kind of valid "further reading" would there be that is not also a useful reference? Consider the case of a relative newbie like myself - if I see an existing article mentioning a book in "further readings" that happens to be on my bookshelf, I then dig out the book and add a missing factoid or two, does that mean the book now has to be moved from "further readings" to "references", or do I instead list it in both sections? A distinction based on how the material was used originally becomes pointless after several generations of edits. If a reference work is recommended as an better-than-average read, then just say so in a comment. Stan 21:09 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

You missed my point. I said that often most or all the good information in a particular reference has been incorporated into the article. There is no reason to direct our readers to those sources when that is the case. What I often do when a reference also happens to be a good choice for ==Further reading== or ==External links== is I place the reference only in one of those two sections and then after the listing (in parenthesis) I say "also used as a reference." That prevents the need for a double listing. --mav

Ah, I see the sentence now. Perhaps it's just my style, but aside from lifted PD text, I rarely run into a reference that I use everything from. Stan 04:16 23 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Mixing Article introduction (bold) and Title style (italic) to boltalic

I have the feeling, that this two things should not be mixed. Other people seem to think, they should. I think there is some clarification needet to make it clear, that Article introduction is not italic but bold (at least the article says so!). Thanks for comments, Fantasy 20:16 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I've given my opinion elsewhere, but I'll repeat it here for completeness: The MoS says "All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line" and "Use italics for the title or name of books, movies," ... The two are not mutually exclusive. If the words in question are the article title or subject and the name of a book, movie etc. then both rules apply. The words should be bold and italic. -- sannse 20:58 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I think this is wrong. Why should Matrix be bold and The Matrix be Boldalic? I guess, you are confusing a title in an article with the title of the article.
Maybe an example can help you understand the difference: The article Keanu Reeves contains a reference to the film The Matrix. THIS LINK should be in italics, not the introduction of the article about The Matrix.
And: As long as the user manual says: All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line it is wrong not to do so. There are two ways: We change this text or we do as it says. Fantasy 21:16 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)
PS: If there would be no difference between Title style and Article introduction, why should there be two extra paragraphs for the same thing?

Humm, we are really managing to misunderstand each other. I'm sorry I'm not being clearer. I'll give it another go :)

"All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line" - agreed. But something being bold doesn't mean it can't also be italic and still be bold. An object can be large and red.

Any time the film title The Matrix is mentioned it should be in italics. So the italicised link in the Keanu Reeves is correct. If it is in the first sentence of The Matrix article then it should also be in bold. The reason matrix is bold and not italic is because it is not a film title.

I agree the paragraphs on title style and article introduction are talking about different things. But in this case The Matrix is a film title (and so the "Title style" paragraph applies) and is part of the article introduction (and so the "article introduction" paragraph applies). One says bold, the other says italic - so we use both and the words are written in bold and italic.

I have to go to sleep now, apologies again for not making my point clearer. Regards -- sannse 21:57 22 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I don't see a reason, why film titles should be italic. What is the advantage? In normal text, to make it visible, ok. But in the Article introduction, it is already visible. So WHY? Fantasy 06:48 23 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Because by convention all film titles are always in italics (this is a standard English convention far bigger than any conventions we have for just Wikipedia). And we have a convention to bold the subject of an article the first time it is mentioned. So we bold and italicize movie title the first time they are displayed in an article. --mav

ok, this makes it clear. I did not know that this is an English Standard (I am not a native english speaker). Thanks for pointing this out, Fantasy 07:50 23 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Lovely to wake up and find this sorted - thanks mav and Fantasy -- sannse 08:17 23 Jun 2003 (UTC)

See also links within paragraphs should be bold

I suggest a convention whereby explicit "see also" links to articles within a paragraph should be made bold. Example:

"Harry potter is a fictional character envisioned by J.K. Rowling when she was 17 years old (see Origins of Harry Potter[?]).

Reasoning: Such links are different from regular links within an article in that they directly elaborate upon the content of or claim in a sentence or paragraph. They frequently are the result of discussions where it was argued that a specific section should be split off because it goes into too much detail. People frequently resort to awkward long sentences like "This issue is discussed further in ..." to highlight the importance of these links; it would be much easier to just make them stand out more by formatting them slightly differently.

Note: I do not propose to bold the see also texts at the bottom of articles, or disambiguation links, or anything else. Just the occasional see also that is thrown into the text.

If there are no objections, I will change the text accordingly. --Eloquence 19:06 2 Jul 2003 (UTC)

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