Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register

This page is a work in progress, a working draft of a supplement to the Wikipedia:Manual of Style. Its purpose is to record decisions made in discussions at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. For more details, please see the January 2010 discussion archived at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 113#Recording consensus.

This document is meant as a reference of consensus decisions on the Wikipedia Manual of Style and, when available, the reasoning behind each consensus. It is not itself a collection of guidelines, rules, or laws. Just the fact that a consensus has been recorded on this page does not mean that that consensus is a permanent and unchangeable part of Wikipedia. This register is meant only to give editors better understanding of the current state of things, which is useful both to those considering proposing changes and to those seeking to better implement the MoS as it exists.


Article titles, headings, and sections

Article titles

  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 102#Dashes in article titles?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 101#Should article titles conform to naming conventions?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 108#Article Titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 110#Request for comment - dashes in article titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 31#ß proposal (search for: "ß in article titles")
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 93#Links in titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 53#Article titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 4#On the order of names
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#hyphens vs. dashes in titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 23#ß proposal
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 82 (search for: "article titles")

Section organization

Section headings

National varieties of English

Consistency within articles

Strong national ties to a topic

Retaining the existing variety

Opportunities for commonality

Capital letters

Capitalization of "The"

Titles of people

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines

Calendar items

Animals, plants, and other organisms

Celestial bodies

Directions and regions





Non-breaking spaces

Technical information



  • See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation

Minimal change

Allowable typographical changes

Quotations within quotations



Block quotations

Foreign-language quotations



Quotation marks

Curly or straight

Currently there is no consensus regarding which quotation glyphs to use. Originally the rule was introduced on 10th of April, 2003 in [1] without any discussion on the Talk page (see [1]). The rule stated “For uniformity and to avoid complications use straight quotation marks and apostrophes”. The debate regarding the appropriateness of this rule started in [18], [19] with the conclusion that the MoS have to be changed, yet all such changes have been reverted. Since then the issue has been revisited many times, see [94], [100], [103], [104], [108], and [108].

The reasons currently provided for using straight quotation marks are dubious at best:

They are easier to type in reliably, and to edit. Mostly true, except the recommendation that you have to turn off the “smart quotes” when pasting the text from MS Word. But even then, sometimes people have to choose between what’s right and what’s easy… Mixed use interferes with some searches, such as those using the browser’s search facility (a search for Alzheimer's disease could fail to find Alzheimer’s disease and vice versa). Somehow apostrophes always end up being brought into this debate. Strictly speaking this argument isn’t even relevant for the discussion of quotations glyphs, however it’s not hard to refute it either. Modern browsers (such as Google Chrome) are in fact capable of understanding that ' and probably mean the same thing, so they will find both the “Alzheimer's” and “Alzheimer’s” regardless of how you type it. For other browsers, most people already know that the safe way of searching for “Alzheimer’s disease” is to type “Alzheimer disease”. Also note that nobody complains about other special characters such as “Rao–Cramér inequality”, which are even harder to search for in an unsophisticated browser. Furthermore, HTML elements (such as <ref name="xxx"/>) may not always work if curly quotation marks are used. The HTML elements are a part of programming language. They are meant for the computer, not for the people. It is an error to use curly quotation marks in HTML, or CSS, or JavaScript, or C#, or most other programming languages.

The arguments in favor of recommending the curly quotation glyphs are that:

They are typographically correct. Meaning that it is the standard of English language to use glyphs “” to denote quotations. This rule can be found in most serious manuals of styles, both for paper and electronic documents. Most Wikipedia Manuals of Styles in other languages explicitly forbid the use of straight quotation marks. See for example German, French, Russian, Italian versions.

Single or double

The Wikipedia MoS prefers double quotation marks to single ones because they are more discernible visually, and there is no risk of mistaking a quotation mark for an apostrophe.

Punctuation inside or outside

  • For a collection of the posts on this issue on the MoS talk page over the years, see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation

While this is a point of frequent and heated contention on the MoS, the MoS currently recommends what is called logical punctuation. This system places punctuation inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not. While this system is not standard American English it is common in the U.K. and does have supporters in the U.S., including the American Chemical Society and many computer programmers' associations, largely because of its applications in preserving literal strings, which are common in programming.

Supporters of this system argue that it prevents the reader from misjudging whether or not the closing punctuation was part of the quoted material or not. Supporters of allowing other punctuation styles counter that actual misunderstandings are unlikely in encyclopedic prose and that the standard American system has been in use for over a century without such problems becoming a significant issue.

The most recent discussion of this issue can be found here.

Brackets and parentheses

Sentences and brackets

Brackets and linking



Serial commas



Semicolon before "however"


  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 6#Hyphens_2
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 12#What about hyphens?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 23#Proper hyphen/mdash usage?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 30#Hyphens
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 82#Hyphens and dashes in the MoS (with subsections)
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 88#Hyphens
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 94#Proposal: permit non-hyphen form with units in full form, to match guidance for symbolic form
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 95#Hyphen in political family names
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 96#Hyphens
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 96#Usage of hyphens, item two
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 97#... If you take the hyphen seriously, you will surely go mad
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 100#Dash or hyphen?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 100#Bot is being developed to convert hyphens to en dashes
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 101#Tutorials on hyphens and dashes
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 104#Naming conventions: hyphen is not used as a substitute for an en dash
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 104#Hyphens, en dashes, minus signs? Oh my!
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 106#Hyphens after -ly adverbs (rationalised section) (with subsections)
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 108#En dashes vs. hyphens (with subsections)
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#Hyphens in category names
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#Change wording on when to use hyphens
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#Hyphens vs. en dashes (with subsection)
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#adverb + hyphen + past participle
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 110#Example for elements in conjunction and hyphens?
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 111#Hyphens as minus signs
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 113#Hyphens in reference titles
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 114#Hyphens vs. dashes in German federal-state names
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 114#Hyphen question
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#Hyphens in adjectives of dates
  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#MoS on SOFT HYPHEN (SHY)


  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/dash drafting (June and July 2011)

Punctuating a sentence (em or en dashes)

En dashes: other uses

Other dashes



Number signs

Terminal punctuation

Punctuation and inline citations

Citations are always placed after punctuation when they occur together. This occurs regardless of whether the citation pertains to the entire preceding paragraph, or only the preceding sentence or clause. In placing inline citations and footnote marks after periods and commas, Wikipedia follows the overwhelming majority of reputable publications. Only one publication, Nature magazine, was found to place citations before punctuation. In addition, most of the Wikipedians involved in the discussion, even the ones supporting an allow-both policy, voiced preferences for the consistency and look of post-punctuation citations.

This issue most recently came under discussion in February 2010, when one editor found a discrepancy between WP:MoS and WP:FN. WP:MoS allowed only post-punctuation citations while WP:FN allowed both post- and pre-punctuation citations. After much discussion, WP:FN was altered to allow only post-punctuation citations.

Spaces between said punctuation and the inline citations were deemed neither sightly nor necessary, by consensus on WP:MoS.


Spaces following terminal punctuation

Consecutive punctuation marks

Punctuation and footnotes

Punctuation after formulae

Dates and time

Time of day


Choice of format

Months and seasons

Years and longer periods




Units of measurement

Common mathematical symbols



First-person pronouns

Second-person pronouns




Gender-neutral language

As of January 2010, there is no consensus either for or against the use of the singular "they" in Wikipedia. Arguments for its acceptability include its long history in English, the fact that it is common in informal speech and writing and grammatical rules that permit a plural pronoun with words such as "everyone" that do not refer to a specific subject. Arguments against its use include its informality and the grammatical impropriety of using a plural pronoun for a singular subject. Please see the articles on WP: Gender-neutral language and the singular they for more information.

The most recent discussion of the singular "they" can be found here.

Contested vocabulary

Instructional and presumptuous language

Subset terms


Foreign terms

Technical language

Geographical items


Avoid entering textual information as images


Formatting of captions

Bulleted and numbered lists



External links


Keep markup simple

Formatting issues

Color coding

Scrolling lists and collapsible content

Invisible comments


See also

  • Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory
  • Wikipedia:Manual of Style/List of talk page search boxes
  • Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Register
  • Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages)/Register

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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