MPWiki: Manual Of Style

The Manual of Style, often abbreviated MoS, is a style guide for MPWiki articles. This article contains basic principles. If the Manual of Style does not specify a preferred usage, discuss your issues on the Forum.


One way of presenting information is often just as good as another, but consistency promotes professionalism, simplicity and greater cohesion in MPWiki articles. An overriding principle is that style and formatting should be applied consistently throughout an article, unless there is a good reason to do otherwise (except in direct quotations, where the original text is generally preserved).

It is inappropriate for an editor to change an article from one style to another unless there is a substantial reason to do so; for example, it is unacceptable to change from British to American spelling unless the article concerns an American topic. Edit warring over optional styles is unacceptable. If an article has been stable in a given style, it should not be converted without a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style. When it is unclear whether an article has been stable, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Article titles, headings and sections

Article titles

This guidance applies to the titles of MPWiki articles, not to the titles of external articles that are cited.

  • Article titles should conform to Naming conventions
  • Titles are generally nouns or noun phrases (''Effects of chemical weapons'', not ''About the effects of chemical weapons'').
  • Titles should be short—preferably fewer than ten words.
  • ''A'', ''an'' and ''the'' are normally avoided as the first word (''USS Enterprise'', not ''The USS Enterprise'), unless part of a proper noun (The Hague).

This guidance also applies to ''Section headings'' below.

First sentences

  • If possible, an article title is the subject of the first sentence of the article; for example, "The Manual of Style is a style guide" instead of "This style guide is known as …". If the article title is an important term, it appears as early as possible. The first (and only the first) appearance of the title is in boldface, including its abbreviation in parentheses, if given. Equivalent names may follow, and may or may not be in boldface. Items in boldface are not linked, and boldface is not used subsequently in the first paragraph.
  • If the topic of an article has no name and the title is merely descriptive—such as "Effects of chemical weapons"—the title does not need to appear verbatim in the main text; if it does, it is not in boldface.
  • The normal rules for italics are followed in choosing whether to put part or all of the title in italics.
  • If the topic of the article may be unfamiliar to some readers, establish a context. For example, instead of "A trusted third party is an entity that facilitates interactions between two parties who both trust the third party", write "In cryptography, a trusted third party is an entity that facilitates interactions between two parties who both trust the third party". The context in this example is that the topic covered by the article is the use of that notion in the field of cryptography.

Section headings

  • Section names should preferably be unique within a page; this applies even for the names of subsections. The disadvantages of duplication are that:
    • after editing, the display can arrive at the wrong section; and
    • the automatic edit summary on editing a section with a non-unique name is ambiguous.
  • Section names should not normally contain links.
  • Section names should not explicitly refer to the subject of the article, or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer. For example, ''Early life'' is preferable to ''His early life'' when ''His'' means the subject of the article; headings can be assumed to be about the subject unless otherwise indicated.
  • Unspaced multiple plus signs are the style markup for headings. The double asterisk ( ** ) that make words appear in boldface are not used in headings.
  • A blank line below the heading is optional. If there are no blank lines above the heading, one line should be added, for readability in the edit window. Only two or more blank lines above or below will change the public appearance of the page by adding more white space.

Capital letters

There are differences between the major varieties of English in the use of capitals (uppercase letters). Where this is an issue, the rules of the cultural and linguistic context apply. As for spelling, consistency is maintained within an article.

Within articles and other wiki pages, capitals are not used for emphasis. Where wording cannot provide the emphasis, italics are used.

Incorrect: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are Not the same as anteaters.
Incorrect: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are NOT the same as anteaters.
Correct: Contrary to popular belief, aardvarks are not the same as anteaters.


  • When used as titles (that is, followed by a name), items such as president, king and emperor start with a capital letter: President Clinton, not president Clinton. The formal name of an office is treated as a proper noun: Hirohito was Emperor of Japan and Louis XVI was King of France (where Emperor of Japan and King of France, respectively, are titles). Royal styles are capitalized: Her Majesty and His Highness; exceptions may apply for particular offices.
  • When used generically, such items are in lower case: De Gaulle was a French president and Louis XVI was a French king. Similarly, Three prime ministers attended the conference, but, We know that the British Prime Minister is Gordon Brown.
  • For the use of titles and honorifics in biographical articles, see Honorific prefixes.
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