Manual of style/Naming articles
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Article titles should be:
- Recognizable – Using names and terms commonly used in reliable sources, and so likely to be recognized, for the topic of the article.
- Easy to find – Using names and terms that readers are most likely to look for in order to find the article (and to which editors will most naturally link from other articles).
- Precise – Using names and terms that are precise, but only as precise as is necessary to identify the topic of the article unambiguously.
- Concise – Using names and terms that are brief and to the point. (Even when disambiguation is necessary, keep that part brief.)
- Consistent – Using names and terms that follow the same pattern as those of other similar articles.
Most articles will have a simple and obvious title that satisfies most or all of these ideal criteria. If so, use it, as a straightforward choice. However, it may be necessary to trade off two or more of the criteria against one another; in such situations, article titles are determined by consensus, usually guided by the usage in reliable sources. Consensus on entitling articles in specific fields, or with respect to particular problems, is stated and explained on the guideline pages referenced. When no consensus exists, it is established through discussion, always with the above principles in mind. The choice of article titles should put the interests of readers before those of editors, and those of a general audience before those of specialists.
Articles are normally titled using the most common English-language name of the subject of the article. In determining what this name is, we follow the usage of reliable sources, such as those used as references for the article. Therefore, the article is named Sega Mega Drive because it is the most commonly used English name for Sega's 16-bit console; we use Mystic Defender because the game is only called Kujaku Ou 2: Geneijou in Japan. However, if a game was fan translated, the original name should be used — so Xin Qi Gai Wang Zi, not Begger Prince; Kishi Densetsu, not Panzer Commander.
Precision and disambiguation
Articles' titles usually merely indicate the name of the topic. When additional precision is necessary to distinguish an article from other uses of the topic name, over-precision should be avoided. Be precise but only as precise as is needed. For example, it would be inappropriate to title an article "United States Apollo program (1961–1975)" over Apollo program or "Nirvana (Aberdeen, Washington rock band)" over Nirvana (band). Remember that concise titles are generally preferred.
However, because pages cannot share the same title, it is not always possible to use the exact title that may be desired for an article, as that title may have another meaning. As a general rule:
- If the topic of the article is the primary topic (or only topic) for a desired title, then the article can take that title without modification.
- Otherwise that title cannot be used for the article without disambiguation. This is most commonly done by adding a disambiguating tag in parentheses (or sometimes after a comma); however in certain cases it may be done by choosing a different form of the title in order to achieve uniqueness.
Sometimes titles of separate articles have different forms, but with only minor differences.
- Diacritics: canon vs. cañon; Vitória vs. Vitoria
- Capitalization: WASP vs. wasp; Red Meat vs. Red meat
- With or without hyphen(s): Saint-Louis vs. Saint Louis
In such cases, remember that a reader who enters one term might in fact be looking for the other, so use appropriate disambiguation techniques (such as hatnotes or disambiguation pages) to ensure that readers can find all possible target articles. In case of very minor differences, a parenthethical tag should be added as if the title forms were identical, as in Streets of London (song) and Streets Of London (computer game).
Article title format
- Use lower case, except for proper names: The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized; subsequent words in a title are not, unless they are part of a proper name, and so would be capitalized in running text; when this is done, the title will be simple to link to in other articles: Northwestern University offers more graduate work than a typical liberal arts college. For initial lower case letters, as in eBay, see the technical restrictions page.
- Use the singular form: Article titles are generally singular in form, e.g. "Controller", not Controllers. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects.
- Avoid abbreviations: Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation (e.g. NATO and Laser). The abbreviation UK, for United Kingdom, is acceptable for use in disambiguation.
- Avoid definite and indefinite articles: Do not place definite or indefinite articles (the, a and an) at the beginning of titles unless they are part of a proper name (e.g. Mega Man: The Wily Wars) or will otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Ooze vs ooze).
- Do not enclose titles in quotes: Article titles which are quotes (or song titles, etc.) are not enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. 'To be, or not to be is the article while "To be, or not to be" is a redirect to that article).
- Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another. Even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently. For example, an article on transportation in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transport" or "Azerbaijan (transport)" – use "Transport in Azerbaijan". (This does not always apply in non-article namespaces.)