FamilySearch Wiki:Manual of Style

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Revision as of 19:34, 14 February 2012

Book-copy-1-.jpg
A style guide or style manual is a set of standards for design and writing of documents, either for general use or for a specific publication or organization. Web site style guides focus on a publication's visual and technical aspects, prose style, best usage, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and fairness. The consistent use of style guidelines provides uniformity in style and formatting of wiki articles, which makes the articles easier for readers to understand and use.

Contents

General Principles

Respectful interactions. Comments and editing should be made with respect for other users and contributors. FamilySearch Wiki:Etiquette Guidelines

Alternate opinions of information. How genealogists do family history is very individualized. Rather than editing and reediting an article, alternate information or methods may be added in a section such as "Other ways to find the information".

Appropriate content. Content and images must be appropriate to the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Inappropriate content or links will be removed.

Neutrality. Articles should be as neutral as possible. Descriptions should be factual and avoid negative or positive judgements ("settlers from western Europe" rather than "poor, uneducated peasants"). Hype should be avoided ("The greatest thing since sliced bread!"). FamilySearch Wiki:Neutral point of view

Simplicity. Writing should be clear and simple. When a term is used that may be unfamiliar to people (for example, gazetteer), it should be defined the first time it appears in the body of an article. Avoid using specialized terms or acronymns when a common term is available. As much as possible, the information should be understandable for every user, even if English is not the user's first language.

Bylines

Anyone can contribute to FamilySearch Wiki. Pages are not owned by anyone exclusively. Since anyone can add to a page, the original author of a page will see his work added to and changed by others. When a contributor adds or edits a wiki page, he relinquishes ownership of the content to the community. This relinquishment of content to the community is stated not only in a policy page but also in the editing screen everyone uses to add content. For all these reasons, bylines are not appropriate on wiki pages. If information is added to the wiki from a specific published work, it is appropriate to cite that work in a footnote, but it is not appropriate to "retain ownership" of a page through use of a byline.

Grammar and Style

Important: Even if users are concerned about their writing skills, the FamilySearch Research Wiki would like them to contribute information. Other members of the wiki community can help polish the writing.

Consistent grammar style within an article. Grammar styles may vary by a contributor’s location and preference. Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be maintained throughout the article. Other contributors should follow the original style.

Complete sentences. Write with complete sentences (sentences that contain a subject and verb). Complete sentences are easier to understand, especially if English is not a user’s native language. The command form (which has an implied subject) is considered a complete sentence.
                 Correct: The parish kept the records from 1770 to 1932.
                 Correct: Click the link to the Family History Library Catalog.
                 Incorrect: Not bad.

Shorter sentences that express one idea. As much as possible, write with shorter sentences that express one idea. They are easier to understand, especially if English is not a user’s native language.
                 Correct: This is an index to some birth and christening records from Arizona. The records cover 1909 through 1917. The index is not necessarily complete for any particular place or region.

Neutral tone. Writing should be factual and avoid stereotypes, judgments, and gender bias. However, quotes should not be changed to meet this guideline.

Not using “he or she.” As much as possible, avoid using “he or she” and “his or hers” (for example, “He or she can use the index to find his or her ancestor’s record quickly”). Do not use the plural pronoun “they” to replace “he or she.” Often, the problem can be solved by rewriting the sentence.
                 Correct: When users find an ancestor’s family in the census, they should copy all the information for the family.
                 Incorrect: When a user finds his or her ancestor’s family in the census, he or she should copy all the information for the family.
                 Incorrect: When a user finds their ancestor’s family in the census, they should copy all the information for the family.

Avoiding unclear “antecedents.” A pronoun represents to the last noun used before the pronoun. For clarity, pronouns should be used correctly. If needed, rewrite the sentence or repeat the noun.
                 Correct: Ancestors who fought in the U.S. Civil War may be listed in the U.S. Civil War pension records.
                 Correct: If ancestors of the users fought in the U.S. Civil War, users may find the ancestors’ records in the U.S. Civil War pension records.
                 Incorrect: If the ancestors fought in the U.S. Civil War, they may find their records in the U.S. Civil War pension records. (Here “they” is meant to represent users, but “they” would mean “the ancestors.”)

Avoiding “we” and “I.” Contributors should not use “we” or “I” to refer to themselves and others in the wiki community.
                 Correct: If there are differing opinions about information in an article, the opinions can be added to the Discussion page to get input from the wiki community.
                 Incorrect: If there are differing opinions about information in an article, we want the opinions added to the Discussion page to get input from the wiki community.

Ampersand (&). Do not replace the word “and” with an ampersand (&).
Exception: If the ampersand is part of an official name, use the ampersand.

Accepted authority. When there is uncertainty about grammar, follow an accepted authority such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Using the Discussion page. If differing opinions about a grammar issue cannot be resolved by referring to an accepted authority, the opinions should be added to the article’s Discussion page for input from the wiki community.

Naming

Name a new article

Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Name a new article

Before creating a new article, take the time to think of a name that clearly explains in a few words the content of the article.

  • Unique titles. No two articles may have the same title.
  • A wiki search should be done for the proposed title to ensure that there is not an existing article with that title.
  • Avoid duplication of articles. If an article already exists for the same topic, contributors should edit the existing article rather than create a new article.
  • Specific but short titles. Titles should be as short as possible but specific enough that users can identify the topic of the article when it appears in the search results. Avoid clever but unclear titles. Remove any unnecessary words or punctuation.
  • Common terms. Titles should use common terms that users might search for. A well formatted name for a new article can be very helpful to users and make it easier for search engines to guide users to the most relevant wiki article.
  • You may want to run it by experienced wiki contributors.

Capitalization in article titles

In titles, use sentence-style capitalization, which means that only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized. (For some wiki capabilities, sentence capitalization is required.) Do not list words all in capitals unless the word is an acronym.

Exception: The historical records collections in FamilySearch.org use book title capitalization.
Correct
Incorrect
Finding newspaper records
Finding Newspaper Records
Cemetery Records for St. Joseph County, Michigan
Cemetery records for St. Joseph County, Michigan
Franklin County, Illinois Court House Franklin County, Illinois court house
Canada Ontario Births (FamilySearch Historical Records) Canada Ontario births (FamilySearch historical records)

Although the above rules apply when creating an article title, other rules apply when citing sources. See FamilySearch Wiki:Source Citation Format.

Place names

Places listed in ascending order. If a city or county is listed in a title, at least the state, province, or country where the place is located should also be listed. The place is listed in ascending order (smallest place to largest). Unlike most genealogy software place name conventions, Include the word "county" in the title of an article about a particular county.

Exception: The titles of historical records collections in FamilySearch.org list places in descending order.
Correct
Incorrect
Cook County, Illinois
Illinois, Cook County
Canada Ontario Births (FamilySearch Historical Records) Ontario Canada births (FamilySearch historical records)
Correct: Utah Salt Lake County Death Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)
Correct: Canada Ontario Births (FamilySearch Historical Records)

Places that have had different names or jurisdictions. If a place has had more than one name or been in more than one jurisdiction (county, state, province, country and so on), the current name and jurisdiction should be used in the title. If the article gives information about the place only when it had a specific name or jurisdiction, use those in the title. Redirects can be used to make sure users will find the article regardless of the name or jurisdiction they search for.

Non English place names. Generally, if a country is listed in the title, use the English name (for example, Germany rather than Deutschland). Search engines pull up a different list of articles depending on the place that is listed in the title. Redirects can be used to make sure users will find the article regardless of which spelling is used.

Places and dates in titles. If the place, country, or time period is important to the content of the article, include them in the title of the article. Add the word county in the title if the article is about a county.

Correct: Birth records for Farmington, Utah, from 1890 to 1925
Correct: Orange County, California
Incorrect: Orange, California

Diacritics and quotation marks

In article titles, you may use words with diacritics or letters that do not appear in the English alphabet however, the search engine may not display the article if users search for the English version of the word. Quotation marks should be avoided in article titles.

Punctuation in the title

Do not end the title with punctuation.

Correct: Finding newspaper records
Incorrect: Finding newspaper records.

Abbreviations

Abbreviations, including US postal codes, should not be used in article titles or text because abbreviations can mean different things in different parts of the world. For example, the abbreviation CA could mean either California or Canada, depending on the reader's nationality.

For more information about naming conventions, see also Help:Naming conventions.

Italics

In a title, italicize only the titles of books and ships.

Rename an existing article

Renaming (moving) an article or page means giving it another name. In other words, the content on a page contained under one title is moved to a new page with a different title. The page is "renamed." Renaming an existing article may be desired if you find that the article title was misspelled or is ambiguous.

Main article: Help:Renaming a page


Naming subheadings within articles

Organizing information. In an article, subheadings or sections should be used to organize the content and keep similar information together. Subheadings should help users scan an article to find the information they need.

Guidelines for subheadings/section titles. Use the guidelines for article titles with the following differences.


Punctuation

Punctuation style. The rules of punctuation vary greatly (for example, whether a comma is placed before “and” in a series of items: red, white, and blue). Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be maintained throughout the article. Other contributors should follow the original style.

Commas. Commas are frequently used at the end of introductory phrases and to separate the items in a list. In a list, a comma may either be used before “and” or left out. Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be maintained throughout the article.

Correct: At that time, immigrants from Eastern Europe either sailed directly to the United States or changed ships in Liverpool, England, before sailing to the United States.
Correct: This collection includes birth, death, and marriage records.
Correct: This collection includes birth, death and marriage records.

Commas with places. When a place is listed, each jurisdiction (governmental divisions such as country, province, state, county, and so on) is separated by a comma. In a sentence, a comma also comes after the final jurisdiction unless it ends the sentence.

Correct: Bannow, County Wexford, Ireland
Correct: He was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, in an area that is now part of LaRue County, Kentucky.
Incorrect: Bannow County Wexford

Punctuation in numbers. Use commas in numbers over 999 (for example, 1,000; 1,000,000, and so on). Use a period to indicate a fraction of a digit (for example .25, 3.76, and so on).

Punctuation within quotation marks. English-speaking areas follow differing guidelines for adding punctuation within quotation marks (for example, whether the period is placed within or outside of the final quotation mark). When editing, contributors should follow the existing style in the article.

Correct: Lincoln began the Gettysburg address by referring to the Revolutionary War, which occurred “Four score and seven years ago.”
Correct: Lincoln began the Gettysburg address by referring to the Revolutionary War, which occurred “Four score and seven years ago”.

Ampersand. Do not replace the word “and” with an ampersand (&).
Exception: If the ampersand is part of an official name, use the ampersand.

And/or. Do not use “and/or.” Rewrite the sentence, or use just one word. If items are frequently together, use “and.” If items are seldom together, use “or.”
Correct: Each record has a death and burial date.
Correct: Each record has a death or burial date. Some records have both dates.
Incorrect: Each record has a death and/or burial date.

Using a slash (/) between two years. Do not use a slash between two years unless you are writing an actual double date (see guideline 15.8). Use the word “or.”

Correct: In 1530 or 1531, the parish boundaries were changed.
Incorrect: In 1530/1531, the parish boundaries were changed.

Parentheses and brackets. Use parentheses ( ) around explanatory or alternate information. If the information in parentheses is a complete sentence, the period goes within the final parenthesis. (This sentence would be an example.) Use brackets [ ] to indicate words in a quote that have been altered from the original.

Correct: 10 Vendémiaire IX (2 October 1800)
Correct: “All men [and women] are created equal.”
Incorrect: 10 Vendémiaire IX [2 October 1800]

Quotation marks. Use double quotation marks around quotes and titles of articles rather than single quotation marks.

Correct: For more information about these records, see “Australia Census.”
Incorrect: For more information about these records, see ‘Australia Census.’

The “#” symbol for the word “number.” The symbol “#” does not represent the word “number” in all cultures. Instead of “#”, use “number,” “No.,” or reword the sentence.

Correct: The number 1 cause of war deaths was disease.
Incorrect: The #1 cause of war deaths was disease.

Accepted authority. Because of the variety in the rules of punctuation, this list of guidelines is brief. When there is uncertainty about punctuation, follow an accepted authority such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Formatting

Character Formatting

Font

Regardless of the font you paste into the wiki edit screen, your work will be saved in the system's default font.

Bold

In rare cases, if a word must be emphasized, use bold.

Italics

Use italics if a word must be emphasized. List book titles in italics. Do not use italics for quoted text.

Underline

Because the use of underline indicates text with a hyperlink that can be clicked to learn more, do not use underline as a way to emphasize text.  Do not underline book titles.

Source Citations

Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Source Citation Formats


Geographical Names

A proposed style guideline Naming Conventions for Geographic Names is being discussed. Once a consensus is reached a guideline will be adopted.

Acronyms and Abbreviations


Capitalization

Merriam-Webster. When in doubt, follow Merrian-Webster.

Articles, buttons, or tabs. When referring to an article, button, or tab name, use the capitalization from the article title, button or tab.

Correct: If another style guideline is needed, list the issue on the Discussion page.
Incorrect: If another style guideline is needed, list the issue on the discussion page.

Capitalization and spelling of some common terms. For the FamilySearch Research Wiki, use the following capitalizations and spellings.

family group record

family history center (This term is not trademarked and is not capitalized.)

Family History Library

FamilySearch

FamlySearch Research Wiki

FamilySearch website

FamilySearch.org or familysearch.org (Capitals make the site name easier to read, but both are correct.)

family tree

International Genealogical Index (IGI)

Personal Ancestral File (PAF)

GEDCOM

historical collections (in FamilySearch.org)

Internet

pedigree chart

record types (for example, census records, court records, military records)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("The" is part of the official title and is capitalized.)

website

wiki (for example, the wiki, wiki articles, wiki pages, wiki community)

Places. Capitalize the word “city,” “county,” “state,” or “province” only when the word appears as part of a place name. Do not capitalize the word city, county, state, or province when it is not part of the place name.

Correct: Salt Lake City, Los Angeles County, Quebec Province

Correct: city of Boston, state of New York

Incorrect: City of Boston, Province of Alberta

Dates. Capitalize the names of months and days of the week.

Spelling variations of English. Variations of English are acceptable. For example, either colour (British) or color (United States) is acceptable. Each article should use only one variation of English. When editing, use the variation of English already established in the article.

Linking

Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Linking


Linking to other articles in FamilySearch wiki

Linking through the use of page section templates

Other possible templates to create include:

Linking through the use of metatemplates

Linking to other Websites

See also: Create an external link

Links should not display the full URL

Many URLs (website addresses) are long and not reader-friendly. For readability's sake, links should not include the full URL of the destination page. There may be extremely rare instances where displaying the full URL is desirable, but this should be the exception, not the rule, and should be done only if there is a compelling reason.

Example 1: a link by itself

Correct: FamilySearch

Incorrect: www.familysearch.org/

Example 2: a link in context

Correct: Order United States military records online.

Incorrect: Go to https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline/start.swe?SWECmd=GotoView&SWEView=GPEA+Product+Detail+-+Features+View+FFO&SWEHo=eservices.archives.gov&SWETS=1199728061&SWEPostnApplet=GPEA+Product+Form

https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline/start.swe?SWECmd=GotoView&SWEView=GPEA+Product+Detail+-+Features+View+FFO&SWEHo=eservices.archives.gov&SWETS=1199728061&SWEPostnApplet=GPEA+Product+Form to order United States military records online.

Click here to order United States military records online.

Clearly, the first link is much easier to read, takes less space, and helps users understand what they will find by clicking the link.

Free web sites

"For pay" web sites

If you refer to a subscription website or one which has a charge to obtain information, use the "$" to indicate that there may be a fee for the site.

OCLC/WorldCat

Using the {{WorldCat}} template for these links will allow the links to be easily updated if the web address changes.

FHLC

Using the {{FHL}} template for these links will allow the links to be easily updated if the web address changes.

Record Search

Using the {{RecordSearch}} template for these links will allow the links to be easily updated if the web address changes.

Wikipedia

Using the {{Wikipedia}} template for these links will allow the links to be easily updated if the web address changes.

Maps

Preferred terms

The following terms are preferred.

website: should be one word and all lower case as recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style

FamilySearch.org or the FamilySearch website

(Do not refer to the website as FamilySearch. Legally, FamilySearch is the name of the organization responsible for FamilySearch.org and other family history projects.)
Correct: You can search historical record collections at FamilySearch.org.
Incorrect: You can search historical record collections at FamilySearch.

FamilySearch Research Wiki (just "wiki" or Research Wiki is also acceptable)

Correct: Creating a new article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki
Incorrect: Creating a new article in the FamilySearch wiki

Latin abbreviations. Do not use ca., etc., e.g., or viz. Use simple English instead.

ca. (Use "about")
e.g. (Use "for example.")
etc. (Use "and so on" or "and so forth.")
i.e. (This term actually means "that is," and is often used incorrectly to mean "for example." Depending on meaning, use "that is," "such as," or "for example.")
viz. (Use "namely.")

Box layout: columns vs. portals

Authors desiring to display a wiki page's content in boxes should use tables within columns instead of using sub-pages within portals. To see the code that allows one to layout columns and tables, go to the Maryland page, click Edit, and switch to Wikitext view. To see an example of portal code, go to the India portal on Wikipedia and click Edit this page. For more about this topic, see The Un-Portal Page.

Draft Pages or Sandboxes

Major editing work on a page that will not be finished for an extended time may confuse visitors to the page. To avoid this, it is recommend that lengthy or long term editing preparations are worked on in a sandbox you create. Be sure to add a link in the "Discussion" page of where the planned changes will be posted, to the sandbox where the planned changes are being worked on. This will allow comments on the new content until it is moved from the sandbox page to the page that needs the changes.

Further information: FamilySearch Wiki:About the Sandbox

Measurements

Metric or U.S. If measurements are needed, they can be written in metric or U.S. systems. The same system should be used throughout the article. It is recommended that the contributor provide the measurement in both systems. Metric may be listed first with the U.S. equivalent in parentheses, or the U.S. measurement may be listed first with the metric equivalent in parentheses. The same order should be used throughout the article.

Correct: Many narrow-gauge railroads in the Maine forests were 2 ft (610 mm) wide.
Correct: Many narrow-gauge railroads in the Maine forests were 610 mm (2 ft) wide.

Including a unit. Always include the unit of measurement with the number (for example, yard, meter, quart, and so on). Standard abbreviations may be used if they do not have more than one meaning.

Correct: Staten Island in New York City covers 59 square miles (153 square kilometers).
Correct: Staten Island in New York City covers 59 sq mi (153 km2).
Incorrect: Staten Island in New York City covers 59m.

Currencies

Listing costs of services. When referring users to a site or institution that charges for its services, it is appropriate to let users know there will be a charge. However, because prices change often, it is best to avoid listing the exact cost of the services.

Correct: There is a fee to get a copy of a deceased ancestor’s Social Security application.
Incorrect: There is a US$27-$29 fee to get a copy of a deceased ancestor’s Social Security application.

Identifying the currency listed. If it is important to indicate an amount of money, indicate both the amount and which currency is listed (Canadian dollars, Japanese yen, Mexican pesos, British pounds, and so on). Frequently, an abbreviation for the country is listed in front of the amount (for example, US$25). The original price and the equivalent in today’s money may be listed.

Correct: In 1800, a private in the British infantry was paid 1 shilling a day.
Correct: For the Louisiana Territory, the United States paid France US$15,000,000.
Incorrect: For the Louisiana Territory, the United States paid France almost $190 million in today’s money.

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