|Manual of Style|
This Manual of Style has the simple purpose of making things easy to read by following a consistent format — it is a style guide. The following rules do not claim to be the last word on style. One way is often as good as another, but if everyone does it the same way, Nickipedia will be easier to read and use, not to mention easier to write and edit. In this regard, the following quotation from The Chicago Manual of Style deserves notice:
- Rules and regulations such as these, in the nature of the case, cannot be endowed with the fixity of rock-ribbed law. They are meant for the average case, and must be applied with a certain degree of elasticity.
In this vein, editors of new and existing articles should strive to have their articles follow these guidelines.
Clear, informative, and unbiased writing is always more important than presentation and formatting. Nickipedia does not require writers to follow all or any of these rules, but their efforts will be more appreciated when they do so: the joy of wiki editing is that this does not require perfection.
- → Main article: Nickelodeon:Article titles
If possible, make the title the subject of the first sentence of the article (as opposed to putting it in the predicate). For example, write "This Manual of Style is a style guide" instead of "This style guide is known as the Manual of Style." In any case, the title should appear as early as possible in the article — preferably in the first sentence.
The first time the article mentions the title, put it in bold using three apostrophes —
'''article title''' produces article title. For example: "This Manual of Style is a style guide."
As a general rule, do not put links in
- the bold reiteration of the title in the article's lead sentence or
- any section title.
Also, try not to put other phrases in bold in the first sentence. An exception to this arises when an article has alternative titles, each of which an editor puts in bold. Follow the normal rules for italics in choosing whether to put part or all of the title in italics.
Use the == (two equal signs) style markup for headings, not the ''' (triple apostrophes) used to make words appear bold in character formatting. Start with "==", add the heading title, then end with "==".
- Avoid links within headings. Instead repeat the word or phrase in the first sentence and wikify there.
- Avoid overuse of sub-headings.
- Avoid "The" in headings; use "Voyage" instead of "The voyage".
- If at all possible, avoid changing section titles, as other articles may link to a specific section.
Initial capitals and all capitals should not be used for emphasis. For example, "aardvarks, which are Not The Same as anteaters" and "aardvarks, which are NOT THE SAME as anteaters" are both incorrect. Use italics instead ("aardvarks, which are not the same as anteaters") if formatting must be used, but first attempt to make your emphasis clear using the words themselves.
Species, race, and region
Do not capitalize names of species of creatures, such as cat, human, or sponge. Racial and regional names are capitalized, such as American, Canadian, or Asian. Additionally, names of religious groups are capitalized, such as Jesuits.
Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines and their adherents
Names of religions, whether as a noun or an adjective, and their followers start with a capital letter. Philosophies, doctrines, and other systems of thought do not begin with a capital letter, unless the name derives from a proper noun. For example, bushido, niten, and iaijutsu would all be lowercase, unless they began a sentence.
The names of months, days, and holidays always begin with a capital letter. Seasons start with a capital letter when they go with another noun or when they personify. Here they function as proper nouns: "Winter Solstice"; "Autumn Open House"; "I think Spring is showing her colors"; "Old Man Winter". However, in the general sense, they do not start with a capital letter: "This summer was very hot."
Proper names of specific institutions (for example, Southampton High School, St. James Church, etc.) are proper nouns and require capitalization. However, the words for types of institutions (academy, school, church, etc.) do not require capitalization if they do not appear in a proper name.
'' (italic) markup. Example:
''This is italic.''
- This is italic.
Editors mainly use italics to emphasize certain words. Italics for emphasis should be used sparingly.
They also use them in these other cases:
Italics are used for the titles of works of literature and art.
Words as words
Use italics when writing about words as words, or letters as letters (to indicate the use-mention distinction). For example:
- Deuce means two.
- The term panning is derived from panorama, a word originally coined in 1787.
- The most common letter in English is e.
Words that are common in the English language should be italicized. Non-English words that have entered the English language, however — such as "mocha", "guerrilla", or "sushi" — do not need to be italicized.
There is normally no need to put quotations in italics unless the material would otherwise call for italics (emphasis, literary titles, etc.).
In most cases, simply follow the usual rules of English punctuation. A few points where Nickipedia may differ from usual usage follow.
Use the "double quotes" for most quotations — they are easier to read on the screen — and use 'single quotes' for nesting quotations, that is, "quotations 'within' quotations".
- E.g.: "I don't like that dude calling the Squid 'Squid'; only we can call the Squid 'Squid'. Right, Squid?"
- Note: if a word or phrase appears in an article with single quotes, such as 'abcd', the Wikipedia:Searching facility considers the single quotes to be part of the word and will find that word or phrase only if the search string is also within single quotes. (When trying this out with the example mentioned, remember that this article is in the Wikipedia namespace.) Avoiding this complication is an additional reason to use double quotes, for which the difficulty does not arise. It may even be a reason to use double quotes for quotations within quotations.
Use quotation marks or indentations to distinguish quotations from other text. There is normally no need to put quotations in italics unless the material would otherwise call for italics (emphasis, literary titles, etc.).
Look of quotation marks and apostrophes
There are two options when considering the look of the quotation marks themselves:
As there is currently no consensus on which should be preferred, either is acceptable. However, it appears that historically the majority of Wikipedia articles, and those on the internet as a whole, follow the latter style. Because of this, if quotation marks appear in an article title, please ensure that straight glyphs are used. Feel free to make a redirect using curved ones, though this is not mandatory.
Never use grave and acute accents or backticks (` ´) as quotation marks.
Use of punctuation in presence of brackets/parentheses
Punctuation goes where it belongs logically; that is, it goes with the text to which it belongs. A sentence wholly inside brackets will have its punctuation inside the brackets. (As shown here, this applies to all punctuation in the sentence.) If a sentence ends with a clause in brackets, the final punctuation stays outside the brackets (as shown here). This applies to square "[ ]" as well as round "( )" brackets (parentheses).
The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma or Harvard comma) is a comma used immediately before a conjunction in a list of three or more items. The phrase "ham, chips, and eggs" is written with a serial comma, but "ham, chips and eggs" is not. Either is proper, but sometimes omitting the comma can lead to an ambiguous sentence, as in this example: "The author would like to thank her parents, Sinéad O'Connor and President Bush." In such cases, there are three options for avoiding ambiguity:
- A serial comma can be used to avoid ambiguity.
- The sentence can be recast to avoid listing the items in an ambiguous manner.
- The items in the list can be presented using a formatted list.
Colons ( : ) should not have spaces before them:
- He attempted it in two years: 1941 and 1943 (correct)
- He attempted it in two years : 1941 and 1943 (incorrect)
Spaces after the end of a sentence
There are no guidelines on whether to use one or two spaces after the end of a sentence, but it is not a critical issue as the difference is visible only in the edit box.
In general, formal writing is preferred. Therefore, avoid the use of contractions such as don't, can't, won't, would've, they'd, and so on — unless they occur in a quotation.
Usage and spelling
- Possessives of singular nouns ending in s may be formed with or without an additional s. Either form is generally acceptable within Wikipedia. However, if either form is much more common for a particular word or phrase, follow that form, such as with "Achilles' heel".
- Abbreviations of Latin terms like "i.e.", "e.g.", or "n.b." should be avoided and English terms such as "that is", "for example", or "note" used instead.
- If a word or phrase is generally regarded as correct, then prefer it to any other word or phrase that might be regarded as incorrect. For example, "other meaning" should be used instead of "alternate meaning", since alternate only means "alternating" in British English (and also according to the American Heritage Dictionary).
- Use an unambiguous word or phrase in preference to an ambiguous one. For example, "other meaning" should be used instead of "alternative meaning", since alternative commonly suggests "non-traditional" or "out-of-the-mainstream" to an American-English speaker.
Avoid self-referential pronouns
Nickipedia articles cannot be based on one person's opinions or experiences. Thus, "I" can never be used, except, of course, when it appears in a quotation. For similar reasons, avoid the use of "we" and "one", as in: "We/One should note that some critics have argued in favor of the proposal", as it sounds more personal than encyclopedic.
Nevertheless, it might sometimes be appropriate to use "we" or "one" when referring to an experience that anyone, any reader, would be expected to have, such as general perceptual experiences. For example, although it might be best to write, "When most people open their eyes, they see something", it is still legitimate to write, "When we open our eyes, we see something", and it is certainly better than using the passive voice: "When the eyes are opened, something is seen".
Avoid the second person
Use of the second person ("you") is generally discouraged. This is to keep an encyclopedic tone, and also to help clarify the sentence. Instead, refer to the subject of the sentence, for example:
- "When a player moves past "go," that player collects $200."
- Or, even better: "Players passing 'go' collect $200."
- Not: "When you move past "go," you collect $200."
This does not apply to quoted text, which should be quoted exactly.
Verb tenses should be appropriate to the events they are describing. If speaking of events in the past, use the past tense. If speaking of events in the present, use the present tense. When describing continuing actions ("The daisho is the symbol of the samurai caste"), present tense should be used.
The following are rules for using lists of bulleted items:
- When using complete sentences always use punctuation and a period at the end.
- Incomplete sentences don't need terminal punctuation.
- Do not mix sentence styles; use all complete sentences, or use all sentence fragments.
- Each entry begins with a capital letter, even if it is a sentence fragment.
Unlike Wikipedia, where nearly every word in an article is probably the title of a different article, articles within Nikipedia are going to be far more on-topic. Links can be added to any article that would reasonably be within this wiki, though attention should still be paid to naming conventions.
Links should only appear once, the first time the linked word or phrase appears in the article. This includes variations of naming for the same article, such as SpongeBob and SpongeBob SquarePants. For particularly long articles, words may be linked again the first time they appear in a specific top-level ("==") section. Links in template boxes do not count to this restriction. Links in the introduction to an article may or may not count; this is left to the discretion of the individual editor.
When all else fails
If this page does not specify which usage is preferred, use other resources, such as The Chicago Manual of Style (from the University of Chicago Press) or Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd edition) (from the Oxford University Press). Also, please feel free to carry on a discussion on Nickelodeon talk:Manual of Style, especially for substantive changes.
Even simpler is to look at an article that you like and open it for editing to see how the writers and editors have put it together. You can then close the window without saving changes if you like, but look around while you are there. Almost every article can be improved.
Keep markup simple
Use the simplest markup to display information in a useful and comprehensible way. Markup may appear differently in different browsers. Use HTML and CSS markup sparingly and only with good reason. Minimizing markup in entries allows easier editing.
In particular, do not use the CSS
line-height properties because they break rendering on some browsers when large fonts are used.
Formatting issues such as font size, blank space and color are issues for the site-wide style sheet and should not be dealt with in articles except in special cases. If you absolutely must specify a font size, use a relative size i.e.
font-size: 80%; not an absolute size, for example,
Using color alone to convey information should not be done, but if necessary, try to choose colors that are unambiguous when viewed by a person with color blindness. In general, this means that red and green should not both be used. Viewing the page with Vischeck (http://www.vischeck.com/vischeck/vischeckURL.php) can help with deciding if the colors should be altered. It is acceptable to use color as an aid, but the information should still be equally accessible without it.
Make comments invisible
Avoid highlighting that the article is incomplete and in need of further work.
Similarly, there is little benefit to the reader in seeing headings and tables without content.
If you want to communicate with other potential editors, make comments invisible to the ordinary article reader. To do so, enclose the text which you intend to be read only by editors within
For example, the following:
hello <!-- This is a comment. --> world
is displayed as:
- hello world
So the comment can be seen only when viewing the HTML or wiki source.
Consider the legibility of what you are writing. Make your entry easy to read on a screen. Make judicious use of devices such as bulleted lists and bolding. More on this has been written by Jakob Nielsen in How Users Read on the Web.
Links to articles outside of Nickipedia appear as internal footnotes and can appear in a list at the bottom of the article. They should not appear as their native URLs, but should be formatted to describe the website and the topic. Not written as: See link for an examination of evidence supporting both sides of the argument [http://www.nellgavin.com/boleyn_links/boleynhandwriting.htm]. But should be written as: [http://www.nellgavin.com/boleyn_links/boleynhandwriting.htm Anne Boleyn handwriting] . When wikified it will appear as: Anne Boleyn handwriting.
- Avoiding common mistakes gives a list of common mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Be bold in updating pages should define your attitude toward page updates.
- Nickelodeon:Cite your sources explains process and standards for citing references in articles.
- How to edit a page is a short primer on editing pages.
- Wiki markup explains the mechanics of what codes are available to you when editing a page, to do things like titles, links, external links, and so on.