CZ:Proposals/Naming Conventions for Biographies/Proposal1

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Naming Conventions for Biographical Articles

In general, an article about a person ought to live at the name at which the person is best-known to educated English-speaking people, with redirects from all common alternates. The first sentence of the article should contain the full legal name (or other formal equivalent), along with other basic biographical information. For example, the article on Jimmy Carter begins

James Earl Carter, Jr. was President of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

People from English-speaking countries

Use the full first name and last name, unless the person is well-known by some other form. If a person commonly is given a middle initial to distinguish them from another person with the same first and last name, use the middle initial. If the person commonly is addressed by or discussed by a nickname, use that. Where more than one form is common, there should be redirects from the others. Thus, some U.S. presidents:

However, some people use an first initial, use a stage name, or use a single name. In general, the form the person uses in writing is the form which should be used for the article title, with some redirects. For example:

People from other Latin-alphabet-using countries

In general, the same rules apply, though care should be taken to get the correct surname when doing default sorts and choosing disambiguation. For example, a former president of Colombia is Julio César Turbay Ayala. His last name is Turbay Ayala, and should be alphabetised under "T", not "A". It may be useful, in such cases, to create a redirect from Julio César Turbay

Names of people who have diacritical marks in their name should be listed using the diacritical marks, with a redirect from the unaccented version, plus any other redirects which would be appropriate. So, to use a more famous Colombian example, Gabriel García Márquez, with a redirect from Gabriel Garcia Marquez (and remember to alphabetize him as Garcia Marquez, Gabriel, not Marquez, Gabriel Garcia). The exception to this is for people who have been much discussed in the English-language press using a spelling without diacritics, thus Hermann Goering rather than Hermann Göring, but Kurt Gödel not Kurt Goedel, because the best-known work about the mathematician spells his name with the umlaut. (Of course, in both cases, the other choice ought to exist as a redirect.)

People from countries which do not use the Latin alphabet

In general, the rules for English-speaking countries still apply, except for the issue of transliteration. Transliteration should be performed following the guidelines at CZ:Romanization where a guideline for the appropriate language exists.

For languages with fairly standard transliteration, such as most of those using the Greek or Cyrillic alphabets, this shouldn't be problematic; except to point out that transliterations should be into English, not German or French: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, not Tschaikowski or Tchaïkovski. Particular care should be taken with transliterations from Greek, as Ancient Greek was not, according to the scholars, pronounced as Modern Greek is. Thus Eleftherios Venizelos, not Eleutherios Venizelos (nor Benizelos), but Euripides, not Evripidis.

Until a guideline for Chinese is developed at CZ:Romanization/Chinese, Chinese names should be transliterated in the way most familiar to literate people in the English-speaking world. For people from the Republic of China, or major figures of Nationalist China or the Chinese Empire, that is likely to be the Wade-Giles method. For people from the People's Republic, that is likely to be the Pinyin method. For both, the family name should stay in front. So Mao Zedong (with redirect from Mao Tse-Tung), but Sun Yat-Sen. However, Confucius, not Kǒng Fūzǐ or K'ung-fu-tzu. (As always, redirects should exist from both of those, and from Kong Fuzi and Kung Fu Tzu.)

People whose culture has family name first

Except where such people have come to be known in the English-speaking world with their names re-ordered to the English standard, the name should be written out in the way which it appears in their culture. Thus Mao Zedong, not Zedong Mao. Redirects need not exist unless there is some substantial literature which has the names in English order.

People with titles of nobility or royalty

This proposal generally follows the system for names and titles that the Royalty and Nobility Work Group at Wikipedia have developed, except to expand its use beyond western Europe. This guideline applies to people who have held offices which are normally hereditary, even if their specific tenure was not the result of hereditary succession.

In general:

  • Monarchs of nations: "{Monarch's first name and ordinal}, {Title} of {Country}". {title} should be omitted where it is "King" or "Queen". Family names should only be used where necessary to distinguish between two monarchs with the same name, ordinal and country.
  • Patriarchs and Popes: "Patriarch/Pope {papal name} {ordinal if more than one} of {episcopal see}". When the episcopal see is Rome, it should be omitted.
  • Hereditary nobility: "{Commonly used name}, {ordinal (if appropriate)} {title} (of) {place}".

Exceptions to the general Wikipedia policy:

However, where a person is much better known by some other usage, the article should live at that name; thus Charlemagne and Cardinal Richelieu.

People who have held elected or appointed offices, even life-term offices, should not have their title in their article name, nor should bishops or archbishops of the various Christian churches which have that office. Thus Ronald Reagan, not President Ronald Reagan, and Rowan Williams, not Archbishop Rowan Williams. (Though possibly [[Archbishop Makarios.


When more than one person is known by the same name, there are two different methods to handle the namespace conflict:

  1. If one of the persons is far more notable than all the rest sharing the name, then the article on that person has that person's name, and the article has a hatnote which mentions that other persons with the same name can be found at the disambiguation page. For example, the second president of the United States should have an article at John Adams, and there should be a page John Adams (disambiguation), which lists all the other people named John Adams who have articles here.
  2. If there is no one outstanding person who has a particular name, then the article titled with just the name should have a list of all the persons with that name who have articles. Thus the article on Robert Ford will list all the Robert Fords who have articles in Citizendium.

Except for the most famous person in case 1 above, all articles about people with names shared by other people with articles will be titled with some distinguishing characteristic; usually what the person was best-known for. Thus the various Robert Fords would be discussed in articles titled Robert Ford (poet), Robert Ford (outlaw), Robert Ford (politician), and Robert Ford (author).

When creating a disambiguation list, include people whose names may not strictly require disambiguation - thus on the Robert Ford disambiguation page, Bob Ford and Robert Stephen Ford should also be listed. On the John Adams (disambiguation)page, John Quincy Adams should be listed along with the plethora of other famous and infamous John Adamses.