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CZ:Naming conventions

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Revision as of 14:58, 4 November 2010 by Gareth Leng (Talk | contribs) (Typographical and stylistic rules)

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Citizendium has various conventions about how to name articles. Perhaps most importantly, all words in an article name, except for the first word, should be lower case and singular, unless it is normal usage to write it in the upper case or plural (e.g. Great Britain and Pants). Another convention is that the common names for things should be preferred to the obscure, although there are exceptions.

How to title articles

If an article concerns only one aspect of a topic, then it should have a precise title that accurately reflects the content. For example, if an article about Russia is only about the history of Russia, then it should be named History of Russia.

Generally, prefer common names. The common names for things--if accurate--are preferred to the recondite or obscure (although there are exceptions). For instance, you might better place an article about the 42d President of the United States at Bill Clinton rather than William Jefferson Clinton since he was known as and identified himself as Bill Clinton.

Typographical and stylistic rules

Prefer singular: Prefer the singular form of nouns. For example, prefer Bear to Bears. This makes linking to articles easier and more intuitive.

First name first: Articles about people should normally begin with the person's first name first (e.g., Albert Einstein). Our metadata template will alphabetize the page in category listings according to the "abc" field. Fill in the "abc" field in the metadata template as abc = Einstein, Albert. This field will file the Einstein article in all categories under "E" rather than "A" (See CZ:Using the Subpages template).

Punctuation: Avoid punctuation in an article title. There are exceptions:

  1. a disambiguation titles use parentheses (e.g. )(see below);
  2. geographical place names (e.g., Anchorage, Alaska);
  3. artistic works are rendered as produced (e.g., William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!, Willa Cather's O Pioneers!);
  4. Initials if used as common name (e.g., J.R.R. Tolkien). Some initials, however, do not use periods (e.g., USS, HMS, RMS, USSR, PRC, BBC, NBC, etc.; but always U.S.).[1]

Disambiguation in page titles

See also: CZ:Disambiguation

To disambiguate is to reduce ambiguity. It is occasionally necessary to place clarifying phrases within parentheses to specify which of various possible topics might be meant. For example, when

  1. The title is used in multiple ways, and the sense in the article is not the most common sense. For example, there is a line of cosmetics called "Philosophy"; the article about that might live at Philosophy (cosmetics). The article about deep thought continues to live at Philosophy.
  2. The title takes a common word or phrase and uses it in a special way. For example, "attack surface" is a term in computer science, but the words could mean all sorts of things, such as the deck of an aircraft carrier or a ping-pong table. To clarify that we are using the word or phrase in a special way, we include a disambiguating phrase: e.g. attack surface (software); phenomenon (Kant's philosophy); frontal scale (snakes).

Some titles should always be disambiguated— in particular, those that do not suggest any one particular sense. For example, "Georgia" is apt to bring to mind the U.S. state as much as the country in the Caucasus. Therefore, we use Georgia (U.S. state) and Georgia (country), or similar, suitably unambiguous titles. At Georgia, we put a "disambiguation page," i.e., a page that lists and links to the different pages with the title in question.

Similarly, royalty should be disambiguated by kingdom in parentheses. King James I should be disambiguated in the title by kingdom: James I (England), James I (Scotland), James I (Aragon).

Geographical names

Names of geographical entities should be written in full, in title case, and without the definite article ("the"): Pacific Ocean, Red Sea, Nile, North America. Generally, use the name of a geographical entity usually given by the locals if English-speaking, and most often used in English if the locals are not English-speaking (e.g., Rio Grande). In uncertain cases, some sort of disambiguation should be used in the title.

Incorrectly named articles

If you see a page that you think has been incorrectly named, first look at the article's Talk: page to see if the issue has been previously discussed and if a consensus has been reached about it. If not, leave a note with your suggestion, and add the article to Category:Rename suggested (add [[Category:Rename suggested]] to the bottom of the talk page). It might also be wise to notify the work group editors directly, since the "Category:Rename suggested" is, at the moment, not frequently looked at. You can find a list of the work group editors by navigating through the CZ:Workgroups pages. Look for the "editors" link under "community".

Special cases

  • Some pages, like pH and e (mathematics), require lower case titles, which are done like this:
{{lowercase|title=pH}} at the top of the article gives the correct title form for pH
{{lowercase|title=e (mathematics}} gives the correct title form of e (mathematics).
  • Some pages, like 9/11 Attack, require a "/" in their titles, which for technical reasons doesn't work with our subpage system. Use {{slashtitle}}, and follow the instructions on that page.


  1. The usage of "U.S." is technical as the search engine will differentiate between "U.S." and "us" but not "US" and "us". Thus if it were "US", a search for U.S. topics such as the "U.S. Civil War" would also return "between us, civil war erupted." Similarly, searches for "US" topics would also return "USSR" topics.

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