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This is a Citizendium help page
This help page is meant for help and guidance only. It can be edited by any Citizen and, whilst we try to ensure it is accurate, it may not fully represent current policy.
Further guidance can be found at the Naming conventions page.
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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 important convention is that the common names for things should be used in preference to the recondite or obscure, although this may have a few exceptions. See below for details.

How to title articles

It is important to choose the right title for an article.

The title should describe the contents of an article accurately. If you have written an article about a topic, only to discover that your article concerns only one aspect of the topic (such as its history), then it is preferable to place your article on a more accurately-named page, to write a short article about the original topic, and then link from that short article to the new page. For example, if you were to write an article about Russia only to find that you had written exclusively about the history of Russia, then you should move your article to History of Russia, and link to that new page from a brief article about Russia on the Russia page.

Generally, prefer common names. The common names for things--if accurate--should be used in preference to the recondite or obscure (although this may have a few 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 lowercase except when uppercase is commonly written: The article title should be lowercase.[1] A name that is typically used with title case in a normal sentence should use that form in the article title. So: love and computational complexity theory; but American Chemical Society and Mississippi River.

Prefer singular: Prefer the singular form of nouns (with few exceptions). For example, prefer bear to bears. This makes linking to articles easier and more intuitive.

First name first: Unless there is a compelling reason not to, articles about people should 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: Do not use punctuation in an article title. Dashes, hyphens, colons, semi-colons, parentheses, periods, and commas should be avoided in article titles unless excepted. There are four exceptions to this policy: (1) a disambiguation title should use parenthesis (see below); (2) geographical place names (e.g., Anchorage, Alaska); (3) artistic works shall be rendered exactly 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). Note also that initials are spaced (we prefer J. R. R. Tolkien to 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.).[2]

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. There are at least two sorts of case in which this is necessary:

  • The title (i.e., the word or phrase in the title) is used in multiple ways, and the sense discussed 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--no parentheses needed.
  • The title takes a common word or phrase, or what might appear to be common, and uses it in a special way. For example, "attack surface" is a term in computer science, but the words themselves could mean all sorts of things, such as the deck of an aircraft carrier or a ping-pong table. Simply to clarify that we are using the word or phrase in a special way, we include a disambiguating phrase: attack surface (software). More examples: phenomenon (Kant's philosophy); frontal scale (snakes); pissant (insect).

Some titles should always be disambiguated— in particular, those titles 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. Or, in any event, in the interests of neutrality, we should not pretend that any one sense is the primary one. Therefore, we should use Georgia (U.S. state) and Georgia (country), or similar, suitably unambiguous titles. What should we put at Georgia (with no parentheses)? At Georgia, we should 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. Please use the common name in English (Amazon River not "River Amazon" since the river is usually known by the former name). 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

Lowercase first letters

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).

Article titles with a "/" in them

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 first character is currently "forced" uppercase by our software, but the names of the articles are generally considered to be lowercase: "computer."
  2. 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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