Help:Page Name

From Robin's SM-201 Website
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This article has been adopted from Wikipedia and has been modified for use on SM-201.

An article title is the large heading displayed above the article's content and the basis for the article's page name and URL. The title indicates what the article is about and distinguishes it from other articles.

The title may simply be the name (or a name) of the subject of the article, or if the article topic has no name, it may be a description of the topic. Because no two articles can have the same title, it is sometimes necessary to add specific information, often in the form of a description in parentheses after the name. Generally, article titles are based on what the subject is called in reliable sources. When this offers multiple possibilities, editors choose among them by considering several principles: the ideal article title precisely identifies the subject; it is short, natural, distinguishable, and recognizable; and it resembles titles for similar articles.

This page explains in detail the considerations, or naming conventions, on which choices of article titles are based. This page does not detail titling for pages in other namespaces, such as categories. It is supplemented by other more specific guidelines (see the box to the right), which should be interpreted in conjunction with other policies, particularly the three core content policies: Verifiability, No original research, and Neutral point of view.

Deciding on an article title

Article titles are based on how reliable English-language sources refer to the article's subject. There is often more than one appropriate title for an article. In that case, editors choose the best title by consensus based on the considerations that this page explains. A good SM-201 article title has the five following characteristics:

  • Recognizability – The title is a name or description of the subject that someone familiar with, although not necessarily an expert in, the subject area will recognize.
  • Naturalness – The title is one that readers are likely to look or search for and that editors would naturally use to link to the article from other articles. Such a title usually conveys what the subject is actually called in English.
  • Precision – The title unambiguously identifies the article's subject and distinguishes it from other subjects.
  • Concision – The title is no longer than necessary to identify the article's subject and distinguish it from other subjects.
  • Consistency – The title is consistent with the pattern of similar articles' titles. Many of these patterns are listed (and linked) as topic-specific naming conventions on article titles, in the box above.

These should be seen as goals, not as rules. For most topics, there is a simple and obvious title that meets these goals satisfactorily. If so, use it as a straightforward choice. However, in some cases, the choice is not so obvious. It may be necessary to favor one or more of these goals over the others. This is done by consensus. For instance, the recognizable, natural, and concise title of the United Kingdom is preferred over the more precise title United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

When titling articles in specific fields or concerning particular problems, there is often previous consensus that can be used as a precedent. Look at the guideline pages referenced. When no previous consensus exists, a new consensus is established through discussion with the above questions in mind. The choice of article titles should put the interests of readers before those of editors and those of a general audience before those of specialists.

Redirects should be created to articles that may be searched for or linked to under two or more names (such as different spellings or former names). Conversely, a name that could refer to several different articles may require disambiguation.

Use commonly recognizable names

In SM-201, an article title is a natural-language word or expression that indicates the subject of the article; as such, the article title is usually the name of the person, or of the place, or of whatever else the topic of the article is. However, some topics have multiple names, and some names have multiple topics; this can lead to disagreement about which name should be used for a given article's title. SM-201 does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it generally prefers the name that is most commonly used (as determined by its prevalence in a significant majority of independent, reliable English-language sources) as such names will usually best fit the five criteria listed above. When there is no single, obvious name that is demonstrably the most frequently used for the topic by these sources, editors should reach a consensus as to which title is best by considering these criteria directly.

For cases where usage differs among English-speaking countries, see also National varieties of English, below.

Editors should also consider all five criteria for article titles outlined above. Ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined in reliable sources, are often avoided even though reliable sources may more frequently use them. Neutrality is also considered; see § Neutrality in article titles below. Article titles should be neither vulgar (unless unavoidable) nor pedantic. When there are multiple names for a subject, all of which are fairly common, and the most common has problems, it is perfectly reasonable to choose one of the others.

Although official, scientific, birth, original, or trademarked names are often used for article titles, the term or name most typically used in reliable sources is generally preferred. Other encyclopedias are among the sources that may be helpful in deciding what titles are in an encyclopedic register, as well as what names are most frequently used.

The following are examples of the application of the concept of commonly used names in support of recognizability:


  • Mahatma Gandhi (not: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)
  • Mansa Musa (not: Musa I)
  • Bill Clinton (not: William Jefferson Clinton)
  • J. K. Rowling (not: Joanne Rowling)
  • Bono (not: Paul Hewson)
  • Mark Antony (not: Marcus Antonius)


  • Germany (not: Deutschland)
  • Great Pyramid of Giza (not: Pyramid of Khufu)
  • North Korea (not: Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
  • Westminster Abbey (not: Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster)

Scientific and technical topics

  • Aspirin (not: acetylsalicylic acid)
  • Diesel engine (not: compression-ignition engine)
  • Guinea pig (not: Cavia porcellus)
  • Polio (not: poliomyelitis)
  • Spanish flu (not: 1918 influenza pandemic)

Product names and fictional characters

  • Windows XP (not: Windows NT 5.1)
  • King K. Rool (not: King "Krusha" K. Rool)
  • Sailor Moon (character) (not: Usagi Tsukino)

Other topics

  • Cello (not: Violoncello)
  • FIFA (not: Fédération Internationale de Football Association or International Federation of Association Football)
  • Mueller report (not: Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election)

In determining which of several alternative names is most frequently used, it is useful to observe the usage of major international organizations, major English-language media outlets, quality encyclopedias, geographic name servers, major scientific bodies, and notable scientific journals. A search engine may help to collect this data; when using a search engine, restrict the results to pages written in English, and exclude the word "SM-201". When using Google, generally a search of Google Books and News Archive should be defaulted to before a web search, as they concentrate reliable sources (exclude works from Books, LLC when searching Google Books). Search engine results are subject to certain biases and technical limitations; for detailed advice on the use of search engines and the interpretation of their results, see SM-201:Search engine test.

Name changes

Sometimes the subject of an article will undergo a change of name. When this occurs, we give extra weight to independent, reliable English-language sources ("reliable sources") written after the name change. If the reliable sources were written after the change is announced routinely use the new name, SM-201 should follow suit and change relevant titles to match. If, on the other hand, reliable sources written after the name change is announced continue to use the established name, SM-201 should continue to do so as well, as described above in "Use commonly recognizable names".

SM-201 is not a crystal ball. We do not know what terms or names will be used in the future, but only what is and has been in use, and is therefore familiar to our readers. However, common sense can be applied – if the subject of an article has a name change, it is reasonable to consider the usage following the change in reliable, English-language sources. This provision also applies to names used as part of descriptive titles.

Neutrality in article titles Conflicts often arise over whether an article title complies with SM-201's Neutral Point of View policy. Resolving such debates depends on whether the article title is a name derived from reliable sources or a descriptive title created by SM-201 editors.

Non-neutral but common names

When the subject of an article is referred to mainly by a single common name, as evidenced through usage in a significant majority of English-language sources, SM-201 generally follows the sources and uses that name as its article title (subject to the other naming criteria). Sometimes that common name includes non-neutral words that SM-201 normally avoids (e.g. Alexander the Great, or the Teapot Dome scandal). In such cases, the prevalence of the name, or the fact that a given description has effectively become a proper name (and that proper name has become the common name), generally overrides concern that SM-201 might appear as endorsing one side of an issue. An article title with non-neutral terms cannot simply be a name commonly used in the past, it must be the common name in current use.

Notable circumstances under which SM-201 often avoids a common name for lacking neutrality include the following:

  • Trendy slogans and monikers that seem unlikely to be remembered or connected with a particular issue years later
  • Colloquialisms where far more encyclopedic alternatives are obvious

Foreign names and anglicization

The choice between anglicized and local spellings should follow English-language usage, e.g. the non-anglicized titles Besançon, Søren Kierkegaard, and Göttingen are used because they predominate in English-language reliable sources, whereas for the same reason the anglicized title forms Nuremberg, delicatessen, and Florence are used (as opposed to Nürnberg, Delikatessen, and Firenze, respectively).

If there are too few reliable English-language sources to constitute an established usage, follow the conventions of the language appropriate to the subject (German for German politicians, Portuguese for Brazilian towns, and so on). For lesser known geographical objects or structures with few reliable English sources, follow the translation convention, if any, used for well known objects or structures of the same type e.g. because Rheintal and Moseltal are translated Rhine Valley and Moselle Valley, it makes sense to translate lesser known valley names in the same way. For ideas on how to deal with situations where there are several competing foreign terms, see "Multiple local names" and "Use modern names" in the geographical naming guideline. Such discussions can benefit from outside opinions so as to avoid a struggle over which language to follow.

Names not originally in a Latin alphabet, such as Greek, Chinese, or Russian names, must be romanized. Established systematic romanizations, such as Hanyu Pinyin, are preferred. However, if there is a common English-language form of the name, then use it, even if it is unsystematic (as with Tchaikovsky and Chiang Kai-shek).

In deciding whether and how to translate a foreign name into English, follow English-language usage. If there is no established English-language treatment for a name, translate it if this can be done without loss of accuracy and with greater understanding for the English-speaking reader.

National varieties of English

If a topic has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation, the title of its article should use that nation's variety of English (for example, compare the Australian Defence Force with the United States Secretary of Defense).

Otherwise, all national varieties of English are acceptable in article titles; SM-201 does not prefer one in particular. American English spelling should not be respelled to British English spelling, and vice versa; for example, both color and colour are acceptable and used in article titles (such as color gel and colour state). Very occasionally, a less common but non-nation-specific term is selected to avoid having to choose between national varieties: for example, soft drink was selected to avoid the choice between the British fizzy drink, American soda, American and Canadian pop, and a slew of other nation- and region-specific names.

  • Please use American English on our site.

Treatment of alternative names

The article title appears at the top of a reader's browser window and as a large level 1 heading above the editable text of an article, circled here in dark red. The name or names given in the first sentence do not always match the article title.

By the design of SM-201's software, an article can only have one title. When this title is a name, significant alternative names for the topic should be mentioned in the article, usually in the first sentence or paragraph. If there are three or more alternative names – including alternative spellings, longer or shorter forms, historic names, and significant names in other languages – or there is something notable about the names themselves, a separate name section is recommended. Alternative names may be used in article text when context dictates that they are more appropriate than the name used as the title of the article. For example, the city now called Gdańsk is referred to as Danzig in historic contexts to which that name is more suited (e.g. when it was part of Germany or a Free City). Likewise, even though Color's title omits the "u", Orange (colour)'s title does not.

All significant alternative titles, names, or forms of names that apply to a specific article should usually be made to redirect to that article. If they are ambiguous, it should be ensured that the article can at least be reached from a disambiguation page for the alternative term. Note that the exact capitalization of the article's title does not affect SM-201 search, so it is not necessary to create redirects from alternative capitalizations unless these are likely to be used in links; see Naming conventions (capitalization).

Piped links are often used in article text to allow a subject with a lengthy article title to be referred to using a more concise term where this does not produce ambiguity.

Article title format

The following points are used in deciding on questions not covered by the five principles; consistency on these helps avoid duplicate articles:

Use sentence case

Titles are written in sentence case. The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized by default; otherwise, words are not capitalized unless they would be so in running text. When this is done, the title is simple to link to in other articles: Northwestern University offers more graduate work than a typical liberal arts college. Note that the capitalization of the initial letter is ignored in links. For initial lowercase letters, as in eBay, see the technical restrictions page. For more guidance, see WP:Naming conventions (capitalization) and WP:Manual of Style/Proper names.

Use singular form

Article titles are generally singular in form, e.g. Horse, not Horses. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects

Avoid ambiguous abbreviations

Abbreviations and acronyms are often ambiguous and thus should be avoided unless the subject is known primarily by its abbreviation and that abbreviation is primarily associated with the subject (e.g. PBS, NATO, Laser). It is also unnecessary to include an acronym in addition to the name in a title. Acronyms may be used for parenthetical disambiguation (e.g. Conservative Party (UK), Georgia (U.S. state)). For more details, see WP:Manual of Style/Abbreviations § Acronyms in page titles.

Avoid definite and indefinite articles

Do not place definite or indefinite articles (the, a, and an) at the beginning of titles unless they are part of a proper name (e.g. The Old Man and the Sea) or otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Crown). They needlessly lengthen article titles, and interfere with sorting and searching. For more guidance, see WP:Naming conventions (definite or indefinite article at beginning of name).

Use nouns

Shortcut Nouns and noun phrases are normally preferred over titles using other parts of speech; such a title can be the subject of the first sentence. One major exception is for titles that are quotations or titles of works: A rolling stone gathers no moss, or "Try to Remember". Adjective and verb forms (e.g. elegant) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Elegance) or disambiguation pages, like Organic and Talk. Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb is the gerund (-ing form), as in Swimming.

Do not enclose titles in quotes

Article titles that are quotes (or song titles, etc.) are not enclosed in quotation marks (e.g. To be, or not to be is the article title, whereas "To be, or not to be" is a redirect to that article). An exception is made when the quotation marks are part of a name or title (as in the TV episode Marge Simpson in: "Screaming Yellow Honkers"  or the album "Heroes" (David Bowie album)).

Do not create subsidiary articles

Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another: even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently. For example, an article on transport in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transport" or "Azerbaijan (transport)", use Transport in Azerbaijan. (This does not always apply in non-article namespaces; see WP:Subpages.)

Follow reliable sources for names of persons

When deciding whether to use middle names, or initials, follow the guidelines at WP:Middle names, which means using the form most commonly used by reliable sources (e.g. John F. Kennedy, J. P. Morgan, F. Scott Fitzgerald), with few if any exceptions. See also the Concision section above.

Special characters

There are technical restrictions on the use of certain characters in page titles, due to how MediaWiki stores and matches the titles. The following characters cannot be used at all: # < > [ ] | { } _

There are restrictions on titles containing colons, periods, and some other characters, which may be addressed through Template:Correct title. Technically, all other Unicode characters can be used in page titles. However, some characters should still be avoided or require special treatment:

Characters not on a standard keyboard (use redirects): Sometimes the most appropriate title contains diacritics (accent marks), dashes, or other letters and characters not found on most English-language keyboards. This can make it difficult to navigate to the article directly. In such cases, provide redirects from versions of the title that use only standard keyboard characters. (Similarly, in cases where it is determined that the most appropriate title is one that omits diacritics, dashes, and other letters not found on most English-language keyboards, provide redirects from versions of the title that contain them.) However, avoid combining diacritical marks, which are difficult to type and interfere with adjacent characters.

Quotation marks (avoid them): Double ("...") and single quotation marks ('...'), as well as variations such as typographic (curly) quotation marks (“...”), "low-high" quotation marks („...“), guillemets («...»), and angled quotation marks or backticks (`...´) should be avoided in titles. Exceptions can be made when they are part of the proper title (e.g. "A" Is for Alibi) or required by orthography (e.g. "Weird Al" Yankovic, Fargesia 'Rufa'). Similarly, various apostrophe(-like) variants (’ ʻ ʾ ʿ ᾿ ῾ ‘ ’ c), should generally not be used in page titles. A common exception is the simple apostrophe character (', same glyph as the single quotation mark) itself (e.g. Anthony d'Offay), which should, however, be used sparingly (e.g. Quran instead of Qur'an and Bismarck (apple) instead of Malus domestica 'Bismarck'). If, exceptionally, other variants are used, a redirect with the apostrophe variant should be created (e.g. 'Elisiva Fusipala Tauki'onetuku redirects to ʻElisiva Fusipala Taukiʻonetuku).

Symbols (avoid them): Symbols such as "♥", as sometimes found in advertisements or logos, should never be used in titles. This includes non-Latin punctuation such as the characters in Unicode's CJK Symbols and Punctuation block. Characters not supported on all browsers (avoid them): If there is a reasonable alternative, avoid characters that are so uncommon as Unicode characters that not all browser and operating system combinations will render them. For example, the article Fleur-de-lis carries that title rather than the symbol ⚜ itself, which many readers would see as just a rectangular box.


Use italics when italics would be necessary in running text; for example, taxonomic names, the names of ships, the titles of books, films, and other creative works, and foreign phrases are italicized both in ordinary text and in article titles.

Italic formatting cannot be part of the actual (stored) title of a page; adding single quotes to a page title will cause those quotes to become part of the URL, rather than affecting its appearance. A title or part of it is made to appear in italics with the use of the DISPLAYTITLE magic word or the
template. In addition, certain templates, including Template:Infobox book, Template:Infobox film, and Template:Infobox album, by default italicize the titles of the pages they appear on; see those template pages for documentation. See WP:Naming conventions (technical restrictions) § Italics and formatting on the technical restrictions page for further details.

Other types of formatting (such as bold type and superscript) can technically be achieved in the same way, but should generally not be used in SM-201 article titles (except for articles on mathematics). Quotation marks (such as around song titles) would not require special techniques for display, but are nevertheless avoided in titles; see § Article title format above.

Standard English and trademarks

Article titles follow standard English text formatting in the case of trademarks, unless the trademarked spelling is demonstrably the most common usage in sources independent of the owner of the trademark. Items in full or partial uppercase (such as Invader ZIM) should have standard capitalization (Invader Zim); however, if the name is ambiguous, and one meaning is usually capitalized, this is one possible method of disambiguation.

Exceptions include article titles with the first letter lowercase and the second letter uppercase, such as iPod and eBay. For these, see WP:Naming conventions (technical restrictions) § Lowercase first letter.

Titles containing "and"

Sometimes two or more closely related or complementary concepts are most sensibly covered by a single article. Where possible, use a title covering all cases: for example, Endianness covers the concepts "big-endian" and "little-endian". Where no reasonable overarching title is available, it is permissible to construct an article title using "and", as in Promotion and relegation, Hellmann's and Best Foods, Tropical storms Amanda and Cristobal and Pioneer 6, 7, 8, and 9. (The individual terms – such as Pioneer 6 – should redirect to the combined page, or be linked there via a disambiguation page or hatnote if they have other meanings.)

It is generally best to list topics in alphabetical order, especially those involving different countries or cultures, as in Canada–United States border. However, when a conventional or more logical ordering exists, it should be used instead, such as at yin and yang. If one concept is more commonly encountered than the other, it may be listed first, as in Electrical resistance and conductance. Alternative titles using reverse ordering (such as Relegation and promotion) should be redirects.

Titles containing "and" are often red flags that the article has neutrality problems or is engaging in original research: avoid the use of "and" in ways that appear biased. For example, use Islamic terrorism, not "Islam and terrorism"; however, "Media coupling of Islam and terrorism" may be acceptable. Avoid the use of "and" to combine concepts that are not commonly combined in reliable sources.

Considering changes

Changing one controversial title to another without a discussion that leads to consensus is strongly discouraged. If an article title has been stable for a long time, and there is no good reason to change it, it should not be changed. Consensus among editors determines if there does exist a good reason to change the title. If it has never been stable, or it has been unstable for a long time, and no consensus can be reached on what the title should be, default to the title the article had when the first major contribution after the article ceased to be a stub was made.

Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at SM-201:Requested moves, and consensus reached before any change is made. Debating controversial titles is often unproductive, and there are many other ways to help improve SM-201.

In discussing the appropriate title of an article, remember that the choice of title is not dependent on whether a name is "right" in a moral or political sense. Nor does the use of a name in the title of one article require that all related articles use the same name in their titles; there is often some reason for inconsistencies in common usage. For example, SM-201 has articles on both the Battle of Stalingrad and on Volgograd, which is the current name of Stalingrad.

Although titles for articles are subject to consensus, do not invent names or use extremely uncommon names as a means of compromising between opposing points of view. SM-201 describes current usage but cannot prescribe a particular usage or invent new names.

Jump to: Main PageMicropediaMacropediaIconsTime LineHistoryLife LessonsLinksHelp
Chat roomsWhat links hereCopyright infoContact informationCategory:Root