FamilySearch Wiki talk:Manual of Style

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Revision as of 03:34, 8 June 2009 by RitcheyMT (talk | contribs) (Changed heading size)

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Proposals being discussed

  1. FamilySearch Wiki Talk:Consensus
  2. FamilySearch Wiki Talk:Source Citation Formats
  3. Linking to Works in the Family History Library Catalog
  4. Linking to FHLC and Worldcat (OCLC)

Guidelines for large projects

It would be helpful to have some guidelines established for large projects, such as the pages created for US state or county pages. I'm thinking specifically of the England probate registers project that includes a page for each of the 40 counties. It's user-friendly to have the same "look and feel", including the heading and subheading styles. Anne 18:12, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Naming conventions (geographic names)

This guideline documents a FamilySearch Research Wiki naming convention. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense and the occasional exception. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

This page describes conventions for determining the names of Research Wiki articles on places. Our naming policy provides that article names should be chosen for the general reader, not for specialists. By following modern English usage, we also avoid arguments about what a place ought to be called, instead asking the less contentious question, what it is called.

Country names in English

Use the form of a current country's name as it appears in the CIA World Factbook.

When a widely accepted English name, exists for a former country or empire, we should use it. For example, New Spain rather than Virreinato de Nueva España, Ottoman Empire rather than دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه or Osmanlı İmparatorluğu.

I agree. It might be nice to show the country name in the native language(s) within the body of the article. Wikipedia does this as can be see with Spain (example). I believe this allows searching to find either. Thomas Lerman 16:47, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Browse by Country page, and Category:Countries

Use the CIA World Factbook to determine which nations are listed on the Browse by Country Wiki page, and in the Category:Countries. Only continuously inhabited places with indigenous populations in the World Factbook are eligible.

Countries which are not listed in the World Factbook should not appear on the Browse by Country page, or in the Category:Countries. However, they may be appropriate as part of another country's page/category, or on the List of extinct states page, or in the Category:Former Countries.

Country sub-divisions: as in the FHL Catalog

For places smaller than a country use the name as it would appear if it were in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog. However, normally write the name in order from smallest to largest jurisdiction, for example, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.

Also, use diacritics as they would appear in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog, for example, Höfgen (AH. Meißen), Sachsen, Germany.

Administrative sub-divisions

Names of classes of places do what English does. In particular, when dealing with administrative subdivisions, we write of United States counties and Cook County, Illinois, or of Russian oblasts and the Moscow Oblast, but of Chinese and Roman provinces, not sheng or provinciae.

Also, use Jackson Township, Hamilton, Indiana, but use Cicero, Hamilton, Indiana for an incorporated municipality.


It is often the case that the same geographic place-name will apply to more than one place, or to a place and to other things of interest to genealogists such as a tribe or language; in either case disambiguation will be necessary. See Wiki:Disambiguation.

Diltsgd 21:25, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

The wiki:Disambiguation link in the paragraph above is not working. If there is something else that needs reviewing, would someone update the link? I would update the link myself, but I'm not sure where it was intended to go. Also note that one of the current Policies in the Wiki is for Disambiguation. The Disambiguation Discussion page for this policy is also available (although it is currently empty). Franjensen 15:50, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Once it is formally adopted by our Wiki community, the said link should be to our own internal article (the next one on this list of proposed MOS items). Diltsgd 01:55, 30 May 2009 (UTC)


This guideline documents FamilySearch Research Wiki disambiguation. It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense and the occasional exception. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.

Disambiguation in FamilySearch Research Wiki is the process of resolving conflicts in Wiki article titles that occur when a single term can be associated with more than one topic, making that term likely to be the natural title for more than one article. In other words, disambiguations are paths leading to different articles which could, in principle, have the same title.

For example the word Delaware may be of interest to genealogists as an American Indian tribe, that tribe's language, a United States colony-state, county, town, township, river, or a river cut through a mountain.

There must then be a way to direct the reader to the correct specific article when an ambiguous term is referenced by linking, browsing or searching; this is what is known as disambiguation. In this case it is achieved using the Delaware (disambiguation) page.

Two methods of disambiguating are discussed here:

  • disambiguation links – at the top of an article (hatnotes), that refer/link the reader to other Wiki articles with similar titles or concepts.
  • disambiguation pages – non-article pages that refer/link readers to other Wiki articles.

Deciding to disambiguate

Disambiguation is required whenever, for a given word or phrase on which a reader might use the "Go button", there is more than one Wiki article to which that word or phrase might be expected to lead. In this situation there must be a way for the reader to navigate quickly from the page that appears on hitting "Go" to any of the other possible desired articles.

There are three principal disambiguation scenarios, of which the following are examples:

  • The page at Georgia is a disambiguation page, leading to all the alternative family history uses of "Georgia".
  • The page at Iowa is about one usage, called the primary topic, and there is a hatnote guiding readers to Iowa (disambiguation) to find the other uses.
  • The page at New Brunswick is about the primary topic and there is only one other genealogical use. The other use is linked directly using a hatnote; no disambiguation page is needed.

Is there a primary topic?

When there is a well-known primary topic for an ambiguous family history term, name or phrase, much more used than any other topic covered in Research Wiki to which the same word(s) may also refer (significantly more commonly searched for and read than other meanings), then that term or phrase should either be used for the title of the article on that topic or redirect to that article. If the primary topic for a term is titled something else by the naming conventions, then a redirect for the term is used. Any article which has primary usage for its title and has other uses should have a disambiguation link at the top, and the disambiguation page should link back to the primary topic.

Disambiguation page or disambiguation links?

If there are three or more topics associated with the same term, then a disambiguation page should normally be created for that term (in which case disambiguation links are desirable on the specific topic articles – see below). If only a primary topic and one other topic require disambiguation, then disambiguation links are sufficient, and a disambiguation page is unnecessary. However if there are two topics for a term but neither is considered the primary topic, then a disambiguation page is used.

For more about disambiguation links, see Disambiguation links below. For rules about naming disambiguation pages and combining similar terms on a single page, see Disambiguation pages.

Disambiguation links

Users searching for what turns out to be an ambiguous genealogical term may not reach the article they expected. Therefore any article with an ambiguous title should contain helpful links to alternative Research Wiki articles or disambiguation pages, placed at the top of the article (hatnotes). Always indent such notes. The format the hatnote disambiguation link could take should be either:

This article is about [brief description of TOPIC]. For other uses, see [TOPIC] (disambiguation).
This article is about [brief description of TOPIC#1]. For [brief description of TOPIC#2], see [TOPIC#2].

For an example of the first kind of disambiguation link (used when there is a disambiguation page), see Iowa County, Wisconsin.  For an example of the second kind of disambiguation link (when a disambiguation page is not used), see New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Disambiguation pages

Combining terms on disambiguation pages

A single disambiguation page may be used to disambiguate a number of similar family history terms.

When a combined disambiguation page is used, hatnotes should be set up from all the Wiki pages involved.

Naming the disambiguation page

The title of a disambiguation page is the ambiguous term itself, provided there is no primary topic for that term, as in Georgia. If there is a primary topic, then the tag "(disambiguation)" is added to the name of the disambiguation page, as in Delaware (disambiguation).

When a disambiguation page combines several similar terms, one of them must be selected as the title for the page (with the "(disambiguation)" tag added if a primary topic exists for that term).

Page style

Each disambiguation page comprises a list (or multiple lists, for multiple senses of the term in question) of similarly-titled links.

  • Link to the primary topic (if there is one):
Alabama, a southern state of the United States
  • Start each list with a short introductory sentence fragment with the title in bold, and ending with a colon. For example:
Alabama may refer to:
  • Try to start each entry in the list with a link to the target page.
  • Each bulleted entry should, in almost every case, have exactly one navigable (blue) link; including more than one link can confuse the reader.

Add a template to show page status

Include either the template {{Geodis}}, or the template {{Disambig}} on the page as an indicator of the page's status.

Geodis vs. Disambig
  • Select the template {{Geodis}} when the only titles to disambiguate are place-names.
  • Select the template {{Disambig}} when the only titles to disambiguate are non-place-names, such as tribes, languages, or other non-geographical topics.
  • Use both templates when the similar titles are mixed place-names and non-place-names.
Template position

When adding a single template:

  • If the disambiguation page list takes less than 3/4th of a screen top to bottom, position the template at the bottom.
  • If the list takes more than 3/4th of a screen, position the template at the top.

If adding both templates: position the {{Geodis}} template at the top, and position the {{Disambig}} template at the bottom of the screen.

Instead of adding both templates to the page, what if we create a new template that incorporates both the "Geodis" and "Disambig" templates into one single template? Franjensen 15:35, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

For a prime example of an actual disambiguation page, see Alabama (disambiguation).

Diltsgd 15:00, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

There is a problem with using both templates, especially when the list is longer than the monitor and no one know there is an article about something or other use. See Kent dsammy 17:48, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Interactive maps and lists of sub-divisions

Interactive maps are welcome and encouraged. However, for someone unfamiliar with the area's geography (or bad at reading maps), the maps may pose a challenge finding the sub-division of their choice. When employing an interactive map, the author should accompany that map with either (a) a short link to a page that shows an "Alphabetical List of States" (or whatever the sub-division is), or (b) such a list on the same page as the map. The alphabetical list should link to the same places as the links on the map. Diltsgd 23:36, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Indirect Link or Direct Link

Go to New York City, New York and scroll down to "Websites". See the 2nd item, "New York Genealogy"

We have a problem - you will not know until you get there, half of sites are paid subscription only.  Take a look at the contributor's list - Special:Contributions/Jeniannj Every one of them has the identical problem.

Ancestry Ancestry Ancestry Ancestry Ancestry

Every one requires paid subscription. You try, and get the message you have to have paid subscription to access.

Wouldn't it be more honest to have direct link with the standard Access Code we use?

Forwarded from message from Ritchey: The question may be "To link or not to link to a directory of paid sites?" In this case the question is even more interesting because the directory itself doesn't make clear which pages it links to are fee-based.

"To link or not to link to a directory of paid sites?" is not quite the right question

My reply to him: Rather it is "whether to link to a directory of sites that is not clear as to which site requires paid access or not", whether to bypass and link direct to the sites themselves or not, be mindful some of these sites are already direct-linked. dsammy 17:55, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Wiki - is it intended to be Mormon-oriented or is it intended to be all encompassing?

Objection had been posted concerning Baltimore, Maryland vs Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland.

Didn't we discuss the emphasis on reaching out to more places rather than emphasis on FHL Catalog? Many places do not recognize Baltimore (Independent City), Maryland. It is simply Baltimore, Maryland.

What's more Wikipedia mentions "Independent City" only in the article, same is true for the independent cities of Virginia as well as United Kingdom. The key is the simplicity of remembering the place names. Only in Family History Library Catalog you will find that term. dsammy 00:44, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

I like simplicity. But sometimes simplicity all by itself isn't enough. Another important characterisitic is verifiable. Using a standard like "do it the way the FHL catalog does it" on place names gives us a standard that can be verified in most cases we would need, and predictable in the few cases that are not already in the catalog. If the only standard is simplicity by itself, that is harder to verify and predict what the concensus of users would agree is simple.
The logic behind the FHL Catalog standard should not be rejected just because it is associated with a "Mormon" organization. It is available to our Wiki community worldwide on the Internet and is specifically designed to help genealogists. Wikipedia has more of a general encyclopedia audience--it's standards, particularly on place names can be a useful guide, but the FHL Catalog has decades of thought and experience behind it and is more adapted to the needs of genealogists.
How do we title articles about towns? If our community reaches concensus that the FHL Catalog is a good standard to use for naming articles about places, I believe that would mean that articles about cities and towns like Chicago would carry the title Chicago, Cook, Illinois, or Fairfield, Jefferson, Iowa. How does the community feel about this? If I understand what Dsammy is saying, he would prefer the more simple Chicago, Illinois or Fairfield, Iowa. What do our other contributors think? Diltsgd 02:31, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
Take a look at Fairfield (disambiguation). It already distinguish several Fairfield's in one state. I am referring to usage of "independent city" in the url address.
And this format is already widespread in several Wiki sites. If more than one is found in a specific area, just add the necessary identification like Fairfield, Hyde County, North Carolina and Fairfield, Union County, North Carolina. It's worse with Washington Townships so additional identification is necessary as needed and just for Iowa alone, there are 49 of them!)
What's more I can shoot down your assumption, in the Family History Library Catalog, you can't get "Chicago" with "Cook County", and instead of that it has to be either simply Chicago or Chicago with Illinois to get the search results. That is the logic behind the usage. The family historians are not going to type Fairfield, Jefferson, Iowa to get that because that part of information is already in the first line in the page in search results. Here's the result from search for "Fairfield, Utah" - Fairfield, Utah ... ed States]] > Utah > Utah County > Fairfield... own in Utah County, Utah. For other uses, see Fairfield (disambiguation). '' See how the info is presented instantly?
Secondly, why should it has to be to that way? You need to think OUTSIDE of the box to see how others see it. dsammy 03:57, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
And I am going to have more fun with you. Check out Portland (disambiguation). And we are moving beyond what the FHL Catalog is into new areas not available at the FHL. dsammy 04:52, 31 May 2009 (UTC)