Hatnotes are short notes placed at the very top of an article or a section, like a hat is placed on the very top of a head. (See the note in italics immediately preceding the box above.) Their purpose is to help readers locate a different article if the one they are at is not the one they're looking for. Readers may have arrived at the article containing the hatnote because:
For more information about methods of disambiguating articles, see Wikipedia:Disambiguation.
Hatnotes are placed at the top of the article or section. When used at the top of an article, hatnotes go immediately below a short description template, but strictly above anything else including protection icons or maintenance tags. Text-based web browsers and screen readers present the page sequentially. If a reader has reached the wrong page, they should find that out first.
In the Wikipedia iOS app, there is a known bug whereby hatnotes fail to appear anywhere on the page.
In most cases, hatnotes should be created using a standard hatnote template as illustrated in § Hatnote templates below. This permits the form and structure of hatnotes to be changed uniformly across the encyclopedia as needed and the templates to be excluded in print.
Current style on the English Wikipedia is to italicize and to indent each note, without a bullet before the item. A horizontal dividing line should not be placed either under a note or after the final item in a list. Links to articles should follow the naming conventions for capitalization – typically sentence case, not all lower case.
When determining the content of the hatnote, keep in mind that it forms part of the user interface rather than the article content. Two applicable user interface design principles are clarity and conciseness. The hatnote should not overload the user with extraneous information, and the content should be imparted quickly and accurately. These design goals are conveyed succinctly in the principle less is more.
As hatnotes separate the reader from the content they are looking for, hatnotes should generally be as concise as possible. Long explanations are generally discouraged; the article's lead text, not the hatnote, should explain what the article is about. In almost all cases, the hatnote is intended only to direct readers to other articles in case they were actually looking for something they will not find in the article containing the hatnote.
If a disambiguation page exists for a given term, then linking to it should be enough. For example, if the article is X then its hatnote will link to X (disambiguation); it should not have entries for other topics known as X, like X (novel) or X (charge), because they are already listed in the disambiguation page. However, such an article may be linked if it could be expected by a significant number of readers to be at the title in question: for instance, Turkey is about the country, but many readers expect to find the article on the bird at that title; therefore, the hatnote there correctly reads
There should be as few hatnotes as possible. One single hatnote, which can accommodate several links, is greatly preferable to two or more. Multiple hatnotes may however be appropriate when each serves a different purpose, such as disambiguating the title or distinguishing similar terms.
Either of these two styles is acceptable. The choice of style in a given article is based on editors' preferences and on what is likely to be clearer and easier for the reader. (In this particular instance, most English speakers will know what honey is, and the second, more concise hatnote is preferable.) Where an article already has a hatnote in one of these styles, editors should not change it to the other style without good reason.
Dunwich () is a town in the county of Suffolk in England, the remnant of what was once a prosperous seaport and centre of the wool trade during the early middle ages, with a natural harbour formed by the mouths of the River Blyth. ...
In many cases the hatnote also includes a brief description of the subject of the present article, for readers' convenience:
The Giver is a 1993 American young-adult dystopian novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which at first appears as utopian but is later revealed to be a dystopian one as the story progresses. The novel follows a boy named Jonas. ...
When notes feature a trivial detail or use of a term, or links to overly specific and tendentious material, they are unwarranted.
In this case, there is no direct disambiguation, and the note listed is bound to be uninteresting to most readers. The proper disambiguation simply links to a separate Invest (disambiguation) page.
This is a typical but improper use of disambiguating hatnotes. Instead, the information belongs in the body of the article, or in the articles about the book, or in a separate article about names, or all three places. Hatnotes are meant to reduce confusion and direct readers to another article they might have been looking for, not for information about the subject of the article itself.
Disambiguation hatnotes are intended to link to separate topics that could be referred to by the same title. They are not intended to link to topics that are simply related to each other, or to a specific aspect of a general topic:
Extraterrestrial life is life that may exist and originate outside the planet Earth. Its existence is currently hypothetical: there is as yet no evidence of extraterrestrial life that has been widely accepted by scientists. ...
This guideline does not discourage the use of disambiguation hatnotes in a situation where separate topics are related, but could nonetheless be referred to by the same title and would thus qualify for disambiguation, such as a book and its film adaptation.
It is usually preferable not to have a hatnote when the name of the article is not ambiguous.
Here, the hatnote can be removed. A reader who is following links within Wikipedia is unlikely to end up at Water (Wu Xing) if they were looking for other meanings of water, since water does not redirect there.
The presence or absence of hatnotes in articles with disambiguated titles has been a contentious issue, and this guideline doesn't prescribe one way or the other. There are cases where some editors strongly believe that such hatnotes should be included, such as the various articles about treaties called Treaty of Paris.
A hatnote may be appropriate in an unambiguously named article when an ambiguous term redirects to it, as explained in above.
Each additional link in the hatnote besides the ambiguous or confusable topic(s) makes it more difficult to find the desired target. For example:
In this case, the link to New Orleans, Louisiana, in the hatnote leads to an article that is not ambiguous with the title. Linking only to the possible other destination (WIST (AM)) makes it easier to find the link.
The use of external help links in Wikipedia, though noble, cannot reasonably be maintained. In special cases, a link to an "External links" section may be appropriate, but POV favoritism can be obstructive. In this case, the hatnote was removed entirely.
Hatnotes should not contain red links to non-existent articles since hatnotes are intended to help users navigate to another article they may have intended to find. The exception is if one intends to create the linked article immediately. In that case, consider creating the new article first, before saving the addition of the hatnote.
Per WP:NAMB, it is usually preferable not to have a hatnote when the name of the article is not ambiguous.
Note: When used in main namespace (aka mainspace), the word "page" in the following hatnotes is replaced by "article".
This is a template for linking categories horizontally. Horizontal linkage is often the right solution when vertical linkage (i.e., as sub-category and parent category) is not appropriate. In most cases, this template should be used on both categories to create reciprocal linkage between the two categories.
These templates are used in literally thousands of articles; therefore, changing the syntax could break thousands of articles. If you wish to create or edit a disambiguation or redirection template, first ask yourself the following questions: