Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

This page guides the presentation of numbers, dates, times, measurements, currencies, coordinates, and similar items in articles. The aim is to promote clarity, cohesion, and consistency, and to make the encyclopedia easier and more intuitive to use.

Where this manual gives options, maintain consistency within an article unless there is a good reason to do otherwise. The Arbitration Committee has ruled that editors should not change an article from one guideline-defined style to another without a substantial reason unrelated to mere choice of style; revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable.[a] If discussion fails to resolve the question of which style to use in an article, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Quotations, titles of books and articles, and similar "imported" text should be faithfully reproduced, even if they use formats or units inconsistent with these guidelines or with other formats in the same article. If necessary, clarify via [bracketed interpolation], article text, or footnotes.

For further information see Wikipedia:Manual of Style § Non-breaking spaces and Wikipedia:Line-break handling.

Relative-time expressions are acceptable for very long periods, such as geological epochs:

Humans diverged from other primates long ago, but only recently developed state legislatures.
When a citation style does not expect differing date formats, it is permissible to normalize publication dates to the article body text date format, and/or access/archive dates to either, with date consistency being preferred.

For any given article, the choice of date format and the choice of national variety of English (see ) are independent issues.

A date can be given in any appropriate calendar, as long as it is (at the minimum) given in the Julian calendar or the Gregorian calendar or both, as described below. For example, an article on the early history of Islam may give dates in both Islamic and Julian calendars. Where a calendar other than the Julian or Gregorian is used, the article must make this clear.

The dating method used should follow that used by reliable secondary sources (or if reliable sources disagree, that used most commonly, with an explanatory footnote). The guidance above is in line with the usage of reliable sources such as American National Biography,[1] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Encyclopædia Britannica[g]

If an article contains Julian calendar dates after 4 October 1582 (as in the October Revolution), or if a start-of-year date other than 1 January was in force in the place being discussed, or both, a footnote should be provided on the first usage, explaining the calendar usage adopted for the article. The calendar usage should be compatible with this guideline.

The linked forms should not be used on disambiguation pages, and "active" followed by the range is a better alternative for occupations not relating to the composition of works, whether it be musical, grammatical, historical, or any other such work.

Context determines whether the 12- or 24-hour clock is used. In all cases, colons separate hours, minutes, and (where present) seconds, e.g. 1:38:09 pm or 13:38:09. Use figures (11 a.m. or 12:45 p.m.) rather than words (twelve forty-five p.m.).

Give dates and times appropriate to the time zone where an event took place. For example, the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor should be December 7, 1941 (Hawaii time/​date). Give priority to the place at which the event had its most significant effects; for example, if a hacker in Monaco attacked a Pentagon computer in the US, use the time zone for the Pentagon, where the attack had its effect. In some cases, the best solution may be to add the date and time in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). For example:

     

8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on January 15, 2001 (01:00 UTC, January 16)

Rarely, the time zone in which an event took place has since changed; for example, China until 1949 was divided into five time zones, whereas all of modern China is UTC+8. Similarly, the term "UTC" is not appropriate for dates before this system was adopted in 1960;[2] Universal Time (UT) is the appropriate term for the mean time at the prime meridian (Greenwich) when it is unnecessary to specify the precise definition of the time scale. Be sure to show the UTC or offset appropriate to the clock time in use at the time of the event, not the modern time zone, if they differ.

The sequence of numbered years in dates runs ... 2 BC, 1 BC, 1 AD, 2 AD ...; there is no "year zero".

Information on specific situations is scattered elsewhere on this page.

As with date ranges (see above), number ranges in general, such as page ranges, should state the full value of both the beginning and end of the range, with an en dash between, e.g. pp. 1902–1911 or entries 342–349. Except in quotations, avoid abbreviated forms such as 1902–11 and 342–9 as they are not understood universally, are sometimes ambiguous, and can cause inconsistent metadata to be created in citations.

There are multiple ways to display mathematical formulae, covered in detail at . One uses special MediaWiki <math>...</math> markup using LaTeX syntax, which is capable of complex formulae; the other relies on conventionalized HTML formatting of simple formulae.

The <math> markup is displayed as a PNG image by default. Logged-in users can optionally have it rendered in MathML, or in HTML (via MathJax); detailed instructions are at Help:Displaying a formula.

Quantities are typically expressed using an appropriate "primary unit", displayed first, followed, when appropriate, by a conversion in parentheses e.g. 200 kilometres (120 mi). For details on when and how to provide a conversion, see the section § Unit conversions. The choice of primary units depends on the circumstances, and should respect the principle of "strong national ties", where applicable:

Where English-speaking countries use different units for the same quantity, provide a conversion in parentheses: the Mississippi River is 2,320 miles (3,734 km) long; the Murray River is 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) long. But in science-related articles, supplying such conversion is not required unless there is some special reason to do so.

In quantities of bits and bytes, the prefixes kilo- (symbol k or K), mega- (M), giga- (G), tera- (T), etc., are ambiguous in general usage. The meaning may be based on a decimal system (like the standard SI prefixes), meaning 103, 106, 109, 1012, etc., or it may be based on a binary system, meaning 210, 220, 230, 240, etc. The binary meanings are more commonly used in relation to solid-state memory (such as RAM), while the decimal meanings are more common for data transmission rates, disk storage and in theoretical calculations in modern academic textbooks.

Follow these recommendations when using these prefixes in Wikipedia articles:

The IEC prefixes kibi- (symbol Ki), mebi- (Mi), gibi- (Gi), etc., are generally not to be used except:[m]

For draft guidance on, and examples of, coordinates for linear features, see .

"title" means that the coordinates will be displayed next to the article's title at the top of the page (in desktop view only; title coordinates do not display in mobile view) and before any other text or images. It also records the coordinates as the primary location of the page's subject in Wikipedia's geosearch API.

(which does not require minutes or seconds but does require the user to specify north/ south and east/west) or

(in which the north and east are presumed by positive values while the south and west are negative ones) These coordinates are in decimal degrees.

Optional coordinate parameters follow the longitude and are separated by an underscore ("_"):

Use |display=title (or |display=inline,title) once per article, for the subject of the article, where appropriate.

Geographical coordinates on Earth should be entered using a template to standardise the format and to provide a link to maps of the coordinates. As long as the templates are adhered to, a robot performs the functions automatically.

For a country, like Botswana, with no source on an exact geographic center, less precision is appropriate due to uncertainty:

Increasing or decreasing the number of decimal places controls the precision. Trailing zeros may be added as needed to give both values the same appearance.

London Heathrow Airport, Amsterdam, Jan Mayen and Mount Baker are examples of articles that contain geographical coordinates.

Generally, the larger the object being mapped, the less precise the coordinates should be. For example, if just giving the location of a city, precision greater than degrees (°), minutes (′), seconds (″) is not needed, which sufficient to locate, for example, the central administrative building. Specific buildings or other objects of similar size would justify precisions down to 10 meters or even one meter in some cases (1″ ~15 m to 30 m, 0.0001° ~5.6 m to 10 m).

The final field, following the E/W, is available for attributes such as type:, region:, or scale: .

(the codes are documented at Template:Coord/doc § Coordinate parameters)