Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout

This guide presents the typical layout of Wikipedia articles, including the sections an article usually has, ordering of sections, and formatting styles for various elements of an article. For advice on the use of wiki markup, see Help:Editing; for guidance on writing style, see Manual of Style.

A simple article should have at least a lead section and references. The following list includes additional standardized sections in an article. A complete article may not have all, or even most, of these elements.

Body sections appear after the lead and table of contents (click on image for larger view).

Articles longer than a stub are generally divided into sections, and sections over a certain length are generally divided into paragraphs; these divisions enhance the readability of the article. The names and orders of section headings are often determined by the relevant WikiProject, although articles should still follow good organizational and writing principles regarding sections and paragraphs.

Headings introduce sections and subsections, clarify articles by breaking up text, organize content, and populate the table of contents. Very short sections and subsections clutter an article with headings and inhibit the flow of the prose. Short paragraphs and single sentences generally do not warrant their own subheading.

Because of the diversity of subjects it covers, Wikipedia has no general standard or guideline regarding the names or order of section headings within the body of an article. The usual practice is to name and order sections based on the precedent of similar articles. Contributors should follow the consensus model to establish an order.

Sections usually consist of paragraphs of running prose. Between paragraphs—as between sections—there should be only a single blank line. First lines are not indented. Bullet points should not be used in the lead of an article, and should not be used in the body unless for breaking up a mass of text, particularly if the topic requires significant effort to comprehend. However, bulleted lists are typical in the reference, further-reading, and external links sections towards the end of the article. Bullet points are usually not separated by blank lines, as that causes an accessibility issue (see MOS:LISTGAP).

The number of single-sentence paragraphs should be minimized, since they can inhibit the flow of the text; by the same token, paragraphs that exceed a certain length become hard to read. Short paragraphs and single sentences generally do not warrant their own subheading; in such circumstances, it may be preferable to use bullet points instead.

Contents: A bulleted list, usually ordered chronologically, of the works created by the subject of the article.

Title: Many different titles are used, depending on the subject matter. "Works" is preferred when the list includes items that are not written publications (e.g. music, films, paintings, choreography, or architectural designs), or if multiple types of works are included. "Bibliography", "Discography", or "Filmography" are occasionally used where appropriate; however, "Bibliography" is discouraged because it is not clear whether it is limited to the works of the subject of the article.[10] "Works" or "Publications" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.[11]

Whether a link belongs in the "See also" section is ultimately a matter of editorial judgment and common sense. The links in the "See also" section should be relevant, should reflect the links that would be present in a comprehensive article on the topic, and should be limited to a reasonable number. A "See also" section is not mandatory—some high-quality and comprehensive articles do not have one.

The "See also" section should not link to pages that do not exist (red links), nor to disambiguation pages (unless used for further disambiguation in a disambiguation page). As a general rule, the "See also" section should not repeat links that appear in the article's body.[12]

Editors should provide a brief annotation when a link's relevance is not immediately apparent, when the meaning of the term may not be generally known, or when the term is ambiguous. For example:

Notes and References appear after See also (click on image for larger view).

Contents: This section, or series of sections, may contain any or all of the following:

If there are both citation footnotes and explanatory footnotes, then they may be combined in a single section, or separated using the grouped footnotes function. General references and other full citations may similarly be either combined or separated (e.g. "References" and "General references"). There may therefore be one, two, three or four sections in all.

It is most common for only citation footnotes to be used, and therefore it is most common for only one section to be needed. Usually, if the sections are separated, then explanatory footnotes are listed first, short citations or other footnoted citations are next, and any full citations or general references are listed last.

Title: Editors may use any reasonable section title that they choose.[13] The most frequent choice is "References"; other articles use "Notes", "Footnotes", or "Works cited" (in diminishing order of popularity) for this material.

Several alternate titles ("Sources", "Citations", "Bibliography") may also be used, although each is questionable in some contexts: "Sources" may be confused with source code in computer-related articles, product purchase locations, river origins, journalism sourcing, etc.; "Citations" may be confused with official awards or a summons to court; "Bibliography" may be confused with the complete list of printed works by the subject of a biography ("Works" or "Publications").

With the exception of "Bibliography", the heading should be plural even if it lists only a single item.[11]

Contents: An optional bulleted list, usually alphabetized, of a reasonable number of publications that would help interested readers learn more about the article subject. Editors may include brief annotations. Publications listed in further reading are cited in the same citation style used by the rest of the article. The Further reading section should not duplicate the content of the External links section, and should normally not duplicate the content of the References section, unless the References section is too long for a reader to use as part of a general reading list. This section is not intended as a repository for general references or full citations that were used to create the article content. Any links to external websites included under "Further reading" are subject to the guidelines described at Wikipedia:External links.

Contents: A bulleted list of recommended relevant websites, each accompanied by a short description. These hyperlinks should not appear in the article's body text, nor should links used as references normally be duplicated in this section. "External links" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.[11] Depending on the nature of the link contents, this section may be accompanied or replaced by a "Further reading" section.

Certain topics have Manual of Style pages that include layout advice, including:

Some WikiProjects have advice pages that include layout recommendations. You can find those pages at Category:WikiProject style advice.

Each image should ideally be located in the section to which it is most relevant, and most should carry an explanatory caption. An image that would otherwise overwhelm the text space available within a 1024×768 window should generally be formatted as described in relevant formatting guidelines (e.g., WP:IMAGESIZE, MOS:IMGSIZE, Help:Pictures#Panoramas). Try to harmonize the sizes of images on a given page in order to maintain visual coherence.

Use |upright=scaling factor to adjust images sizes; for example, |upright=1.3 displays an image 30% larger than the default, and |upright=0.60 displays it 40% smaller. Lead images should usually be no larger than |upright=1.35.

Avoid article text referring to images as being to the left, right, above, or below, because image placement varies with platform (especially mobile platforms) and screen size, and is meaningless to people using screen readers; instead, use captions to identify images.