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This page describes Wikipedia's policy on choosing article titles.[1] It is supplemented and explained by guidelines linked to this policy (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.

An article title is a convenient label for the article, which distinguishes it from other articles. It need not be the name of the subject; many article titles are descriptions of the subject. Wikipedia's design makes it impossible for different articles to have the same title; the URL for each article as a webpage is generated from the title. Generally, article titles are based on what the subject is called in reliable sources. When this offers multiple possibilities, Wikipedia chooses among them by considering five principles: the ideal article title will resemble titles for similar articles, precisely identify the subject, be short, be natural, and recognizable.

For information on the procedure for renaming an article see Help:Moving a page, and Wikipedia:Requested moves.

Deciding on an article title

Article titles are based on what reliable English-language sources refer to the article's subject by. There will often be several possible alternative titles for any given article; the choice between them is made by consensus. Шаблон:Policy shortcut In discussions about page titles, consensus has generally formed around answers to the following questions:

  • Recognizability – Is the candidate title a recognizable name or description of the topic?
  • Naturalness – What title(s) are readers most likely to look for in order to find the article? Which title(s) will editors most naturally use to link from other articles? Such titles usually convey what the subject is actually called in English.
  • Precision – How precise is the title under discussion? Consensus titles usually use names and terms that are precise (see below), but only as precise as necessary to identify the topic of the article unambiguously. For technical reasons, no two Wikipedia article titles can be identical.[2] For information on how ambiguity is avoided in titles, see the precision and disambiguation section below and the disambiguation guideline.
  • Conciseness – Is the title concise or is it overly long?
  • Consistency – Does the proposed title follow the same pattern as those of similar articles? Many of these patterns are documented in the naming guidelines listed in the Specific-topic naming conventions box above, and ideally indicate titles that are in accordance with the principles behind the above questions.

For most topics, there will be a simple and obvious title that will answer these questions 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 the principles behind these questions over the others. This is done by consensus. When titling articles in specific fields, or with respect to particular problems, there is often previous consensus that can be used as a precedent. Look to 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 reasonably 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.

Common names

Такође погледајте: Wikipedia:Official names

Шаблон:Policy shortcut Titles are often proper nouns, such as the name of the person, place or thing that is the subject of the article. The most common name for a subject is often used as a title because it is recognizable and natural; one should also ask the questions outlined above; ambiguous or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined by reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more frequently used by reliable sources. Neutrality is also considered; our policy on neutral titles, and what neutrality in titles is, follows in the next section. When there are several names for a subject, all of them fairly common, and the most common has problems, it is perfectly reasonable to choose one of the others.

Wikipedia does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it prefers to use the name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources. This includes usage in the sources used as references for the article. For cases where usage differs among English-speaking countries, see also National varieties of English below.

Article titles should be neither vulgar nor pedantic. The term most typically used in reliable sources is preferred to technically correct but rarer forms, whether the official name, the scientific name, the birth name, the original name or the trademarked name. Other encyclopedias may be helpful in deciding what titles are in an encyclopedic register as well as what name is most frequently used (see below).

The following are examples of common names[3] that Wikipedia uses as article titles instead of a more elaborate, formal, or scientific alternative:

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 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 "Wikipedia". 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.[4]) Search engine results are subject to certain biases and technical limitations; for detailed advice in the use of search engines and the interpretation of their results, see Wikipedia:Search engine test.

When there is no single obvious term that is obviously the most frequently used for the topic, as used by a significant majority of reliable English language sources, editors should reach a consensus as to which title is best by considering the questions indicated above.

Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. We do not know what terms will be used in the future, but only what is and has been in use, and will therefore be familiar to our readers. However, common sense can be applied – if an organization changes its name, it is reasonable to consider the usage since the change.

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 Wikipedia'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 Wikipedia editors.

Non-neutral but common names

Шаблон:Policy shortcut 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 reliable sources, Wikipedia generally follows the sources and uses that name as its article title (subject to the other naming criteria). Sometimes that common name will include non-neutral words that Wikipedia normally avoids (e.g. the Boston Massacre 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 noun (and that proper noun has become the usual term for the event), generally overrides concern that Wikipedia might appear as endorsing one side of an issue.

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

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

Article titles and redirects should anticipate what readers will type as a first guess and balance that with what readers expect to be taken to. Thus, typing "Octomom" properly redirects to Nadya Suleman, which is in keeping with point #2, above. Typing "Antennagate" redirects the reader to a particular section of iPhone 4, which is in keeping with points #1 and #2, above. Typing "Boston Massacre" does not redirect, which is in keeping with the general principle, as is typing "9-11 hijackers", which redirects to the more aptly named Hijackers in the September 11 attacks.

See also Wikipedia:Redirect#Neutrality of redirects.

Non-judgmental descriptive titles

In some cases a descriptive phrase is best as the title (e.g., Population of Canada by year). These are often invented specifically for articles, and should reflect a neutral point of view, rather than suggesting any editor's opinions. Avoid judgmental and non-neutral words; for example, allegation implies wrongdoing, and so should be avoided in a descriptive title. (Exception: articles where the topic is an actual accusation of illegality under law, discussed as such by reliable sources even if not yet proven in a court of law. These are accurately described as "allegations".)

However, non-neutral but common names (see preceding subsection) may be used within a descriptive title. Even descriptive titles should be based on sources, and may therefore incorporate names and terms that are commonly used by sources. (Example: Since "Boston Massacre" is an acceptable title on its own, the descriptive title Political impact of the Boston Massacre would also be acceptable.)

Explicit conventions

Шаблон:Policy shortcut Wikipedia has many naming conventions relating to specific subject domains (as listed in the box at the top of this page). Sometimes these recommend the use of titles that are not strictly the common name (as in the case of the conventions for flora and medicine). This practice of using specialized names is often controversial, and should not be adopted unless it produces clear benefits outweighing the use of common names; when it is, the article titles adopted should follow a neutral and common convention specific to that subject domain, and otherwise adhere to the general principles for titling articles on Wikipedia.

Precision and disambiguation

Шаблон:Policy shortcut

This policy section should be read in conjunction with the disambiguation guideline.

When additional precision is necessary to distinguish an article title from other uses of the topic name, over-precision should be avoided. Be precise, but only as precise as necessary. For example, it would be inappropriate to title an article "United States Apollo program (1961–75)" over Apollo program (given that the year range refers to the whole of the program, not a portion of it); or "Queen (London, England rock band)" over Queen (band). Remember that concise titles are preferred.

However, because pages cannot share the same title, it is not always possible to use the exact title that may be desired for an article, as that title may have another meaning. Where there is more than one existing Wikipedia article for another meaning of a desired title, as a general rule:

  • If the subject of an article is the primary (or only) topic to which a term refers, then that term can be the title of that article without modification, provided it follows all other applicable policies.
  • However, when a topic's most commonly used name, as reflected in reliable sources, is ambiguous (can refer to more than one topic covered in Wikipedia), and the topic is not primary, that name cannot be used and so must be disambiguated. There are generally two methods employed to avoid using an ambiguous title:

i) Natural disambiguation: If it exists, choose a different, alternative name that the subject is also commonly called in English, albeit, not as commonly as the preferred but ambiguous title (do not, however, use obscure or made up names). If this is not possible:

ii) Parenthetical disambiguation: Add a disambiguating term in parentheses (or sometimes after a comma), directly after the ambiguous name.

  • The word "English" commonly refers to either the people or the language. Because of the ambiguity, we use the alternative but still common titles, English language and English people, allowing natural disambiguation.
  • On the other hand, "mercury" has distinct meanings that do not have sufficiently common alternative names, so we use instead parenthetical disambiguation: Mercury (element), Mercury (mythology) and Mercury (planet).

Where there is no set name for a topic, so a title of our own conception is necessary, e.g., List of birds of Nicaragua and Campaign history of the Roman military, more latitude is allowed to form descriptive and unique titles.

Titles of distinct articles may differ only in their detail. Many such differences involve capitalization, separation or non-separation of components, or pluralization: MAVEN and Maven; Red Meat and Red meat; Sea-Monkeys and SeaMonkey. While each name in such a pair may already be precise and apt, a reader who enters one term might in fact be looking for the other; so use appropriate disambiguation techniques, such as hatnotes or disambiguation pages, to help readers find the article they want.

English-language titles

On the English Wikipedia, article titles are written using the English language. However, it must be remembered that the English language contains many loan words and phrases taken from other languages. If a word or phrase (originally taken from some other language) is commonly used by English language sources, it can be considered to be an English language word or phrase (example: Coup d'état).

The English language names of some topics may differ according to how names are anglicized from other languages, or according to different varieties of English (e.g., American English, British English, Australian English, etc.).

Foreign names and anglicization

Шаблон:Policy shortcut

The choice between anglicized and local spellings should follow English-language usage, e.g., Besançon, Søren Kierkegaard and Göttingen, but Nuremberg, delicatessen, and Florence.

If there are too few 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 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.

Names not originally in a Latin alphabet, such as Greek, Chinese, or Russian names, must be transliterated. Established systematic transliterations, 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). For a list of transliteration conventions by language, see Wikipedia:Romanization.

Wikipedia generally uses the character æ to represent the Anglo-Saxon ligature. For Latin- or Greek-derived words, use e or ae/oe, depending on modern usage and the national variety of English used in the article.

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

The title of an article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the variety of English appropriate for that nation (as in Australian Defence Force, United States Secretary of Defense). However, sometimes a form that represents only minority local usage is chosen because of its greater intelligibility to English-speaking readers worldwide (e.g. Ganges rather than "Ganga").

Otherwise, all national varieties of English are acceptable in article titles; Wikipedia does not prefer any national variety over any other. American spellings should not be respelled to British standards, and vice versa; for example, both color and colour are acceptable and both spellings are found in article titles (such as color gel and colour state). Very occasionally a less common but non-nation-specific term is selected so as to avoid having to choose between national varieties: for example, Fixed-wing aircraft was selected to avoid the choice between "Aeroplane" and "Airplane".

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 Wikipedia'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 at least three alternate names, or there is something notable about the names themselves, a separate name section is recommended. (see Lead section). These may include alternative spellings, longer or shorter forms, historical names, significant names in other languages, etc. There is also no reason why alternative names cannot be used in article text, in contexts where 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 historical contexts to which that name is more suited (e.g. when it was part of Germany or a Free City).

All significant alternative titles, names or forms of names that apply to a specific article should 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 Wikipedia 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

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

  • Use lower case, except for proper names: The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized; subsequent words in a title are not, unless they are part of a proper name, and so would be capitalized in running text; when this is done, the title will be simple to link to in other articles: Northwestern University offers more graduate work than a typical liberal arts college. For initial lower case letters, as in eBay, see the technical restrictions page. See also the special rules on capitalization in bird naming. For more guidance, see Naming conventions (capitalization).
  • Use the 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 (e.g. Arabic numerals or Bantu languages). For more guidance, see Naming conventions (plurals).
  • Avoid abbreviations: Abbreviations and acronyms are generally avoided unless the subject is almost exclusively known by its abbreviation (e.g. NATO and Laser). The abbreviation UK, for United Kingdom, is acceptable for use in disambiguation. It is also unnecessary to include an acronym in addition to the name in a title. For more details, see WP:ACRONYMTITLE.
  • 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 will otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Crown). For more guidance, see Naming conventions (definite and indefinite articles at beginning of name).
  • Use nouns: 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. democratic, integrate) should redirect to articles titled with the corresponding noun (Democracy, Integration), although sometimes they will be disambiguation pages, as at Organic. Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb will be 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, while "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 movie "Crocodile" Dundee or the album "Heroes").
  • 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 transportation in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transportation" or "Azerbaijan (transportation)" – use Transportation in Azerbaijan. (This does not always apply in non-article namespaces: see Help:Subpage.)

Special characters

There are technical restrictions on the use of certain characters in page titles. The following characters cannot be used at all: # < > [ ] | { } _

There are restrictions on titles containing colons, periods, and some other characters. Technically all other Unicode characters can be used in page titles; but some characters should still be avoided, or require special treatment:

  • Characters not on a standard keyboard (use redirects): Sometimes the most appropriate title will contain 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.
  • Characters resembling quotes or accent marks (avoid them): The characters ʻ ʾ ʿ ᾿ ῾ ‘ ’ “ ” c, and also combining diacritical marks with a "space" character, should generally not be used in page titles. A common exception is the apostrophe ' (e.g. Anthony d'Offay), which should, however, be used sparingly (e.g. Shia instead of Shi'a). See also Manual of Style (punctuation).
  • 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 rare that many browsers will not render them. For example, the article on Weierstrass p carries that title rather than the symbol itself, which many readers would see as just a square box.

Italics and other formatting

Use italics when italics would be used 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.[5]

Italic formatting cannot be part of the actual (stored) title of a page; a title or part of it is made to appear in italics with the use of the DISPLAYTITLE magic word or the {{Italic title}} template. In addition, certain templates, including Template:Infobox book, Template:Infobox film, and Template:Infobox album, will by default italicize the titles of the pages they appear on; see the pages for those templates for details. For details, see Italics and formatting on the technical restrictions page.

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 Wikipedia 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 the technical restrictions guideline.

Titles containing "and"

Шаблон:Policy shortcut 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 Acronym and initialism; Pioneer 6, 7, 8, and 9; Promotion and relegation; and Balkline and straight rail. (The individual terms – such as Acronym – should redirect to the combined page, or be linked there via a disambiguation page or hatnote if they have other meanings.)

If there is no obvious ordering, place the more commonly encountered concept first, or if that is not applicable, use alphabetical order. Alternative titles using reverse ordering (such as Initialism and acronym) 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's 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 title changes

Шаблон:Policy shortcut 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, such as anachronism, for inconsistencies in common usage. For example, Wikipedia has articles on both Volgograd and the Battle of Stalingrad.

Editing for the sole purpose of changing one controversial title to another 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. If it has never been stable, or unstable for a long time, and no consensus can be reached on what the title should be, default to the title used by the first major contributor after the article ceased to be a stub.[6]

Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia: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 Wikipedia.

While titles for articles are subject to consensus, do not invent names as a means of compromising between opposing points of view. Wikipedia describes current usage but cannot prescribe a particular usage or invent new names.

Proposed naming conventions and guidelines

Главни чланак: Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines

Proposals for new naming conventions and guidelines should be advertised on this page's talk page, at requests for comment, the Village Pump and any related pages. If a strong consensus has formed, the proposal is adopted and should be listed on this page.

New naming conventions for specific categories of articles often arise from WikiProjects. For a list of current and former proposals, see Proposed naming conventions and guidelines.

See also


  1. Article title here refers to the large bold heading displayed above the editable text of an article. This is usually identical (and always similar) to the stored title by which the page is referenced in category listings, recent changes lists, etc., and that appears (suitably encoded as necessary) in the page's URL. For technical details, see Wikipedia:Page name.
  2. Some on-line encyclopedias use arbitrary numbers to distinguish pages, hence article titles do not need to be unique, but Wikipedia uses a system whereby no two pages can have identical titles. It is technically possible to make articles appear to have the same title, but this is never done, as it would be highly confusing to readers, and cause editors to make incorrect links.
  3. Where the term "common name" appears in this policy it means a commonly or frequently used name, and not a common name as used in some disciplines in opposition to scientific name.
  4. Add this code in the search: -inauthor:"Books, LLC" (the quotes " " are essential); Books, LLC "publishes" printouts of WP articles.
  5. This was decided during a July–September 2010 poll on the article talk page. See Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 29#Wikipedia:Requests for comment:Use of italics in article titles as well as the discussions that led up to the poll at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#Italicised article titles and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#Request for comment: Use of italics in article names
  6. This paragraph was adopted to stop move warring. It is an adaptation of the wording in the Manual of Style, which is based on the Arbitration Committee's decision in the Jguk case.

External links