UniWiki:Manual of Style/Text formatting

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This page is a part of the UniWiki's Manual of Style. It is a general guideline intended to harmonize article style across the UniWiki, though it is best treated with common sense, and exceptions may apply. Any substantive edit to this page should reflect consensus among Wiki Curators, or be approved by the Wiki Manager, Director of Communications, or CEO. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.


Boldface (text like this) is common in Wikipedia articles, but only for certain usages. To create it, surround the text to be boldfaced with triple apostrophes: '''...'''.[1]

Article title terms

Main article: UniWiki:Manual of Style/Lead section#Format of the first sentence

The most common use of boldface is to highlight the first occurrence of the title word/phrase of the article (and often its synonyms) in the lead section, as well as terms that are redirected to the article or its sub-sections. This is done for the majority of articles, but is not a requirement.

Automatically applied boldface

In the following cases, boldface is applied automatically, either by MediaWiki software or by the browser:

  • Subsection headings of level 3 and below (===Sub-heading===, ====Sub-sub-heading====, etc., markup). There are 6 heading levels total in articles.[2]
  • The term in description (a/k/a definition or glossary) lists (example: Glossary of the American trucking industry)
  • Table headers and captions (but not image captions)

Manually added boldface markup in such cases would be redundant and is to be avoided.

Other uses

Use boldface in the remainder of the article only in a few special cases:

Citation templates automatically supply all formatting (such as italic, boldface, and quotation marks). Therefore, applying manual formatting inside a citation template will cause undesired results.

When not to use boldface

Avoid using boldface for emphasis in article text. Instead, use HTML's <em>...</em> element (which usually renders as italic). Italic wikimarkup (''...'', or <i>...</i>) is often also used for this purpose, but is not semantically correct, and may be replaced (it is for non-emphasis italics, such as that used for book titles and foreign-language phrases, as detailed below).

It is technically possible to put non-Latin alphabets such as Greek or Cyrillic in boldface, but this should be avoided.

HTML's <strong>...</strong> emphasis (which usually renders as boldface) is generally not appropriate in article text, though it is common in project pages, template documentation, talk page discussions and other non-article contexts.

Italic type

See also: UniWiki:Manual of Style/Titles and UniWiki:Manual of Style#Italics

Italic type (text like this) is produced with double apostrophes around the content to be italicized: ''...''. Italics, along with semantic emphasis (usually rendered as italics), are used for various specific purposes on the UniWiki, outlined below.


The use of italics for emphasis on the UniWiki should follow good English print style. The most accessible way to indicate emphasis is with the HTML <em>...</em>. Emphasis may be used to draw attention to an important word or phrase within a sentence, when the point or thrust of the sentence may otherwise not be apparent to readers, or to stress a contrast:

Gellner accepts that knowledge must be knowledge of something.

It may be preferable to avoid the need for emphasis by rewriting a sentence more explicitly. Use of emphasis more than once in a sentence is rarely helpful to readers, unless the emphasized terms are being directly compared.

Other, non-emphasis, uses of italics on Wikipedia should use ''...'' markup, not

Names and titles

See also: UniWiki:Manual of Style/Titles#Italics

Italics should be used for the following types of names and titles, or abbreviations thereof:

  • Major works of art and artifice, such as albums, books, video games, films, journals, magazines, epic poems, television programs, and radio shows. Medium of publication or presentation is not a factor; a video feature only released on video tape, disc or the Internet is considered a "film" for these purposes, and so on. (See UniWiki:Manual of Style/Titles § Italics for details.)
Minor works (and any specifically-titled subdivisions of italicized major works) are given in double quotation marks. See below: When not to use italics for details.
These cases are well-established conventions recognized in most style guides. Do not apply italics to other categories or instances because you feel they are creative or artful (e.g. game or sport moves, logical arguments, "artisanal" products, schools of practice or thought, etc.).
  • Named, specific vessels: proper names given to:
    • Spacecraft (often fictional): the Space Shuttle Challenger, USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Constitution-class starships (but distinguish the craft from the mission: The Eagle was the Apollo 11 lunar lander). (See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (ships) for more detail on ship and ship class titles.)

Use piped linking to properly italicize in wikilinks: "USS Baltimore (CA-68), the lead ship of the Baltimore-class cruisers", is produced by [[Wikipedia:USS Baltimore (CA-68)|USS ''Baltimore'' (CA-68)]], the lead ship of the [[Wikipedia:Baltimore-class cruiser|''Baltimore''-class cruisers]]

Words as words

Use italics when writing about words as words, or letters as letters (to indicate the use–mention distinction). Examples:

  • Deuce means "two".
  • The term panning is derived from panorama, which was coined in 1787.
  • The most common letter in English is e.

When italics could cause confusion, quotation marks instead may be used to distinguish words as words. Use one style or the other in a given context; do not apply both styles at once to the same terms, or switch back and forth between the styles in the same material.

A technical term being introduced is often being mentioned as a word rather than (or in addition to) playing its normal grammatical role; if so, it should be italicized or quoted. The first occurrence of a technical term may be both italicized (or quoted) and linked if the term also has its own article (or section) corresponding exactly to the meaning when used in the present article.

Italics may also be used where <dfn> tag marks a term's first use, definition, introduction, or distinguished meaning on the page. Note that <dfn> tag does not apply text formatting, so the italicization (or quoting) must be added if intended. For instance, in the Consciousness article:

Access consciousness is the phenomenon whereby information in our minds is accessible for verbal report and reasoning.
''<dfn>Access consciousness</dfn>'' is...

If, however, a term is strictly synonymous with the subject of the article (i.e. the likely target of a redirect), then boldface should be used in place of italics or quotation marks at such a first occurrence.


Foreign terms

See also: UniWiki:Manual of Style#Foreign terms

The UniWiki prefers italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words that do not yet have everyday use in non-specialized English. Use the native spellings if they use the Latin alphabet (with or without diacritics)—otherwise Anglicize their spelling. For example: Gustav I of Sweden liked to breakfast on crisp bread (knäckebröd) open sandwiches with toppings such as messmör (butter made from goat's milk), ham, and vegetables. In accordance with the guide to writing better articles, use foreign words sparingly. Loanwords or phrases that have common use in English, however—praetor, Gestapo, samurai, esprit de corps, e.g., i.e.—do not require italicization. Likewise, musical movement titles, tempo markings, or terms like minuet and trio, are in normal upright font. If looking for a good rule of thumb, do not italicize words that appear in Merriam-Webster Online.

If there is a reason to include a term in a non-Latin script, it can be placed in parentheses. Text in non-Latin scripts (such as Greek or Cyrillic should neither be italicized as non-English nor bolded, even where this is technically feasible; the difference of script suffices to distinguish it on the page. However, titles of major works that should be italicized are italicized in scripts that support italics.

A proper name is usually not italicized when it is used, but it may be italicized when the name itself is being referred to. See above: Words as words

For better accessibility, Latin quotations should not be set in all caps or small caps.


It is normally incorrect to put quotations in italics. They should only be used if the material would otherwise call for italics, such as for emphasis or to indicate use of non-English words. Quotation marks alone are sufficient and the correct way to denote quotations. Indicate whether italics were used in the original text or whether they were added later. For example:

"Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!" (emphasis added)


Program variables

Variables in computer programs and symbols for program variables within plain-English prose and in computer source code presented as textual content can be marked up with the <var> element:

  • ...where <var>x</var> is incremented on each pass......where x is incremented on each pass...

Mathematics variables

Symbols for mathematics variables, either used within mathematical formulas or used in isolation, are simply italicized:

  • The value of ''y'' when ''x'' = 3The value of y when x = 3
  • ''E'' = ''mc''<sup>2</sup>E = mc2

Some things remain in upright form regardless of the surrounding text

  • Bold-face variables (such as vectors) and structures (such as Q, the rational numbers)
  • Letters with an arrow on top for vectors
  • Symbols for chemical elements and compounds such as HCl
  • Symbols for units of measure such as kg, ft/s
  • Symbols for mathematical operators such as sin and ln
    sin x, ln (p/p0)

Uses of italics that are specific to the UniWiki

One-line notes that are placed at the top of articles or sections (most often to assist disambiguation or provide cross-references) are hatnotes. One-line notes may also be placed at the top of sections to cross-reference or point to additional information that is not directly linked in the text. Both of these are in italics and indented to distinguish them from the text of the article proper.

Special section headings for appendices such as ==See also== are not in italics.

A further type of cross-reference may occur within a paragraph of text, usually in parentheses (round brackets). For example:

{{xt|At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France).

Here, the cross-referenced article does not topically make a good target for a running-text link from the phrase "largest population in Europe", or any other text in the sentence, but has been deemed relevant enough to mention in passing without relegating it to the "See also" section at the bottom of the article. In any case where such a link in running text would be proper, it is preferred over a parenthetical, explicit cross-reference.

Like hatnotes, these parenthetical cross-references are set off by being italicized in their entirety, as UniWiki self-references, and not part of the article content proper. Unlike some traditional reference works, the convention that has evolved on the UniWiki is not to individually italicize "see" or "see also". The UniWiki's own article titles are not put in quotation marks in such cross-references.

When not to use italics

Italics are generally used only for titles of longer works. Titles of shorter works should be enclosed in double quotation marks ("text like this"). This particularly applies to works that exist as a smaller part of a larger work. These include but are not limited to: Articles, papers, chapters, departments, episodes of audio-visual series, segments or skits in longer programs, short stories, story lines and plot arcs; songs, album tracks and other short musical works. (See UniWiki:Manual of Style/Titles § Quotation marks for details.)

Other cases

How not to apply emphasis

Avoid various kinds of overemphasis, which distracts from the writing:

  • Exclamation points (!) should usually only be used in direct quotes and titles of creative works.
  • Bold type is reserved for certain uses. See above: Boldface
  • Quotation marks for emphasis of a single word or phrase, or scare quotes, are discouraged. Quotation marks are to show that you are using the correct word as quoted from the original source. For example: His tombstone was inscribed with the name "Aaron" instead of the spelling he used during his life.
  • Avoid using ALL CAPS and small caps for emphasis (see UniWiki:Manual of Style/Capital letters § All caps). Italics are usually more appropriate.
  • Double emphasis, such as "italics in quotation marks" or italics and an exclamation point!, is unnecessary.
  • Underlining is used in typewriting and handwriting to represent italic type. Generally, do not underline text or it may be confused with links on a web page.

Other text formatting concerns

Font size

Editors should avoid manually inserting large and small fonts into prose. Increased and decreased font size should primarily be produced through automated facilities such as headings or through carefully designed templates. Additionally, large tables may require a decreased font size in order to fit on screen.

When it is necessary to specify an increased or decreased font size, the specification should be done as a percentage of the original font size and not as an absolute size. This improves accessibility for visually impaired users who use a large default font size.

Reduced font sizes should be used sparingly. Avoid using smaller font sizes in elements that already use a smaller font size, such as infoboxes, navboxes and reference sections. In no case should the resulting font size drop below 85% of the page font size (or 11px).


Main article: UniWiki:Manual of Style/Accessibility#Color

In prose

Prose text should never be manually colored. Refrain from implementing colored links that may impede user ability to distinguish links from regular text, or color links for purely aesthetic reasons.

In templates and tables

  1. Colors used in templates such as navboxes and infoboxes, and in tables, should not make reading difficult, including for colorblind or otherwise visually impaired readers.
  2. Colors that are useful for identification and are appropriate, representative, and accessible may be used with discretion and common sense. In general, text color should not be anything other than black or white (excluding the standard colors of hyperlinks), and background colors should contrast the text color enough to make the template easily readable.
  3. An "appropriate, representative" color, when intended to identify with an organization's logo or branding, should use the most prominent accessible color in the logo. A representative color useful in a navbox is often already present in an article's infobox (if included).
  4. In the case that no properly identifying, accessible color exists; or the subject of the template or table should not be identified with a particular color (e.g., an average biography), the default colors provided by the template or the table class should be used.
  5. If an article includes several navboxes whose colors conflict with each other, discretion should be used to minimize the visual disruption by using the default colors for navboxes.

Font family

Font families should not be explicitly defined in an article, with the exception of PUA characters (next section), because this interferes with the UniWiki's flexibility, and it is impossible to foresee what fonts will be installed on a user's computer.

Articles used to explicitly define font families for special characters, because older browsers could not automatically select an appropriate font. This is no longer dealt with by using explicit font definitions in the articles.

Capital letters

Main article: UniWiki:Manual of Style/Capital letters

The use of capital (upper-case) letters, including small-capitals style, is covered in detail at UniWiki:Manual of Style/Capital letters.


See also: Wikipedia:Citing sources

Text formatting in citations should follow, consistently within an article, an established citation style or system. Options include any well-recognized citation system. Parameters should be accurate,[3] and should not be omitted if the formatting applied by the template is not in agreement with the text-formatting guidelines above.

Private Use Area and invisible formatting characters

The only invisible characters in the editable text should be spaces and tabs. However, other invisible characters are often inserted inadvertently by pasting from a word processor. These can cause confusion with editors and handling problems with editing software. Any necessary invisible or Private Use Area (PUA) characters should be substituted with their decimal or hexadecimal code values so that they can be edited properly.

PUA characters

Private Use Area (PUA) characters are in three ranges of code points (U+E000U+F8FF in the BMP, and in planes 15 and 16). PUA characters should normally be avoided, but they are sometimes used when they are found in common fonts.

Where PUA characters cannot be replaced with non-PUA Unicode characters, they should be converted to their (hexa)decimal code values (that is, &#...; or &#x...;). However, whenever a PUA character has a Unicode equivalent, it should instead be replaced with that equivalent (Unicodified). The Unicode may be obvious when text is copied and pasted from a document that uses the PUA for bullets or similar characters in Latin text, but similar things happen with punctuation and emoticons in documents using Japanese and other scripts, so an editor familiar with those scripts may be needed. Such PUA characters, which are sometimes found on the UniWiki in references and footnotes, should not be substituted with their (hexa)decimal values, as that will lock in the illegible character. If you're moderately familiar with the script, an internet search of the surrounding text will often locate a fully Unicode version of the text which can be used to correct the UniWiki article.

Because browsers do not know which fonts to use for PUA characters, it is necessary for the UniWiki to specify them. The fonts should be specified through html markup, as in the example below. Note that if a font is not specified, or if none of the fonts are installed, readers will only see a numbered box in place of the PUA character.

See also


  1. ^ Technically, it is also possible to use the <b>...</b> HTML element for boldface and the <i>...</i> element for italics, but that is not recommended style on the UniWiki.
  2. ^ Pages on the World Wide Web are written in HyperText Markup Language (HTML); web browsers render HTML as formatted text. The MediaWiki software that Wikipedia uses converts wiki markup to HTML. HTML has six heading levels, notated in HTML as <h1>foo</h1>, <h2>bar</h2>, <h3>etc.</h3>. A Wikipedia article or page title is an HTML level 1 heading. Headings within an article or page use HTML level 1 through 6 headings. At the beginning of a line (only), MediaWiki wiki markup uses the same number of equal signs = before and after a heading. The number of equal signs on either side of a heading corresponds to the HTML heading level.
  3. ^ Attempting to misuse citation template parameters to output data they are not designed for typically results in garbled COinS metadata output. For special cases, use a textual note after the end of the citation template and before the closing </ref> tag.