FamilySearch Wiki:Manual of Style

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A Wiki manual of style (or style guide) is a set of standards for the design and writing of wiki articles. The guide provides direction for visual and technical aspects as well as prose style, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and wiki etiquette. The consistent use of style guidelines provides uniformity in style and formatting of wiki articles, making them easier for readers to understand and utilize.

General Principles[edit | edit source]

Respectful interactions: Comments and edits should be made with respect for other users and contributors. FamilySearch Wiki:Etiquette Guidelines

Appropriate content: Content and images must be appropriate to the FamilySearch Research Wiki. Inappropriate content or links will be deleted. All images must be submitted and approved by FamilySearch before it appears in the Wiki.

Neutrality: Articles should be as written in a neutral point of view representing fair and without bias all significant views of family history and related topics that have been published by credible sources.

Simplicity: Writing should be clear and simple. When a term is used that may be unfamiliar to readers (for example, "gazetteer"), it should be defined the first time it appears in the body of an article. Avoid using specialized terms or acronyms when a common term is available. As much as possible, the information should be understandable by every reader, even when English is not the user's first language.

Bylines[edit | edit source]

Everyone can contribute to FamilySearch Research Wiki and pages are not owned by anyone exclusively. Since anyone can work on a page, the original author of a page may see work expanded and changed by others. When a contributor adds to or edits a Wiki page, ownership of the content is relinquished to the community. Bylines are not appropriate to add to Wiki pages and will be removed by Wiki administrators. If information is added to the wiki from a specific published work, it is appropriate to cite that work in a footnote.

Grammar and Style[edit | edit source]

Accepted authority: When there is uncertainty about grammar, follow an accepted authority such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Consistent grammar style within an article: Grammar styles may vary by location and preference. Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be consistently maintained throughout the article. Other contributors and editors should follow the original style.

Neutral tone: Writing should be factual and avoid stereotypes, judgments, and gender bias. However, quotes should not be changed to meet this guideline. If the quote has the potential to offend, find another quote.

Avoid using “he or she": As much as possible, avoid using “he or she” and “his or hers" (for example, “He or she can use the index to find his or her ancestor’s record quickly”). Do not use the plural pronoun “they” to replace “he or she.”

Avoid “we” and “I”: Contributors should not use “we” or “I” to refer to themselves and others in a Wiki article.

Naming[edit | edit source]

Name a new article[edit | edit source]

Main article: Help:Name a New Article

Before creating a new article, check to ensure that another article does not already exist for the topic. 

  • Unique titles: No two articles may have the same title.
  • Avoid duplication: If an article already exists for the same topic, edit the existing article rather than creating a new article.
  • Specific but short titles: Titles should be as short as possible but specific enough that users can identify the topic of the article when it appears in the search results. Avoid clever but unclear titles as they will be difficult to find using the search feature. Remove unnecessary words or punctuation.
  • Common terms: Titles should use common terms that users might search for. A well chosen name for a new article can be very helpful to users and make it easier for search engines to guide users to the most relevant wiki article.

Capitalization in article titles[edit | edit source]

In article titles, capitalize the first word of the title. Also, capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and the first word after a colon. Conjunctions and prepositions should not be capitalized.

Finding Newspaper Records
Finding newspaper records
Cemetery Records for St. Joseph County, Michigan
Cemetery records for St. Joseph County, Michigan
Franklin County, Illinois Court House Franklin County, Illinois court house
Canada Ontario Births (FamilySearch Historical Records) Canada Ontario births (FamilySearch historical records)

Other rules apply when citing sources within wiki articles. See FamilySearch Wiki:Source Citation Format.

Place names[edit | edit source]

Places listed in ascending order: If a city or county is listed in a title, at least the state, province, or country where the place is located should also be listed. The place is listed in ascending order (smallest place to largest). Unlike most genealogy software place name conventions, the word "county" should be included in the title of an article about a particular county.

Exception: The titles of historical records collections in list places in descending order.
Cook County, Illinois
Illinois, Cook County
Canada Ontario Births (FamilySearch Historical Records) Ontario Canada births (FamilySearch historical records)

Places that have had different names or jurisdictions: If a place has had more than one name or been in more than one jurisdiction (county, state, province, country, and so on), the current name and jurisdiction should be used in the title. If the article gives information about the place only when it had a specific name or jurisdiction, use those in the title. Redirects can be used to make sure users will find the article regardless of the name or jurisdiction they search for.

Non-English place names: Generally, if a country is listed in the title, use the English name (for example, Germany rather than Deutschland). Redirects can be used to make sure users will find the article regardless of which spelling is used.

Places and dates in titles: If the place, country, or time period is important to the content of the article, include them in the title of the article.

 Utah Birth Records, 1890 to 1925
1890 to 1925 Birth Records for Utah
Orange County, California Orange, California

Diacritics and quotation marks:
[edit | edit source]

In article titles, you may use words with diacritics (symbols used in other languages) or letters that do not appear in the English alphabet. However, the search engine may not display the article if users search for the English version of the word. Quotation marks should be avoided in article titles.

Punctuation in the title:[edit | edit source]

Do not end the title with punctuation.

Finding Newspaper Records
Finding newspaper records.

Abbreviations[edit | edit source]

Abbreviations, including US postal codes, should not be used in article titles or text because abbreviations can mean different things in different parts of the world. For example, the abbreviation CA could mean either California or Canada, depending on the reader's nationality.

For more information about naming conventions, see also Help:Naming Conventions.

Italics[edit | edit source]

In a title, italicize only the titles of books and ships.

Rename an existing article[edit | edit source]

Renaming an article requires moving the content of the article to a page with a different name. Articles may need to be renamed to correct an error, or to better state the purpose of the article. If it is likely that the page has been widely viewed and bookmarked, a "redirect" should be placed on the old article following the move. If a new article has been moved to a new title, the old articles can be marked for deletion.

Main article: Help:Renaming a page

Organizing information[edit | edit source]

In an article, subheadings or sections should be used to organize the content and keep similar information together. Subheadings should help users scan an article to find the information they need.

Punctuation[edit | edit source]

Punctuation style. The rules of punctuation vary greatly (for example, whether a comma is placed before “and” in a series of items: red, white, and blue). Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be maintained throughout the article. Other contributors should follow the original style.

Commas. Commas are frequently used at the end of introductory phrases and to separate the items in a list. In a list, a comma may either be used before “and” or left out. Whatever style is chosen by the original contributor should be maintained throughout the article.

At that time, immigrants from Eastern Europe either sailed directly to the United States or changed ships in Liverpool, England, before sailing to the United States.
This collection includes birth, death, and marriage records.
This collection includes birth, death and marriage records.

Commas with places. When a place is listed, each jurisdiction (governmental divisions such as country, province, state, county, and so on) is separated by a comma. In a sentence, a comma also comes after the final jurisdiction unless it ends the sentence.

Bannow, County Wexford, Ireland
He was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, in an area that is now part of LaRue County, Kentucky.
Bannow County Wexford

Punctuation in numbers. Use commas in numbers over 999 (for example, 1,000, 1,000,000, and so on). Use a period to indicate a fraction of a digit (for example .25, 3.76, and so on).

Punctuation within quotation marks. English-speaking areas follow differing guidelines for adding punctuation within quotation marks (for example, whether the period is placed within or outside of the final quotation mark). When editing, contributors should follow the existing style in the article.

Lincoln began the Gettysburg address by referring to the Revolutionary War, which occurred “Four score and seven years ago.”
Lincoln began the Gettysburg address by referring to the Revolutionary War, which occurred “Four score and seven years ago”.

Ampersand. Only use an ampersand (&) in database links and not as a replacement for the word "and" in a sentence.

And/or. Do not use “and/or.” Rewrite the sentence, or use just one word. If items are frequently together, use “and.” If items are seldom together, use “or.”

Each record has a death and burial date.
Each record has either a death or burial date. Some records have both dates.
Each record has a death and/or burial date.

Using a slash (/) between two years. Do not use a slash between two years unless you are writing an actual double date (see guideline 15.8). Use the word “or.”

In 1530 or 1531, the parish boundaries were changed.
In 1530/1531, the parish boundaries were changed.

Parentheses and brackets. Use parentheses ( ) around explanatory or alternate information. If the information in parentheses is a complete sentence, the period goes within the final parenthesis. (This sentence would be an example.) Use brackets [ ] to indicate words in a quote that have been altered from the original.

10 Vendémiaire IX (2 October 1800)
“All men [and women] are created equal.”
10 Vendémiaire IX [2 October 1800]

Quotation marks. Use double quotation marks around quotes and titles of articles rather than single quotation marks.

For more information about these records, see “Australia Census.”
For more information about these records, see ‘Australia Census.’

The “#” symbol for the word “number.” The symbol “#” does not represent the word “number” in all cultures. Instead of “#”, use “number,” “No.,” or reword the sentence.

The number 1 cause of war deaths was disease.
The primary cause of war deaths was disease.
The #1 cause of war deaths was disease.

Accepted authority. Because of the variety in the rules of punctuation, this list of guidelines is brief. When there is uncertainty about punctuation, follow an accepted authority such as the Chicago Manual of Style.

Formatting[edit | edit source]

Formatting information includes:

Databases[edit | edit source]
Source Citations/References[edit | edit source]
Repositories[edit | edit source]
Geographical Names[edit | edit source]
Acronyms and Abbreviations[edit | edit source]
Naming Subheadings within Articles[edit | edit source]

Standardized Wiki Pages[edit | edit source]

Types of Pages:

All Wiki Pages[edit | edit source]
Country Pages[edit | edit source]
United States State Pages[edit | edit source]
United States County Pages[edit | edit source]
Locality Topic Pages[edit | edit source]
Historical Records Pages[edit | edit source]
Record Finder Wiki Pages[edit | edit source]
Research Tips and Strategies Pages[edit | edit source]
Guided Research Pages[edit | edit source]
Online Genealogy Records Pages[edit | edit source]
Family History Centers and FamilySearch Library Pages[edit | edit source]
FamilySearch Affiliate Library Pages[edit | edit source]
Libraries and Societies Pages[edit | edit source]
Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Spelling[edit | edit source]

Spelling variations of English. Variations of English are acceptable. For example, either colour (British) or color (United States) is acceptable. Each article should use only one variation of English. When editing, use the variation of English already established in the article.

Linking[edit | edit source]

Main article: FamilySearch Wiki:Linking

Linking to other articles in FamilySearch wiki[edit | edit source]

Linking through the use of page section templates[edit | edit source]

Other possible templates to create include:

Linking through the use of metatemplates[edit | edit source]

Linking to other websites[edit | edit source]

See also: Create an external link

Links should not display the full URL[edit | edit source]

Many URLs (website addresses) are long and not reader-friendly. For readability's sake, links should not include the full URL of the destination page. There may be extremely rare instances where displaying the full URL is desirable, but this should be the exception, not the rule, and should be done only if there is a compelling reason.

Example 1: a link by itself[edit | edit source]

Correct: FamilySearch


Example 2: a link in context[edit | edit source]

Correct: Order United States military records online.

Incorrect: Go to to order United States military records online.

Click here to order United States military records online.

Clearly, the first link is much easier to read, takes less space, and helps users understand what they will find by clicking the link.

Templates Commonly Used in the Wiki[edit | edit source]

OCLC/WorldCat[edit | edit source]

  • Use the WorldCat Template for links to the WorldCat website to allow the links to be easily updated if the web address changes.
  • When listing a book or source, the WorldCat template can be added to the end of the reference. This can be for sources online or not online.

Example of a Book in a list found in the body of the Wiki Page in wikitext code:

*The Georgians: Genealogies of Pioneer Settlers 1984 By Jeannette Holland Austin. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company. FSC book 975.8 D2ag; At various libraries (WorldCat) 

Example of Bibliographic entry in the references section of the Wiki page in wikitext code:

*Austin, Jeannette Holland. The Georgians: Genealogies of Pioneer Settlers. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1984.) FSC book 975.8 D2ag; At various libraries (WorldCat)

FamilySearch Catalog Templates[edit | edit source]

RecordSearch Template for FamilySearch Historical Records Collections[edit | edit source]

  • Use the RecordSearch template for to allow the links to be easily updated if the FamilySearch website URL changes.

Wikipedia[edit | edit source]

  • Use the {{Wikipedia}} template for to allow the links to be easily updated if the Wikipedia web address changes.

Preferred terms[edit | edit source]

The following terms are preferred.

website: should be one word and all lower case as recommended by The Chicago Manual of Style or the FamilySearch website

(Do not refer to the website as FamilySearch. Legally, FamilySearch is the name of the organization responsible for and other family history projects.)
Correct: You can search historical record collections at
Incorrect: You can search historical record collections at FamilySearch.

FamilySearch Research Wiki (just "wiki" or Research Wiki is also acceptable)

Correct: Creating a new article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki
Incorrect: Creating a new article in the FamilySearch wiki

Latin abbreviations. Do not use ca., etc., e.g., or viz. Use simple English instead.

ca. (Use "about")
e.g. (Use "for example.")
etc. (Use "and so on" or "and so forth.")
i.e. (This term actually means "that is," and is often used incorrectly to mean "for example." Depending on meaning, use "that is," "such as," or "for example.")
viz. (Use "namely.")

Sandboxes[edit | edit source]

Major editing work on a page that will not be finished for an extended time may confuse visitors to the page. To avoid this, it is recommend that lengthy or long term editing preparations are worked on in a sandbox you create. Be sure to add a link in the "Talk" page of where the planned changes will be posted, to the sandbox where the planned changes are being worked on. This will allow comments on the new content until it is moved from the sandbox page to the page that needs the changes.

Further information: FamilySearch Wiki:About the Sandbox

Currencies[edit | edit source]

Listing costs of services. When referring users to a site or institution that charges for its services, it is appropriate to let users know there will be a charge. However, because prices change often, it is best to avoid listing the exact cost of the services.

Correct: There is a fee to get a copy of a deceased ancestor’s Social Security application.
Incorrect: There is a US$27-$29 fee to get a copy of a deceased ancestor’s Social Security application.

Identifying the currency listed. If it is important to indicate an amount of money, indicate both the amount and which currency is listed (Canadian dollars, Japanese yen, Mexican pesos, British pounds, and so on). Frequently, an abbreviation for the country is listed in front of the amount (for example, US$25). The original price and the equivalent in today’s money may be listed.

Correct: In 1800, a private in the British infantry was paid 1 shilling a day.
Correct: For the Louisiana Territory, the United States paid France US$15,000,000.
Incorrect: For the Louisiana Territory, the United States paid France almost $190 million in today’s money.

References to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the FamilySearch Wiki[edit | edit source]

In compliance to the Style Guide released 5 March 2019 regarding the usage of the official name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the unofficial references, such as, "LDS" and "Mormon" have been removed from the FamilySearch Research Wiki except in the following instances:

  • Historical References: The term "Mormon" will remain when used in proper names, such as, the Mormon Battalion or when used as an adjective in such historical expressions as "Mormon Trail."
  • References to the "Mormon Church": To clarify to the general public that “Mormon Church” is referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a parenthetical reference will be made. Example, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church).
  • Published Sources: References to books, articles, databases, and collections that include "LDS" or "Mormon" in the title will remain in the Wiki. For example, Journals, Diaries, Biographies, Autobiographies and Letters of Some Early Mormons and Others Who Knew Joseph Smith, Jr. and/or His Contemporaries and LDS Family History Suite 2.
  • Organizations and Websites: Organizations and websites that are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that continue to use "Mormon" or "LDS" in their title, will remain in the Wiki. For example, Mormon History Association and LDS Genealogy website.
  • Classes and Handouts: Wiki pages, including Wiki article titles, that are previously presented classes or published handouts before the 5 March 2019 announcement that include "Mormon" or "LDS," will remain intact.
  • Wiki Meetings and Projects: Agendas and minutes taken during a Wiki meeting and Wiki projects completed previously will remain as is to preserve the context on the Wiki pages.
  • Article Redirects: Articles containing "Mormon" or "LDS" will be redirected to correctly titled Wiki articles. This will assist users in locating previously visited pages.
  • Questions?: Any comments or questions should be directed to

Reviewed Wiki Articles[edit | edit source]

  • The MormonLDSRemoval template will be placed on Wiki pages containing any of the above instances to clarify that the content on the Wiki page has been reviewed and approved by FamilySearch.

Supporting documents regarding proper reference to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit | edit source]

Related articles[edit | edit source]

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