Powerbase:Manual of Style

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A Manual of Style has the simple purpose of making things look alike — it is a style guide. The following rules don't claim to be the last word. One way is often as good as another, but if everyone does it the same way, Powerbase will be easier to read and easier to use, not to mention easier to write and easier to edit. New contributors are reminded that clear, informative writing is always more important than presentation and formatting. Writers are not expected to follow all these rules, but please do your best to bear them in mind when contributing and editing articles.

Please see How to edit a page for information on how to use all the different forms of markup along with some other general guidelines to consider when editing.

Style for specific parts of Powerbase articles

Article introduction

All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line. The title or subject can almost always be made part of the first sentence, but some articles simply have names.

To encode something as bold, select the text to be emboldened and click on the "B" icon in the formatting palette at the top of the editing page.

What you put in:

  • '''The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition''' (TASSC) was a front group created by the [[APCO Worldwide]] to represent the tobacco industry's interests on the issue of secondhand smoke.

What you get:

  • The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) was a front group created by the APCO Worldwide to represent the tobacco industry's interests on the issue of secondhand smoke.

Give the basic information about your article subject in the first one or two sentences, as in the above example. This is a principle of news style that makes it easy for readers to decide whether the article is of interest without their having to read lots of it. Include, as in the above example, an indication as to why this person or organization is in Powerbase.

Section titles

Use the == style markup for section titles rather than ''' (which are used to create bold lettering). Start with == (that's two equal signs).

The major benefits of marking headers this way are that sections will show in a contents box at the beginning of the page and are automatically numbered for users with that preference set. Headlines also help readers by breaking up the text and outlining the article: which makes it easier to read. Another benefit is that words within properly marked headers are also given greater weight in searches.

Repeat section titles in the body text of sections

Because sections are often renamed, moved and merged, make sure to repeat any subject mentioned in a section title, i.e. don't entitle a section "The Los Angeles Riots" and then start the body text of the section by saying, "In the riots..."


Photos and other graphics should have captions unless they are "self-captioning" as in reproductions of book covers. (see Image use policy for information on using images)

Captions should follow the style of article text, using italics only for normally italicized material.


Titles of publications and media

Use italics for the title or name of books, movies, albums, TV series, newspapers, magazines, and court cases. If the title is also a link, you should usually place the italic markup outside the brackets.

To encode italics, select the text to be italicized and click on the sloping "I" icon in the formatting menu at the top of the editing page.

What you put in:

  • [[Nick Davies]] in ''[[The Guardian]]''

What you get:

You will notice in this example that both the names of the person and the publication has been enclosed in double brackets. This creates a link to their dedicated page on Powerbase (if they have one). Don't bother to create such links in a reference. Adding links is covered in more detail in the Creating Links section.

Names of articles go in "quotes".

What you put in:

  • [[Nick Davies]], in an article in ''[[The Guardian]]'' entitled "Lies, spin and deception",

What you get:

Titles (for people)

Titles such as president, king, or emperor start with a capital letter when used as a title (followed by a name): "President Nixon", not "president Nixon". When used generically, they should be in lower case: "De Gaulle was the French president." The correct formal name of an office is treated as a proper noun. Hence: "Hirohito was Emperor of Japan." Similarly, "Louis XVI was the French king" but "Louis XVI was King of France", King of France being a title in that context. Likewise, capitalize royal titles: "Her Majesty" or "His Highness". (Referenced from: Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed., 8.35; The Guardian Manual of Style, "Titles" keyword.) Exceptions may apply for specific offices.

In the case of "prime minister", either both words begin with a capital letter or neither, except, obviously, when it starts a sentence. Again, when using it generically, do not use a capital letter: "There are many prime ministers around the world." When making reference to a specific office, generally use uppercase: "The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said today…" (A good rule of thumb is whether the sentence uses a definite article [the] or an indefinite article [a]. If the sentence uses the, use "Prime Minister". If the sentence uses a, go with "prime minister". However to complicate matters, some style manuals, while saying "The British Prime Minister", recommend "British prime minister".)

U.S. state abbreviations and names of state residents

Powerbase uses the Associated Press abbreviations for U.S. states, which is different than the two-letter postal abbreviation. For a full list, see here. For the proper way to refer to the residents of a state see this infoplease sheet.


Powerbase is a British project, so British English spelling is preferable to U.S. English. However, U.S. English is acceptable. For the names of political groups or movements, use the spelling that is usual within the country referred to. For example, say "the American labor movement" (without a U) but "the British Labour Party" (with a U).

Increasingly, words like "civilisation" and "organisation" are morphing towards the U.S. spellings using a Z, even within Great Britain, thus: "civilization", "organization". For the time being, this is a matter of personal preference except in cases where these words are part of the name of a group or organization, such as the Zionist Organization of America, when you should use the American spelling with a Z.

If a variant spelling appears in an article name, you should make a redirect page to accommodate "the other language", as with [[Aeroplane]] and [[Airplane]].


In most cases, simply follow the usual rules of English punctuation. A few points where the Powerbase may differ from usual usage follow.

With quotation marks, we suggest splitting the difference between American and English usage.

Although it is not a rigid rule, it is probably best to use the "double quotes" for most quotations, as they are easier to read on the screen, and use 'single quotes' for "quotations 'within' quotations". This is the American style.

When punctuating quoted passages, put punctuation where it belongs, inside or outside the quotation marks, depending on the meaning, not rigidly within the quotation marks. This is the British style. For example, "Stop!" has the punctuation inside the quotation marks. However, when using "scare quotes", the comma goes outside.

Another example:

Arthur said the situation was "deplorable". (we're quoting only part of a sentence)
Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." (full sentence is quoted)

Keep in mind that if you're quoting several paragraphs, there should be quotes at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph.

Block quotes

A neat way of formatting longer quotations (a guideline is if the quotation is over 35 words long) is to make it into a block quote. Block quotes are indented and do not need initial quotation marks. You only use quotation marks for any quotes within the main quote. Block quotes are created by using a colon at the beginning of each paragraph of the block quote.

  • What you put in:

Lead into your quote here:

:Here is your block quote, a quotation of over 35 words long. Carry on like this, using quotation marks for any quotes within the quote, such as the following. He said, "Block quotes can make an article easier to read."

:If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, begin each paragraph with a colon.

Then continue your article ...

  • What you get:

Lead into your quote here:

Here is your block quote, a quotation of over 35 words long. Carry on like this, using quotation marks for any quotes within the quote, such as the following. He said, "Block quotes can make an article easier to read."
If there is more than one paragraph in the block quote, begin each paragraph with a colon.

Then continue your article ...


See a guide to referencing for how to reference citations.

Also familiarise yourself with A guide to sourcing which provides useful information for the use of sources.


ISBN numbers are auto-converted to links. This is useful, as this allows readers to go to online stores and purchase books. However, ISBN numbers only identify a particular edition of a book: when it goes out of print, they are not very useful.

The Powerbase software recognizes inline ISBNs; for example: ISBN 0-12-345678-9 becomes ISBN 0-12-345678-9. This creates an external link to a special booksource page, with links to sites where one may search for the best price for the book or access information about the book such as reviews and reader reactions. It is important when making a link to not put a colon after "ISBN".

Please do not use ISBN numbers alone to identify books: please add a proper reference as well as the ISBN.

Creating links

The use of so-called "free links" to other topics, for example, [[Gordon Brown]], is encouraged. Use the links for all words and terms that appear in your article for which it could be worthwhile to read the linked article. However, don't overdo it. Do not link every occurrence of a word; simply linking the first time the word appears will usually be enough.

Details of how to link a page can be found on Powerbase how to edit a page guide.

Also familiarise yourself with Powerbase naming conventions. Links that follow the naming conventions are much more likely to lead to existing articles and if there is not yet an article about that subject, will make the creation of a correctly-named article much easier for later writers.

Try to link accurately. If an article you want to link doesn't yet exist, do a quick search to find out if that is really the case: the article may be named slightly different from what you expected.

URLs and the World Wide Web

Powerbase is not a link collection and an article with only links is actively discouraged, but it can sometimes be appropriate to reference more detailed material from the World Wide Web. This is particularly the case when you have used a web site as an important source of information.

Powerbase article on Michael Levy provides an example of this. The 'resources' section at the end of his article provides external links to articles elsewhere in the world wide web which are included for further information. These are also sometimes called external links.

When adding extra sources of external information, these should be included in the article by adding them to the bottom of the page (create an external links or resources section for them if there is not one there already). Add the full URL address (including the http://) in single brackets (to create an external link), then a brief description of what the external information contains: For example...

BBC Breakfast with Frost interview Lord Levy, 9 July 2000. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast_with_frost/825834.stm]

This approach should not be used as a substitute for including relevant information within the article itself. It is however useful for linking further information (or perhaps analysis from another author) as an extra source of information that is worth noting.

Don't get fancy

It's easier for you and whoever follows you if you don't try to get too fancy with your markup. A useful encyclopedia is the first goal, but ease of editing and maintaining that encyclopedia is right behind it.

When all else fails

It can sometimes be useful to have a look at an article that you like and open it for editing to see how the writers and editors have put it together. You can then close the window without saving changes if you like, but look around while you're there.