All The Tropes:Style Guide

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This page documents the house style for All The Tropes. If you have a question about how to write and present information, you should find answers here.

These rules aren't perfect, nor do they cover all situations. As such, these aren't official policy, but more like guidelines. However, like all style guides, it's a good idea to know the rules before you break them.

Also, we inherited a lot of badly-formatted pages from TV Tropes. It has been, and will continue to be, the work of years to find and fix them all, and we're nowhere near done yet. Following the guidelines below will help the wiki by not adding to the workload.

Page Titles

Capitalization

Capitalization of trope names follows our style of titlecase:

  • Capitalize all major words, and both words in hyphenated compounds.
  • Always capitalize the first word of a title, and any word after a colon or dash.
  • Conjunctions (and/or/nor), articles (a, an, the), and short prepositions (on, in, to, by, for, at, of, as, etc.) should be lowercased.
  • Longer prepositions (4 or more letters) should be capitalized (with, from, whereas, etc.).

Capitalization of page titles for works should match the original marketing as nearly as possible -- and preferably the English-language marketing. (If you're uncertain, copying the page name Wikipedia uses is usually safe, plus it will make the Wikipedia tab found in most page templates work perfectly.) However, feel free to create redirects for names in any other capitalization, or for the name of the work in its native language.

Language

If the original language does not use the Latin alphabet (A-Z), the English-language marketing name should be used instead. Only if there is no English-language marketing name should the title be transliterated to the English equivalent. (This is an English-language wiki; pages about works with English-language marketing names should use the English-language names for the convenience of casual readers.) For example, we use the English title Journey to the West, not the original Chinese title 西遊記.

Japanese text, which is littered around this site, has a few more helpful rules for transliterations of titles.

  • Lowercase mid-sentence particles (ga, wa, no) and write them as separate words.
  • For sentence ending particles (yo, zo, ze, wa), either agglutinate them to the previous word (no space), or capitalize.
  • Honorifics should be lowercase, and be joined to their noun with a hyphen (e.g. Sakura-chan).
  • Given a choice, please use Hepburn romanization. All The Tropes is not a scholarly site, so we prefer to use the romanization system that "sounds like" the Japanese words (e.g. "bimbogami", not "bimbokami".)

Page boilerplate

We have a large selection of boilerplates that you can use to make a new page look like other pages on All The Tropes.

Typically, you'll find something appropriate in the dropdown menu, or it will preload when you select something from the Add Page menu. But if that doesn't work, you'll find something on All The Tropes:Creating a Page by Hand that you can use to do things the hard way.

External Links

Potholes are good, while sinkholes are bad.

Potholes are essential on external links. Approximately half of the people who read All The Tropes use devices that do not allow hovering over links. Thus, if we give them a link like [1], they have no way of knowing whether that's a poorly-coded link to a page on All The Tropes, a Wikipedia page, a YouTube video, a documentation page for the entire internet, or something else altogether. Providing a quick description is preferred, like this: An "example.com" link is itself an example of a link.

Whatever you do, don't just drop the URL into the text of a page without any markup at all. This is called a "bare URL", and while the wiki software will recognize it and turn it into a clickable link, it's sloppy and lazy and makes you -- and by extension the wiki -- look bad.

To summarize:

Internal Links (Wicks)

When it comes to links to other pages on the wiki, the guidelines are a little different -- and for the most part, looser, mainly because you can't make an internal link quite as confusing or unintelligible as an external link can be without really working at it.

The only real style requirements exist for work names. Wherever possible, a work name should also be a link. This requires that you use the name of a work as it appears on the work page, matching punctuation and capitalization exactly. That's usually not to hard to determine -- if you don't already know it off the top of your head, you can use the wiki's search function to find it. (However, always click through a search result. You may have found a disambiguation or franchise page or a redirect and not the actual work page; clicking through will make sure you get to the right name, eventually.)

Once you have the right name, insert it into your edit with the appropriate markup. Right off the bat, of course, it should be in link markup ([[ and ]].

Of course, we don't have a page for every existing work on the wiki. But even if there isn't a page for it here, we still want the work name to be a link -- it might inspire another troper to write that page. So if you can't find a page, mark up the work name as a link anyway.

Most work names should then be put italics markup (two single quotes/apostrophes before and after the link markup). There are exceptions to this -- short stories, individual songs, and other short-format works get double quotes instead of italics -- but in general italics are a safe choice.

Sometimes you might think it's necessary (or more attractive) to use a pothole with a work name. For instance, the Harry Potter novels are all described on subpages under Harry Potter, like Harry Potter/Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone; potholing that link to Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone just looks better. Go ahead and do that. Just be careful not to misspell or otherwise mangle the work name in the pothole.

In short, your work links should generally look like

''[[The Amazing Adventures of Wiki-Man!]]''

when you're typing them into the editor.

Section Headers

MediaWiki is capable of displaying five levels of headers, analogous to HTML's "H2" through "H6". (The equivalent to H1 is reserved for page titles.) To mark text as a section header of a given level, put that many equals signs in a row before and after the text. Also, there should be nothing else on a line that has header text.

The headers are designed to be "nested"; that is, an H2 should come before the H3s that are subsets of the same topic, an H3 should come before the H4s that are subsets of the same subtopic, and so on. While you won't break the wiki by ignoring this, not nesting the headers as expected does nasty things to some screen-reader software and thus limits how much of the wiki blind people can access. Besides, it looks ugly.

Since all headers on a page appear in that page's table of contents, section headers should not be used as a replacement for boldface. (Yes, we know we have hundreds if not thousands of pages, especially Characters subpages, where they are used this way; these pages were inherited from TV Tropes. If you see a page like this, please fix it!)

A special note on the "References" and "Notes" headers: We are not Wikipedia. If we wanted to look like Wikipedia, we would have added the References header to the "reflist" template years ago. Don't add "== References ==" or "== Notes ==" to any of our Trope, Work, or Creator pages or their subpages.

Hatnotes

Readers familiar with Wikipedia have probably seen at least one "hatnote" there - a line of text (usually in italics) at the top of a page that points out other pages with similar names as a quick disambiguation method. Unlike Wikipedia, we treat all cases of disambiguation equally; we do not select specific works or tropes as the "primary topic" (AKA the "main" page) for a given name and use hatnotes to redirect to alternatives.

Although All The Tropes does not use Wikipedia-style hatnotes, we do sometimes incorporate similar linking to alternate page choices in the main text of an article, usually just before the trope or example list, in a form like "If you're looking for the video game of the same name, go here" or the infamous "Not to be confused with". Be careful with the latter usage, though, because it is often employed for humorous purposes.

For more information about hatnotes, please see our page on Creating Disambiguation Pages.

Italics, Boldface, and Other Emphasis

When writing text for a wiki page, do not use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis. This may be a necessity in plain text files or email, but the wiki has full font support like any other web page.

Any kind of emphasis you want to make should default to mixed or lower case in italics. Italics markup, as noted elsewhere on this page, is accomplished with two single quotes/apostrophes before and after the text to be emphasized.

Also, please don't use boldface (generated with three single quotes) for emphasis. Bold text should be reserved for emphasis within block-quotes that are already in italics and for minor subheads in the main text. Also, the first time a work page mentions the work's name in its text, the name should be marked up in bold and italics. There are almost no other cases when boldface is an appropriate style choice.

For more information on how to mark up text on a page (as opposed to when or why), see Help:Formatting.

Footnotes

Another way in which we differ from Wikipedia's usage is that we don't use footnotes to cite primary sources. Do not write examples as nothing more than a short phrase with a footnote to an off-site page -- if you do, it's likely to get deleted as a Zero Context Example. All The Tropes is about analyzing the use of tropes in works; where's the analysis in that? Take the time to summarize whatever you wanted the linked page to communicate. The result will be a much better example, and you can still include the link in the text, perhaps potholed to a phrase like, "As can be seen here".