User:Josh Parris/MOSDAB

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TODO:enable categories and interwikis

Disambiguation pages ("dab pages") are designed to help a reader find Wikipedia pages on different subjects that could be looked for by the same search term, as said in the Disambiguation guideline. Disambiguation pages are not articles; they are a help in searching.

This style guideline is meant to make the search more efficient, by giving disambiguation pages a shared look and by avoiding unneeded words and links. In short: the pages should contain only disambiguation words and links, whether or not the page title has the (disambiguation) part. (This guideline is not for articles that are the Common Meaning, even if the articles start with a "See also" hatnote or the like at the top of the page.)


Page naming[change | change source]

For rules on what to call a disambiguation page (such as whether to have the (disambiguation) tag), see the Naming the disambiguation page part of the Disambiguation guideline.

At the top of the page[change | change source]

Linking to Wiktionary[change | change source]

When a dictionary definition should be included (see What not to include), then rather than writing a text entry, create a cross-link to Wiktionary, one of the Wikimedia sister projects. To do this, use the Wiktionary link template on the first line:

  • {{Wiktionary}} – {{wiktionary|WORD|WORD2|...|WORD5}} – up to five optional parameters; helps linking dictionary entries with multiple capitalizations (star, Star, and STAR).

Check the links made by these templates. Wiktionary is case-sensitive on the first letter, using proper capitalization for its entries. Wikipedia is not; it uses an uppercase first letter for each page name.

Linking to a Common Meaning[change | change source]

When a page has "(disambiguation)" in its title – i.e., it is the disambiguation page for a term for which a Common Meaning has been identified – readers are most likely to arrive there by clicking on a top link from the Common Meaning article, made by a {{otheruses}} template or something like it. For example, the article School contains the hatnote:

Since it is probable that this Common Meaning is not what readers are looking for if they have reached the disambiguation page, it should not be mixed in with the other links. The link back to the Common Meaning should appear at the top, like this:

A school is an institution for learning.

School may also mean:

  • School (discipline) or school of thought, a number of individuals with shared styles, approaches or aims
  • School (fish), a group of fish swimming in the same direction in a coordinated manner
  • . . .

When the ambiguous term has a Common Meaning but that article has a different title (so that the term is the title of a redirect), the Common Meaning line normally uses the redirect to link to that article:

A cosmonaut or astronaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft.

In some cases it may be more clear to link directly to the redirect target:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), a famous composer during the Classical period

instead of the harder to read

Mozart was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), a famous composer during the Classical period

Introductory line[change | change source]

The term being disambiguated should be in bold (not italics). It should begin a sentence part ending with a colon, introducing a bulleted list:

Interval may mean:

John Smith may mean:


John Smith is the name of:

ABC may mean:

Where many kinds of a term are being disambiguated together, important pages may be put in the lead sentence. For example:

Bang or bangs may mean:


Bang(s) may mean:

Arc or ARC may mean:

Angus McKay, MacKay or Mackay may mean:

However, it is not necessary to mention minor variations of capitalization, punctuation or diacritics. For example, AU may mean: is preferable to "AU, au, Au or A-U may mean"; and Saiyuki may mean: is preferable to "Saiyuki, Saiyūki or Saiyûki may mean".

Individual entries[change | change source]

After the first line comes a list of individual entries – lines which direct the readers to Wikipedia articles on the topics which may be referenced by the term being disambiguated. The purpose of the disambiguation page is to make it quick and easy for people to find the one article they want.


Interval may mean:

Use the following rules when constructing entries:

  • Before each entry put a wiki markup *.
  • Start each entry with a capital letter (unless it begins with a link to an article marked with {{lowercase}}, like eBay).
  • Entries should almost always be sentence parts, with no end punctuation (commas, full stops, semicolons, etc.).

  • Each entry should have just one navigable (blue) link for readers to go to the best meaning article for that use of the ambiguous term. Do not wikilink any other words in the line. For example:


but not

  • The link should not have bolding or italics, but titles (such as for books, movies, songs, albums and art) may need to be italicized to meet the style guidance on titles. If the article's title has both a title and a clarifier, use a piped link to italicize only the part that needs this treatment, not the entire link (see Piping and redirects below).
  • There should be not many words after a link, just enough to let the reader find the right link. In many cases, just the title of the article will be enough and no more words are necessary.

In most cases the title of the target article will be an expansion or variation of the term being disambiguated (as in the example above). If this is the case:

  • The link should come at the start of the entry.
  • The article title should appear only as it is on the target page; the link should only be piped to apply formatting (see Where piping may be good below).

Sometimes the target article title is not an expansion or variation of the term being disambiguated. For these cases see Red links and Items within other articles below.

Note also the these points when making lists of entries:

  • An entry with no links at all does not help find an article. (See "red links" below for cases in which no article yet exists.)
  • A disambiguation page should not be made up completely of red links or have only one blue link on all of the page, because the purpose of disambiguation is to send readers to other Wikipedia pages.
  • External links should not be anywhere the page. Disambiguation pages disambiguate Wikipedia articles, not the World-Wide Web. To note external links that may be a help in the future, put them on the talk page.
  • References should not be on disambiguation pages. Disambiguation pages are not articles; add the references into the target articles.

Examples of entries that should not be made[change | change source]

On a page called Title, do not make entries just because Title is part of the name (see Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Partial title matches).

Common examples:

  • Title City
  • Title Hospital
  • Title University

The above does not apply if most times the subject is called Title. For example, Oxford (disambiguation) should link University of Oxford and Catalina may have Santa Catalina Island, California. If there is no agreement about whether this special case applies, then it is probable that it does.

You may want to make entries on the same page for:

  • TITLE and Title
  • Title town and Title township
    • An example is Willow Valley, which has a town of that name as well as "Willow Valley Township" in another state.

First names or family names[change | change source]

People who have the ambiguous term as family name or first name should not be in the same part of the disambiguation page as the other links unless they are most times called simply by that one name (e.g., Elvis, Shakespeare). New ==sections== of People with the family name Xxxx and/or People with the first name Xxxx can be made below the main disambiguation list.

For example:

  • Marilyn (given name), a female first name (including a list of people with the name)
  • Hunter (name), a first name and a family name (including a list of people with the name)

Misspellings (wrong letters in words)[change | change source]

Common misspellings (using the wrong letters in a word) should only be in the list if there is a real risk of mix up or misspelling. These cross-links should be put in another with a title "Common misspellings" or "See also". For example, in a page called Kington (disambiguation), it is right for a link to Kingston (disambiguation) be included in the "See also" part.

Piping and redirects[change | change source]

Piping and redirects are two different ways to make the link the reader can see different to the title of the article readers will get to.

  • Piping means to have words for the link and a different link. Many times this is to have no parenthetical expressions in an article. For example, a link to Moment (physics) does not look nice in a normal article; it will be done as [[Moment (physics)|Moment]] to show as one word: Moment.
  • A redirect is a special page used to "jump" readers from one page title to an article with a different title. For example, a redirect is used at the title 9/11 to send readers who go there to the article at September 11 attacks.

Subject to the special cases below, piping or redirects should not be used in disambiguation pages. This is to make it clear to the reader which article is being suggested, so that the reader is in control of the choice of article. For example, in the Moment disambiguation page, with the entry for Moment (physics), "physics" should be seen by the reader. In many cases, what would be behind a pipe is just what the reader would need to find the article they want. Also, raw section and anchor points should not be seen. See section and anchor point linking for what to do in these cases.

Exceptions[change | change source]

Most times piping and redirects should not be used in disambiguation pages. However there are certain cases in which they may be a help to the reader:

Where redirecting may be good[change | change source]
  • A redirect should be used to link to one section of an article if the title of that section is almost the same idea as the disambiguated topic. This means it is more probable that the topic may one day have its own article. For example:
Delta may mean:
  • (right) Delta Quadrant, in the Star Trek universe ([[Delta Quadrant]], in the ''Star Trek'' universe)
  • (wrong) Delta Quadrant, in the Star Trek universe ([[Galactic quadrant (Star Trek)#Delta Quadrant|Delta Quadrant]], in the ''Star Trek'' universe)
  • When the link is the subject of the line the above way should be used. For description sections, redirects or piped links may be used; follow the normal Wikipedia:Redirect and Wikipedia:Piped link guidelines.
  • Linking to a redirect can also be good for readers when the redirect has the disambiguated term in it and could serve as another name for the target article, meaning another term which is in the article's lead section. For example:
James Cary may mean:
  • (right) James Carrey or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor ([[James Carrey]] or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor)
  • (wrong) James Carrey or Jim Carrey (born 1962), Canadian actor (James Carrey or [[Jim Carrey]] (born 1962), Canadian actor)
  • The above example of a redirect is only right because James Carrey is one of the names in the lead section of the Jim Carrey article. If it were not there, then the second example could have been used instead.
  • For situations where the Common Meaning is a redirect, see Linking to a Common Meaning above.
Where piping may be good[change | change source]

Switch may mean:

  • "Switch", a song by Siouxsie & the Banshees from The Scream ("Switch", a song by Siouxsie & the Banshees from ''[[The Scream (album)|The Scream]]'')
  • When a disambiguation page links to one section of an article, not the entire article, piping may be used for a link to that section with anchor points or section linking. This is a common way used for piping to the track listing section of an album; a further example, from E (disambiguation), is that the piped ESRB ([[ESRB#Current | ESRB]]) is good, just linking to the top of the target page ESRB is bad.
  • When piping is used on a disambiguation page to link to an article section, the link should be in the description, and should not surprise the reader. The words of the link should not be the title of another article. For example:

Ten may mean:

  • (right) Ten or Tien Shinhan, a character in Dragon Ball media (Ten or Tien Shinhan, a [[List of Dragon Ball characters#Tien Shinhan|character in ''Dragon Ball'' media]])
  • (wrong) Ten or Tien Shinhan, a character in Dragon Ball media (Ten or Tien Shinhan, a character in ''[[List of Dragon Ball characters#Tien Shinhan|Dragon Ball]]'' media)
Section and anchor point linking[change | change source]

Section and anchor points in links should not be seen by the reader (for example, [[Galactic quadrant (Star Trek)#Delta Quadrant]]). If an anchor-point link is needed:

  • When linking the subject, link to a redirect to the anchor point (or do not link the subject, but move the link to the description);
  • When linking in the description, link to a redirect or use an anchor-point link with piping to have words much like the article title.

When making a redirect to a section, add the template {{R to section}} on the redirect page.

Entry types[change | change source]

External links[change | change source]

External links are not for disambiguation pages; they should not be used.

Other languages[change | change source]

For language other than english terms, check the existence of the article or that one could be made for the word or phrase in question.

If so, then it is probable that the term has been (at least in part) used in English or is used by specialists (people who do or know special things).

Tambo may mean:

Don't add words or phrases that are just the English term in another language. For example, do not include:

Linking to Wiktionary may be a different way to have this.

People[change | change source]

For people, write their birth and death years (when known), and only enough descriptive information so that the reader can tell between different people with the same name. Keep in mind the guideline for birth and death dates — see Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Dates. Do not put a, an or the before the description of the person.

John Adams (1735–1826) was the second President of the United States.

John Adams may also mean:

Places[change | change source]

For places, add the country after the link. Leave the country unlinked.

Kimberley may mean:

Red links[change | change source]

A link to a non-existent article (a "Red link") should only be on a disambiguation page when an article (not just disambiguation pages) also has that red link. Do not create red links to articles that are if it is probable will not be made, or probable that it will deleted as not notable. To find out if any article uses the red link, click on it, and then click "What links here" on the toolbox on the left side of the page.

If the only pages that use the red link are disambiguation pages, do one of the following:

  • Unlink the entry word but still keep a blue link in the description. Red links should not be the only link in an entry; link also to an existing article, so that a reader (not a contributing editor) will have somewhere to go to for more information. The linked article should have some meaningful information about the term.
  • Start a new article for the red link, using the description on the disambiguation page.
  • Make a redirect to a page where the item is described (see Piping and redirects above).

In made-up example below, the architectural motif is judged to be appropriate for a future article, but the noodle is not; therefore, only the entry for the architectural motif includes a red link (and this assumes that the fictitious "flibbygibby" entries are described in their respective linked articles):

Flibbygibby may mean:

Synonyms[change | change source]

If the link is to a synonym, simply use it as it is named:

Serving spoon may mean:

Items appearing within other articles[change | change source]

If a topic does not have an article of its own, but is mentioned within another article, then a link to that article should be included. In this case, the link does not start the line, but it should still be the only blue wikilink. For example:

Tail may mean:
  • The empennage of an aircraft
  • The luminous matter anti-sunwards from a comet

It is often useful to link to the relevant section of the target page (using the #anchor notation) and conceal that by making it a piped link. For examples, see "here piping may be good" under Exceptions, above.

Organization[change | change source]

Order of entries[change | change source]

The following generally describe the appropriate ordering:

  1. The Common Meaning should be placed at the top. In unusual cases, several of the most common meanings may be placed at the top, with other meanings below. See Mojave for an example of this.
  2. Long dab pages should be organized into subject sections, as described below.
  3. Within each section, entries should then be grouped by how similar the name of the target article is to the name of the disambiguation page. A recommended order is:
    1. Articles with a clarifier in parentheses: e.g., Moss (band)
    2. Articles with a clarifier following a comma: e.g., Moss, Monterey County, California
    3. Articles with the item as part of the name: e.g., Moss Bros (Only add articles about a subject may with good reason be called by the ambiguous title.)
    4. Synonyms: e.g., Tincture on Spirit (disambiguation)
  4. Some entries may belong in a "See also" section:
    • Broader-subject articles that treat the topic in a section: e.g., Bromeliaceae as part of a Moss dab page
    • Articles with the term as part of the name, but it is not probable to be called by the ambiguous title: e.g., Spanish moss as part of a Moss dab page.
  5. Within each group within a section, and within each section with no group, entries should be ordered. The order should to best assist the reader to find the article they want. This may mean in probable order of the reader to want, alphabetically (letters in the order of the alphabet), chronologically (by time), or geographically (places), or some other way.

Moss is a small, soft, non-vascular plant that lacks both flowers and seeds.

Moss may also mean:

People with the surname

See also

Organizing long lists by subject[change | change source]

Long pages should be broken up by subject area. Subject areas should be made with care to make it easy to find. Use subject areas that are well-defined, and that group the entries into sections of about the same size. Very small sections make it hard to find things, many times this is not good. Many disambiguation pages will have an "Other uses" section at the end for entries that do not fit neatly into another section; there is nothing wrong with this. Keep in mind that a way of division may not work well for different disambiguation pages. An example:

Thingamajig may mean:

In science:

In world music:

On long lists, section names should be used. Bold headings may also be used. There may be a need to use more than one level, as on Aurora (disambiguation). Always use ==Level two== as the first level section header. There should not be a link in a section name. See Wikipedia:Writing better articles#Headings for more.

On long lists, {{TOC right}} may be used to move the WP:table of contents to the right hand side of the page. This makes less white space and may make it easier to read the page. (To learn more, see Help:Section#Floating the TOC.) If using {{TOC right}}, put it after the lead section of the wiki markup and just before the first section name. Readers with screen readers (a computer program to read out loud the writing on the computer) do not expect any text between the TOC and the first heading, and having no text above the TOC will mix up readers. To learn more see.

"See also" section[change | change source]

There may be a "See also" section, which can have:

  • Terms which can be mixed-up with Title, for example New Market and Newmarket
  • Likely misspellings (words with the wrong letters) of Title, for example Belmont, Belmonte and Bellmont
  • Different forms of Title, for example Splitting, Split, and Splitter
  • Links to indexes of article titles beginning with Title (using {{lookfrom|Title}}) and/or article titles containing Title (using {{intitle|Title}})

The "See also" should always have a section header to place it away from the other entries. Links to other disambiguation pages should use the "(disambiguation)" link as it says at WP:INTDABLINK. When it works well in an article, place easy to mix up terms in a hatnote (a note at the top of the article).

Images and templates[change | change source]

Almost always do not have images and templates (other pages) unless they help to pick between articles on the search term. Examples of this are the images at Congo (disambiguation) and Mississippi Delta (disambiguation).

Do not have icons (small pictures) on disambiguation pages. Only if flag topics are being disambiguated and images are needed to do so, then flag icons or flag images may be added. To learn more read.

The disambig notice and categorization[change | change source]

After all of the disambiguation writing (also any See also section), but before any categories (groups; see below) or interlanguage links, a template should be put to show the page is a disambiguation page. This makes a explanation message for the purpose of the page to the reader. It also puts the page in the right category or categories.

The common template to use is {{did you mean}}, which makes a general disambiguation message box, and puts the page in Category:Disambiguation pages. Parameters can be used to place the page into more categories which are more help for that disambiguation page. For example, if a page has many places and many people with the same surname (and maybe other items), use {{did you mean|geo|surname}}. A full list of parameters to use and which categories they use can be found in the help for the {{did you mean}} template.

If a disambiguation page has only items in one of the special case classes, then a special case template should be used, not {{did you mean}}. For example, use {{roaddis}} for highways, {{geodis}} for places, {{hndis}} for people's names and so on. A full list can be found in the help for the {{did you mean}} template.

If a disambiguation page needs organization to make it in agreement with this style manual, use {{did you mean-cleanup}}. This makes a combination of both {{did you mean}} and {{cleanup}}, so do not use them.

Do not use {{subst:did you mean}} or {{subst:did you mean-cleanup}}, as the what is in this notice may change in the future (see). Also, the Wikipedia program needs links to the templates to find which pages are disambiguation pages (see MediaWiki:Disambiguationspage), and subst'ing breaks this.

Most disambiguation pages do not need to be put into any categories other than those made by the template. If such cases do come up (for example, some categories of personal names that do not have matching template parameters), then the additional categories should be put after the template.

If new categories for disambiguation pages seem to be needed, please talk about it at Wikipedia talk:Disambiguation.

Exceptions[change | change source]

Set index articles[change | change source]

Set index articles are list articles about a set of items of one type that have names that are the same or very much like each other. Set index articles are not disambiguation pages and do not have to use the style on this page. Note that the set index article special case was designed to be narrow: for pages that have links to articles about different topics, please use this style guide for disambiguation pages. An example of a set index article is a list of ships with the same name, such as HMS Albatross. For more help with ship lists, see Wikipedia:WikiProject Ships/Guidelines#Index pages.

Disambiguation pages with only two entries[change | change source]

Some disambiguation pages with "(disambiguation)" in the title list only two meanings, one of them being the Common Meaning. In such cases there is no need for a disambiguation page, but its existence does not hurt. In these cases place a hatnote on the Common Meaning article to link straight to the other article. The {{for}} and {{redirect}} templates are useful.

If none of the two articles is very common, then a normal disambiguation page is used at the base name.

Break rules[change | change source]

Most times these guidelines help make disambiguation pages that help readers. The guidelines make them like each other, and so easy to use by most readers. Usefulness to the reader is their principal goal. However, for every style recommendation above, there may be pages where a good reason exists to use another way; so ignore these guidelines if it is more help to than using the guidelines.

See also[change | change source]

Manual of Style (disambiguation pages) Category:Wikipedia Manual of Style (Wikipedia content)

de:Wikipedia:Formatvorlage Begriffsklärung es:Wikipedia:Página de desambiguación fa:ویکی‌پدیا:شیوه‌نامه (صفحه‌های ابهام‌زدایی) id:Wikipedia:Pedoman gaya halaman disambiguasi ms:Wikipedia:Manual gaya penulisan (halaman nyahkekaburan) no:Wikipedia:Stilmanual/Pekersider zh:Wikipedia:消歧義頁格式手册