Help:Guidelines

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Before we get into editing articles, we need to talk about some basic editing guidelines concerning things like style, structure, layout, and etiquette. Mistakes are okay, but let's do our best to keep the quality high by following these guidelines.

Style[edit]

Below are some key points about style. For more discussion, see our Style Guide.

General Style[edit]

Information, not opinion
The Coppermind is an encyclopedia and it should read as such. Contributions should be informative and fact-based with citations; not personal opinions. Personal commentary and interjections are irrelevant. Save all of this for the talk pages, when appropriate.
Theories and speculation
Speculation is discouraged in most cases. It should only be included when the article would not be considered content-complete without this speculative information. For more on this, see Help:Speculation.
Paraphrase sources
Do not quote sources extensively; this isn't a quote repository. Occasional direct quotations of the text may be appropriate, but you should generally strive to paraphrase things in your own words when adding to an article.
Limit links
You are encouraged to provide links to other articles as related terms appear in the text. In general, this can be limited to the first appearance of a term in a given article. (e.g. Don't link to the "Iron" article every single time "iron" appears in the "Allomancy" article.)
Word processors
Avoid preparing your contributions in rich word processors (like Word). The quotation marks, apostrophes, and dashes won't work properly here. Use two hyphens (--) instead of a dash.

Writing Conventions[edit]

Always use proper English. Here are a few other more specific guidelines:

Grammar
Never speak in first person and never address the reader directly.
Tense
In general, articles should be written in present tense. There are exceptions; most notably, history sections may be written in past tense when appropriate.
Capitalization
For capitalization of special terms, follow the rules here: Coppermind:Style#Capitalization.
Other
Use American English spelling.
In general, spell out the numbers 1-100 rather than using numerals. (e.g. use "four" not "4")
Use a single space to separate sentences. (not two)
References at the end of sentences should be placed directly after the period.

Titles[edit]

Article Titles
Titles of articles should generally be singular.
For characters, do not include titles, honorifics, etc.
Don't capitalize subsequent words in a title unless warranted by the capitalization rules.
Section Titles
Do not apply formatting (e.g. bold, italics, etc.) to section titles.
Do not use internal or external links in section titles.

Article Structure[edit]

If you're starting a new article, don't worry about getting the structure right the first time--getting information onto the page is more important than proper structure and formatting. The admins regularly scan through new edits and tweak structure where necessary.

Initial Templates
An infobox should be the first thing in most articles. This is directly followed by any relevant spoiler tags.
Summary
Article content should typically begin with a brief summary.
Article Body
Some recommendations of typical headings to use may be found here: Help:Article structure. For more guidance, find a similar article to the one you are working on and use it as a guide.
Notes Section
The article content should end with a "Notes" section. This section should contain a <references /> tag, to provide a home for references and citations.
Finish Up
The article should conclude with an article status/quality tag, any relevant navigation boxes, and any extra categories.

Layout[edit]

Good layout is important for readability and flow of the article. For examples of good layout, take a look at articles marked as exemplary.

Structure
Good structure, as discussed above, is very important. But also note that deviations from standard structures may be desirable in some cases. If there's little information available under a given section, for example, it may be better to find another place for this information than to have an awkwardly short section. You are also encouraged to create additional sections and subsections as needed, to visually break down the article into more digestible pieces.
Flow
Always consider the overall flow of the article. Reading the article from start to finish should tell a story. Make sure an article doesn't seem to jump around between unrelated topics if possible. Ensure images and quotes relate to the surrounding article text and that they aren't out of place.
Images
Images are a fantastic way to liven up an article. As always, make sure you have the artists permission first. Take into consideration size and spacing; the image should be clearly visible, but not obtrusive to the article text. Try mixing up the alignment of images so that they appear at different locations along the page rather than cascading down one side. Use captions to explain what the image consists of. And realize that too many images can also be a problem. If you believe a large number of images are important to an article, consider using a gallery. We'll talk about how to do all of this on the Help:Images page.
Quotations
Quotes are another great way to provide a visually appealing layout to articles. As discussed above, we don't want to quote large portions of text in the body of articles. But use of relevant quotes is a great way to let the books speak directly into the article. Just like with images, try mixing up the location of any quotes that you use. Creating quotes is covered on the Help:Markup page.

Etiquette[edit]

Always treat other editors with respect and politeness. Assume that everyone has good intentions.

Be professional. Use proper English and avoid personal criticism.

Don't be combative or passive aggressive. If you have problems with an article then express them openly and respectfully. Collaborate.

Talk through major changes with other editors to make sure others agree with the changes. If you're making significant changes to an article that someone else has put a lot of work into, involve them in the process.

New Editor's Guide
Getting Started Guidelines Markup Basics