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Open Science Wiki:Manual of Style

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The Manual of Style (often abbreviated MoS or MOS) is a style guide for all Open Science Wiki articles and official documents. Manual of Style helps a wiki maintain its uniformity and decorum so that when other users try to edit a particular page they don't face the difficulty of reading the mess the previous editor has made.

It helps editors produce articles with consistent, clear, and precise language, layout, and formatting. The goal is to make the encyclopedia easier and more intuitive to use. Consistency in style and formatting promotes clarity and cohesion; this is especially important within an article.

Open Science Wiki currently does not stress any fixed constriction on the style of writing. However we would appreciate if you follow some of the ideas given below so as to write a better article.

Article titles, sections and headings

Article titles

An article title is a convenient label for the article, which distinguishes it from other articles. It need not be the name of the subject; many article titles are descriptions of the subject.

  • Use "sentence case" or "sentence-style": The initial letter of a title is capitalized; otherwise, capital letters are used only where they would be used in a normal sentence e.g. Gravitational force, not Gravitational Force.
  • Use the singular form: Article titles should be singular e.g. Dinosaur, not Dinosaurs.
  • Use full names without ranks for characters: Articles about characters should avoid the title or rank, unless the character is known only by the title e.g. Isaac Newton, not Sir Isaac Newton.
  • Use parentheses to distinguish similar articles: e.g. No example currently..

Article sections

  • Headings should not normally contain links, especially where only part of a heading is linked.
  • Citations should not be placed within or on the same line as section and subsection headings.
  • Headings should not contain images, including flag icons.


British spelling should be used on all articles on Open Science Wiki.

  • Regional variations in spelling may be used in all other contexts on Open Science Wiki, such as comments, talk pages, user pages, blog posts, fanon and fan fiction.
  • If quoting a source, never alter any part of the quotation, even if it does not use British spelling.

Capital letters

Unnecessary capitalization should be avoided. For example, use oxygen rather than Oxygen. This is sometimes referred to as the "down style". Capitalization should be reserved for proper names only.

Capitalization of "The"

In general, do not capitalize the definite article in the middle of a sentence. However, some idiomatic exceptions should be quoted exactly according to common usage.

Calendar items

Seasons should be in lower case e.g. her last summer; the winter solstice.

Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna should be in lower case e.g. chameleon, lotus flower.

Celestial bodies

  • When used generally, the words sun, earth, and moon do not take capitals e.g. The sun was peeking over the mountain top; The people of Europe never thought of the earth as their whole domain.. The exception is when the term refers to a proper name e.g. The Moon Lander crashed onto the surface.
  • Names of celestial bodies are proper nouns, and therefore capitalized e.g. Halley's Comet is coming. The first letter of every word in such a name is capitalized.


  • Names of institutions (Delhi University) are proper nouns and require capitals.
  • Generic words for institutions (university, college, hospital, high school) do not take capitals:
Incorrect (generic): The University offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (generic): The university offers programs in arts and sciences.
Correct (title): Delhi University offers programs in arts and sciences.



Consistent use of the straight (or typewriter) apostrophe ( ' ) is recommended, as opposed to the curly (or typographic) apostrophe ( ).

Quotation marks

  • Use double quotation marks: Enclose quotations with double quotation marks e.g. Isaac Newton said, "The laws that govern the earth and celestial bodies are same." Enclose quotations within quotations with single quotation marks e.g. Tycho Brahe said, "Did Newton just say 'The laws that govern the earth and celestial bodies are same' few sentences before me?". Though on Open Science Wiki these cases are very rare to happen.

Place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not. This practice is sometimes referred to as logical punctuation. This is more in keeping with a principle of minimal change. This punctuation system does not require placing final periods and commas outside the quotation marks all the time, but rather maintaining their original positions in (or absence from) the quoted material.


  • Pairs of commas are often used to delimit parenthetic material, forming a parenthetical remark. This interrupts the sentence less than a parenthetical remark in (round) brackets or dashes. Do not be fooled by other punctuation, which can mask the need for a comma, especially when it collides with a bracket or parenthesis, as in this example:
Incorrect: Iroh and Zuko, fed by Earth Kingdom locals (on duck, rice, and other regional foodstuffs) survived for a few months.
Correct:   Iroh and Zuko, fed by Earth Kingdom locals (on duck, rice, and other regional foodstuffs), survived for a few months.

  • Place quotation marks in accordance with logical punctuation:
Incorrect: She said, "Punctuation styles on Open Science Wiki are way too complicated," and also made other policy-related complaints.
Correct:   She said, "Punctuation styles on Open Science Wiki are way too complicated", and also made other policy-related complaints.
  • Use serial commas. This is more consistent with the recommendations of authoritative style guides.
Incorrect: Aang traveled with Katara, Sokka, Appa and Momo.
Correct:   Aang traveled with Katara, Sokka, Appa, and Momo.
  • Modern practice is against excessive use of commas; there are usually ways to simplify a sentence so that fewer are needed.


A colon (:) informs the reader that what comes after it demonstrates, explains, or modifies what has come before, or is a list of items that has just been introduced. The items in such a list may be separated by commas; or, if they are more complex and perhaps themselves contain commas, the items should be separated by semicolons:

Ba Sing Se has several features: the Outer and Inner Walls, the Crystal Catacombs, and the Royal Palace, to name a few.

In most cases a colon works best with a complete grammatical sentence before it. There are exceptions, such as when the colon introduces items set off in new lines like the very next colon here. Examples:

Correct: He attempted it in two years: 95 AG and 100 AG.
Incorrect:   The years he attempted it included: 95 AG and 100 AG.
Correct (special case):   English and Chinese: these, with a few others, are the real world languages most central to the series.

The word following a colon is capitalized, if that word effectively begins a new grammatical sentence, and especially if the colon serves to introduce more than one sentence:

The argument is easily stated: We have been given only three tickets. There are four of us here: you, the twins, and me. The twins are inseparable. Therefore, you or I will have to stay home.

No sentence should contain more than one colon. There should never be a hyphen or a dash immediately following a colon. Only a single space follows a colon.


A semicolon (;) is sometimes an alternative to a period, enabling related material to be kept in the same sentence; it marks a more decisive division in a sentence than a comma. If the semicolon separates clauses, normally each clause must be independent (meaning that it could stand on its own as a sentence); often, only a comma or only a semicolon will be correct in a given sentence.

A semicolon does not force a capital letter in the word that follows it.

A sentence may contain several semicolons, especially when the clauses are parallel; multiple unrelated semicolons are often signs that the sentence should be divided into shorter sentences, or otherwise refashioned.

Unwieldy: Oranges are an acid fruit; bananas are classified as alkaline; pears are close to neutral; these distinctions are rarely discussed.
One better way:   Oranges are an acid fruit, bananas are alkaline, and pears are close to neutral; these distinctions are rarely discussed.


Two forms of dash are possible: en dash () and em dash (). On Open Science Wiki, the former is preferred. A hyphen (-), or two hyphens (--) should never be used to substitute for a dash.

Incorrect: Another "threat" was detected - but it was later found to be simply a group of misfits.
Correct: Another "threat" was detected – but it was later found to be simply a group of misfits.

Do not use more than two dashes in a single sentence. More than two makes the structure unclear; it takes time for the reader to see which dashes, if any, form a pair.

  • The birds – at least the ones he saw – had red and blue feathers.
  • Avoid: First in the procession – and most spectacularly – came the Fire Lord – then the nobles.


Avoid joining two words by a slash, also known as a forward slash or solidus (/). Consider alternative wordings to avoid it.

Terminal punctuation

  • Clusters of question marks, exclamation marks, or a combination of them (such as the interrobang), are highly informal and inappropriate in articles.
  • Use the exclamation mark with restraint. It is an expression of surprise or emotion that is generally unsuitable for an encyclopedia. However, some 'student friendly' articles are allowed to be edited in such manner.


  • Never place a space before commas, semicolons, colons, or terminal punctuation.
  • Always place a space after the punctuation marks just mentioned, unless it is the end of a paragraph, dot point, list element or the article.
  • Use one space after terminal punctuation. The use of double spaces is pointless as MediaWiki automatically condenses any number of spaces to just one when rendering the page.


Formal use of language is not mandatory on all articles. We appreciate any method that will engage a user to the concept in the article and be indulged in learning in a better way.


  • Avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other, or between an image and an infobox.
  • Lead images, which usually appear inside an infobox, should usually be no wider than 250px. However, some images which have height size greater than their width must be adjust accordingly.
  • Thumbnails shown in the article should generally be 200px. Images containing important detail (e.g. a map, diagram, or chart) may need larger sizes than usual to make them readable. These are not mandatory but will sure help to keep uniformity.


  • Make links only where they are relevant and helpful in the context: Hyperlinks are distracting, and may slow the reader down. Redundant links (e.g. the tallest people on Earth) clutter the page and make future maintenance harder. High-value links that are worth pursuing should stand out clearly.
  • Do not use external links in the body of an article. Articles can include an external links section at the end, pointing to further information outside Open Science Wiki as opposed to citing sources.

See also

Wiki.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Wikipedia:Manual of Style. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Open Science Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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