Wikisource:WikiProject 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Notes on reading the Encyclopædia

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
Wikisource's notes on reading its edition of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

Whilst the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica is known as outstanding reference text, it is over one hundred years old, and so the style and presentation are somewhat different from what people expect today. Some notes by Wikipedians are given here to assist the reader in understanding the text.

POV issuesEdit

The point of view held by the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica is roughly the one of the British and American educated classes at the beginning of the twentieth century. Any topic that would be sensitive to this point-of-view (POV) should be considered potentially biased, and verified with other sources before being copied and pasted into Wikipedia. Examples of biased articles imported in Wikipedia are the ones about French First Empire, the Stockholm Bloodbath, and king Umberto I of Italy. Often, an acceptably non-POV article can be obtained by filtering out or moderating biased or inaccurate statements.

The Wikisource version of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica must never be edited for POV. Its purpose is to record the text exactly as it was written. A copy of the Wikisource text can be made and edited elsewhere in the manner suggested above.

Units and measurementsEdit

All units and measurements are imperial as the text was written before British metrification.

Paragraph lengthEdit

For reasons of cost and academic writing style, the paragraphs are rather long in length, making reading somewhat tiresome on the eyes.


At the end of some articles is a section called "Authorities." This is a record of all the sources used when writing the article. The reader may consider this the combination of today's Citations, References and Bibliography sections in modern reference texts.


Contributors to articles are sometimes identified by their initials in parentheses at the end of the article. The initials may be linked to the "Author" page in Wikisource. A cross-reference of initials to author name is located at the beginning of each volume (e.g. Vol 1 Table of contributors). The alphabetical list of contributors is found at the end of Volume 29.

Work in progressEdit

Some articles, although present, may be in a very unfinished state: images and diagrams may need to be included; tables may need to be formatted; the text may need formatting and proofreading, and may be incomplete. For transcriptions that are transclusions, a color bar at the upper left will indicate the condition of the article: yellow or green indicates the text has been proofread. For transcriptions that are not tranclusions, many times there is an indicator of text quality in the upper right. The indicator is a small cluster of squares. Three or four squares in the cluster indicates the text has been proofread. Just one square indicates the text is incomplete.