Style guide
This Manual of Style outlines Wikisource's formatting conventions and guidelines (see Wikipedia's article on style guides). These are not hard rules, and can be ignored where necessary. However, users should follow these guidelines where possible to ensure that Wikisource is consistent and maintains a high standard of quality.


While the style guide presents widely supported standards, it is not a set of rigid rules. You may experiment with deviations, but other editors may find those deviations unacceptable, and revert those changes. They have just as much right to do that as you have to make them. Be ready to discuss those changes; if you want your way accepted, you have to make the case for that. Unless there is a good reason for deviating, the standard should be presumed correct. Refusing to discuss, or engaging in edit wars may also affect your credibility in other unrelated areas.

General guidelines

Page titles

  1. Sentence form (most words lowercase) is preferred, unless an original capitalisation is consistently used. Normal exceptions, such as proper nouns, apply.
  2. Subpage titles should be separated from the parent title by use of a forward slash ([[/Chapter 1/]]).
    • Works that have chapters/sections should be numbered, not named (eg. use [[/Chapter 1/]] and not [[/The Dog Returns/]]). The section name should reflect those in the original work (Chapter 2, Act 2, et cetera). Subpage titles such as [[/Preface/]] and [[/Appendix/]] are fine though.
    • When a work is a collection (e.g. poetry) or a compiled work (e.g. a journal or almanac), then the subpages are works in their own right, and the original title of the work should be used in the subpage title.
    • See also #Wikilinks for information about adding relative links.
  3. Disambiguation is needed when multiple works share the same name; see Disambiguation pages below.


Formatting should be flexible and not interfere with access to the document, knowing that we are trying to reproduce works for modern readership, not provide facsimiles of the time and place. See also Help:Adding texts, Help:Beginner's guide to typography, and Help:Editing.

  1. The {{header}} template should be used at the top of every article page (see usage information). Editorial notes, additional commentary, errata, and related links should be placed in the 'notes' parameter of the header template. (The header preloading script gadget in your preferences may be helpful.)
  2. Text formatting should mimic the original document to show the work as presented, within reasonable limits. Basic formatting is desirable, but attempts to exactly reproduce an original may be cumbersome and inaccessible. The aim is to give an authentic digital transcription of the content, not an imitation of a printed page; to produce a type facsimile rather than a photographic facsimile. Basic formatting to retain includes italic, bold, Small Caps, relative font size, and footnotes[1] (see the editing help page).
  3. Page layout should mimic the original page layout within limits, but avoid unnecessary complexity that makes the text difficult to edit or read. A Wikisource page does not usually correspond directly to a printed page, but rather to an article, chapter, or section.
  4. Paragraph spacing. Between paragraphs there should be a single blank line (obtained by using two line returns). If sections of a text unit are separated by wider paragraph breaks, then use a double blank line (obtained by using three line returns) or the template {{DoubleHeightRow}} between the paragraphs.
  5. Indentation. The first line of each paragraph is not indented.
  6. Special characters such as accents and some ligatures should be used wherever they appear in the original document, if reasonably easy to accomplish. This can be achieved by using the special character menu shown below the editing form; or typography templates which may help avoid confusion between special and alphabetical characters.
  7. Punctuation:
    • Remove extra spaces around punctuation, e.g., colons, semicolons, periods (full stops), parentheses or commas, as well as incremental spacing found within justified text.
    • Use a consistent style of quotation marks ("straight" or “curly”) within a given work. It is recommended to use "straight" quotes in works where there are a large number of contributing editors, since consistent use of “curly” quotes may be difficult to achieve.
    • Dashes (em dash or en dash) preferably should be entered as actual characters (i.e. (em) and (en)). Longer dashes should make use of {{bar}} (or {{ld}}). Whichever dash is used, it should not be flanked by spaces.
      Options for entering the em dash are the {{--}} template, the HTML code — or the hexadecimal equivalent —.
      Options for entering the endash are – or –.
      If there is a dash at the end of a page in the Page namespace, an undesired space is added to the right of the dash after transclusion. The template {{page end hyphen}} can be used with an em dash as the first unnamed parameter (like so: {{peh|—}}) at the end of the page, which will automatically remove the space when transcluded into mainspace.
      If there is a dash at the start of a page, a space is added to the left of the dash when transcluded. The template {{unspaced page end}} can be added to the end of the preceding page to prevent this from happening.
    • Ellipses of omission should be entered as the actual character (i.e. … rather than ... or . . .) without surrounding spaces. However, note that not all strings of dots within written dialogue are ellipses of omission. In some cases, an author uses a sequence of three or more dots to indicate a pause, and in such situations there should be separate consecutive dots in order to preserve the tempo of the dialogue.


Links to other parts of works, other texts, and author pages at wikisource can be added to the text. By using the pipe syntax, [[target's title|displayed title]], the appearance of the displayed text is not affected. Most links improve navigation within the work, or to another work at wikisource, by using a reference in the text.

  1. Plain links. The author's references to other works can be made with a plain wikilink, for example, [[Poetical Sketches]] will be displayed in the text, "... of especial interest is the publication of his Poetical Sketches,"—Swinburne, William Blake, a critical essay, p. 8
  2. Relative links. When the subpage feature is used to organise a work, then relative wikilinks can be used in the {{Header}} template. This creates shorter code and ensures that a work remains linked together even if it is moved or reorganised. The three formats are
    • subpage [[/subpage]];
    • parent [[../]], and
    • sibling [[../sibling]], most usage in Previous/Next parameters in {{header}}
      Note that [[../]] will expand to the title of the parent page, which is ideal if the work is renamed at a later time. For long titles, you can pipe the link either manually or by using the {{Sibling}} template.
      These can also be used to create a link from one part of the text to another, relative links from a table of contents to chapters or sections (title to subpage), from an index (subpage to subpage), or any reference given to another part of the work.
  3. Deep links. Plain and relative links can be made to subpages by using the code: [[Title/subpage|displayed title]]. It is also possible to link a line or other section of the page by naming an anchor, or other label, using #. The syntax is [[Title#label|displayed title]]. The target's name can be inserted with an {{anchor}}, or by identifying the page number where those are displayed, This label's name or number is added at the end of the link's title #label as [[Title/subpage#name|displayed title]] or #number [[Title/subpage#42|displayed title]].
  4. Author links. To create a link to a person's page in the author namespace, use [[Author:Page name|name in text]].
  5. External links: Mediawiki sites that provide specific pages on a work can be linked from the notes section of the header. These links provide another context for a work, an article, quotes, or other media, and should be separate from the source document. The page at wikisource for 'The Raven (Poe)' shows the versions of that poem hosted here, but also links the wikipedia article The Raven, the commons category The Raven.

    Note: Placing external links in the source text is a form of annotation and there is no consensus on whether this is proper. Development of annotated texts is unobjectionable when separated from the source document, leaving a 'clean text'. Any guidance remains subjective, but the following can be cautiously applied:

    Words or references that may be difficult to understand can be linked to their Wikipedia or Wiktionary entries using the syntax [[w:Article|word]] (Wikipedia) or [[wikt:Article|word]]. Commonly used words or well-known references should not be linked. Words may be specifically used in a historical or cultural context. For example, the phrase Duke of York may refer to James II of England rather than the actual phrase Duke of York, or a reference to The Prime Minister may refer to Tony Blair rather than the term Prime Minister.

  6. Keeping the body of the page for the work, this means that we wish to replicate the book as it was published, and not have the addition of See also sections, etc. have all been deprecated (see above dot point for external links).
  7. See also Category:Internal link templates for existing linking templates.

Disambiguation, versions and translations pages

A disambiguation page is a page listing works with the same title. For an example, see The Raven. Do not include works with different titles in a single disambiguation page, even if they are versions of the same work. Disambiguation pages are for disambiguating works with the same title, not for listing versions of a work.

A versions page is a page listing different versions of essentially the same work. There is no requirement that such works share the same title or authorship. For an example, see The Raven (Poe). Do not include distinct works on a single versions page, even if they share the same title and author. Versions pages are for listing versions of a work, not for disambiguating titles.

A translations page is a special case of a versions page, listing English language translations of a foreign work.

These pages share the same basic layout:

  1. The page title should be the ambiguous title being disambiguated (for a disambiguation page), or the title by which the work is best known (for a versions or translations page). (For guidelines on the titles of other pages, see 'Page titles' above.)
  2. The header is standardized with "{{disambiguation}}", "{{versions}}" or "{{translations}}" at the top of the page.
  3. Individual works are listed in bulleted form, with no links except the titles and the authors. Only the basic information (title, author, date if known, and type of work) should be listed. If a page lists multiple versions of the same work by the same author, also specify the collection it was first published in, if known. For example:
    * [[The Raven (Poe)|The Raven]] (1845), a poem by [[Author:Edgar Allan Poe|Edgar Allan Poe]].
    * [[A Cradle Song (Blake, 1789)|A Cradle Song]] (1789), a poem by [[Author:William Blake|William Blake]] published in ''Songs of Innocence''.

Works that appear on disambiguation pages should be tagged with "{{similar}}" to indicate the existence of other works with the same title; e.g. {{similar|The Raven}}

Works that appear on versions or translations pages should be tagged with "{{other versions}}" or "{{other translations}}" to indicate the existence of other versions or translations of that work; e.g. {{other versions|Little Red Riding Hood}}, {{other translations|Bible}}

Particular guidelines

Author pages

  • An author, in this case, is any person who has written any text that is included in Wikisource.
  1. Page titles should be in a form without titles, eg. Author:Charles Dickens
  2. The page should contain the {{author}} template.
  3. Immediately following the {{author}} template should be a a header (second-level) named "Works", then links to works on Wikisource (point form). The links should generally point to the cover pages, not individual chapters or sections. The works should be listed chronologically with, if possible, the year of publication.
    • In the case of very prolific authors who wrote works of various types, subsections—using third-level headings—should be used to simplify locating a particular work.
    • For lengthy subsections listing shorter works (such as poems), or for lists of works whose dating is uncertain, an alphabetical listing may serve the reader better than chronological listing.
  4. Where a sub-page is created for an author, then utilise {{author-subpage}} on those pages
  5. Where there are multiple authors of the same name, disambiguation page should be created in the Author: namespace using the guidance provided.
    • Disambiguate authors by adding years of life. Add in form (YYYY-YYYY) with a hyphen as separator. Add the {{similar}} template above the {{author}} template.

Other components that assist users

  1. If required, a header (second-level) named "Works about (author's family name)", then links to works on Wikisource in point form.
  2. End the page with
    1. Choose a tag from Help:copyright tags that is appropriate to the author and the works contained
    2. {{Authority control}} information, for which a gadget exists to assist searching and addition
    3. Add to existing categories

Poetry and annotations

There are supplemental guidelines for poetry and for annotation.

Side by side image view for proofreading (DjVu or PDF)

See main article Help:Proofread



Standard templates like {{author}} and {{header}} are normalized, meaning that usage is the same on all pages. This makes it very easy to create new pages by copying the format of existing pages, and allows bots to easily automate updates or changes.

  1. Templates should be copied from the documentation exactly as-is. If there is no value for a parameter (for example, 'deathyear' for a living author), simply leave it blank— do not remove it. Do not re-order parameters, or change the spacing unless technically necessary.
  2. [For Firefox users] An option exists within Special:Preferences, (tab) Gadgets to preload the standard templates in their respective namespaces.

Talk pages for works (main namespace)

A talk page for a work in the main namespace can be utilised for highly specific and highly relevant links to external sites, and often in conjunction with the use of {{textinfo}} template. If this form of linking is used, then the use of the edition = yes in the {{header}} of the work could be considered to identify that further information is available.

See also