Formatting and Style Guide

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This page contains an explanation of MediaWiki formatting codes, and stylistic recommendations for contributors. These recommendations are merely advice; there's no "rule" that says you have to follow them, although more experienced, formatting-obsessed editors may tweak your work to follow them if it doesn't already.

Contents

Basic MediaWiki formatting

To format text in MediaWiki, you have to use formatting codes (rather like BBCode on the HomeSchoolDebate.com forums.) The most important codes are as follows:

Section heading: Place two equals signs before and after the line you want to be a section heading, like this: == Section heading ==
Italic text: Place two apostrophes before and after text you want to be italic, like this: ''italic text''
Bold text: Place three apostrophes before and after text you want to be bold, like this: '''bold text'''
Underlined text: Place <u> before the text you want to be underlined, and </u> after it, like this: <u>underlined text</u>
Indented paragraphs: Place a colon at the beginning of the paragraph you want to be indented, like this: :Indented paragraph continues... Multiple colons in a row increase the level of indentation, i.e. two colons (::) creates second-level indentation, and three colons (:::) creates third-level indentation.
Bullet points: Place an asterisk at the beginning of the paragraph you want to have a bullet point, like this: * Bullet-point paragraph continues...

Remember that you must put a blank line between each paragraph, or they will all run together into a single block. (Don't put more than a single blank line between each paragraph, however, or you'll get an unsightly gap.) When in doubt, use the "Show preview" button to check your formatting before submitting it.

Hyperlinks

When using terminology for which an article exists, the word should generally be linked to the article. (For example, if the word "parametrics" appears in the middle of an article, it should be hyperlinked so that clicking on it take the reader to the article on parametrics.) It is not necessary to hyperlink every occurrence of the word, however; it's generally best to provide a link the first time the word is used in an article, and then ignore the rest.

A simple article link may be created by surrounding a word or phrase with double brackets, like this: [[parametrics]] This turns the word into a link to the article of the same name. However, many times the article title is not exactly the same as the word being used. You can link to an arbitrary article by giving the article title, a vertical bar, and then the word to show, like this: [[Team Policy Theory (hub page)|theory]] The reader will see the word "theory", but if they click on it, they will be taken to the Team Policy theory hub page. (The vertical bar character, or "pipe", is usually Shift+Backslash.)

Links to other websites may be created by surrounding a URL with single brackets, like this: [http://www.google.com] This will create a small numbered insert like [1], which is useful for referencing sources. If you wish to have a text link, include a space after the URL, and then the text to show, like this: [http://www.google.com Google search engine] This will create a link like this: Google search engine.

If you add a link to an article and it unexpectedly appears red, you may have gotten the link wrong. Verify that the page title actually is what you thought it was.

Article and section titles

Case: Most article and section titles should be in sentence case: the first word is capitalized, and all words after it are lower case, unless there is a specific reason to capitalize them. Compare:

Controversy with Stuart Miller over parametrics (correct)
Controversy With Stuart Miller Over Parametrics (incorrect)

Plurality: Article titles should generally be singular, i.e. "Tournament" rather than "Tournaments". Pluralization is OK if the page title doesn't make sense in the singular, like "evidence ethic" (evidence ethics) or "list of club" (list of clubs). Use your judgement, but as a general rule, if it can be singular, it should be singular.

Miscellaneous conventions

  • In articles defining a term, the first use of the term should be bold. For example: "A spike is an argument raised with the intent of..." etc.
  • The words "Affirmative" and "Negative" should be written in full and capitalized whenever they are used; avoid "affirmative", "aff", "Aff", "AFF", or other variants.
  • Use acronyms with care. "NCFCA" is fine (and preferred), but other acronyms and abbreviations (like "TP", "CX", "parli", etc.) should generally be avoided, for clarity.
  • Team names should use slashes instead of dashes, e.g. Smith/Walker rather than Smith-Walker.
  • Alphabetical lists of names should be written last-name-first (Smith, John) - but articles about people should be titled first-name-first (John Smith). Make sure to keep track of this when creating hyperlinks; the page title may not match the link title. See Hyperlinks, above.
  • The word "Stoa" should be written with just the first letter capitalized (as it is officially), not all letters capitalized (as it was in some early cases.)
  • Tournament years go by the date of the tournament, not the first year of the competition season; e.g. the NCFCA National Championship for the 2009-2010 season should be called the 2010 NCFCA National Championship, not the 2009 NCFCA National Championship. (Or, you could just avoid the matter altogether and say "2009-2010 NCFCA National Championship".)
  • References such as "neither the NCFCA nor Stoa" or "NCFCA/Stoa speech" should list the leagues in alphabetical order (i.e. NCFCA first). (No offense intended to Stoa competitors - we just needed to pick one order or the other, and doing it alphabetically seemed the least controversial!)
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