Wikiafripedia:Manual of Style/Lead section

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The lead section (also known as the lead or introduction) of a Wikiafripedia article is the section before the table of contents and the first heading. The lead serves as an introduction to the article and a summary of its most important contents. It is not a news-style lead or "lede" paragraph.

The average Wikiafripedia visit is a few minutes.[1] The lead is the first thing most people will read upon arriving at an article. It gives the basics in a nutshell and cultivates interest in reading on—though not by teasing the reader or hinting at what follows. It should be written in a clear, accessible style with a neutral point of view.

The lead should stand on its own as a concise overview of the article's topic. It should identify the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is notable, and summarize the most important points, including any prominent controversies.[2] The notability of the article's subject is usually established in the first few sentences. As in the body of the article itself, the emphasis given to material in the lead should roughly reflect its importance to the topic, according to reliable, published sources. Apart from basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article.

As a general rule of thumb, a lead section should contain no more than four well-composed paragraphs and be carefully sourced as appropriate.

Elements of the lead[edit source | edit]

The lead section may contain optional elements presented in the following order: disambiguation links (dablinks/hatnotes), maintenance tags, infoboxes, foreign character warning boxes, images, navigational boxes (navigational templates), introductory text, and table of contents, moving to the heading of the first section.

Structure of lead section:

{{Hatnote}}
{{Short description}}

{{Article for deletion}}
{{Copy edit}}

{{Use American English}}
{{Use dmy dates}}

{{Infobox rocket|name=...}}

{{Contains special characters}}

[[File:TypicalRocket.gif|...|A typical rocket]]
{{Rocket Navigation}}

A '''rocket''' is a ...

<!--Unless suppressed or modified via special syntax, or the article has fewer than four section headings, the table of contents is automatically generated at this point.-->

==First section==
  • Disambiguation links should be the first elements of the page, before any maintenance tags, infobox, or image; if a reader has reached the wrong page, they will want to know that first. Text-only browsers and screen readers present the page sequentially. A "for topics of the same name ..." disambiguation link is sometimes put at the beginning of an article to link to another article discussing another meaning of the article title. In such cases, the line should be italicized and indented using hatnote templates. Do not make this initial link a section.
  • Short description is a concise explanation of the scope of the page. See Wikiafripedia:Short description and Wikiafripedia:WikiProject Short descriptions for more information.
  • Deletion tags (speedy deletion, proposed deletion, and articles for deletion notices).
  • Maintenance tags should be below the disambiguation links. These tags inform the reader about the general quality of the article and should be presented to the user before the article itself.
  • English variety and date style tags help editors maintain consistency in articles as they are developed.
  • Infoboxes contain summary information or an overview relating to the subject of the article, and therefore should be put before any text (though in actuality they will generally appear to the side of the text of the lead). The primary difference between an infobox and a navigational box is the presence of parameters: a navigational box is exactly the same in all articles of the same topic, while an infobox has different contents in each article.
  • Foreign character warning boxes alert readers that the article contains foreign characters which may not be supported by their platform. If required, the warning should be sufficiently near any text using the foreign characters that scrolling is not required to see the warning. This is generally after short infoboxes, but before long ones.
  • Images. As with all images, but particularly the lead, the image used should be relevant and technically well-produced. It is also common for the lead image to be representative because it provides a visual association for the topic, and allow readers to quickly assess if they have arrived at the right page. Image captions are part of the article text. If the article has disambiguation links (dablinks), then the introductory image should appear just before the introductory text. Otherwise a screen reader would first read the image's caption, which is part of the article's contents, then "jump" outside the article to read the dablink, and then return to the lead section, which is an illogical sequence.
  • Sidebars are a collection of links used in multiple related articles to facilitate navigation between those articles. Sidebars are sometimes placed in the lead, especially when no infobox is present. If an infobox is present, the navigation sidebar may be moved to either the top or bottom of any other section in the article.
  • All but the shortest articles should start with introductory text (the "lead"), which establishes significance, includes mention of significant criticism or controversies, and make readers want to learn more. The lead has no heading; its length should be commensurate with that of the article, but is normally no more than four paragraphs. See also Wikiafripedia:Writing better articles § Lead section.
  • The table of contents (ToC) automatically appears on pages with at least four headings. Avoid floating the ToC if possible, as it breaks the standard look of pages. If you must use a floated TOC, put it below the lead section in the wiki markup for consistency. Users of screen readers expect the table of contents to follow the introductory text; they will also miss any text placed between the TOC and the first heading.

Citations[edit source | edit]

For further information, see Wikiafripedia:Verifiability

The lead must conform to verifiability, biographies of living persons, and other policies. The verifiability policy advises that material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, and direct quotations, should be supported by an inline citation. Any statements about living persons that are challenged or likely to be challenged must have an inline citation every time they are mentioned, including within the lead.

Because the lead will usually repeat information that is in the body, editors should balance the desire to avoid redundant citations in the lead with the desire to aid readers in locating sources for challengeable material. Leads are usually written at a greater level of generality than the body, and information in the lead section of non-controversial subjects is less likely to be challenged and less likely to require a source; there is not, however, an exception to citation requirements specific to leads. The necessity for citations in a lead should be determined on a case-by-case basis by editorial consensus. Complex, current, or controversial subjects may require many citations; others, few or none. The presence of citations in the introduction is neither required in every article nor prohibited in any article.

Introductory text[edit source | edit]

Provide an accessible overview[edit source | edit]

The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article. The reason for a topic's noteworthiness should be established, or at least introduced, in the lead (but not by using subjective "peacock terms" such as "acclaimed" or "award-winning" or "hit"). It is even more important here than in the rest of the article that the text be accessible. Editors should avoid lengthy paragraphs and overly specific descriptions – greater detail is saved for the body of the article. Consideration should be given to creating interest in the article, but do not hint at startling facts without describing them.

In general, introduce useful abbreviations, but avoid difficult-to-understand terminology and symbols. Mathematical equations and formulas should be avoided when they conflict with the goal of making the lead section accessible to as broad an audience as possible. Where uncommon terms are essential, they should be placed in context, linked and briefly defined. The subject should be placed in a context familiar to a normal reader. For example, it is better to describe the location of a town with reference to an area or larger place than with coordinates. Readers should not be dropped into the middle of the subject from the first word; they should be eased into it.

Relative emphasis[edit source | edit]

According to the policy on due weight, emphasis given to material should reflect its relative importance to the subject, according to published reliable sources. This is true for both the lead and the body of the article. If there is a difference in emphasis between the two, editors should seek to resolve the discrepancy. Significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article, although not everything in the lead must be repeated in the body of the text. Exceptions include specific facts such as quotations, examples, birth dates, taxonomic names, case numbers, and titles. This admonition should not be taken as a reason to exclude information from the lead, but rather to harmonize coverage in the lead with material in the body of the article.

Opening paragraph[edit source | edit]

The first paragraph should define or identify the topic with a neutral point of view, but without being too specific. It should establish the context in which the topic is being considered by supplying the set of circumstances or facts that surround it. If appropriate, it should give the location and time. It should also establish the boundaries of the topic; for example, the lead for the article List of environmental issues succinctly states that the list covers "harmful aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment".

First sentence[edit source | edit]

The first sentence should tell the nonspecialist reader what, or who, the subject is. It should be in plain English. Be wary of cluttering the first sentence with a long parenthesis containing alternative spellings, pronunciations, etc, which can make the sentence difficult to actually read; this information can be placed elsewhere.

  • If possible, the page title should be the subject of the first sentence.[3] However, if the article title is merely descriptive—such as Electrical characteristics of dynamic loudspeakers—the title does not need to appear verbatim in the main text.
  • Similarly, if the page is a list, do not introduce the list as "This is a list of X" or "This list of Xs...". A clearer and more informative introduction to the list is better than verbatim repetition of the title. A good example of this is the List of Benet Academy alumni. (See also Format of the first sentence below).
  • When the page title is used as the subject of the first sentence, it may appear in a slightly different form, and it may include variations, including synonyms.[4] Similarly, if the title has a parenthetical disambiguator, such as Egg (food), "(food)" should be omitted in the text.[5]
  • If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in context for the nonspecialist. Similarly, if the title is a specialised term, provide the context as early as possible.[6]
  • Keep redundancy to a minimum in the first sentence. Use the first sentence of the article to provide relevant information that is not already given by the title of the article. The title of the article need not appear verbatim in the lead.[7]
  • Keep the first sentence focused on the subject by avoiding constructions like "[Subject] refers to..." or "...is a word for..." – the article is about the subject, not a term for the subject.[8] For articles that are actually about terms, italicize the term to indicate the use–mention distinction.[9]
  • For topics notable for only one reason, this reason should usually be given in the first sentence.[10]
  • Try to not overload the first sentence by describing everything notable about the subject. Instead use the first sentence to introduce the topic, and then spread the relevant information out over the entire lead.
  • While a commonly recognisable form of name will be used as the title of biographical articles, fuller forms of name may be used in the introduction to the lead. For instance, in the article Paul McCartney, the text of the lead begins: "Sir James Paul McCartney ...".
  • If the article is about a fictional character or place, say so.[11]

Format of the first sentence[edit source | edit]

If an article's title is a formal or widely accepted name for the subject, display it in bold as early as possible in the first sentence.

This is also done, at the first occurrence in running text, of a term (commonly a synonym in the lead) that is redirected to the article or one of its subsections, whether the term appears in the lead or not:

The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. (Electron)

Otherwise, include the title if it can be accommodated in a natural way:

The United States presidential line of succession is the order in which officials of the United States ... (United States presidential line of succession)

Only the first occurrence of the title and significant alternative titles (which should usually also redirect to the article)[12] are placed in bold:

Mumbai, also known as Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. (Mumbai)

Common abbreviations (in parentheses) are considered significant alternative names in this sense:

The International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP), also known as the Petrucci Music Library after publisher Ottaviano Petrucci, is a ... (International Music Score Library Project)

If an article is about an event involving a subject about which there is no main article, especially if the article is the target of a redirect, the subject should be in bold:

Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (11 June – 17 August 1980) was an Australian baby girl who was killed by a dingo on the night of 17 August 1980 ... (Death of Azaria Chamberlain, redirected from Azaria Chamberlain)
Avoid these common mistakes[edit source | edit]

Links should not be placed in the boldface reiteration of the title in the opening sentence of a lead:[13][14]

Red x.svg The Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the postseason.
Green check.svg The Babe Ruth Award is given annually to the Major League Baseball (MLB) player with the best performance in the postseason. The award, created in honor of Babe Ruth, was first awarded in 1949 to the MVP of the World Series, one year after Ruth's death.

If the article's title does not lend itself to being used easily and naturally in the opening sentence, the wording should not be distorted in an effort to include it. Instead, simply describe the subject in normal English, avoiding redundancy.

Red x.svg The 2011 Mississippi River floods were a series of floods affecting the Mississippi River in April and May 2011, which were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the U.S. waterway in the past century. (2011 Mississippi River floods)
Green check.svg The Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the U.S. waterway in the past century. (2011 Mississippi River floods)

In general, if the article's title is absent from the first sentence, do not apply the bold style to related text that does appear:

Red x.svg The Beatles' rise to prominence in the United States on February 7, 1964, was a significant development in the history of the band's commercial success. (The Beatles in the United States)
Green check.svg The Beatles' rise to prominence in the United States in February 1964 was a significant development in the history of the band's commercial success. (The Beatles in the United States)

Disambiguation pages use bolding for the link to the primary topic, if there is one.

Proper names and titles[edit source | edit]

If the title of the page is normally italicized (for example, a work of art, literature, album, or ship) then its first mention should be both bold and italic text:

Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, ...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italian: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti western film ...

Adhering to Wikiafripedia:Article titles § Special characters, if the mention of the article's title is surrounded by quotation marks, the title should be bold but the quotation marks should not be, except if the quotation marks are part of the proper title of the article:

"Yesterday" is a pop song originally recorded by the Beatles for their 1965 album Help!

Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic (/ˈjæŋkəvɪk/ YANG-kə-vik; born October 23, 1959) is an American singer-songwriter, ...

"A" Is for Alibi is crime writer Sue Grafton's debut mystery novel in the Kinsey Millhone "Alphabet mystery" series, ...

Foreign language[edit source | edit]

If the subject of the article is closely associated with a non-English language, a single foreign language equivalent name can be included in the lead sentence, usually in parentheses. For example, an article about a location in a non-English-speaking country will typically include the local language equivalent:

Chernivtsi Oblast (Ukrainian: Чернівецька область, Chernivets’ka oblast’) is an oblast (province) in western Ukraine, bordering on Romania and Moldova.

Do not include foreign equivalents in the lead sentence just to show etymology.

Do not boldface foreign names not normally used in English. Some foreign terms should be italicized. These cases are described in the Manual of Style for text formatting.

The Inuit (plural; pronounced /ˈɪnjuɪt/; Inuktitut: ᐃᓄᐃᑦ, "the people") are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska ...
Pronunciation[edit source | edit]
For further information, see Wikiafripedia:Manual of Style/Pronunciation

If the name of the article has a pronunciation that is not apparent from its spelling, include its pronunciation in parentheses after the first occurrence of the name. Most such terms are foreign words or phrases (mate, coup d'état), proper nouns (Ralph Fiennes, Tuolumne River, Tao Te Ching), or very unusual English words (synecdoche, atlatl). Do not include pronunciations for names of foreign countries whose pronunciations are well known in English (France, Poland). Do not include them for common English words, even if their pronunciations are counterintuitive for learners (laughter, sword). If the name of the article is more than one word, include pronunciation only for the words that need it unless all are foreign (all of Jean van Heijenoort but only Cholmondeley in Thomas P. G. Cholmondeley). A fuller discussion of pronunciation can come later in the article.

Contextual links[edit source | edit]

The opening sentence should provide links to the broader or more elementary topics that are important to the article's topic or place it into the context where it is notable.

For example, an article about a building or location should include a link to the broader geographical area of which it is a part.

Arugam Bay is a bay on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka's southeast coast.

In an article about a technical or jargon term, the opening sentence or paragraph should normally contain a link to the field of study that the term comes from.

In heraldry, tinctures are the colours used to emblazon a coat of arms.

The first sentence of an article about a person should link to the page or pages about the topic where the person achieved prominence.

Harvey Lavan "Van" Cliburn Jr. (July 12, 1934 – February 27, 2013) was an American pianist who achieved worldwide recognition in 1958 at age 23, when he won the first quadrennial International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War.

Exactly what provides the context needed to understand a given topic varies greatly from topic to topic.

The Gemara is the component of the Talmud comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah.

Do not, however, add contextual links that don't relate directly to the topic's definition or reason for notability. For example, Van Cliburn's opening sentence links to Cold War because his fame came partly from his Tchaikovsky Competition victory being used as a Cold War symbol. The first sentence of a page about someone who rose to fame in the 1950s for reasons unrelated to the Cold War should not mention the Cold War at all, even though the Cold War is part of the broader historical context of that person's life. By the same token, do not link to years unless the year has some special salience to the topic.

Links appearing ahead of the bolded term distract from the topic if not necessary to establish context, and should be omitted even if they might be appropriate elsewhere in the text. For example, a person's title or office, such as colonel, naturally appears ahead of their name, but the word "Colonel" should not have a link, since it doesn't establish context. Do not, however, reword a sentence awkwardly just to keep a needed contextual link from getting ahead of the bolded term.

Colonel Charles Hotham (died 1738) was a special British envoy entrusted by George II with the task of negotiating a double marriage between the Hanover and Hohenzollern dynasties.
Biographies[edit source | edit]
For further information, see WAP:Manual of Style/Biography#Lead section
Organisms[edit source | edit]

When a common (vernacular) name is used as the article title, the boldfaced common name is followed by the italic un-boldfaced scientific name in round parentheses in the opening sentence of the lead. Alternative names should be mentioned and reliably sourced in the text where applicable, with bold type in the lead if they are in wide use, or elsewhere in the article (with or without the bold type, per editorial discretion) if they are less used. It is not necessary to include non-English common names, unless they are also commonly used in English, e.g. regionally; if included, they should be italicized as non-English.

Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsonii) is the most common gazelle of East Africa ...

When the article title is the scientific name, reverse the order of the scientific and common name(s) (if any of the latter are given), and boldface as well as italicize the scientific name. Avoid putting the most common name in parentheses (this will suppress its display in some views of Wikiafripedia, including Wikiafripedia:Pop-ups and Google Knowledge Graph).

Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia ...

Brassica oleracea is the species of plant that includes many common foods as cultivars, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, savoy, and Chinese kale ...

Scope of article[edit source | edit]

In some cases the definition of the article topic in the opening paragraph may be insufficient to fully constrain the scope of the article. In particular, it may be necessary to identify material that is not within scope. For instance, the article on fever notes that an elevated core body temperature due to hyperthermia is not within scope. These explanations may best be done at the end of the lead to avoid cluttering and confusing the first paragraph. This information and other meta material in the lead is not expected to appear in the body of the article.

Biographies of living persons[edit source | edit]

A summary of the key points in the main guideline on this:

  • Reliably sourced material about encyclopedically relevant controversies is neither suppressed in the lead nor allowed to overwhelm; the lead must correctly summarize the article as a whole.
  • Recent events affecting a subject are kept in historical perspective; most recent is not necessarily most notable. Balance new information with old, giving all information due weight.
  • Wikiafripedia is not a memorial site; when a subject dies, the lead should not radically change, nor dwell on the death.
  • Do not use primary sources for private details about living persons, including birth dates.