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What are the WikiAnswers style rules?

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2015-06-19 15:11:45

"WikiAnswers_Style_Guide" id="WikiAnswers_Style_Guide">WikiAnswers

Style Guide

In order to make the site the best it can possibly be, we have

found that some things need to be done in standard ways. Thus, we

have created this Style Guide. Below you will find listed grammar,

spelling, and style conventions that are recommended for use on

WikiAnswers. Keep in mind that these are guidelines, rather than

hard and fast rules. Following them enables the formatting of

questions to be standardized, thereby reducing repeated effort

among contributors when the same question is asked a different way

and receives another answer (only to eventually be merged with the

original question).


  • Answers begin at the left margin and read like a book, from

    margin to margin. While it is sometimes tempting to center an

    answer, centering of answers needs to be avoided in favor of the

    margin to margin format.

  • Answers should be written in "normal" typeface. Use font

    attributes sparingly and for emphasis.

  • Capitalization should be reserved for common usage such as

    acronyms, abbreviations, the first letter of a sentence, and proper


  • Italics should be reserved for quotes, citations, and foreign

    words within a sentence, or for emphasizing a word or phrase.

    Please do not italicize long sentences or paragraphs.

  • Bold should be reserved for headlines and sub-headlines, or the

    occasional strong emphasis.

Contractions should be avoided in questions where possible. Try

not to begin your question with Can't, Won't, Wasn't, Weren't,

Haven't, Hasn't, etc. If your sentence sounds awkward without the

contraction, then try referring to the question "How do you ask a

question without using a contraction?" (included in the related



  • Okay instead of OK or O.K. (only use periods in questions when

    necessary for terms like Web 2.0 or Windows 3.1)

  • Pleonasms (redundancies, superfluous words) should be avoided:

    VIN or VIN code instead of VIN number, PIN or PIN code instead of

    PIN number, ATM instead of ATM machine


  • 1964 or 1960s, instead of '64, 60's, sixties, etc.
  • When needed, use B.C. and A.D. for dates.


  • Use one apostrophe for feet and two for inches (quotation marks

    can't be used in questions).

  • Use "x" instead of "by." For example, e.g. 8' x 14'' ... 7 mm x

    12 cm

Special Characters:

  • When you are trying to make a point using one exclamation mark

    is enough.

  • Special characters including commas cannot be used in questions

    because of limitations in our system. There should be no

    ampersands, dollar signs, percentage symbols, parentheses, etc.

    Only letters, digits, hyphens, and single quotation marks

    (apostrophes) can be used.

  • In questions, periods should only be used in terms such as "5.0

    engine" and "Windows 3.1." We discourage questions that require

    more than one sentence to ask.

  • In questions, 1am, 10pm, etc. instead of 1:00 a.m., ten PM,

    etc. (we can't use colons in questions).

  • In questions, quotation marks need to be substituted with

    single quotes (apostrophes) for technical reasons. Quote 'like

    this' instead of "like this."

Phrasing of Questions:

  • We use American English, unless the question is written in

    another language. We don't do this to offend, but only so that we

    have a consistent spelling throughout the site and know what to do

    when we find similar questions with contrasting spelling.

  • Use the second person pronoun, you and your, instead of I, me,

    and my. For example, "How do you know you are pregnant?" instead of

    "How do I know if I'm pregnant?" Do not use the formal one; as in

    "How does one know she is pregnant?" This helps other people

    realize that our questions are for everyone, not only for the

    individual who asked them.

  • Whenever possible, questions should start with a traditional

    question word. These include who, what, where, when, why, or how

    (but not how come: why should be used instead), as well as whom,

    are, can, could, did, do, does, had, has, have, is, may, might,

    must, need, should, was, were, which, whose, will, and would. Other

    words might also be acceptable, but in general, the simplest way to

    ask is usually the best.


  • As a general rule, spell out numbers ten and under. Use

    numerals for numbers greater than ten. Please note: exceptions are

    made for measurements.

  • Be consistent when your question or answer contains more than

    one number. You would write "Do I need 5 or 15 copies?" not "Do I

    need five or 15 copies?" (An exception is made for formal

    designations, as in Rulers or Wars, such as Pope John Paul II,

    Henry VIII or World War 2.)

  • Spell out fractions and hyphenate them. (Ex: two-thirds)
  • When discussing decades, do not use an apostrophe between the

    year and the s. (Correct: 1980s or 80s)

  • In answers, always write out a number if it begins a


"Specific_Category-Dependent_Guidelines" id=


Category-Dependent Guidelines

Cars and Vehicles

  • 1999 Chevy Corvette instead of '99 'Vette, etc.
  • 4-cylinder instead of 4 cyl, etc.
  • 4x4, FWD, and AWD instead of front-wheel drive, all-wheel

    drive, etc.

  • 4.9L instead of 4.9 liter engine, 4.9 liters, 4.9 l, etc.
  • AC instead of air conditioner.
  • automatic instead of auto.
  • hp instead of HP or horsepower.
  • mph instead of MPH or M.P.H.
  • rpm instead of RPM or RPMs.
  • repair instead of fix (unless the question may be asking

    whether it should be replaced or repaired).

  • replace instead of change.
  • V8 instead of V-8, v8, etc.
  • VW instead of Volkswagen.

Sample questions: "Where is the fuel filter located on a 1996

Geo Metro?" "How do you replace a headlight bulb on a 2005 Saturn

SL2?" "How do you remove the fuel tank from a 1983 VW Rabbit?" "How

do you replace the oil pump on a 1999 Chevy Astro 4.3 AWD?"

Business and Finance


  • "When was (name of company) founded?" instead of discovered,

    invented, created, etc.

  • "Who is the founder of (name of company)?" instead of

    discovered, created, invented etc.

Entertainment and Arts


  • "What is (celebrity's) sexual orientation?" instead of "Is

    (celebrity) gay?" or "Is (celebrity) straight?" or "What is

    (celebrity's) sexual preference?" etc.

  • "What is (celebrity's) official fan page on (social site)?

    Instead of "Does (celebrity) have a (social site)?"


  • Use the question phrasing "What are some ____ that begin with

    the letter ____" and capitalize the letter.

Video Games

  • Questions asking for cheat codes should be phrased so they

    don't sound illegal. Instead of asking "how do you hack _______"

    (game), ask "what are some cheat codes for ______" (game). This

    will help us tell the difference between an illegal hack and a

    legal, built-in cheat.

  • "in" Pokemon (version), instead of "on" Pokemon (version)
  • Include the word "Pokemon" in Pokemon questions.


  • Pre-ejaculate is preferred over pre-seminal fluid or


  • Semen is preferred over cum or sperm in clinical questions

    about fertility.

  • Sperm should be used when a question is referring specifically

    to spermatozoa, not as a replacement for semen.

  • Buttocks should be used instead of Ass, Arse, Bum, Butt.
  • Use medically correct terms for all body parts NOT SLANG; if in

    doubt, ask.

History and Society

  • UK instead of United Kingdom.
  • US instead of United States, USA, America, etc.
  • Russia to refer to the country from 1991 through the present.

    USSR and Soviet Union should only be used intentionally, i.e.

    during the time period that Russia was known as the Soviet Union or

    USSR, which was between 1922 and 1991.

  • World War 1 and World War 2 instead of WWII, WW1, Second World

    War, Great War, etc.

  • US Navy, US Army, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, etc., to

    differentiate from services in other countries.

  • US Constitution to differentiate from the constitution of other

    states and countries.

  • Vietnam, not Viet Nam

Hobbies and Collectibles

  • Stamps - Whenever possible list the Scott # or its equivalent

    in the first line of the answer.

  • "What is the value of XYZ?" instead of "What is XYZ worth (i.e.

    "What is the value of a 1901 Silver Dollar?")

Home and Garden

  • Inground and above ground pools instead of in-ground,

    aboveground, etc.

  • V instead of v, volt, or volts
  • A instead of a, amp, or amps
  • W instead of w, watt, or watts
  • Hz instead of hertz
  • 240V instead of 220V, 230V, or 250V and 120V instead of 110V,

    115V, 117V, or 125V, except when taken as a measurement. This is

    important to facilitate searching. Note 208V and 277V are different

    from 240V.

  • Use the form gauge-conductors for wire sizing. I.e. 14-2 for 14

    gauge 2 conductor wire

Jobs and Education

  • Academic degrees (bachelor's degree, associate's degree,

    master's degree) should not be capitalized unless they are used

    after a person's name. Examples: Sarah has a bachelor's degree in

    psychology. Sarah Thompson, Bachelor of Arts, will be speaking at

    the conference.

  • It is also correct to use the acronym of a degree, which is

    capitalized. Example: Sarah has an MBA from the University of


  • "How do you answer 'What is XYZ?' in a job interview?"
  • "How much money does an XYZ earn?"
  • "What does an XYZ do?" instead of "What duties…"
  • "How do you answer '(question)' in a job interview?" Single

    quotation marks should be placed at the beginning and at the end of

    the interview question being asked. For example, "How do you answer

    'What are your strengths and weaknesses' in a job interview?" not

    "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

  • "What jobs can you get with an associate's degree in natural

    sciences?" instead of "What kind of jobs ..." or "What type of work

    ..." etc.

  • "How do you become an XYZ?" instead of "What is required ..."

    or "What do you need to be ...?" (unless it's education, legal

    requirements, or personal qualities).

  • "How long does it take to become an XYZ?" instead of "How many

    years of college ..." "How much school ...?" "How much training

    ..." (This can include years other than school.)

  • "What education or training do you need to become an XYZ?"

    instead of "What education is required ..." or "What degree ..." or

    "What type of training ..."

  • "Where can you go to school to become an XYZ?" instead of "What

    colleges ..." or "Where can you get an education ..."

  • "What should you study in high school or college if you want to

    become an XYZ?" instead of "What classes ..." or "What courses ..."

    or "What should you major in ..."

  • "How much does it cost to become an XYZ?" instead of "What does

    college cost for ..."

  • "What personal qualities or skills do you need to be a


Law and Legal Issues

  • "Can you move out at 17 in Indiana?"
  • "How old do you have to be to move out in Indiana?"

Literature and Language

Books and Literature

  • Messages warning about spoilers should not be added to answers

    (see the related link for a definition of Spoilers).


  • In the Grammar Punctuation and Spelling section, when a person

    is asking how to spell a word (i.e. "How do you spell the word

    capitle?"), do not correct the spelling of the word in the



  • When asking for the translation of a word or a phrase, identify

    what language the original phrase or word is from, in your

    question. In many cases, it is difficult to find a translation

    without knowing what the original language is.


  • Always use the numerical form of an age rather than spelling it

    out (17 rather than seventeen).

  • When referring to someone's age in a question, hyphenate the

    age when it is used as an adjective.

  • Example: Can a 16-year-old girl date an 18-year-old boy?
  • When the age stands on its own, do not hyphenate it.
  • Example: Can you be emancipated if you are 17 years old?

Religion and Spirituality

Because of the sensitive nature of this category, guidelines

have been drawn up to ensure that respect for the views of others

and a helpful atmosphere are maintained. See the related link



  • Volume - Measurements (tsp, oz, lb, ml, g, cm, etc.) should be

    written out, rather than using abbreviations.

  • Inventions - Ask "Who invented (name of invention)?" or "When

    was (name of invention) invented?" instead of discovered, built,

    created, etc. For example: "Who invented the telephone?" and "When

    was the telephone invented?"


  • American Football - Super Bowl instead of Superbowl
  • Soccer - Team names should use capitals, with no shorthand,

    e.g. Manchester United instead of Man U.

  • Tournament names can be abbreviated, e.g. UEFA, FA, COMMENBOL


  • Hockey and Football - Use terms that refer to the specific

    sport. For football, this can be either to include 'American' or

    'association' before football, or to use 'soccer' or 'gridiron.'

    For hockey, this means the inclusion of type (ice, field, or

    indoor) to prevent incorrect categorization and answering.

  • Martial Arts- Write out Tae Kwon Do instead of taekwondo and

    Kung Fu instead of kungfu.


Computers and Internet

  • Internet is always capitalized.
  • Email instead of e-mail.
  • Online instead of on-line.
  • Website instead of web site.

Travel and Places

  • Use "halfway" rather than "half way," or "half-way."

Please also refer to the related question for why a style guide

is important for a Wiki.

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