WikiTribune Style Guide
PRIMARY STYLE RESOURCES
WikiTribune relies on three basic texts to determine style.
- The Wikipedia Manual of Style, found here.
- AP Stylebook (for items not covered in the Wikipedia Style Guide), found here.
If any contradiction arises, the AP Stylebook takes precedence.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary for all spellings not covered in the style manuals above. Merriam-Webster dictionary found here.
WikiTribune employs American spelling and style (labor not labour, center not centre, apologize not apologise, etc.)
EASY GUIDE TO BUILDING A STORY
This step-by-step guide will take you through basic rules for filling in each field in a WikiTribune story.
Selections for this field are pre-defined and pre-styled. Just be sure to select one.
- Capitalize (upper-case) the first word in a headline and proper nouns.
Leave all other words lower-case.
Example: Venezuela’s beleaguered president meets Chinese foreign minister
- Per AP Stylebook, the abbreviation for United States in a headline only is US (with no periods). The abbreviation for United States within all other text is U.S. (with periods).
UK is always UK. Never U.K.
Example: China to slap tariffs on 200 US products
- Use single quotation marks in headlines. In most other text, use “American-style” double-quotation marks.
Example: Kavanaugh sexual assault ‘showdown’ set for Monday hearing
- Capitalize (upper case) the first word after a colon on a headline.
Example: Worker cooperatives: Can democracy exist in the workplace?
This 15-to-20-word, single-sentence encapsulation of a story DOES NOT repeat information in the headline. Rather, it expands or explains the headline.
Summaries do not take periods or end punctuation.
Example: Nicolás Maduro is seeking Chinese investment for Venezuela’s crisis-hit economy
- MAIN TEXT/STORY FIELD
- Lead and first paragraph
First sentence of story (the lead) should not repeat information provided in the headline or summary. Rather, it should expand or explain the story already introduced by those copy fields.
The first paragraph of the story should be one to three sentences.
The first paragraph of the story should be rendered in boldface.
Example: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and one of China’s leading economic experts while on a visit to help shore up the South American nation’s ailing economy. The meeting took place on September 14 in Beijing. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said government bodies and companies from both countries have signed multiple unspecified agreements.
Who, what, when, where, why: these journalistic principles should be addressed in the first few sentences or paragraphs of every piece.
Example: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (who) met with (what) Chinese President Xi Jinping (who) and one of China’s leading economic experts (who) while on a visit to help shore up the South American nation’s ailing economy (why). The meeting took place on September 14 (when) in Beijing (where). China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (who) said government bodies and companies from both countries have signed multiple unspecified agreements (what).
- Simple sentences, short paragraphs
Following the lead paragraph, use short, simple, direct sentences. No more than three sentences per paragraph. One is fine. Two is fine. Three is fine. More than three is usually too many. (Exceptions apply)
Subheds should be placed every six to eight paragraphs.
Subheds break up copy and act as mini-headlines or summaries of the section they sit atop.
Subheds are rendered as “Heading 2” font in the drop-down menu in the tool bar located at the top of the main text box in the WikiTribune editor.
- Links, sources and attribution
Facts, quotes and other primary information obtained from third-party sources should be linked and attributed at the end of the relevant sentences.
In most cases (exceptions exist), attribute the source in parenthesis at the end of the relevant sentence and hyperlink the source.
Do not hyperlink key words within the sentence (exceptions exist).
Source attribution is placed within a sentence, before end punctuation.
Example: China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said government bodies and companies from both countries signed multiple unspecified agreements (South China Morning Post).
Example: “Recognizing mutual economic interests, Venezuela and China have entered into several maritime and other trade agreements,” reported the BBC.
Example: “A new era of cooperation between Venezuela and China has opened,” said Maduro (The New York Times).
INCORRECT: “A new era of cooperation between Venezuela and China has opened,” said Maduro (The New York Times).
WikiTribune follows U.S. journalistic style on quotes:
Correct construction: “Dogs are a real problem for mail carriers,” said Melissa Ford, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. “Each year, more than 6,000 postal employees are attacked by dogs.”
Incorrect construction: Melissa Ford, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, said: “Dogs are a real problem for mail carriers. Each year, more than 6,000 postal employees, mostly mail carriers, are attacked by dogs.”
Use “said” or “says,” depending on the situation. “Said” typically for news stories; “says” typically for profiles or lighter topics.
You can mix these up on occasion with “explained” or “stated” or similar terms, but be sparing with these. When in doubt, said/says is always best.
All rules can be broken, these included, but by and large follow this format for quotes.
- Quotes punctuation
Use America-style double-quotation marks. In almost all cases, end punctuation is included inside quotation marks.
Example: “Dogs are a real problem for mail carriers,” said Melissa Ford, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. “Each year, more than 6,000 postal employees are attacked by dogs.”
INCORRECT: “Dogs are a real problem for mail carriers”, said Melissa Ford, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. “Each year, more than 6,000 postal employees are attacked by dogs”.
In general, spell out numbers one through nine, per AP Style. Use figures for 10 and above, and when preceding a unit of currency ($3); referring to ages of people, animals, events or things; and use figures in all tabular matter, and in statistical and sequential forms.
With figures of four or more digits, use commas. Count three spaces to the left to place the first comma. Continue placing commas after every three digits. Do not include decimal points when doing the counting.
Example: 54,000 units cost $430,250.50
Hyphenate when using as an adjective.
Example: The 220-year-old building was demolished.
Example: The demolished building was 220 years old.
INCORRECT: The ‘80s
$ indicates U.S. dollars in all cases.
Example: The company lost $200,000.
INCORRECT: The company lost US$200,000.
Indicate dollar currencies of other countries with abbreviation.
Example: The company lost NZ$200,000.
Euros, pounds, yuan, yen and other currencies acceptable as either symbols or spelled.
Example: 1 British pound
- Serial comma (Oxford comma)
WikiTribune does not employ serial (Oxford) commas. In a series of three or more, do not use a comma before the final conjunction in a list.
Example: New tariffs were imposed on motorcycle parts, lemons and computers.
INCORRECT: New tariffs were imposed on motorcycle parts, lemons, and computers.
En dash: –
Hyphens are used to join two words, especially as compound modifiers, and to separate syllables.
Example: The slow-moving truck held up traffic.
En dashes are meant to indicate ranges,
Example: August 4–September 26, or 20–25 people.
En dashes are also used with a space on either side to inject a separate clause or thought mid-sentence – like this – or attach a related clause at the end of a sentence – this would be a second example.
Example: The American author Vance Packard – who wrote three bestsellers in the 1950s – coined the term “status seekers.”
WikiTribune does not use longer em dashes (—).
Simple ellipses how-to guide
Ellipses definition: An ellipsis is a set of three periods ( … ) indicating an omission in text.
Note that an ellipses is not two periods. It is not four periods. It is three. Always. Think of an ellipses as any other punctuation mark. Just as an exclamation point always looks like this (!) and a question mark always looks like this (?) an ellipses always looks like this ( … )
- Spacing: When used within the same sentence, ellipses should be set off from other text with blank space on either side. There should be no spaces between the ellipses periods themselves.
EXAMPLE: John told the committee … he would be 20 minutes late.
When using ellipses after the end of a full-stop sentence, include the period that concludes the sentence that comes before the ellipses. Then insert a blank space, then insert ellipses, then another blank space before picking the text up again.
Think of the ellipses as its own standalone punctuation, like a comma or a semi-colon. If a sentence ends on its own, it keeps its period.
EXAMPLE: John told us that because he had to run an errand at the hardware store, he would be 20 minutes late. … Karen said since John would be late she’d bring the potato salad.
In the example above, do not run four periods together. Put a space between the full-stop period and the ellipses.
All photos MUST include a photo credit (name of the person or organization that legally owns the photo’s copyright) and license information. If this information does not exist or cannot be found, do not use the photo.
For more information about sourcing photos, refer to the WikiTribune core document on Photos here.
- Photo captions
With some exceptions, all images require captions. Captions should add value to the story/photo.
NEVER DESCRIBE THE ACTION IN A PHOTO. The caption adds background or additional information, it doesn’t state the obvious.
Photo: Flag flying over U.S. Capitol.
Example caption: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new vehicle-emissions bill by a narrow margin.
INCORRECT: A U.S. flag flies over the U.S. Capitol.
All captions require photo credit information. Place photo credit information in parenthesis at the end of caption:
Example: Winner of the 2018 Loebner prize final, chatbot Mitsuku (Copyright: CC BY SA 4.0; Author: Harry Ridgewell/WikiTribune)
Example: Dan Delaney: “Libertarians basically want to take over the government to leave everybody alone. Just give people more freedom.” (Photo courtesy of Dan Delaney campaign)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES