An article title is the large heading displayed above the article

An article title is the large heading displayed above the article's content.[1] The title indicates what the article is about and distinguishes it from other articles.[2]The title may simply be the name (or a name) of the subject of the article, or it may be a description of the topic. Since no two articles can have the same title,[3] it is sometimes necessary to add distinguishing information, often in the form of a description in parentheses after the name. Generally, article titles are based on what the subject is called in reliable sources. When this offers multiple possibilities, editors choose among them by considering several principles: the ideal article title resembles titles for similar articles, precisely identifies the subject, and is short, natural, distinguishable and recognizable.This page explains in detail the considerations, or naming conventions, on which choices of article title are based. (This page does not detail titling for pages in other namespaces, such as categories.) It is supplemented by other more specific guidelines (see the box to the right), which should be interpreted in conjunction with other policies, particularly the three core content policies: Verifiability, No original research, and Neutral point of view.If necessary, an article's title can be changed by a page move.[4] For information on page move procedures, see Wikipedia:Moving a page, and Wikipedia:Requested moves.Article titles are based on how reliable English-language sources refer to the article's subject. There is often more than one appropriate title for an article. In that case, editors choose the best title by consensus based on the considerations that this page explains.A good Wikipedia article title has the five following characteristics:These should be seen as goals, not as rules. For most topics, there is a simple and obvious title that meets these goals satisfactorily. If so, use it as a straightforward choice. However, in some cases the choice is not so obvious. It may be necessary to favor one or more of these goals over the others. This is done by consensus. For instance, the recognizable, natural, and concise title United Kingdom is preferred over the more precise title United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (For more details, see § Use commonly recognizable names, below.)When titling articles in specific fields, or with respect to particular problems, there is often previous consensus that can be used as a precedent. Look to the guideline pages referenced. When no previous consensus exists, a new consensus is established through discussion, with the above questions in mind. The choice of article titles should put the interests of readers before those of editors, and those of a general audience before those of specialists.Redirects should be created to articles that may reasonably be searched for or linked to under two or more names (such as different spellings or former names). Conversely, a name that could refer to several different articles may require disambiguation.Names are often used as article titles – such as the name of the person, place or thing that is the subject of the article. However, some topics have multiple names, and this can cause disputes as to which name should be used in the article's title. Wikipedia generally prefers the name that is most commonly used (as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources) as such names will usually best fit criteria such as recognizability and naturalness.[5]Wikipedia does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it generally prefers to use the name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources. This includes usage in the sources used as references for the article. For cases where usage differs among English-speaking countries, see also National varieties of English below.Editors should also consider the criteria outlined above. Ambiguous[6] or inaccurate names for the article subject, as determined in reliable sources, are often avoided even though they may be more frequently used by reliable sources. Neutrality is also considered; our policy on neutral titles, and what neutrality in titles is, follows in the next section. Article titles should be neither vulgar (unless unavoidable) nor pedantic. When there are multiple names for a subject, all of them fairly common, and the most common has problems, it is perfectly reasonable to choose one of the others.Although official, scientific, birth, original, or trademarked names are often used for article titles, the term or name most typically used in reliable sources is generally preferred. Other encyclopedias are among the sources that may be helpful in deciding what titles are in an encyclopedic register, as well as what names are most frequently used.The following are examples of the application of the concept of commonly used names in support of recognizability:PeoplePlacesScience and nature topicsOther topicsIn determining which of several alternative names is most frequently used, it is useful to observe the usage of major international organizations, major English-language media outlets, quality encyclopedias, geographic name servers, major scientific bodies, and notable scientific journals. A search engine may help to collect this data; when using a search engine, restrict the results to pages written in English, and exclude the word "Wikipedia". When using Google, generally a search of Google Books and News Archive should be defaulted to before a web search, as they concentrate reliable sources (exclude works from Books, LLC when searching Google Books[7]). Search engine results are subject to certain biases and technical limitations; for detailed advice on the use of search engines and the interpretation of their results, see Wikipedia:Search engine test.When there is no single obvious term that is obviously the most frequently used for the topic, as used by a significant majority of reliable English language sources, editors should reach a consensus as to which title is best by considering the criteria listed above.Sometimes, the subject of an article will undergo a change of name. When this occurs, COMMONNAME still applies, but we give extra weight to sources written after the name change is announced. If the sources written after the change is announced routinely use the "new" name, Wikipedia should follow suit and change relevant titles to match. If, on the other hand, sources written after the name change is announced continue to use the "old" name, Wikipedia should continue to do so as well, per WP:COMMONNAME.Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. We do not know what terms or names will be used in the future, but only what is and has been in use, and is therefore familiar to our readers. However, common sense can be applied – if the subject of an article changes its name, it is reasonable to consider the usage since the change. This provision also applies to names used as part of descriptive titles.Conflicts often arise over whether an article title complies with Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy. Resolving such debates depends on whether the article title is a name derived from reliable sources or a descriptive title created by Wikipedia editors.When the subject of an article is referred to mainly by a single common name, as evidenced through usage in a significant majority of English-language reliable sources, Wikipedia generally follows the sources and uses that name as its article title (subject to the other naming criteria). Sometimes that common name includes non-neutral words that Wikipedia normally avoids (e.g. the Boston Massacre or the Teapot Dome scandal). In such cases, the prevalence of the name, or the fact that a given description has effectively become a proper noun (and that proper noun has become the usual term for the event), generally overrides concern that Wikipedia might appear as endorsing one side of an issue.Notable circumstances under which Wikipedia often avoids a common name for lacking neutrality include the following:Article titles and redirects should anticipate what readers will type as a first guess and balance that with what readers expect to be taken to. Thus, typing "Octomom" properly redirects to Nadya Suleman, which is in keeping with point #2, above. Typing "Antennagate" redirects the reader to a particular section of iPhone 4, which is in keeping with points #1 and #2, above. Typing "Great Leap Forward" does not redirect, which is in keeping with the general principle, as is typing "9-11 hijackers", which redirects to the more aptly named Hijackers in the September 11 attacks.See also Wikipedia:Redirect#Neutrality of redirects.In some cases a descriptive phrase (such as Restoration of the Everglades) is best as the title. These are often invented specifically for articles, and should reflect a neutral point of view, rather than suggesting any editor's opinions. Avoid judgmental and non-neutral words; for example, allegation implies wrongdoing, and so should be avoided in a descriptive title. (Exception: articles where the topic is an actual accusation of illegality under law, discussed as such by reliable sources even if not yet proven in a court of law. These are accurately described as "allegations".)However, non-neutral but common names (see preceding subsection) may be used within a descriptive title. Even descriptive titles should be based on sources, and may therefore incorporate names and terms that are commonly used by sources. (Example: Since "Boston Massacre" is an acceptable title on its own, the descriptive title "Political impact of the Boston Massacre" would also be acceptable.)Wikipedia has many naming conventions relating to specific subject domains (as listed in the box at the top of this page). In rare cases these recommend the use of titles that are not strictly the common name (as in the case of the conventions for medicine). This practice of using specialized names is often controversial, and should not be adopted unless it produces clear benefits outweighing the use of common names; when it is, the article titles adopted should follow a neutral and common convention specific to that subject domain, and otherwise adhere to the general principles for titling articles on Wikipedia.Usually, titles should be precise enough to unambiguously define the topical scope of the article, but no more precise than that. For instance, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is too precise, as Mother Teresa is precise enough to indicate exactly the same topic. On the other hand, Horowitz would not be precise enough to identify unambiguously the famous classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz.Exceptions to the precision criterion may sometimes result from the application of some other naming criteria. Most of these exceptions are described in specific Wikipedia guidelines or by Wikipedia projects, such as Primary topic, Geographic names, or Names of royals and nobles. For instance:It is not always possible to use the exact title that may be desired for an article, as that title may have other meanings, and therefore may have been already used for other articles. According to the above-mentioned precision criterion, when a more detailed title is necessary to distinguish an article topic from another, use only as much additional detail as necessary. For example, it would be redundant to title an article "Queen (rock band)", as Queen (band) is precise enough to distinguish the rock band from other uses of the term "Queen". This may lead to some acceptable inconsistency; for instance, the article on chickens is found at Chicken, but the article on turkeys is at Turkey (bird) to disambiguate it from the country.As a general rule, when a topic's preferred title can also refer to other topics covered in Wikipedia:When deciding on which disambiguation method(s) to use, all article titling criteria are weighed in:Commas and round brackets are the only characters that can be used to separate a disambiguator in an article title, that is apart from a limited use of ":" (colon) for subtitles of some creative works and lists split over several pages.Ambiguity may arise when typographically near-identical expressions have distinct meanings, e.g. Red meat vs. Red Meat, or Friendly fire vs. the meanings of Friendly Fire listed at Friendly Fire (disambiguation). The general approach is that whatever readers might type in the search box, they are guided as swiftly as possible to the topic they might reasonably be expected to be looking for, by such disambiguation techniques as hatnotes and/or disambiguation pages. When such navigation aids are in place, small details are usually sufficient to distinguish topics, e.g. MAVEN vs. Maven; Airplane vs. Airplane!; Sea-Monkeys vs. SeaMonkey; The Wörld Is Yours vs. other topics listed at The World Is Yours.However, when renaming to a less ambiguous page name can be done without wandering from WP:CRITERIA, such renaming should be considered:Plural forms may in certain instances also be used to naturally distinguish articles; see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals)#Primary topic for details.The goal of conciseness is to balance brevity with sufficient information to identify the topic to a person familiar with the subject area.For example:Exceptions exist for biographical articles. For example, neither a given name nor a family name is usually omitted or abbreviated for conciseness. Thus Oprah Winfrey (not Oprah), Jean-Paul Sartre (not J. P. Sartre). See Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people).On the English Wikipedia, article titles are written using the English language. However, it must be remembered that the English language contains many loan words and phrases taken from other languages. If a word or phrase (originally taken from some other language) is commonly used by English language sources, it can be considered to be an English language word or phrase (example: coup d'état).The English language names of some topics may differ according to how names are anglicized from other languages, or according to different varieties of English (e.g., American English, British English, Australian English, etc.).The choice between anglicized and local spellings should follow English-language usage, e.g., the non-anglicized titles Besançon, Søren Kierkegaard, and Göttingen are used since they predominate in English language reliable sources, while for the same reason the anglicized title forms Nuremberg, Delicatessen, and Florence are used (as opposed to Nürnberg, Delikatessen, and Firenze, respectively).If there are too few reliable English-language sources to constitute an established usage, follow the conventions of the language appropriate to the subject (German for German politicians, Portuguese for Brazilian towns, and so on). For ideas on how to deal with situations where there are several competing foreign terms, see "Multiple local names" and "Use modern names" in the geographical naming guideline. Such discussions can benefit from outside opinions so as to avoid a struggle over which language to follow.Names not originally in a Latin alphabet, such as Greek, Chinese, or Russian names, must be transliterated. Established systematic transliterations, such as Hanyu Pinyin, are preferred. However, if there is a common English-language form of the name, then use it, even if it is unsystematic (as with Tchaikovsky and Chiang Kai-shek). For a list of transliteration conventions by language, see Wikipedia:Romanization.Wikipedia generally uses the character æ to represent the Anglo-Saxon ligature. For Latin- or Greek-derived words, use e or ae/oe, depending on modern usage and the national variety of English used in the article.In deciding whether and how to translate a foreign name into English, follow English-language usage. If there is no established English-language treatment for a name, translate it if this can be done without loss of accuracy and with greater understanding for the English-speaking reader.The title of an article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the variety of English appropriate for that nation (as in Australian Defence Force, United States Secretary of Defense). Very rarely, a form that represents only minority local usage is chosen because of its greater intelligibility to English-speaking readers worldwide (e.g. Ganges rather than "Ganga").Otherwise, all national varieties of English are acceptable in article titles; Wikipedia does not prefer any national variety over any other. American English spelling should not be respelled to British English spelling, and vice versa; for example, both color and colour are acceptable and both spellings are found in article titles (such as color gel and colour state). Very occasionally, a less common but non-nation-specific term is selected to avoid having to choose between national varieties: for example, soft drink was selected to avoid the choice between the British fizzy drink, American soda, American and Canadian pop, and a slew of other nation- and region-specific names.By the design of Wikipedia's software, an article can only have one title. When this title is a name, significant alternative names for the topic should be mentioned in the article, usually in the first sentence or paragraph. If there are at least three alternative names, or there is something notable about the names themselves, a separate name section is recommended (see Lead section). These may include alternative spellings, longer or shorter forms, historic names, significant names in other languages, etc. There is also no reason why alternative names cannot be used in article text, in contexts where they are more appropriate than the name used as the title of the article. For example, the city now called Gdańsk is referred to as Danzig in historic contexts to which that name is more suited (e.g. when it was part of Germany or a Free City). Likewise, even though Color's title omits the "u", Orange (colour)'s title does not.All significant alternative titles, names, or forms of names that apply to a specific article should usually be made to redirect to that article. If they are ambiguous, it should be ensured that the article can at least be reached from a disambiguation page for the alternative term. Note that the exact capitalization of the article's title does not affect Wikipedia search, so it is not necessary to create redirects from alternative capitalizations unless these are likely to be used in links; see Naming conventions (capitalization).Piped links are often used in article text to allow a subject with a lengthy article title to be referred to using a more concise term where this does not produce ambiguity.The following points are used in deciding on questions not covered by the five principles; consistency on these helps avoid duplicate articles:There are technical restrictions on the use of certain characters in page titles. The following characters cannot be used at all: # < > [ ] | { } _There are restrictions on titles containing colons, periods, and some other characters, which may be addressed through Template:Correct title. Technically all other Unicode characters can be used in page titles; but some characters should still be avoided, or require special treatment:Use italics when italics would be used in running text; for example, taxonomic names, the names of ships, the titles of books, films, and other creative works, and foreign phrases are italicized both in ordinary text and in article titles.[8]Italic formatting cannot be part of the actual (stored) title of a page; adding single quotes to a page title will cause those quotes to become part of the URL, rather than affecting its appearance. A title or part of it is made to appear in italics with the use of the DISPLAYTITLE magic word or the {{Italic title}} template. In addition, certain templates, including Template:Infobox book, Template:Infobox film, and Template:Infobox album, by default italicize the titles of the pages they appear on; see those template pages for documentation. See Italics and formatting on the technical restrictions page for further details.Other types of formatting (such as bold type and superscript) can technically be achieved in the same way, but should generally not be used in Wikipedia article titles (except for articles on mathematics). Quotation marks (such as around song titles) would not require special techniques for display, but are nevertheless avoided in titles; see Article title format above.Article titles follow standard English text formatting in the case of trademarks, unless the trademarked spelling is demonstrably the most common usage in sources independent of the owner of the trademark. Items in full or partial uppercase (such as Invader ZIM) should have standard capitalization (Invader Zim); however, if the name is ambiguous, and one meaning is usually capitalized, this is one possible method of disambiguation.Exceptions include article titles with the first letter lowercase and the second letter uppercase, such as iPod and eBay. For these, see the technical restrictions guideline.Sometimes two or more closely related or complementary concepts are most sensibly covered by a single article. Where possible, use a title covering all cases: for example, Endianness covers the concepts "big-endian" and "little-endian". Where no reasonable overarching title is available, it is permissible to construct an article title using "and", as in Promotion and relegation, Balkline and straight rail, Hellmann's and Best Foods, and Pioneer 6, 7, 8, and 9. (The individual terms – such as Pioneer 6 – should redirect to the combined page, or be linked there via a disambiguation page or hatnote if they have other meanings.)It is generally best to list topics in alphabetical order, especially those involving different countries or cultures, as in Canada–United States border. However, if there is an obvious ordering, such as at Life and death, that ordering should be followed instead. If one concept is more commonly encountered than the other, it may be listed first. Alternative titles using reverse ordering (such as Relegation and promotion) should be redirects.Titles containing "and" are often red flags that the article has neutrality problems or is engaging in original research: avoid the use of "and" in ways that appear biased. For example, use Islamic terrorism, not "Islam and terrorism"; however, "Media's coupling of Islam and terrorism" may be acceptable. Avoid the use of "and" to combine concepts that are not commonly combined in reliable sources.Changing one controversial title to another without a discussion that leads to consensus is strongly discouraged. If an article title has been stable for a long time, and there is no good reason to change it, it should not be changed. Consensus among editors determines if there does exist a good reason to change the title. If it has never been stable, or it has been unstable for a long time, and no consensus can be reached on what the title should be, default to the title used by the first major contributor after the article ceased to be a stub.[9]Any potentially controversial proposal to change a title should be advertised at Wikipedia:Requested moves, and consensus reached before any change is made. Debating controversial titles is often unproductive, and there are many other ways to help improve Wikipedia.In discussing the appropriate title of an article, remember that the choice of title is not dependent on whether a name is "right" in a moral or political sense. Nor does the use of a name in the title of one article require that all related articles use the same name in their titles; there is often some reason for inconsistencies in common usage. For example, Wikipedia has articles on both the Battle of Stalingrad and on Volgograd, which is the current name of Stalingrad.While titles for articles are subject to consensus, do not invent names or use extremely uncommon names as a means of compromising between opposing points of view. Wikipedia describes current usage but cannot prescribe a particular usage or invent new names.Proposals for new naming conventions and guidelines should be advertised on this page's talk page, at requests for comment, the Village Pump, and any related pages. If a strong consensus has formed, the proposal is adopted and is added to the naming conventions category.New naming conventions for specific categories of articles often arise from WikiProjects. For a manually updated list of current and former proposals, see Proposed naming conventions and guidelines.