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Help:Topic page titles

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Topic page titles are based on how most people refer to the topic page's subject. There is often more than one appropriate title for a topic page. A good PetroWiki topic page title has the five following characteristics:

  • Recognizability: The title is a name or description of the subject that someone familiar with, although not necessarily an expert in, the subject area will recognize.
  • Naturalness: The title is one that readers are likely to look or search for and that page authors or subsequent editors would naturally use to link to the topic page from other topic pages.
  • Precision: The title is sufficiently precise to unambiguously identify the topic page's subject and distinguish it from other subjects.
  • Conciseness: The title is no longer than necessary to identify the topic page's subject and distinguish it from other subjects.
  • Consistency: The title is consistent with the pattern of similar topic pages' titles.

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (article titles) for more information


These characteristics 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 as obvious. It may be necessary to favor one or more of these goals over the others. The choice of topic page titles should put the interests of readers before those of page authors and those of a general audience before those of specialists.

Titles are the names of topics. However, some topics have multiple names, and this can cause disputes as to which name should be used in the article's title. PetroWiki prefers the name that is most commonly used (as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources) as such names will be the most recognizable and the most natural. The author does not necessarily need to use the subject's "official" name as a topic page title; preferably, use the name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in reliable English-language sources. This includes usage in the sources used as references for the article. If the name of a person, group, object, or other article topic changes, then more weight should be given to the name used in reliable sources published after the name change than in those before the change.

Although official, scientific, original, or trademarked names can be 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:

Cased hole completions
Progressing cavity pump (PCP) systems
Tender assist drilling (TAD) units

In determining which of several alternative names is most frequently used, it is useful to observe the usage of major international organizations, quality encyclopedias, 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. 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). 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 term that is obviously the most frequently used for the topic, as used by a significant majority of reliable English language sources, decide which title is best by considering the criteria listed above.

Read more about this in Wikipedia…


Usually, titles should be precise enough to unambiguously define the topical scope of the page, but no more precise than that. 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.

As a general rule, when a topic's preferred title can also refer to other topics covered in PetroWiki: If the article is about the primary topic to which the ambiguous name refers, then that name can be its title without modification, provided it follows all other applicable policies. If the topic is not primary, the ambiguous name cannot be used and so must be disambiguated.

There are generally three methods employed to avoid using an ambiguous title:

  • Natural disambiguation: If it exists, choose an alternative name that the subject is also commonly called in English, albeit not as commonly as the preferred-but-ambiguous title. Do not, however, use obscure or made-up names.
  • Parenthetical disambiguation: If natural disambiguation is not possible, add a disambiguating term in parentheses, after the ambiguous name.
  • Using minor details to naturally disambiguate articles

Certain applications of this policy are often heavily debated; in certain instances, this form of disambiguation may not be sufficient if one article is far more of a primary topic than the other.


The goal of conciseness is to balance brevity with sufficient information to identify the topic to a person familiar with the subject area.

Topic page title format

The following points are used in deciding on questions not covered by the five principles; consistency on these helps avoid duplicate articles:

  • Use lowercase, except for proper names
The initial letter of a title is almost always capitalized by default; otherwise, words are not capitalized unless they would be so in running text. When this is done, the title is simple to link to in other articles
  • Use the singular form
Article titles are generally singular in form, e.g. Horse, not Horses. Exceptions include nouns that are always in a plural form in English (e.g. scissors or trousers) and the names of classes of objects (e.g. Arabic numerals or Bantu languages). For more guidance, see Naming conventions (plurals).
  • Avoid ambiguous abbreviations
Abbreviations and acronyms are often ambiguous and thus should be avoided unless the subject is known primarily by its abbreviation and that abbreviation is primarily associated with the subject (e.g. NATO, laser, SCSI). It is also unnecessary to include an acronym in addition to the name in a title. Acronyms may be used for parenthetical disambiguation For more details, see WP:ACRONYMTITLE.
  • Avoid definite and indefinite articles
Do not place definite or indefinite articles (the, a, and an) at the beginning of titles unless they are part of a proper name (e.g. The Old Man and the Sea) or otherwise change the meaning (e.g. The Crown). They are noise words that needlessly lengthen article titles, and interfere with sorting and searching. For more guidance, see Naming conventions (definite and indefinite articles at beginning of name).
  • Use nouns
Nouns and noun phrases are normally preferred over titles using other parts of speech; such a title can be the subject of the first sentence.Sometimes the noun corresponding to a verb is the gerund (-ing form), as in Hydraulic fracturing.
  • Do not create subsidiary articles
Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another: even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently.

Special characters

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:

Characters not on a standard keyboard (use redirects): Sometimes the most appropriate title contains diacritics (accent marks), dashes, or other letters and characters not found on most English-language keyboards. This can make it difficult to navigate to the article directly. In such cases, provide redirects from versions of the title that use only standard keyboard characters. (Similarly, in cases where it is determined that the most appropriate title is one that omits diacritics, dashes, and other letters not found on most English-language keyboards, provide redirects from versions of the title that contain them.) However, avoid combining diacritical marks, which are difficult to type and interfere with adjacent characters.
Quotation marks (avoid them): Double ("...") and single quotation marks ('...'), as well as variations such as typographic quotation marks (“...”), typographic apostrophes (’), "low-high" quotation marks („...“), guillemets («...»), grave and acute accents or backticks (`...´) and HTML tags (...) should be avoided in titles. Exceptions can be made when they are part of the proper title or required by orthography.

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style (punctuation) for typographic considerations.

Standard English and trademarks

Topic page 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 should have standard capitalization; however, if the name is ambiguous, and one meaning is usually capitalized, this is one possible method of disambiguation.

Further information: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks

Titles containing "and"

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. Where no reasonable overarching title is available, it is permissible to construct an article title using "and." (The individual terms 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 sub-topics in alphabetical order. However, if there is an obvious ordering, 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 should be redirects.

See also

Creating quality topic pages

Content guide worksheet