Difference between revisions of "OrthodoxWiki:Style Manual"

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All articles on (Orthodox) church bodies should be included in [[:Category:Jurisdictions]].
All articles on Orthodox church bodies should be included in [[:Category:Jurisdictions]], and all articles on non-Orthodox church bodies should go in [[:Category:Non-Orthodox]].  For the encyclopedic purposes of '''OrthodoxWiki''', the [[Oriental Orthodox]] churches are categorized as Orthodox.
==Monasteries, Parishes, and Theological Schools==
==Monasteries, Parishes, and Theological Schools==

Revision as of 21:13, February 16, 2005

This is the official OrthodoxWiki Style Manual. Refer to it when writing new articles or editing existing ones. It is officially in in effect but still under development. Articles and links should conform to the following standards. The purpose of this Style Manual is to maintain consistency throughout OrthodoxWiki.

Please don't be intimidated by these guidelines. Your contributions are welcome even if they do not perfectly conform to what's below. These guidelines are meant to channel—not impede—your efforts! If what you contribute doesn't conform precisely to these guidelines, no doubt it will be honed by other members of the community. OrthodoxWiki is, after all, always a work in progress.


This Style Manual constitutes the official style protocols for OrthodoxWiki. When editing articles or creating new ones, this document should be used as a reference point and guidelines for all content. It is strongly recommended that you add it to your watchlist so that you can track whenever it's updated and incorporate the changes into your editing, helping to keep the whole site in conformity.

The Style Manual is "enforced" primarily by the users of the site but also by the administrators. Enforcement comes in the form of composing articles according to the manual the first time they're created and also by continual editing to conform to the Style Manual. That means that we rely on you to help us keep things in order by using the Style Manual.

Note: All the following rules about articles and their names also apply to internal links, because clicking on an as-yet-to-be-written article linked in an existing article will give the new article that name by default. Thus, when making links to articles, those links must conform to the naming practices defined here.


Though there are certainly exceptions, the atmosphere being developed for most OrthodoxWiki articles is generally encyclopedic, i.e., the style of writing one would expect from an encyclopedia. That doesn't mean that articles have to conform to academic writing characteristic of secular scholarship, but it does mean that a certain level of professionalism and consistency is desired.

At the same time, our approach is hagiographical—that is, attempting to write with reverence and humility regarding the awesome subjects which we're addressing. As such, try to develop your writing here in that manner. We're trying accurately and humbly to convey the truth of the Orthodox Christian faith in an easy-to-use, thorough and readable resource, an accessible compendium of Orthodox Christianity. Always keep that in mind when contributing.

Importing Articles from Wikipedia

It is permitted (and even encouraged) to import relevant articles from Wikipedia. However, when doing so, keep a few things in mind. First, all material from Wikipedia is not necessarily public domain. Most of it is probably released in several different forms of limited license, usually entailing that the material may be freely distributed so long as no monetary profit is made from it. The key thing is to look closely at the notes on the article. This especially applies to images being imported.

It is also important to strip out irrelevant links. Leave only links that are relevant to OrthodoxWiki. Things to strip out include year links (even for an historically oriented church like ours, there's probably not going to be enough of historic significance in the Church going on in a single year to warrant a whole article about it), city names, and so on. Place name links should be left in only if, for instance, they are the name of a place which is almost exclusively of religious significance (e.g., Iona). We don't need an article for Constantinople, however, mainly because anything specifically religiously relevant to the city is likely to be covered in other articles.

Things to leave in that might not otherwise be obvious: leave in dates (e.g., November 13), historic persons who have had an impact on the Church (even if not members, e.g., Arius or Julian the Apostate), events along those same lines (e.g., the Fall of Constantinople), and so on.

Also be sure to do searches on OrthodoxWiki to examine existing articles so that internal links might be made in a consistent way -- for instance, use First Ecumenical Council (the established OrthodoxWiki way) instead of First Council of Nicaea (the established Wikipedia way).

Additionally, "Orthodoxize" the articles. Things which to secular scholars might appear to be biased might simply be a statement of truth for the Orthodox (e.g., "The Orthodox Church is the sole Church founded by Jesus Christ"). That doesn't mean that anything negative about the Church's members should be glossed over, but be sure to keep in mind that OrthodoxWiki is an Orthodox Christian website, and so things here are written and edited from that point of view.

Copyrighted Material

Copyrighted material may be incorporated into OrthodoxWiki only if you have the copyright holder's permission. Remember that just because you found something on the web doesn't mean that it isn't copyrighted. In fact, most things are copyrighted by default.

If the copyright holder is willing to release his material under one of the open licenses common to Wikis (such as the Gnu Free Documentation Licence or the Creative Commons License), then including it as a regular, editable article is no problem. If, however, the creator doesn't want his creation edited mercilessly (as is the norm for OrthodoxWiki), then a copyright note should be included at the bottom of the material, looking something like this:

Copyright © 2005 by John Johnson. All Rights Reserved.

Once you've done that, ask an administrator to protect it for you so that it can't be edited.

By default, everything on OrthodoxWiki is under the Creative Commons License.

Types of Articles

What kind of articles is OrthodoxWiki looking for? Ostensibly, anything directly to do with the Orthodox Christian faith and life is appropriate. In addition, however, articles especially on historical subjects and persons related to Church life are also appropriate. So, while there are articles on saints and bishops, there are also articles on emperors and heretics. Therefore, while creating articles and making links within them, consider what might be generally appropriate for OrthodoxWiki.

For examples, browse around existing articles, click on the links already within them, and if you have information on subjects already being linked to, feel free to contribute to existing articles or create new ones. And, as always, don't worry about breaking OrthodoxWiki or messing things up, because your work will become part of the community effort and thereby be honed and improved, ever bringing us closer to achieving our goal of being a nearly endless compendium of information access and exchange regarding Orthodox Christianity.

Articles not appropriate for OrthodoxWiki

Obviously, anything which has no direct connection to the Orthodox faith is not appropriate. Further, some things which are characteristic of Wikipedia articles but don't make sense on OrthodoxWiki also should be left out, including the following: year articles (e.g., 1054), places whose significance goes far beyond its exclusively religious meaning (e.g., Constantinople), or major historical personages who had nothing directly to do with the Orthodox Church (e.g., Ronald Reagan). Certainly, all of these items may have something to do with the Orthodox Church, but their connections can be noted in articles about the events related in other articles which more directly bear on the Orthodox faith.

Neutrality and the OrthodoxWiki Bias

OrthodoxWiki purposes to present the Orthodox Christian viewpoint throughout the site. Articles on OrthodoxWiki will be, so far as is reasonably possible, worded from a neutral point of view (NPOV). That is, disputes between Orthodox Christian groups will be characterized and described rather than entered into. Continue reading for further clarification. (Also see Wikipedia:NPOV for Wikipedia's version of the NPOV policy, which is essentially compatible with OrthodoxWiki policy.)

Further, for administrative purposes, OrthodoxWiki is governed by what is called the Mainstream Chalcedonian Bias (MCB). By Chalcedonian we refer to those churches of the Orthodox Church who hold to the decrees of the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon (A.D. 451). By Mainstream we refer to those "official" churches comprised of the fourteen or fifteen autocephalous and four autonomous churches generally recognized as the "mainstream" of the Orthodox Church -- for those of us in North America, this will be all SCOBA jurisdictions and those with whom they're in communion.

What the Bias Means

The main places that the bias will apply will be in terms of naming. Naming is of course important, and the names by which we call things indicate what we believe about them. As is evident to anyone who knows anything of Church History, names are a potentially inflammatory topic. What might be termed namespace will be given priority in terms of the MCB. So, for instance, an article called Church of Alexandria will refer to the Chalcedonian body by that name, whereas one called Church of Alexandria (Coptic) will refer to the non-Chalcedonian body by that name. It applies similarly with regard to parallel hierarchies along other disputational lines, so the official chuch in Greece will have its article named Church of Greece and not Church of Greece (State Church) (which is how some groups might refer to it).

Additionally, the MCB is in effect in terms of the content in articles, so articles on MC churches will not include content indicating in direct factual terms that they are heretics, schismatics, etc.

Further, articles on Non-Orthodox Christian religious groups, while necessarily including some general description of those groups, should have as their primary content the relationship and history of that group in relation to the Orthodox Church. For the encyclopedic purposes of OrthodoxWiki, Non-Chalcedonian and non-Mainstream churches which identify themselves as Orthodox and are not "self-starters" (i.e., taking the name Orthodox to themselves without any historic origin in the Orthodox Church) will be considered to be Orthodox in terms of categorization and article content—that is, they do not have to be included in Category:Non-Orthodox or focus their article content primarily on their relationship to the Mainstream Chalcedonian churches (though of course that should be covered).

What the Bias Does Not Mean

The MCB does not mean that non-mainstream or non-Chalcedonian persons or groups are unwelcome to write or edit articles on OrthodoxWiki. It also does not mean that such groups or their members will be the subject of polemic in encyclopedic articles, though some non-encyclopedic articles may include polemic from any point of view if it is appropriately labelled regarding its own biases. So, instead of saying "the Church of Greece has fallen into heresy, schism and is entirely uncanonical," we might say, "the Church of Greece is regarded as heretical, schismatic and uncanonical by Group X."

The best thing on OrthodoxWiki we can do with regard to any dispute, no matter what side we're on, is to characterize the dispute in the terms of the major disputants, rather than entering into that dispute and bringing the conflict here. That is, so far as we can, we try to word our articles from a neutral point of view (NPOV).

The MCB is not a judgment on any group or persons. It's simply a protocol for the OrthodoxWiki project.

Why Have the Bias?

It's for administrative reasons as much as anything else. OrthodoxWiki is owned and operated by a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, a mainstream Chalcedonian church. Also, if we think carefully, we realize that there must be some sort of bias regarding the issues outlined above, or else we'd have the potential for perpetual renaming and revision wars, all in one massive conflict. OrthodoxWiki is, after all, editable by anyone with an Internet connection.

Additionally, the administration feels that the bias is warranted along what might be termed "definitional usage" lines -- that is, the rest of the world, when looking for information about Orthodoxy, tends to think definitionally in MCB terms. That is, it would probably look for an article on the Church of Russia (i.e., the Moscow Patriarchate) rather than one on the so-called Suzdalites when searching for "Russian Orthodoxy." Thus, the MCB helps prevent confusion.

Of course, the MCB cannot prevent all confusion or conflict, but we hope that it will help. Where extra attention needs to be paid, extra care will be taken when the time comes. We ask you that, while we are certainly trying to be Orthodox, we take special care also to be Christian.

Technical Terminology

A number of technical and theological terms in Orthodoxy differ according to the languages of the cultures in which they're used. Thus, the preference for OrthodoxWiki will be to use Greek terms where no standard English word is predominant among Anglophonic Orthodox writers. The main issue is with article names, so use epigonation instead of palitsa, or use exorasson instead of riassa or jibbee. Where appropriate, make note of other languages' terminology in the body of the article. The reason for preferring Greek terms is that Greek is the "source language" for our Church's culture and terminology and is thus universal.

Western Rite articles will likewise probably prefer Latin, though given the longer history of the Western Rite in England, there is already a more developed native English vocabulary for Western Rite liturgical and theological terms.

Standard English Usage and Spelling

Use standard English spelling and usage for article names and in the bodies of articles. Thus, use icon instead of ikon. What constitutes standard spelling will vary according to what variety of English (e.g., British, American, Canadian, Australian, etc.) a contributor uses, but try to make articles consistent throughout (e.g., every instance of center in an article should be spelled either centre or center, not both).

English names

Use the form of the names of people and places most commonly used by English-speaking Orthodox Christians. So, instead of Vartholomaios I (Archontonis) of Constantinople, use Bartholomew I (Archontonis) of Constantinople. Some ambiguity will of course exist here, especially with names that are not commonly used in English-speaking countries. Biblical names should conform to the varieties most common in English-language Bibles; for instance, use Elijah instead of Elias and Joshua for the prophet instead of Jesus.

Some places will be exceptional, such as Hagia Sophia, which is the most common way of referring to that ancient church, rather than St. Sophia or Holy Wisdom. Thus, the rule is to use the form most commonly used in English, not necessarily an Anglicized or translated form.


Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches

Refer to autocephalous and autonomous churches by this form when creating new articles and links: Church of Place. Referring with the adjectival form of the place (e.g., Smogarian Orthodox Church) is not only essentially incorrect but furthers the ethnic stereotyping of the Church. Thus, instead of Smogarian Orthodox Church, you would use Church of Smogaria.

The only current exception to this rule is the Orthodox Church in America, whose autocephaly is still in debate. To call it the Church of America would be to lend it a status not currently agreed upon (nor really even claimed by the OCA itself).

Non-Chalcedonian, Roman Catholic, and other Churches

Many Non-Chalcedonian and Roman Catholic churches have parallel sees to those among Chalcedonian Orthodox, so distinction needs to be made. Refer to these parallel sees with this convention: Church of Place (Common Identifier). So, the Coptic church centered in Egypt would be Church of Alexandria (Coptic), or the Syrian Catholic Church would be the Church of Antioch (Catholic).

For non-Latin Rite churches within the Roman Catholic Church, using Roman in the name could be misleading for two reasons:

  • Such churches typically do not refer to themselves as Roman, often stressing that fact very strenuously.
  • Such a designation may also mislead readers into thinking that such churches are Latin Rite, which they usually are not.

The fact that these churches are subject to the Vatican would be noted in the relevant articles.

In other places, there are no parallel sees, so one would simply use the Church of Place convention, e.g., the Church of Armenia.

Non-Mainstream Churches

Such churches will generally be referred to by whatever official name they call themselves, e.g., the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church (a.k.a. the "Suzdalites") rather than as the Church of Russia. If they claim a title identical with that of one of the mainstream Chalcedonian churches, an appropriate modifier would be included in parentheses, e.g., Church of Alexandria (Smogarian).

Dioceses, Archdioceses, Metropolises, etc.

Articles on component parts of autocephalous and autonomous churches should be named by their official self-naming convention. Examples: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

Extinct Churches

When writing articles on great churches that no longer exist, exist only as minor or titular sees, or whose modern successors appear to be in permanent heresy or schism, use the Church of Place convention and be sure to include the article in Category:Church History. Examples include the Church of Carthage, the Church of Rome (as distinct from the modern day Roman Catholic Church), and the Church of Persia (as distinct from the Assyrian Church of the East, i.e., the Nestorians).

There is some potential ambiguity here, especially regarding the Oriental Orthodox, but let's keep them as an exception, mainly due to their closeness with the Chalcedonian Orthodox and the ongoing talks regarding reunification.


Orthodox bodies should be referred to as jurisdictions or churches rather than denominations insofar as they may have diverse administrative structures but share a common faith. The Orthodox Church itself should not be referrred to as a denomination (as if one among many equally legitimate Christian bodies), but as "the Church."

In general, the term denomination should be avoided when possible. In common usage, the term implies an ecclesiological relativism that is incompatible with Orthodox faith. Other Christian organizations can be referenced by their proper name or with general references such as groups, organizations, communions, etc.


All articles on Orthodox church bodies should be included in Category:Jurisdictions, and all articles on non-Orthodox church bodies should go in Category:Non-Orthodox. For the encyclopedic purposes of OrthodoxWiki, the Oriental Orthodox churches are categorized as Orthodox.

Monasteries, Parishes, and Theological Schools

Because there are so many communities with the same names, articles about monasteries, parishes, and theological schools should be named in the following fashion: Name of Community (Location). For example, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Monastery (South Canaan, Pennsylvania), Hagia Sophia (Constantinople), Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Brookline, Massachusetts), or St. Paul's Monastery (Athos). In article titles for places, use St. (i.e., a capital S, followed by a lower-case t, followed by a period) rather than Saint, St, or S.. For plurals, use Ss. (i.e., a capital S, followed by a lower-case s, followed by a period).

Books of the Bible

Articles and links to books of the Bible should conform to the links in the canonical lists found at Holy Scripture—note that the names shown there do not always match the links to which they lead! For instance, you might see Nehemiah, which takes you to Book of Nehemiah, not to Nehemiah (which is an article about the prophet by that name).

Articles about Biblical books should be included in Category:Scripture and Category:Texts.


Articles about people should be named without any titles in them. That way, searches and automatic alphabetization will work correctly. When naming an article, consider how and where it might be listed in an encyclopedia. However, instead of being alphabetical by last namem, on OrthodoxWiki articles are named with the form Firstname Lastname (or sometimes in parentheses if applicable), so for instance, there's an article named Alexander Schmemann, but not Schmemann, Alexander. There are a number of special cases which require further explanation, so read on.


Articles about saints should be titled with the most common English version of how the saint is known, e.g., Seraphim of Sarov rather than Serafim Sarovskii or Cosmas and Damian rather than Kosmas and Damianos. See the above section on English names for clarification.

Don't use "Saint" for article titles

Saints should not include "Saint" (or any variant thereof) in the article names. That can be taken care of in the body of the article. Not only would it mess with alphabetization and searching to have every article name for a saint start with "saint," but there would also be potential issues with regard to which form we use: Saint, St., St, S., or S (all are currently in use in English convention). Additionally, there are potential quibbles over which persons are considered saints or not (Augustine of Hippo, Saint Augustine of Hippo, or Blessed Augustine of Hippo). Not using "saint" for article titles also means that the necessity of moving articles will be lessened should a person already with an article be declared a saint. The note can simply be made in the article body.

Commemorational Titles

Within the article body (not in the article title), if using the standard liturgical introductory phrases for the commemoration of a saint, see the Saint commemorations article for proper form. In general, articles about saints should begin with their first name, e.g., Constantine the Great. The only exceptions (because they are often referred to by a single name alone) are the apostles, whose articles will be named with "Apostle" first, e.g., Apostle James (son of Zebedee).

The Theotokos

When referring to the Theotokos in English texts or hymns, leave the term untranslated but simply in its Latinized form, i.e., Theotokos. See the Theotokos entry for explanation regarding translating the term.


All articles about saints should be included in Category:Saints and include a link to the saint's feast day(s), e.g., November 13.


Basic Style

When creating articles about bishops, name the article with the following style: Firstname I (Surname) of See, so if there is a bishop named Moses Jones who is the fifth bishop named Moses of the Patriarchate of Springfield, the name of the article would be: Moses V (Jones) of Springfield. In cases where no surname is known, it is of course omitted, which will especially be the case with ancient bishops, e.g., John I of Antioch.

Additionally, most sees will not usually have need of the ordinal (the I, II, III, etc.), so if the bishop is of a more minor see (as most are), the ordinal would be omitted, e.g., Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh. It's typically used only to refer to the primate of an autocephalous church, e.g., Alexei II (Ridiger) of Moscow.

Sainted bishops (and other historic personages)

Exceptions would be saints or other historical figures who are generally known by other names. For instance, instead of having an article named John I (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, we simply have John Chrysostom. Or instead of Cyril I of Alexandria, we have Cyril of Alexandria. Some ambiguity will exist for recently glorified bishops, e.g., Raphael of Brooklyn rather than Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn, because the former is currently the more commonly used form.


Also be sure to include the bishop in Category:Bishops, and if he is the bishop of an important see, include him in the category of that see's bishops, e.g., Category:Patriarchs of Constantinople.

Other notes

The primary argument against naming articles with the bishops' first name in ALL CAPS is that such a usage is not common when referring to saints, and it is not a universal custom, anyhow. Certainly, within the text of an article a writer may choose to use ALL CAPS for bishops' names, but when creating articles or linking to existing or potential articles, the above convention should be followed.

A potential problem with this naming style is that a bishop may be transferred to another see, thus requiring the moving of the article to incorporate the new name. This wouldn't happen often, however, and having the move will be helpful if searchers are looking for the bishop under his old title.

Western Rite

For most topics regarding the Western Rite where there are also Byzantine Rite equivalents, add a section to the single article for the Western Rite distinctives. For instance, instead of having a separate article on Western Rite vestments, to vestments one would add a section titled "Western Rite" or the like.

For topics extensive enough to require a separate article for the Western Rite which might otherwise have the same name as a Byzantine Rite article, put "Western Rite" in parentheses, e.g., Vespers (Western Rite).


The following refer to the various mechanics of writing for OrthodoxWiki articles.


The following items should be capitalized in OrthodoxWiki articles (some may seem obvious, but usage on these actually does vary):

  • God and Trinity
  • Church when referencing the Church catholic; not when used as a generic reference for a local church
  • Tradition should be capitalized when referring to the mainstream beliefs and practices held by Orthodox churches to be binding on Orthodox Christians (i.e., "Big T" tradition); it is not capitalized when referring to local traditions which are not binding in character (i.e., "little T" tradition)
  • Scripture should be capitalized when referring to the Bible, though not when referring to the scriptures of other religions
  • Orthodox
  • Christian
  • Titles: Lord, Lady, Theotokos, Christ.
  • Titles with names: Saint John, Apostle Peter, Bishop Basil, etc., but not saint, apostle, bishop, etc., as regular nouns
  • Proper names: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Jesus, James, John, St. Paul's Church, Dormition Monastery, Church of Romania, etc.
  • Feast days: Pascha, Annunciation, Theophany, Transfiguration, etc. (Note: Within texts for a particular feast, it is not the title which is being referenced, but the event, so capitalization is unnecessary: "Your birth..." or "Thy nativity...," not "Your Birth..." or "Thy Nativity...")
  • O (as in O Lord, or O Lady Theotokos), i.e., the vocative

Other terms (including personal pronouns for God) leave uncapitalized, so use him in the middle of a sentence referring to God, not Him.


Use the '' (italic) markup. Example:

''This is italic.''

which produces

This is italic.


Italics should be used for titles of the following:

  • books
  • films
  • long poems
  • musical albums
  • newspapers
  • periodicals (journals and magazines)
  • plays
  • TV series
  • works of visual art

Italics are generally used for titles of longer works. Titles of shorter works, such as the following, should be enclosed in quotation marks (""):

  • articles, essays, or papers
  • chapters of a longer work
  • episodes of a television series
  • short poems
  • short stories
  • songs

There are a few cases in which the title should be neither italicized nor placed in quotation marks:

  • the Bible
  • legal documents (examples: the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence)

Words as Words

Use italics when writing about words as words or when referring to letters. For example:

  • The term panning is derived from panorama, a word originally coined in 1787.
  • The letter E is the most common letter in English.


Links to dates within articles should include the full name of the month followed by tha Arabic numeral of the day. Use January 1 not Jan. 1 or 1 January. This standardization is to assure that the Church Calendar page works correctly. Years should be left unlinked, because at this point we aren't including articles dedicated to particular years.


Many articles may fit into multiple categories. Therefore, when listing the category entries at the bottom of the article, list the categories on separate lines and in alphabetical order according to the first word in the category name. For instance, a category list for St. Raphael of Brooklyn might look like this:

[[Category:American Saints]]

There is a simple logic to this approach - since the listing of categories in the wiki is linear, figuring out the order based on a hierarchical sorting system for a given entry might be difficult. For instance, let's say an article is about someone who is a bishop, saint, church father, hymnographer, missionary, and an American saint. Which goes first? Not all bishops are saints, so bishop couldn't be a sub-category for saint. Not all missionaries are bishops or saints. Not all church fathers are bishops, and so on.

The hierarchy is preserved in the category system itself (i.e., when you click on the category name and see sub-categories), so it's already being represented in the most useful sorting way. Therefore, in order to preserve some uniform kind of sorting for categories in the articles, an alphabetical approach seems to be the easiest and most non-problematic to implement.


A stub is an article or section which needs additional material in order to be complete. If you create or see an article or section which needs more information in order to be complete, please include the {{stub}} tag in the appropriate place in the body of the article. Also try to avoid creating empty articles that consist only of a stub notice unless you intend to expand them soon.

When you include the {{stub}} tag, this message will be seen in the article:

This article or section is a stub (i.e., in need of additional material). You can help OrthodoxWiki by expanding it.

See also