GEM Wiki Style Manual

From Global Energy Monitor

GEM Wiki Style Manual

The following rules and guidelines have been developed with feedback from GEM Wiki contributors and users of GEM Wiki. They are not the final word for contributing to the wiki but please keep in mind that clarity and consistency makes these pages more accessible to users, and helps editors create and update them more efficiently.

Please see Quick guide to editing for information on how to use all the different forms of markup, much more than just bold or italic. This article concentrates on when to use them, although the examples usually also show the markup.

Style for specific parts of GEM Wiki articles

Article introduction

All articles should have the title or subject in bold in the first line. The title or subject can almost always be made part of the first sentence, but some articles simply have names and consist of lists of projects. For example, see International Chinese Coal Projects which is a list of coal projects that have been built or are being built with funding from China.

Section titles

Use the == style markup for section titles, not '''. Start with "==" (that's two equal signs). Major benefits of marking headers this way are that sections can be automatically numbered for users with that preference set, and words within properly marked headers are given greater weight in searches. Headlines also help readers by breaking up the text and outlining the article.

Repeat section titles in the body text of sections

Because sections are often renamed, moved, and merged, make sure to repeat any subject mentioned in a section title. I.e. don't entitle a section "Jordan Cove LNG Terminal" and then start the section out by saying, "The terminal was denied a permit recently . . ."


Photos and other graphics should have captions unless they are "self-captioning" as in reproductions of book covers. Captions should follow the style of article text, using italics only for normally italicized material.

General style in GEM Wiki

Titles of publications & media

Use italics for the title or name of books, movies, albums, TV series, magazines, and court cases. If the title is also a link, you should usually place the italic markup outside the brackets.

The names of legal cases and lawsuits are italicized.

Use "quotes" for the title or name of short stories, articles, statues, short films, songs, individual episodes of TV shows, and poems (except for epic poems, e.g. Odyssey and Iliad).

  • The film In Plain Sight by Diller Scofidio and Laura Kurgan uses satellite photography to show the impact of gas extraction projects on indigenous communities.

Titles (for people)

Titles such as president, king, or emperor start with a capital letter when used as a title (followed by a name): "President Nixon", not "president Nixon". When used generically, they should be in lower case: "De Gaulle was the French president." The correct formal name of an office is treated as a proper noun. Hence: "Hirohito was Emperor of Japan." Similarly, "Louis XVI was the French king" but "Louis XVI was King of France", King of France being a title in that context. Likewise, capitalize royal titles: "Her Majesty" or "His Highness". (Reference: [Chicago Manual of Style] 17th ed.; The Guardian Manual of Style, "Titles" keyword.) Exceptions may apply for specific offices.

In the case of "prime minister", either both words begin with a capital letter or neither, except, obviously, when it starts a sentence. Again, when using it generically, do not use a capital letter: "There are many prime ministers around the world." When making reference to a specific office, generally use uppercase: "The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe,, said today…" (A good rule of thumb is whether the sentence uses a definite article [the] or an indefinite article [a]. If the sentence uses the, use "Prime Minister". If the sentence uses a, go with "prime minister". However to complicate matters, some style manuals, while saying "The Japanese Prime Minister", recommend "Japanese prime minister".)

Government officials

For government officials, particularly in the U.S., GEM Wiki uses a slightly modified version of the Associated Press style:

  • Abbreviate the titles, i.e. use Rep., Sen. or Gov. "President" is not abbreviated. In the case of a series of more than one senator or representative it is permissible to use Reps. or Sens.
  • On the second reference it is permissible to use only the full name or last name of the official and omit any title, state or party information.
  • For former officials, say "former Rep...". It is also permissible to use the "then-" prefix to indicate that a person was an official at the time.
  • When relevant to the information being presented, it is permissible to use leadership positions.
  • Include party and state affiliations when possible (this is unnecessary when the sentence makes it clear the state or party affiliation of the official). Offset these with parenthesis rather than commas.
  • Use the AP abbreviations of states.


  • "Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN) created the Senate's Bipartisan Climate Caucus in October 2019..."
  • "Former Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) called for a moratorium on fracking..."
  • "Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) frustrated Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) by refusing to convene a special committee to work on the Green Jobs Bill, but Pelosi later praised Ocasio-Cortez for her leadership on climate change.


Either American or English spelling is acceptable. It is in no way a requirement, but it probably reads better to use American spellings in articles on American subjects and English spelling in articles on English subjects. A reference to "the American labour movement" (with a u) or to "Anglicization" (with a z) may be jarring. It also may be jarring to find both forms in a single article. If the spelling appears in an article name, you should make a redirect page to accommodate "the other language" or other usage, as with the spelling "fracking" that is commonly used in America vs. the spellings "fracing" or "frac'ing" that are commonly used in Canada.

Anglicization of non-English words

Standards for English spellings of non-English words have changed over time. When creating or editing content on energy projects with Anglicized names, please make sure you are using current spellings.


In most cases, simply follow the usual rules of English punctuation. GEM Wiki style is to put one space after a period, which is the recommendation of the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association.

A few points where GEM Wiki may differ from usual usage follow. With quotation marks, we suggest splitting the difference between American and English usage. Although it is not a rigid rule, it is probably best to use the "double quotes" for most quotations, as they are easier to read on the screen, and use 'single quotes' for "quotations 'within' quotations". This is the American style. When punctuating quoted passages, put punctuation where it belongs, inside or outside the quotation marks, depending on the meaning, not rigidly within the quotation marks. This is the British style. For example, "Stop!" has the punctuation inside the quotation marks. However, when using "scare quotes", the comma goes outside.

Another example:

Arthur said the situation was "deplorable". (we're quoting only part of a sentence)
Arthur said, "The situation is deplorable." (full sentence is quoted)

Keep in mind that if you're quoting several paragraphs, there should be quotes at the beginning of each paragraph, but only at the end of the last paragraph.


Please see Help:References for detailed guidelines on when and how to footnote material on GEM Wiki.

Reference style

Please see the University of Iowa's Journalism Resources for a list of citation style guides. For citing online documents, please follow the recommendations of the Columbia University Press Guide For Authors. When citing books do not use ISBN numbers alone to identify them. Please add a proper citation as well as the ISBN.

References to materials other languages

When citing a non-English source, please provide the title of the book, article, or other resource in its original language.

  • Banks threatened to cut off funding for the Southern Gas Pipeline as long as Odebrecht remained part of the project.[1]
  • "Gasoducto: La problemática en el megaproyecto de gas peruano", El Comercio, November 27, 2016
  • Free link style

    The use of so-called "free links" to other topics, for example Alberta Tar Sands, is encouraged. Use the links for all words and terms that appear in your article for which it could be worthwhile to read the linked article. However, don't overdo it. Do not link every occurrence of a word; simply linking the first time the word appears will usually be enough. Links that follow the GEM Wiki Naming conventions are much more likely to lead to existing articles, and, if there is not yet an article about that subject, will make the creation of a correctly-named article much easier for later writers. It is possible to link words that are not exactly the same as the linked article title, [[English language|English]] for example. Make sure however that it is still clear what the link refers without having to follow the link. When making plurals, do [[language]]s. This is clearer to read in wiki form than [[language|languages]] -- and easier to type. Try to link accurately. If an article you want to link doesn't yet exist, do a quick search to find out if that is really the case; the article may be named slightly different from what you expected.

    URL and World Wide Web style

    GEM Wiki is not a link collection and an article with only links is actively discouraged, but it is appropriate to reference more detailed material from the World Wide Web. This is particularly the case when you have used a web site as an important source of information. The syntax of referencing a URL is simple, just enclose it in single brackets, [full URL optional text after space]. The URL must begin with http:// or other form, such as ftp://. Most URLs are ugly and uninformative, so it is better to hide them. The "printable version" of a page displays all URLs in full, even if concealed, so no information is lost.

    Without the optional text, such an external reference takes the form of a footnote:

    • [1]
      • []

    If followed by a space and text, the text replaces the URL:

    This form can be used to include a run-in URL reference within text when necessary, as:

    • One good example of a cooperative online community is the Wikipedia, an open-source encyclopedia.
      • One good example of a cooperative online community is the [ Wikipedia, an open-source encyclopedia].

    In most cases, however, it is clearer to keep the URL separate at the bottom of the article under a heading like this:

    • ==External links==

    Note: At present, without brackets, URLs are presented as is:

    But this feature may disappear in a future release and in cases where you wish to display the URL because it is intrinsically valuable information, it is better to use the short form of the URL as the optional text:

    Simple tabulation

    Any line that starts with a blank space becomes a fixed font width and can be used for simple tabulation. For example:

    foo     bar     baz
    alpha   beta    gamma

    State abbreviations and names of state residents

    GEM Wiki uses the Associated Press abbreviations for U.S. states, which is different than the two-letter postal abbreviation. For a full list, see here. For the proper way to refer to the residents of a state see this infoplease sheet.

    When all else fails

    If you are faced with a fine point, please use other resources, such as The Chicago Manual of Style (from the University of Chicago Press) or Fowler's Modern English Usage (from the Oxford University Press). Where this page differs from the other sources, the usage on this page should be preferred, but please feel free to add to this page. Even simpler is to look at an article that you like and open it for editing to see how the writers and editors have put it together. You can then close the window without saving changes if you like, but look around while you're there. Almost every article can be improved. Maybe you could add some markup to make it fit this style better.


    It's easier for you and whoever follows you if you don't try to get too fancy with your markup. Even with markup as suggested here, you shouldn't assume that any markup you put in is guaranteed to have a certain appearance when it is displayed. It is easier to display GEM Wiki, easier to edit or add to its articles, if we don't make the markup any more complex than is necessary to display the information in a useful and comprehensible way. A useful encyclopedia is the first goal, but ease of editing and maintaining that encyclopedia is right behind it. Among other things, this means use HTML markup sparingly and only with good reason. As Leonardo da Vinci said, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

    For further information

    Before you start writing or editing, it is a good idea to read through and understand these documents:

    • GEM Wiki policy lists some other general policies to follow.
    • Quick guide to editing will explain the mechanics of what codes are available to you when editing a page, to do things like titles, links, external links, and so on.

    Acknowledgment: Many of these guidelines were taken from or reflect the guidelines in the SourceWatch SourceWatch Manual of Style.