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Manual of Style (infoboxes)

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An infobox template is an infobox that uses the template software feature. They are a broad class of templates commonly used in articles to present certain summary or overview information about the subject. In theory, the fields in an infobox should be consistent across every article using it; in practice, however, this is rarely the case, for a number of reasons. When this occurs, the infobox templates should be designed to dynamically adapt themselves to the absence or presence of particular fields.

Like static infoboxes, they are designed to present summary information about an article's subject, such that similar subjects have a uniform look and in a common format. However, the template technique allows updates of style and of common text from a central place, the template page.

These boxes are designed to be placed into main articles related to the topic area, and are usually associated with on-going WikiProjects. They have parameters; to work properly, the parameter values have to be specified when the template is inserted in the page. This allows each infobox to show information relevant to the article subject, while requiring only a minimal amount of coding within each article.

Design and usage Edit

The recommended process for creating an infobox template is to simply begin, and gather as many requirements as possible. Test the base format for a new template as a static table first, then once consensus is reached, migrate it into template format. The template should be reviewed before being used extensively in articles in case the template or defined parameters need modification to minimize re-works. If new fields and parameters are added, articles must be updated to reflect the new requirements. If parameters are renamed or removed, many articles will likely be unaffected, since extraneous parameters are ignored.

For consistency the following guidelines apply:

  1. Standard suggested width of 300 pixels or 25 ems (300px or 25em in CSS).
  2. Insert at the top of articles and right-align
  3. Using class="infobox" is a good start.
  4. The top text line should be bold and contain the full (official) name of the item. This does not need to match the article's Wikipedia title. It should not contain a link. Avoid {{{PAGENAME}}} as pages may be moved for disambiguation.
  5. Name the template [[Template:Infobox Some subject]] (Somesubject should be in the singular and capitalized).
  6. Start words in parameter names with a small letter unless they are proper nouns.

When creating a new infobox template the content of Template:Infobox is a convenient starting point.

Parameters in infoboxes should be named, not numbered, to provide for future use. A parameter value can contain images (i.e. full image tags), or parameters for parts of an image tag such as the image name, size and caption. In the latter case, if an image is not applicable or available use a dummy image such as Image:No image.png.

If a parameter is not applicable, or no information is available, it must still be assigned a value. This can be the empty string, or if it is the only thing in a table cell use "some_field= ". The field will appear blank; the code is needed by some browsers for drawing the lines of the table itself properly.

There are alternative ways to make a template selectively hide information or provide default values if not defined. For an example and explanation of how these methods apply to infoboxes, see {{Infobox}}.

Causes of inconsistency Edit

A number of factors can cause inconsistency in available summary information for a particular type of article:

Historical incompleteness 
Certain desired information may simply have been lost over time. For example, an infobox describing a modern bank may provide certain financial information that would be unavailable for a medieval one.
Hierarchical inconsistency 
Infoboxes that indicate hierarchical relationships may have subtly different requirements depending on where in the hierarchy the subject of the article is located. For example, an infobox for corporations will be different between an article describing a parent company and indicating its subsidiaries and an article describing a subsidiary and indicating its parent.
Feature inconsistency 
Items within a single set may have optional features that would commonly be listed in an infobox. For example, an infobox for an article about a university may include a motto; but not all universities have them.
Lack of information 
Some items in infoboxes may not be readily available or not available at all, such as the producers of an album or film. In these cases it is better to provide available information while concealing fields for which information may not be available.

Why dynamic templates? Edit

While there are several alternatives to dynamic infoboxes, such as using multiple (forked) templates or leaving fields blank, they should be avoided, for a number of reasons:

Readers greatly outnumber editors 
The most important group to consider are the casual readers of Wikipedia, who will never do any significant editing. Infobox templates that contain many blank fields, question marks, or "Unknown"s present an unprofessional appearance, diminishing Wikipedia's reputation as a high-quality encyclopedia.
Article editors greatly outnumber template editors 
The average editor will merely use templates without making changes to them. To make things easier for them, we should aim to minimize the number of different templates they must be familiar with; creating multiple forks of templates is therefore undesirable.

General advice Edit

The availability of optional fields does not mean that all fields should be made optional, however, nor that large numbers of rarely used fields should be added without regard for the overall layout and ease-of-use of the infobox template. In some cases, the markup for the field still needs to be downloaded even if it is not displayed. Creating overly long templates with a number of irrelevant fields is not recommended.

As you design an infobox template, consider the following questions:

Is the field of value? 
How important is the field to the articles that will use the infobox? Is it summary information, or more extended detail that may be better placed within the body of an article?
Will the field be relevant to many of the articles that will use the infobox? 
If the field is relevant to very few articles, it should probably not be included at all. Conversely, very common fields may be included—and made optional—even if they are not applicable to a few of the articles in question.
How likely is the field to be empty? 
Any field that might reasonably be empty should probably be optional. However, a field that is usually empty may not be particularly useful or relevant.

Implementations Edit

Conditional templates Edit

Main article: m:ParserFunctions

Special "templates" that selectively show or hide particular content (such as table rows) within an infobox based on the value of one or more template parameters.

<!--
-->{{#if:{{{party|}}}|<tr><th>Political party</th><td>{{{party|}}}</td></tr>|}}<!--
-->

Name-resolved meta-templates Edit

Several sub-templates (or even independent templates) with a common name prefix. They are included in an infobox based on the value of a particular parameter, which acts as the name suffix. For example, we create {{Infobox Ship/Military}} and {{Infobox Ship/Civilian}} and use {{Infobox Ship/{{{type}}}}}. Using |type=Military in an article causes {{Infobox Ship/Military}} to be used.

Multi-part infoboxes Edit

Rather than having each field correspond to a parameter on one template, the infobox consists of an individual sub-template for each field; see, for example, Template:Taxobox (Wikipedia).

Interaction between multiple templates Edit

Templates can be designed in a modular way, such that various combinations are possible. A combination may even appear on the page as a single infobox.

For example, if the WikiProject Saints group wanted to design a template based on their static Infobox, they could use Template:Infobox Biography, and design a project-specific template with only additional information, and the pages would render both "stacked" together.

List of templates Edit

Category:Infobox templates.

In many cases, to view a template properly, one has to look at the wikitext also. Therefore below the edit pages are linked. For viewing templates it is convenient to set the preferences to "Show preview on first edit".

The backlinks show the pages with the infobox.

Below, first the primary templates are listed; they are designed to provide high-level information appropriate to a broad subject area.

Miscellaneous Edit

Name Where to use
Infobox Political Party Political parties
Infobox Canada Political Party political parties of Canada
Infobox VG Computer and video game articles
Infobox Dam Dam (water barrier)
Infobox Game Game descriptions
Infobox Arcade Game Arcade game descriptions
Infobox Machinima Machinima productions
Infobox Software Computer software
Infobox Top level domain Top level domain
Infobox roller coaster Roller coasters

See also Edit

These pages describe other types of templates:

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