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This is a naming conventions guideline for the naming of Wikipedia articles about books, which includes printed books and e-books.
The titles of books (usually meaning the title of the literary work contained in the book) are capitalized by the same convention that governs other literary and artistic works such as plays, films, paintings etc.
Scope and definitions
A unique manuscript can have the physical form of a book (e.g. the Eton Choirbook): in such case the naming conventions on manuscripts take precedence over the guidance relating to books on this page. By contrast The Eton Choirbook: Facsimile with Introductory Study, published in 2010, is a book in the meaning of the present guideline.
Ancient use of the term "book"
From antiquity to the early modern age it was not uncommon for either the author or subsequent scribes or editors to divide a single written work into separate "books" (volumes, tomes, scrolls), where a more modern author would call such subdivisions "parts" or even "chapters": for example Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico contains eight "books", somewhat of "chapter" length when compared to more modern writings.
For the purpose of this guideline, "book" means the entire work, and not a subdivision, even if that subdivision has a (subsidiary) title of its own.
Sometimes books are collected into a larger entity, for example a "trilogy", or another type of series. Whether Wikipedia treats the individual books on separate pages, or the whole collection of such serialized books on a single page, varies from case to case. In general, however, the "series" page is created first, spinning off pages on individual books only if necessary.
For italicization see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles#Series titles.
See the "comics" Naming Conventions guideline for comics and graphic novels.
This guideline does not contain specific information on how to name Wikipedia articles on periodicals (magazines, newspapers, etc.). In most cases naming such articles will not be problematic, nor incompatible with this guideline, except that for periodicals that have no specific English edition, the title is usually not translated (example: Pravda, not The Truth).
Poems and lyrics
Poems normally follow this guideline on books, e.g. The Lady of the Lake (poem), for the Walter Scott poem. However, when the article pertains to a single short poem not published as a book, the title is not italicized, e.g. Sonnet 130, "An Arundel Tomb".
Articles on the text used for musical compositions (lyrics or libretto) are usually not separated from the articles on those musical compositions, and follow the naming conventions for such types of works, e.g.:
- La donna del lago, opera based on The Lady of the Lake – page title according to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (operas)
- Ave Maria (Schubert), a.k.a. Ellens dritter Gesang, based on the same poem by Walter Scott – Wikipedia page name according to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (music)
However, there are texts that started to live a life on their own, such as libretto of the L'Olimpiade, it is treated an article about a book in the sense of this guideline and the title is thus italicized.
Texts that are as well a prayer and/or liturgical/ritual text, as they are also standard lyrics for compositions (e.g. Kaddish, Requiem, Salve Regina, Missa brevis, Wessobrunn Prayer) have the title of their main article (that is the article not on a particular composition) not italicized.
See the style guide of the Bibliographies WikiProject for recommendations on the naming of bibliographies.
Should a book title, of a book originally written in a foreign language, be translated into English?
If the original language does not use the Latin alphabet, the title is normally translated. Preferably in English, example: "Οἰδίπους Τύραννος" → Oedipus the King (not "Oedipus Rex", which is the Latin translation).
However, in some cases, when a transcription or transliteration of a title originally not in Latin alphabet, is better known, and/or less ambiguous, that version of the title can be used, example: Tao Te Ching (though in this case the situation is further muddied by the choice between Wade–Giles and pinyin Chinese language romanizations).
If the book is best known by an English title, use that version of the title.
Also books that haven't been published in English (yet) are preferably referred to by an English version of the title, if the title in the original language would not easily be recognised by the majority of English speakers, for instance (from José Saramago#Bibliography): Lucidity (a translation of the title for example used on this page in 2004), and not Ensaio sobre a Lucidez. Some time later the publication of the English translation of the book was announced , causing the link in the author's article to be changed to Seeing (novel) .
When the title version "best known in English" cannot be determined
For some books it cannot be determined, not even by educated guesswork, which version of the title is the most common. For these books, try to determine which of the widely spread versions of the book in the English-speaking world was the most authoritative original (that is, the version that contributed most to the book's becoming known in the English-speaking world), and stick to the title as it appeared on that edition.
Example: Oscar Wilde's play Salomé/Salome was first written in French (title: Salomé), but the first printed edition in English, of which the translation was supervised by the author, was Salome. Notwithstanding that later English editions variously had either Salomé or Salome on the title page, the Wikipedia article is at Salome (play).
Like all articles, books (and other media, such as films and video games) that have a subtitle should use the work's commonly used name (following WP:COMMONNAME). For books with verbose subtitles, this often means using a concise form in preference to a full "official" name (see WP:CONCISE), but be aware that many modern titles (especially those that are part of a series, for example Dune: The Butlerian Jihad) often contain subtitles that are a central part of the name of the work. When the most commonly used name is ambiguous, the full title and subtitle might be suitable to be used as a form of natural disambiguation (see WP:NATURALDIS). Except for extremely long ones, it is best to provide redirects from the title including the subtitle.
- Orlando: A Biography, not Orlando (novel), nor Orlando (book), both of which are redirects; Orlando redirects to Orlando, Florida. (The subtitle A Novel, however, is not sufficient by itself to disambiguate among two or more novels where one bears the subtitle and another does not.)
- The Gene: An Intimate History, as more commonly known than bare The Gene
- A History of Western Philosophy, not A History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day
- The Social Contract, not On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Rights
- On the Origin of Species, not On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, nor On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (see example image →)
The standard separator for the title and the subtitle (that is, in cases where both taken together don't constitute a continuing phrase) in the page name is a colon followed by a space, as in the first example above.
To disambiguate, add the type of literary work in parentheses, such as "(novel)", "(novella)", "(short story)", "(short story collection)", "(dialogue)", "(essay)", "(play)", "(poem)", "(poetry collection)", etc. If none of these specific qualifiers applies, "(book)" can be used. Note, however, that this qualifier may be perceived as indicating a non-fiction type of writing.
If further disambiguation is needed, add the author's surname in parentheses: "(Orwell novel)", "(Asimov short story)", etc. In this case it is not advised to leave out the qualifier of which type of book it is, unless when referring to works of unclear classification such as Histories (Herodotus) and Histories (Tacitus). Additional examples:
Article title format
Book titles, like names of other works, are proper nouns and thus "lowercase second and subsequent words" does not apply to them. They are usually italicized (see however also #Poems and lyrics above, and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles#Scripture).
This is an additional feature that can help in disambiguation, for instance, for distinguishing articles on a known phrase, and a book that has that phrase as title, examples:
- Pearls before swine refers to a Bible quote; Pearls Before Swine can refer to (among other things) a comic strip and a novel.
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a play, Who's afraid of the big bad wolf is a line from a children's song.
Be aware that parenthetical qualifiers can introduce point of view (POV) in a Wikipedia page title. For instance, in the mentioned Orlando: A Biography the author attempted (deliberately, as explained by herself) to create a fiction/non-fiction cross-over genre, and locating the article at either Orlando (novel) or Orlando (biography), would add POV. However, the Neutral Point of View policy does not apply to redirect pages, so it is appropriate to create redirects with these titles in order to make Wikipedia easier to navigate.
When using the title as written by the author, and nothing else, possible implications of POV are the author's and not Wikipedia's. Trying to "purge" Wikipedia page names of an external author's intentions would be creation of a new POV; the Neutral Point of View policy instructs not to "correct" what authors of notable works want to express with the title they give to their work (see also Wikipedia:NPOV tutorial#Article names). If the book title itself has controversial implications, they are better explained in the article text and not crammed in the Wikipedia page title. Hence "(book)" or a similar qualifier is not used in article titles, unless where needed for disambiguation. Examples:
- Stupid White Men, not Stupid White Men (book)
- Darwin's Dangerous Idea, not Darwin's Dangerous Idea (book)
- Divine Comedy, not Divine Comedy (poem)
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Titles – info on how to represent books in article text
- Wikipedia:Citing sources – a difference between page names of book articles and books cited as reference, is that in the latter case conventionally the subtitle is always mentioned.
- Wikipedia:Naming conventions (definite and indefinite articles at beginning of name)#Titles of works – examples on whether or not the page name on a book article should start with a definite or indefinite article.