FAIRwiki:Style guide

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This style guide gives direction on how FairMormon Answers pages should be formatted and organized. Adhering to the approved style will help you create professional and appropriate wiki articles.

This article does not explain how to create pages or use Mediawiki markup language. For help with that, see Help:Editing.

If you have any questions about or suggestions for the style guide, please contact User:GregSmith.

Examples of pages that meet the style

Thou shalt...

  • Brevity: Keep articles as brief as possible. Use the Further reading section at the bottom of the article to refer readers to more detailed treatments.
  • Doctrinally in bounds: Stay within boundary of acceptable LDS thought, even if your thoughts are not exactly "mainstream." For example, don't say "Adam-God is a true doctrine and the Church is wrong for not teaching it," when that is not acceptable per Spencer W. Kimball's 1975 general conference talk. You may believe it, but don't wiki it.
  • Balance: If there are differences of opinion on a given subject (such as God progressing in knowledge), fairly state both sides of the argument.

Thou shalt not...

  • Privacy: Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, put a person's name, email address, or other personal information in a wiki article without his or her express permission. This rule includes answers from the FAIR list copied to the wiki.
  • Sacred material: Thou shalt not quote language used in temple ceremonies, or describe them in such detail as would violate sacred covenants.
  • Evil speaking: Thou shalt not attack the leaders of the Church (dead or living) or make personal, derogatory remarks about them. You may disagree with statements they have made, but be very careful in how you word your disagreement.

Page layout

In general, pages should be organized as follows:


A brief explanation of the criticism.

===Source(s) of the criticism=== (heading3)

 Anti-Mormon books or web sites where the criticism originated


A summary of the argument against the criticism.

Detailed Analysis

The response should be brief and summary in nature.



== (heading2)

References to books or online sources cited or quoted in the article.

==Further reading== (heading2)

 ===FairMormon Answers articles=== (heading3)
 *Links to related articles in the wiki (bulleted)
 ===FairMormon web site=== (heading3)
 *Links to articles on the FAIR web site; Topical Guide entries go first (bulleted) as follows--
 *FAIR Topical Guide: [link]
 ===External links=== (heading3)
 *Links to external web pages (bulleted)
 ===Printed material=== (heading3)
 *Printed resources whose text is not available online (bulleted)

A template of this page layout, ready for copy-and-paste, is available at FAIRwiki:New_page_template.

To create a page based on an answer to a question submitted to the FAIR web site, use FAIRwiki:Answer_template.

Templates for special pages

Draft articles are those with limited and/or incomplete content. This should be indicated to the reader by adding a special tag at the top of the page:


Answers from the FAIR list are articles derived from questions submitted to the FAIR web site. Indicate this by putting this tag at the top of the page:


Voice and narrative

Active voice

In general, you should strive to use active voice rather than passive voice in your articles. For example:

  • Active voice (correct): Critics charge that the Church teaches unbiblical doctrines.
  • Passive voice (incorrect): It is charged that the Church teaches unbiblical doctrines.

Third person narrative

In general write in third-person narrative and not first- or second-person. For example:

  • Third-person (correct): Joseph Smith found the plates.
  • First-person (incorrect): Joseph Smith wrote what I read.
  • Second-person (incorrect): Joseph Smith wrote what you read.


Words in headings should not be capitalized, except for:

  • The first word in the heading.
  • Proper names (e.g., Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, etc.) and titles (e.g., President Hinckley).


Please spell check your edits before saving them. There are free programs you can use to check your spelling right in your web browser:

Use American spelling (color) rather than British (colour). The spelling "archaeology" is used, however.

M-dashes and n-dashes


Instead of using two hyphens to break apart thoughts within a sentence, use an m-dash:

Wrong: What's important about a testimony--and the key to obtaining one--is that it comes from the Holy Spirit.
Right: What's important about a testimony—and the key to obtaining one—is that it comes from the Holy Spirit.

You can create an m-dash by typing the following code:



When citing page or date ranges, instead of using a hyphen, use an n-dash. An n-dash is slightly longer than a hyphen, and indicates a range.

Wrong: John Taylor’s testimony is found in History of the Church 7:99-108.
Right: John Taylor’s testimony is found in History of the Church 7:99–108.

You can create an n-dash by typing the following code:



General rule

One of the major features of a wiki is the ability to create links within an article to other articles on related subjects. In general, you should strive to create appropriate links to wiki articles and web pages the reader may find useful.

However, do not create links to subjects that are not apologetic in nature. For example, a link to page on Neal A. Maxwell is probably not appropriate, because Elder Maxwell, in and of himself, is not an apologetic topic.

Subject page

The exception to the general rule is to create a subject page for a topic that will point to reader to specific articles that are apologetically-based.

For example, a page for Gordon B. Hinckley could be created that would simply refer the reader to articles where his life and actions are examined (such as Church reaction to Hofmann forgeries and Downplaying the King Follett Discourse.

Anti-Mormon sites

FAIR's policy is that we will not link to anti-Mormon web pages. If you cite an anti-Mormon web page or book, you may provide the site name (e.g., "Institute for Religious Research" or "Mormonism Research Ministry"), but do not create a link or publish a URL.

Templates of Links

Some topics (e.g. polygamy) have multiple subpages. The FairMormon articles or wiki pages that should be listed under "further reading" are often the same for all these pages. It is very tedious to have to update each page with references.

Instead, where possible create a template of links, and then simply insert the template into each webpage by entering the code:


A master list of link templates is available here; please update this list if you create new templates.



Remember, the purpose of the wiki is to give quick answers to commonly-asked questions, then to direct the reader to further resources. It is critical that you provide references for additional reading.

Try to always include:

  • A link to the FAIR Topical Guide entry for the subject (if it exists) and/or articles on the FAIR web site.
  • Reliable articles on other web sites.
  • Books and periodicals.


Published works should be referenced in this format (note the use of quotes and italics):

  • Bruce R. McConkie, ed., Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 1:25.
Article in a periodical:
  • George Horton, "Understanding Textual Changes in the Book of Mormon," Ensign (December 1983): 25.
Web site:
  • Jeff Lindsay, "Book of Mormon Evidences," jefflindsay.com (accessed 2 October 2005). off-site

See the example pages, referenced above, for examples of how to format different types of citations.

Footnotes and Endnotes

We now use the wikipedia-style footnotes. This is done by placing code that looks like this:

<ref> Footnote text reference here.</ref>

This code should be placed exactly where you want the footnote to appear. Footnotes will be automatically numbered at the bottom of the page if the code like this appears:

<references />

Most pages will already have this code. You may need to add it if you create a new page. Be careful about adding the <references /> code to summary pages, because these pages are often transcluded into multiple other pages. The final page will have a <references /> code at the bottom, which will bring ALL the footnotes from all transcluded pages into one place.

Referring to the same work more than once

Note that you can refer to a previous footnote like this:

  • First citation of a reference <ref name="nibley">''Lehi in the Desert''</ref>

Subsequent citations can use this "named" reference like so:

  • Second citation: <ref name="nibley"></ref>.

You can put anything you want between the two ref tags; it will simply be ignored. The footnote link for the second use of the same reference will go to the first reference.

This introduces a slight complication--suppose the references refer to different pages in the same work? If you want to use the method above, then you need to add a "page number" template after the </ref> template, like so:

First citation: <ref name="nibley">''Lehi in the Desert''</ref>{{Rp|5}} <--- Note this "reference page" code refers to page 5.

Second citation: <ref name="nibley"></ref>{{Rp|10}} <-- The nibley footnote is called again, and a different page FOLLOWS the <ref></ref> tags for page 10.

This will create the following result:

First citation:[1]:5

Second citation: [1]:10

And the endnotes will appear thusly:

  1. 1.0 1.1 Lehi in the Desert

Note, then, that if you aren't going to create a separate footnote for each citation of a work, you should NOT put the page number of the work in the first citation, since whatever text you use for the first reference will be linked to for all the other uses of that named footnote.

If you don't intend to call a reference again, you don't have to use <ref name = "YourNameHere"></ref>, but can just use <ref></ref>

There is, however, no harm in naming a reference that you don't call a second time.

Scripture references

Scripture citations should include a link to the scriptural passage on LDS.org, using the scripture template:


Gives: 1 Nephi 3:7

Learn how to use it here.


  • please cite the full name of a book of scripture (e.g. Nephi, not Ne.)
  • use dashes, not n-dashes for spans of verses, since the lds.org scripture parser can't recognize anything but plain dashes. (i.e. just use the dash key on your keyboard, to the right of the zero key; no need for anything fancy.)
  • If you refer to several passages in the same book, you'll need to repeat the book name. For example, "Mormon 8:17; 9:12" now has to read "Mormon 8:17; Mormon 9:12."

The template use makes using and reading scripture references much more friendly, so we feel these are a small price to pay for that convenience. Using a template also lets us modify how we present scripture references in the future by modifying one page, instead of thousands of entries, so this gives us future compatibility.

NOTE: There is another template called {{Bible}} or {{B}} that works in exactly the same way as {{Scripture}} and {{S}} in English. If we use the Bible links in English, then English pages will be more easily converted into other languages, who must generally use a non-LDS site for Bible references, since the lds.org site does not have any Bibles besides the KJV. Either will work, but translators will thank you if use the Bible ones, because then they won't have to convert them later.

Reference templates

A complete list of reference and editing templates is available.

These templates have been created for works commonly cited. Rather than typing the entire reference for (say) John Sorenson's Ancient American Setting," one simply uses the template:


This produces the reference from page 3–5 for this book:

John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]),3–5.

Note that most templates have a 'sister' template with the digit "1" after it. This is for single page references, like so:


This gives:

John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]),3–5.

Template which end in a number:


Use an underscore and a one to indicate one page: _1. As so:



Hugh W. Nibley, Old Testament and Related Studies (Vol. 1 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1986), 3.

Non-English pages - tips and hints

If you are using an American-style keyboard running under Microsoft Windows, and you wish to contribute to non-English pages, consider downloading the free Allchars program here. It allows you to type accented characters directly into the web-browser (or any other text area in Windows).

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