Ultima Codex:Style guide
The following is a list of styles that have become tradition here at the Codex, or have been arrived at by consensus. Unfortunately, this page tends to ask more questions than it answers. Feel free to add anything new to the discussions to which this page links. Do not discuss anything in this article. This article is only for established styles or due acknowledgement of controversies of style.
- 1 How to use this article
- 2 Formatting
- 3 Writing
- 4 Structure
- 5 Appendix
How to use this article
With patience, is the easy answer. Many issues have been addressed, but not settled. You might be aware of some issues that have not even been addressed. In both these cases, feel free to engage in the forum or on this article's talk page.
What do I do if it doesn't answer my question?
If all editors played it safe, and were as indecisive as Codex policies are, there would be no Codex. One rule of thumb is to use whatever the games have in their texts and documentation. If not, use the style you learned in English class. Another slower but more methodical approach is to seek consensus before doing anything. When in doubt, take some initiative, tempered by your command of the English language, and, of course, your knowledge of that which you are writing.
Consistency of style
If an article uses two different styles, then the decision is a little easier. The Codex might be a hodge-podge of different styles, but articles shouldn't be. This means that if the text is written from a past tense POV, then keep it in the past. If a word is repeated, then it should be spelled the same in each instance, even if two spellings are correct.
These standards only apply to the Codex core. Talk pages are highly informal, and other non-core pages do not need to follow these rules.
Normal English grammar rules apply. The greyer areas for which the Codex has set policy are the following:
- Article names and section headings: the initial of the first word in an article or heading is to be capitalized. As for all other words, only the important words are to have capital initials. "Important" means nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Conjunctions, prepositions, articles, etc. are classified as unimportant.
- Proper nouns: obviously proper nouns should always have capitalized initials, but what counts as proper is much harder to determine. A lexicon contains all the nouns whose status has been decided.
- Quotes: as is typical with quotes, they should be taken verbatim. This includes capitalization. Magical syllables, for example, often appear in the games in upper case, so they should appear in the Codex the same way.
Paragraphs, captions, and list items (including table cells) should abide by the same rules stated above, except the one refering to article names and section headings.
Note: using capitals to place emphasis on words might be useful in a simple text environment, but is unnecessary in an editor that offers italics, boldface, and all sorts of other typographical effects.
Use of italics and quotes for proper nouns
The following guidelines apply to all page elements, including headings, and should be used for deciding if and when to apply quotes and italics for proper nouns:
- Names of complete bodies of creative work should be italicized. This includes books (real or in-game), videogames, movies, TV series, music albums, etc. This therefore includes all Ultima games.
- Names of portions of complete bodies of work should be put in quotes. This includes book chapters, TV series episodes, song names, etc.
- Examples: "The Call to Adventure", "The Trouble With Tribbles", "Stones".
All other proper nouns (e.g. people, places, shops) should be neither italicized nor have quotes.
When placing character quotes into an article, make it indented on a new line and in italics. Placing quotes around the text in addition to these measures is unnecessary.
The non-breaking space is an HTML entity (expressed as in the source editor) which displays a space, but prevents the text on the left and the right from being separated by things like word wrap. This is useful when text like "Ultima VI" appears around the end of the line, because it doesn't look good when you see "Ultima" on one line and "VI" on another. This is unlikely to happen in a paragraph (although, keep in mind that your browser isn't the same width as everyone elses') but very likely to happen in places like captions.
Also, note that, as with all formatting codes, putting HTML entities in a link will break it. That means that a link should not be [[Ultima VI]]. It would have to be [[Ultima VI|Ultima VI]].
Expressing game names
The proper short form to use for a numbered game is "Ultima" followed by the Roman numeral. According to standard typographical rules, game names should be in italics.
There are many ways to essentially express the name of this reuse of Ultima VII's game engine ("Ultima VII Part 2", "Ultima 7.5", "Ultima VII Part II") but the standard way is to use "Ultima VII Part Two" (plus ": Serpent Isle" as needed).
When adding to an article, this material should be justified with a citation. Don't let the current state of the Codex fool you; this is an important part of editing, it just hasn't been very popular to date. If adding citations to existing content, please take the opportunity to verify the passage in question is, in fact, accurately written; neglecting to do so defeats the entire purpose of this practice.
You place a citation with the <ref> tag. That is where the superscripted code will appear indicating the citation. After <ref> and before </ref>, you place the text containing the reference. The <ref> tag can also contain the "name" entity, such that the reference can be reused. For instance, if you wanted to reference the Magic Missile page in the Book of Mystic Wisdom more than once, you might choose to name the reference "MagicMissile", wherein your tag would be <ref name="MagicMissile">. In every citation for the Magic Missile following the first, you would use <ref name="MagicMissile" />. At the end of an article containing references you place a section References followed by nothing more than <references />.
The <ref></ref> tag should always be placed after the punctuation sign that goes after the sentence or phrase that needs the reference, with no spaces between the punctuation sign and the reference tag. In other words, reference tags will always appear right after a comma, semi-colon, or period.
For the text inside the "ref" tags, the following templates should be used for style:
- Template:RefBook: For books, magazines and documents, in-game or not.
- Template:RefTranscript: For game dialogue transcripts.
- Template:RefWeb: For information obtained directly from websites.
Please see each template for further details on its usage.
When there are several references to be added different sentences in the same paragraph, adding one "ref" tag for each sentence or phrase can add too much clutter. In order to avoid it, it is enough to use one "ref" tag for multiple sentences, usually after the last referenced sentence in tha pargraph. If the reference is to a transcript, all the relevant keywords should be mentioned in that same "ref" tag. See Gwenno for an example.
In general, links to other articles should appear once per level 1 section (aka. level 2 heading), the first time the term shows up in the text. Links may be repeated inside a level 1 section if there is a particular reason to do so, or they may be omitted in specific cases (such as when a section is very small), but this is left to the writer's criteria.
Style of language
Tradition holds that it be formal; similar to that of Wikipedia. This means when not quoting, no regionalisms, dialect, colloquialisms or slang. First person and second person personal pronouns (I and you) must also be avoided. No foul language should go without saying, but it does need said. Consider it said.
Spelling (Ultima is always right)
Tradition, but not consensus, holds that Ultima is always right. For instance, Blue Tassles, is a misspelling according to the dictionary, but not according to Ultima. The correct Ultima spelling is "tassles", therefore the correct Codex spelling is "tassles".
In Britannia, spelling is not usually British. Origin System Inc. has always been an American company, and as such, usually spells things in the American fashion. There are exceptions, however, so again Ultima is always right. Therefore, there is "Honor" and "Valor" in Britannia but in Ultima II there is Pirates Harbour. Notice, too, that the article name for Pirates Harbour is missing an apostrophe—it should.
If there should ever be a contradiction among the games: you're on your own.
Gender when ambiguous
In most Ultimas other than Ultima VIII and Ultima IX the Avatar could be (but was not always limited to) male or female. Consensus from Talk:The_Stranger is that, in those cases, anything that could construe the Avatar as being incorrectly limited to one gender is to be avoided. Usually this comes down to avoiding pronouns like he or him. The solution is to chose a wording that avoids pronouns all together, even if this is at the expense of a sentence's smoothness. There is precedent for this in the documentation that accompanies the games, where no instance of pronouns are used in connection with the Avatar.
One solution that will not be used is the attempt to include all possible genders. This takes the form of he/she, him/her, and so on.
There are many other situations where gender is ambiguous since many texts discuss individuals who are generic. These would include those mentioned in articles about spells, equipment, etc. Origin quite liberally uses he as gender-neutral in these circumstances, however, there has been little discussion on this issue, and no consensus reached.
Mixing plural and possessive
You should not need the Codex to tell you this, because this should have been learned in grammar school. But unfortunately, even many professional writers of English are unable to withstand the temptation to put an apostrophe behind the s when pluralizing anything that isn't a simple, alphabetic word. Consequently, 1980's, POV's, and CPU's abound. They should not here or anywhere else. The decade that saw the release of the Apple ][ Ultimas was the "1980s". The sum of all editors here make for many "POVs". If your computer is multi-core, it has many "CPUs".
Currently, the tradition is to sound-out words using familiar syllables. It is less accurate than IPA, but simpler and more intuitive and easily sufficient for Codex purposes. Take drax-in-oo-som: notice also the oo in bold. The boldfaced syllable is the accentuated syllable.
Usually, these should only be used for words native to Ultima, when their pronunciation is known—no guessing or presuming.
Spell articles' names
As some articles about spells have information on a spell that has been called differently in different games, the following policy should be used when naming the article:
- Use the name for the spell more often repeated between games.
- If there are two or more names equally repeated, or the spell has a different name for every game it appears in, use the newest name (the one used in the latest game).
All other names should be redirects, and should be mentioned at least in the corresponding spell infobox section.
General article structure
Every article in the wiki should follow the following general structure for its main sections:
* Banners * Infobox * <Article Contents and Sections> * LoreQuotes * Trivia * See also * References * External links * Nav bars * Categories
The "Banners", "Infobox", "Nav bars" and "Categories" are not actual sections, but "zones" in the article. All the sections and zones are optional, but should they appear in an article, they should be in the order indicated above.
All articles should open with an introductory passage providing a summarized definition of the subject in question, with further elaboration contained in the main body below.
Articles that only contain remake information should have a remake banner placed at the top of the article.
In articles that also contain canon information the information specific to to a remake should be placed under its own section header. The section header should be the proper name of the remake e.g. Ultima V: Lazarus or The Ultima 6 Project. The remake banner should be placed immediately following the section header. See Wayfarer's Inn or Lord Shalineth for examples.
Trivia lists should be avoided when possible, as they tend to become a repository of facts that should be inside the article itself. While every effort should be made to incorporate content into the main body of the article, there are circumstances where information might seem out-of-context and more suitable for a Trivia list. These should ideally contain legitimately interesting facts not directly related to the main purpose of the article, or which are of secondary importance to the rest of the content. If the Trivia section of an article starts getting too long, that is usually an indication that either new sections are required for the article, or at least some rework would be useful to integrate part of that list into the article.
Trivia lists should not serve as an outlet for personal opinions, observations, or speculation. Certain nitpicks can be considered acceptable, provided they are founded upon an objective supporting argument (e.g. clear inconsistencies between games) and adhere strictly to fact.
Examples of good trivia might be as follows:
- Geoffrey is based on Jeff Hillhouse, the first outside employee of Origin in 1983. He served as the Head of Operations.
- In Ultima VII, almost all of the inhabitants of Serpent's Hold resemble the Enterprise crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- A "real" Orb of the Moons trinket was shipped with every copy of Ultima VI when it was first sold.
- Appendix: Noun Lexicon.