Wikipedia:Naming conventions (settlements)

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This page describes conventions for determining the titles of Wikipedia articles on places and for the use of place names in Wikipedia articles. Our article title policy provides that article titles should be chosen for the general reader, not for specialists. By following modern English usage, we also avoid arguments about what a place ought to be called, instead asking the less contentious question, what it is called.


The Wikipedia community has found it difficult to reach consensus, its preferred mode of dispute resolution, in several geographic naming debates. Two significant conflicts have been brought to Wikipedia's Arbitration Commitee: the distinction between Ireland as an island and the Republic of Ireland [1] and the distinction between the country which describes itself as the Republic of Macedonia and the various other uses of Macedonia [2]. Other long-standing problems have been settled through compromise or voting.

General guidelines

  • Any archaic names in the list (including names used before the standardization of English orthography) should be clearly marked as such, i.e., (archaic: name1).
  • Relevant foreign language names (one used by at least 10% of sources in the English language or is used by a group of people which used to inhabit this geographical place) are permitted and should be listed in alphabetic order of their respective languages, i.e., (Armenian name1, Belarusian name2, Czech name3). or (ar: name1, be: name2, cs: name3). As an exception to alphabetical order, the local official name should be listed before other alternate names if it differs from a widely accepted English name.
  • Alternatively, all alternative names can be moved to and explained in a "Names" or "Etymology" section immediately following the lead, or a special paragraph of the lead; we recommend that this be done if there are at least three alternate names, or there is something notable about the names themselves.
    • In this case, the redundant list of the names in the article's first line should be replaced by a link to the section phrased, for example: "(known also by several [[#Names|alternative names]])". When there are several significant alternate names, the case for mentioning the names prominently is at least as strong as with two.
    • Once such a section or paragraph is created, the alternative English or foreign names should not be moved back to the first line. As an exception, a local official name different from a widely accepted English name should be retained in the lead "(Foreign language: Local name; known also by several alternative names)".
  • Infoboxes should generally be headed with the article title, and include these alternate names. The formal version of a name (Republic of Montenegro at Montenegro for a header) can be substituted for it; extensive historic names are often better in a second infobox, as at Augsburg.
  • Use of widely accepted historic names implies that names can change; we use Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul in discussing the same city in different periods. Use of one name for a town in 2000 does not determine what name we should give the same town in 1900 or in 1400, nor the other way around. Many towns, however, should keep the same name; it is a question of fact, of actual English usage, in all cases. For more examples, some of them involving changes within the twentieth century, see below.

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