FAIRwiki:Style guide

Copyright © 2005–2010 Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. The content of this page may be not copied, published, or redistributed without the prior written consent of FAIR.

FAIR: Defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1997

Editors' Links
Project home page
Table of contents
All pages
Style guide
Wiki markup reference
Practice editing
Other templates
This style guide gives direction on how FAIRwiki 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:

==Criticism== (heading2)
A brief explanation of the criticism.
 ===Source(s) of the criticism=== (heading3)
 Anti-Mormon books or web sites where the criticism originated

==Response== (heading2)
The response should be brief and summary in nature.

==Conclusion== (heading2)
A summary of the argument against the criticism.

==Endnotes== (heading2)
References to books or online sources cited or quoted in the article.

==Further reading== (heading2)

 ===FAIR wiki articles=== (heading3)
 *Links to related articles in the wiki (bulleted)
 ===FAIR 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 FAIR articles or FairWiki 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

There is a system which will create superscript footnotes, with an 'endnote' link to the bottom of the page.

Inserting the superscript link

1) To insert the superscript in the text, type


where "name" is a unique name for the footnote, resulting in:

Example:The first person to notice this was Hugh Nibley.[1]

Creating endnote text

2) Then, create the endnote text and link where you wish it to appear (usually under the "endnote" section), like this:


Where "name" is the same unique name you gave the "ref" footnote in the body article.

Note that you must still put the note text in the proper sequential order, so that the automatic Wiki list numbering will number them in the same way as the superscripts.

Since this is the first reference, the edited text should look like:

 =={{Endnotes label}}==
# {{note|name}} Hugh W. Nibley, ''Since Cumorah'' (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966).
# {{note|name2}} <--- the second reference here
# {{note|name3}} <--- the third reference here

...and so on.


Note the "#" code at the beginning of each line, to make a numbered list. Note that this is where you place the actual reference information.

The result gives us something like this:

Endnote Example

  1. [note]  Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1966).

Adding a reference between two existing references

If you need to add a reference between two references (say between name2 and name3 above) this can be done. You don't have to renumber anything (since this is done for you), but you must put the new reference in the proper spot, like so:

 =={{Endnotes label}}==
# {{note|name}}
# {{note|name2}}
# {{note|name4}} <--- Note the new reference inserted here!
# {{note|name3}} 


Avoid empty HTML links in article body

Important: Note that if you put an 'empty' http:// external link like this:


You will get a footnote-like link.[2]

This link will "offset" any superscript links you've created with this method, since it is a numbered link. All subsequent endnotes will be "off by one." So:

  • don't use 'empty' external links in the main body; use something like
 [http://www.fairlds.org FAIR] 

which gives a link like this: FAIR.

  • 'empty' links in the 'further reading' section are OK if you must, since they come after all endnotes and so won't offset the counting, but are probably better avoided for stylistic reasons. Use labeled notes as above so people know what you're linking to!

Further helps and information

To provide help to future editors, if the text:

 {{subst:Footnote boilerplate}} 

is placed at the beginning of an "endnote" section, the "subst" command will replace it with some commented text summarizing these instructions.

For more information about what's going on under the hood and some more complex examples, see: FAIRwiki:Footnotes

To see an example, go to Church reaction to Hofmann forgeries.

Scripture references

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


Gives: 1_Ne. 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. ISBN 1573451576. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

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. ISBN 1573451576. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

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. ISBN 0875790321. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

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).