Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Infoboxes

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

An infobox is a panel, usually in the top right of an article, next to the

mobile version), that summarizes key features of the page's subject. Infoboxes
may also include an image, a map, or both.

Wikipedia's infoboxes almost always use the template software feature. The templates have parameters; to work properly, the parameter values have to be specified when the template is inserted in the page. This allows each infobox to show information relevant to the article subject, while requiring only a minimal amount of coding within each article.


When considering any aspect of infobox design, keep in mind the purpose of an infobox: to summarize (and not supplant) key facts that appear in the article (an article should remain complete with its summary infobox ignored, with exceptions noted below). The less information it contains, the more effectively it serves that purpose, allowing readers to identify key facts at a glance. Of necessity, some infoboxes contain more than just a few fields; however, wherever possible, present information in short form, and exclude any unnecessary content. Avoid links to sections within the article; the table of contents provides that function.

As with any guideline, there will be exceptions where a piece of key specialised information is difficult to integrate into the body text, but where that information may be placed in the infobox. Prominent examples include the ISO 639 and similar codes in {{Infobox language}} and most of the parameters in {{Chembox}}.

Using an infobox also makes its data available to third party re-users (such as

machine readable format, often using microformats. Infoboxes can also present data imported from Wikidata (e.g., Category:Infobox templates using Wikidata), although imported data must comply with English Wikipedia policies

Design principles

Overall approach

The recommended process for creating an infobox template is simply to begin, and to gather as many requirements as possible. Test the base format for a new template as a static table first, then once consensus is reached, migrate it into template format. The template should be reviewed before being used extensively in articles in case the template or defined parameters need modification to minimize re-work. If new fields and parameters are added, articles must be updated to reflect the new requirements. If parameters are renamed or removed, many articles will likely be unaffected, since extraneous parameters are ignored.

Style, color and formatting

General consistency should be aimed for across articles using the same infobox. A good guideline is not to add extraneous style formatting over that in a default infobox without good reason. Infoboxes may tend towards greater abbreviation than that generally used in article bodies. The general guidelines

navigation templates
, the purpose of the infobox is for its utility, not appearance; therefore, infoboxes should not be arbitrarily decorative.


When adding an image to an infobox, thumbnails should NOT be used. Infobox templates should implement the InfoboxImage module to help with formatting of images so simply supplying the file name will work. For example, to use File:Image PlaceHolder.png, you can simply use |image=Image PlaceHolder.png. Captions should be specified with the |caption= option. Every infobox is different and the documentation for the infobox in question should be consulted for the proper parameters to match the image and caption. If InfoboxImage is not yet fully implemented in the infobox you are using, the same |alt=, |upright=, |title=, etc., options may be called using Extended image syntax, calling |frameless, not |thumb. (You may wish to add a request to the infobox's talk page that the missing parameters be added.)

Consistency between infoboxes

For consistency the following guidelines apply:

  • Before creating a new infobox template, check first to see whether a suitable infobox already exists.
  • Name the template [[Template:Infobox some subject]] (some subject should be in the singular and capitalized as per normal usage—see Wikipedia:Article titles, e.g., "Infobox settlement" or "Infobox NFL player").
  • Use {{infobox}} template to create a new infobox.
  • The template should have a large, bold title line. Either a table caption or a header can be used for this. It should be named the common name of the article's subject but may contain the full (official) name; this does not need to match the article's Wikipedia title, but falling back to use that (with {{PAGENAMEBASE}}) is usually fine. It should not contain a link.
  • Parameters in infoboxes should:
    • be named, not numbered, to provide for future use.
    • use lower-case unless they are proper nouns.
    • be consistent between infoboxes. For example, {{Infobox person}} uses |birth_date=, as do many other biographical infoboxes, so it would be confusing for a new biographical infobox to use, say |date of birth=, rather than reusing the existing parameter name.
    • Use snake case (e.g. |birth_date=). Not camel case (e.g. |birthDate=) or title case (e.g. |BirthDate=)
    • represent spaces using an underscore, e.g. |birth_place= not |birth-place= or |birth place=.
  • Infoboxes using geographical coordinates should use |coordinates= as the parameter name, with the {{coord}} template in the parameter's value.
  • If a parameter is not applicable, or no information is available, it should be left blank, and the template coded to selectively hide information or provide default values for parameters that are not defined.

Causes of inconsistency

A number of factors can cause inconsistency in available summary information for a particular type of article:

Design inconsistency
Infoboxes, particularly infobox forks for the same category of articles, should maintain a consistent appearance with related infoboxes, particularly in relation to layout, colour and structure. For example, readers expect a degree of similarity when viewing the article for London vs New York City.
Historical incompleteness
Certain desired information may simply have been lost over time. For example, an infobox describing a modern bank may provide certain financial information that would be unavailable for a medieval one.
Hierarchical inconsistency
Infoboxes that indicate hierarchical relationships may have subtly different requirements depending on where in the hierarchy the subject of the article is located. For example, an infobox for corporations will be different between an article describing a parent company and indicating its subsidiaries and an article describing a subsidiary and indicating its parent.
Feature inconsistency
Items within a single set may have optional features that would commonly be listed in an infobox. For example, an infobox for an article about a university may include a motto; but not all universities have them.
Lack of information
Some items in infoboxes may not be readily available or not available at all, such as the producers of an album or film. In these cases it is better to provide available information while concealing fields for which information may not be available.

General design considerations

The availability of optional fields does not mean that all fields should be made optional, nor that large numbers of rarely used fields should be added without regard for the layout and ease-of-use of the infobox template. In some cases, the markup for the field still needs to be downloaded even if it is not displayed. Creating overly long templates with a number of irrelevant fields is not recommended.

As you design an infobox template, consider the following questions:

Is the field of value?
How important is the field to the articles that will use the infobox? Is it summary information, or more extended detail that may be better placed within the body of an article?
Will the field be relevant to many of the articles that will use the infobox?
If the field is relevant to very few articles, it should probably not be included at all. Conversely, very common fields may be included – and made optional – even if they are not applicable to a few of the articles in question.
How likely is the field to be empty?
Any field that might reasonably be empty should probably be optional. However, a field that is usually empty may not be particularly useful or relevant.
Can the field name be reused from elsewhere?
For instance, if adding a field for the date on which the subject died, to a biographical infobox template, use |death_date= from {{Infobox person}}, and not a similar name like |date_of_death= or |died=.
Is it for people, places or organisations?
If so, include an hCard microformat – see the microformat project
Is it for a dated event?
(Such as a record release, or sport fixture) If so, include an hCalendar microformat – see the microformat project

Geographical infoboxes

Infoboxes for geographical items (e.g. cities and countries) should generally be headed with the article title, although the formal version of a name (e.g. Republic of Montenegro at Montenegro) can be substituted. Where the article title is disambiguated, the plain name can head the infobox, as long as the topic is clear (e.g. São Paulo at São Paulo (state)). Alternative or native names can appear beneath this if beneficial. Extensive historic names are often better in a second infobox, as at Augsburg.

Dynamic templates

In theory, the fields in an infobox should be consistent across every article using it; in practice, however, this is rarely the case, for a number of reasons. Infobox templates should be designed to dynamically adapt themselves to the absence or presence of particular fields.

Like static infoboxes, they are designed to present summary information about an article's subject, such that similar subjects have a uniform look and in a common format. However, the template technique allows updates of style and of common text from a central place, the template page.

While there are several alternatives to dynamic infoboxes, such as using multiple (forked) templates or leaving fields blank, they should be avoided, for a number of reasons:

Readers greatly outnumber editors
The most important group to consider are the casual readers of Wikipedia, who will never do any significant editing. Infobox templates that contain many blank fields, question marks, or "Unknown"s present an unprofessional appearance.
Article editors greatly outnumber template editors
The average editor will merely use templates without making changes to them. To make things easier for them, we should aim to minimize the number of different templates they must be familiar with; creating multiple forks of templates is therefore undesirable.


Assess the requirement of a new infobox before designing one. A few points should be considered while initiating a new infobox:

  1. Sufficient and appropriate distinct parameters
  2. Can't be addressed by the existing infoboxes
  3. Can't be addressed by creating a wrapper of existing infoboxes


Basing a new infobox template on Template:Infobox allows the designer to concentrate on which fields to include. Functionality such as default styling and suppression of rows in an article that has no value for a particular field are taken care of automatically.

Conditional templates

Parser functions can be used to selectively show or hide particular content (such as table rows) within an infobox based on the value of one or more template parameters.

For example, a parameter may be designed to display only if another parameter exists. A simplistic test to display a caption only when an image is present could be:

| caption        = {{#if:{{{image|}}}|{{{caption|}}} }}

Name-resolved meta-templates

Several sub-templates (and independent templates) have a common name prefix. They are included in an infobox based on the value of a particular parameter, which acts as the name suffix. For example, we create {{Infobox Ship/Military}} and {{Infobox Ship/Civilian}} and use {{Infobox Ship/{{{type}}}}}. Using |type=Military in an article causes {{Infobox Ship/Military}} to be used.

Multi-part infoboxes

Rather than having each field correspond to a parameter on one template, the infobox consists of an individual sub-template for each field; see, for example, Template:Taxobox.

Interaction between multiple templates

Templates can be designed in a modular way, such that various combinations are possible. A combination may even appear on the page as a single infobox.

For example, if the

Template:Infobox Biography
, and design a project-specific template with only additional information, and the pages would render both "stacked" together.

Using infoboxes in articles

The use of infoboxes is neither required nor prohibited for any article. Whether to include an infobox, which infobox to include, and which parts of the infobox to use, is determined through discussion and consensus among the editors at each individual article.

The meaning given to each infobox part should be the same across instances of that type of infobox. For example, for a particular infobox type, if one of its fields is called "weight", it would be inappropriate to sometimes use this field to denote "weight at birth" and other times "weight at maturity".

Each infobox type should have documentation giving instruction on how each part/field may be used.



References in infoboxes

References are acceptable in some cases, but generally not needed in infoboxes if the content is repeated (and cited) elsewhere or if the information is obvious. If the material needs a reference (see

for guidelines) and the information does not also appear in the body of the article, the reference should be included in the infobox. But editors should first consider including the fact in the body of the article.

Ethnicity in infoboxes

The Wikipedia community has decided at this RfC not to allow the use of an |ethnicity= parameter in biography infoboxes.

Religion in infoboxes

The Wikipedia community has decided at this RfC not to allow the use of a |religion= parameter in general biography infoboxes. Such a parameter should only appear in infoboxes that pertain to classes of persons for whom religion is integral to their notability, e.g. {{Infobox clergy}}.

Nationality and citizenship

Most biography infoboxes have nationality and citizenship. Generally, use of either should be avoided when the country to which the subject belongs can be inferred from the country of birth, as specified with |birthplace=. When needed (e.g. due to change of nationality after birth, dual citizenship, or other unusual scenarios), use |nationality= unless |citizenship= is more appropriate for uncommon legal reasons. Use of nationality and citizenship simultaneously should rarely if ever be necessary (complex cases should be explained in the article prose). Religion or ethnicity should not be placed in either of these fields.

Infoboxes and user style

Users can have

user CSS
that hides any infoboxes in their own browsers.

To hide all infoboxes, add the following to Special:MyPage/common.css (for all skins, or Special:MyPage/skin.css for just the current skin), on a line by itself: .infobox { display: none; }

Alternatively, you can add the following code to your common.js or into a browser user script that is executed by an extension like Greasemonkey:


Be aware that although all information in an infobox ideally should also be found in the main body of an article, there isn't perfect compliance with this guideline. For example, the full taxonomic hierarchy in {{

Infobox disease}} are often not found in the main article content. The infobox is also often the location of the most significant, even only, image in an article. There is a userscript which removes infoboxes but moves the images contained to separate thumbnails: User:Maddy from Celeste/disinfobox.js

See also

List of templates

Other infobox information

Other types of templates

  • Wikipedia:Navigation templates
    — article footers designed to provide links to several related articles
  • Wikipedia:MediaWiki interface messages — messages displayed in Wikipedia's web interface boxes, reserved for internal system use and only modifiable by administrators
  • Wikipedia:Template index — directory of all templates