Wikipedia:Stand-alone lists

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Stand-alone lists (also referred to as list articles) are

embedded lists
, or series of items formatted into a list. Many stand-alone lists identify their content's format in their titles, beginning with descriptors such as "list of", "timeline of", or similar.

In the interests of centralization of advice, this guideline page includes content guidelines, listed first; style guidelines particular to stand-alone lists, at § Style; and naming conventions, at § Titles.


Notability guidelines also apply to the creation of stand-alone lists and tables. Notability of lists (whether titled as "List of Xs" or "Xs") is based on the group. One accepted reason why a list topic is considered notable is if it has been discussed as a group or set by independent reliable sources, per the above guidelines; notable list topics are appropriate for a

choose to limit large lists by only including entries for independently notable items
or those with Wikipedia articles.

There is no present consensus for how to assess the notability of more complex and cross-categorization lists (such as "Lists of X of Y") or what other criteria may justify the notability of stand-alone lists, although

recognized informational, navigation, or development purposes
often are kept regardless of any demonstrated notability. Editors are still urged to demonstrate list notability via the grouping itself before creating stand-alone lists.

List contents

Content policies

Being articles, stand-alone lists are subject to Wikipedia's

neutral point of view, and what Wikipedia is not, as well as the notability

General formats of list articles

There are a number of formats, both generalized and specialized, that are currently used on Wikipedia, for list articles.

Specialized list articles

Appropriate topics for lists

The potential for creating lists is infinite. The number of possible lists is limited only by our collective imagination. To keep the system of lists useful, we must limit the size and scope of lists.

Lists that are too general or too broad in scope have little value, unless they are split into sections. For example, a list of brand names would be far too long to be of value. If you have an interest in listing brand names, try to limit the scope in some way (by product category, by country, by date, etc.). This is best done by sectioning the general page under categories. When entries in a category have grown enough to warrant a fresh list-article, they can be moved out to a new page, and be replaced by a See [[new list]] link. When all categories become links to lists, the page becomes a list repository or "List of lists" and the entries can be displayed as a bulleted list.

Lists that are too specific are also a problem. The "list of one-eyed horse thieves from Montana" will be of little interest to anyone other than the creator of the list. A list should be defined so that a reasonable number of readers seek it out.

Some Wikipedians feel that some topics are unsuitable by dint of the nature of the topic. Following the policy spelled out in

What Wikipedia is not
, they feel that some topics are trivial, non-encyclopedic, or not related to human knowledge. If you create a list like the "list of shades of colors of apple sauce", be prepared to explain why you feel this list contributes to the state of human knowledge.

Lists of people

Because the subject of many lists is broad, a person is typically included in a list of people only if both of the following requirements are met:

There are some common exceptions to the typical notability requirement:

  • If the person is
  • In a few cases, such as lists of people holding notable positions, the names of non-notable people may be included in a list that is largely made up of notable people, for the sake of completeness.

In other cases, editors choose even more stringent requirements, such as already having an article written (not just qualifying for one), or being notable specifically for reasons related to membership in this group. This is commonly used to control the size of lists that could otherwise run to thousands of people, such as the List of American film actresses.

For instance, articles about schools often include (or link to) a list of notable alumni/alumnae, but such lists are not intended to contain everyone who verifiably attended the school. (Wikipedia editors who would like to be identified as an alumnus/alumna should instead use the categories intended for this purpose, e.g. Category:Wikipedians by alma mater.) On the other hand, a list within an article of past school presidents, headmasters or headmistresses can contain the names of all the people who held this post, not just those who are independently notable.

Special care must be taken when adding living persons to lists based on

Editnotice for lists of people

Please document the list selection criteria on the talk page of the list.

Note that the guidance in this section is particularly applicable to people but applies to lists in general, not only lists of people.

Lists of subtaxa

Wikipedia articles on organisms, such as plants and animals (whether extant or extinct), can sometimes be dominated by long lists of subtaxa. When the article has not developed beyond


Lists of companies and organizations

A company or organization may be included in a list of companies or organizations whether or not it meets the Wikipedia notability requirement, unless a given list specifically requires this. If the company or organization does not have an existing article in Wikipedia, a citation to an independent, reliable source should be provided to establish its membership in the list's group.

Lists of lists

Wikipedia has many articles that are primarily or entirely lists of other lists (see List of lists of lists). On lists of lists, nonexistent lists should not be included. That is, all the links in a "lists of lists" should be active (blue, not red).

Lists of lists should also be available as alphabetical categories. Put lists that have actual content in one of the subcategories under Category:Lists, and also include it in Category:Lists of lists. (See § Titles for naming conventions.)

See also Wikipedia:Lists of lists for an informal essay on content, purpose, naming etc. of lists of lists.

Lists of words

Glossaries – alphabetical, topical lists of terms, rather than of notable entities – are encyclopedic when the entries they provide are primarily informative explorations of the listed terminology, pertaining to a

embedded lists, though a redirect from a title like Glossary of X can be created to the section, and the redirect added to that category. Such embedded glossaries may split later into in stand-alone glossaries. (See WP:Summary style for information on when to split sections into child articles.) There are multiple ways of formatting glossaries. See § Titles
for naming conventions.

Because Wikipedia is not a dictionary, many ideas for glossaries, in which entries would be little more than dictionary definitions ("dicdefs"), may be better suited to Wiktionary. Glossaries that do not meet Wikipedia's notability criteria or not-a-dictionary policy should be migrated to Wiktionary at wikt:Category:English glossaries. Wiktionary also freely forks Wikipedia's encyclopedic glossaries for redevelopment to Wiktionary's purposes and standards, in its Appendix: namespace.

Some other, non-glossary lists of words can also yield an encyclopedic page, such as List of English words containing Q not followed by U, the condition being that reliable secondary sources for the topic can be cited.

Selection criteria

Selection criteria (also known as inclusion criteria or membership criteria) should be unambiguous, objective, and supported by

inline citations
for each item.

When establishing membership criteria for a list, ask yourself if any of the following are true:

  • If this person/thing/etc. weren't X, would it reduce their fame or significance?
  • Would I expect to see this person or thing on a list of X?
  • Is this person or thing a canonical example of some facet of X?


common sense is required in establishing criteria for a list. Avoid red-linking
list entries that are not likely to have their own article soon or ever.

Common selection criteria

Lists are commonly written to satisfy one of the following sets of objective criteria:

  • Every entry meets the
    ; and keeps individual lists to a size that is manageable for readers.
  • Every entry in the list fails the notability criteria. These lists are created explicitly because most or all of the listed items do not warrant independent articles: for example, List of Dilbert characters or List of paracetamol brand names. Before creating a stand-alone list, consider carefully whether such lists would be better placed within a "parent" article. (Note that this criterion is never used for living people.)
  • Short, complete lists of every item that is verifiably a member of the group. These should only be created if a complete list is reasonably short (less than 32K) and could be useful (e.g., for navigation) or interesting to readers. The inclusion of items must be supported by reliable sources. For example, Listed buildings in Rivington. If reliable sources indicate that a complete list would include the names of ten notable buildings and two non-notable buildings, then you are not required to omit the two non-notable buildings. However, if a complete list would include hundreds or thousands of entries, then you should use the notability standard to provide focus to the list.

"Creation guide" lists—lists devoted to a large number of

Wikiproject's space, or list the missing articles at Wikipedia:Requested articles

Citing sources

Stand-alone lists are subject to Wikipedia's content policies and guidelines for articles, including

four kinds of material absolutely required to have citations

When an inline citation is not required by a sourcing policy and editors choose to name more sources than strictly required, then either

list of fruits
, does not require an inline citation.


This section presents some particular style and layout considerations specifically for stand-alone lists, in addition to the general WP:Manual of Style/Lists, which pertains to all lists on Wikipedia.


A stand-alone list should begin with a

article body
. Even when the selection criteria might seem obvious to some, an explicit standard is often helpful to both readers, to understand the scope, and other editors, to reduce the tendency to include trivial or off-topic entries. The lead section can also be used to explain the structure of embedded lists in the article body when no better location suggests itself.

Chronological ordering

Chronological lists, including all timelines and lists of works, should be in earliest-to-latest chronological order. Special cases which specifically require frequent daily additions, such as

Deaths in 2003

Categories, lists and navigation templates

As useful as lists are, certain lists may get out of date quickly; for these types of subjects, a category may be a more appropriate method of organization. See Wikipedia:Categorization and Wikipedia:Categories, lists, and navigation templates for more information on the appropriate times to use lists versus categories.

Taxonomic links

For many genera there may be a considerable number of species. For the smaller genera a

taxobox may suffice but for the more speciose including genera such as Anopheles
it is probably better to move these into their own page. The bulk of the page will be taken up by the list. Such lists do qualify as encyclopedic: for many of these genera there are specialized monographs to assist in the identification of these species.

Bulleted and numbered lists

  • Do not use lists if a passage is read easily as plain paragraphs.
  • Use proper wikimarkup- or template-based list code (see WP:Manual of Style/Lists and Help:List).
  • Do not leave blank lines between items in a bulleted or numbered list unless there is a reason to do so, since this causes the wiki software to interpret each item as beginning a new list.
  • Use numbers rather than bullets only if:
    • a need to refer to the elements by number may arise;
    • the sequence of the items is critical; or
    • the numbering has some independent meaning, for example in a listing of musical tracks.
  • Use the same grammatical form for all elements in a list, and do not mix sentences and sentence fragments as elements.
    • When the elements are complete sentences, each one is formatted with sentence case (i.e., the initial letter is capitalized) and a final period.
    • When the elements are sentence fragments, the list is typically introduced by a lead fragment ending with a colon. When these elements are titles of works, they retain the original capitalization of the titles. Other elements are formatted consistently in either sentence case or lower case. Each element should end with a semicolon, with a period instead for the last element. Alternatively (especially when the elements are short), no final punctuation is used at all.


A common practice is to entitle list articles as List of ___ (for example List of Xs). If (as is often the case), the list has multiple columns and so is in layout table form, the name or title List of Xs is still preferable to Table of Xs or Comparison of Xs (though the latter may be appropriate for articles that are actual tables of data comparing numerous features, e.g. Comparison of Linux distributions).

A list of lists of X could be at either Lists of X or at List of X: e.g., Lists of books, List of sovereign states; the plural form is more prevalent.

The title is not expected to contain a complete description of the

, famous, noted, prominent, etc. in the title of a list article. Similarly, avoid titles like List of all Xs.

List of peaks named Signal Mountain

Three other special lists types have their own naming patterns. Glossaries are usually titled Glossary of X or Glossary of X terms, though if they contain substantial non-list prose about the nature or history of terminology relating to the topic, as well as a glossary list, a title such as X terminology may be more appropriate. Timelines are named in the form Timeline of X or Graphical timeline of X. Outlines are named Outline of X or Outline of Xs.

Lists and the "Related changes" link

A very useful Wikipedia feature is to use the "Related changes" link when on a list page. This will show you all the changes made to the links contained in the list. If the page has a link to itself, this feature will also show you the changes made to the list itself.

See also