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Wikitravel talk:Manual of style for the US

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Hi all, I've started this page because I think we need more consistency in US articles. I don't really care what standards we use, just that we have standards. Edit away or tell me what a bad idea this is! -- Colin 23:39, 14 June 2008 (EDT)


Road Nomenclature[edit]

This is a copy of a prior discussion from Talk:United States of America.


So here in the United States, we have the original highway system (Route 66), the Interstate Highway System (Interstate 80) and also state routes (California Route 1). Sometimes a state route (California 97) preserves the same number across a few states (Oregon, Washington 97) or provinces (B.C. 97). It seems like we really ought to have a standard way of specifying the roads. I see stuff on wikitravel like I-80, I80, Interstate 80, Route 66, US 66, SR 97, CA 97, etc. Shall we standardize how we type these darn things in?

So here's a proposal to start things off. I'm not much attached to these! This is just to start the conversation.

  • I-80 for Interstate 80. I see this dash stuff all the time on interstates. I don't know why it's only interstates that get the dash
  • US 66 for Route 66. Most maps don't make it clear that Route 66 is the same as US Highway 66 so it's nice to specify the US instead of Route
  • SR 97. It's an abbreviation for state route. Each state has a differently shaped sign for their state routes.

Comments please? -- Colin 23:51, 7 Jul 2004 (EDT)

There is no "California 97." It's "US 97," a route that continues with the same identity into Oregon and Washington. There are many highways like this, though they are not as predominant as they were prior to the advent of the Interstate Highway system. There are also "State Highways," officially and unofficially identified differently from state to state. (In some states, some abbreviation of the name of the state may precede the highway number, such as M-xx in Michigan; in others, the designation may simply be the word Route or Highway, while in others, the state's name may be used in full.)
State highways that cross state lines may keep the same number in both states, or the number may change as one crosses the border. In some cases, a state highway in one state will connect with a local road without a number in another. 4.243.146.84 01:14, 29 December 2006 (EST)

Oops, I hadn't seen this! I guess I agree with your proposal but it's also important to have some context for people. If you start just talking about "use the SR 97 to get there" it might not be clear that it's a road (versus a train or bridge or whatever)... And is "SR" a commonly used abbreviation? I haven't seen it... I'm just not sure how obvious the US road system is to someone from say, India, or Africa... but maybe I'm making assumptions. Majnoona 17:55, 30 Oct 2004 (EDT)

AAA uses the SR nominclature. This makes a small bit of sense to me since 1) you don't have to figure out the two letter abbrev for the state route (CA for California is obvious, but what does Idaho use?) and 2) if a state route crosses a state boundary, the number is frequently preverved.
You're right that this will confuse visitors from afar. So if we can agree on some kind of standard, we should explain the plethora of road names and how they are expressed in the USA article. Of course, this only helps folks who consult the USA article before going somewhere, but that's kinda how we do other stuff like phone numbers, so it seems like our style of doing things. We do, I think, need to at least explain the US Route / Interstate / State route division in the article.
I'm not super-attached to my proposal above. It was more just a point of reference for discussion. Do you have a preference for spelling out State Route or any other ideas? -- Colin 18:32, 30 Oct 2004 (EDT)

I'd prefer to refer to the highway by whatever name it is locally known (i.e. what it says on the signs). If a road is called "M-37" in Michigan and changes to "Indiana 37" in Indiana (it doesn't, but just for example), then call it "M-37" in articles about Michigan and "Indiana 37" in articles about Indiana. Because I honestly wouldn't recognize "State Route 37" or "S.R. 37" as being "M-37" (a road that nearly runs through my backyard). While it might be nice to nail down whether it's "US-69" or "U.S. 69" or whatever, I don't think completely consistency nationwide is necessary. (P.S. The reason interstates have a dash in the name is to make sure people don't mistake "I96" for "196".) - Todd VerBeek 19:06, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

I agree that if there is a local way of doing it, we should follow it. Here in Northern California, most people call it "Highway 11" whether it is a US Route, State Route, or Interstate. Though for Interstates, "Interstate 11" is just as common. And those darn Southern Californians call it "The 11" regardless of what it is. So we need an overall standard, but then alter that for states where they do have a commonly-used way of saying it. -- Colin 09:07, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
What people say probably isn't as useful as how it's identified on signs. People drop the prefixes, use traditional names, etc. in conversation, but I don't think we should do that here. What I meant is that, if state highways in Michigan are named "M-xx", then that's what we should call them in Michigan. - Todd VerBeek 08:10, 2 May 2007 (EDT)

Road designations[edit]

(Following section swept in from the Pub)

I'm not sure where a section should be inserted, or if I should declare style policy with at least some attempt at consensus, but it would be nice to have something. I posted the below to the MoS discussion page:

I can't find any other place discussing it, so I'll just kind of stick it in here. I've been using (at least in the US articles) what I think is the official designation system. Interstates are prefixed with "IH-", Non-interstate federal highways are prefixed with "US-", state roads are prefixed with "SH-" (I had to kick myself several times to stop using the prefix "TX-", which we Texans know isn't really official, but use any way), and others that might not be so popular across the country (I really don't know), like County Road ("CR-" here), Farm-to-Market Road ("FM-"), and Ranch Road ("RR-") are just spelled out. I wouldn't mind having a stated consensus on this though, especially with "FM-" (In Houston, at least, if you ask for "Farm to market road one nine six zero", you'll get a blank stare about half the time, but everyone knows of "FM ninteen sixty").

But I'm not familiar enough with even the whole US to tell which road types are widely known, and which just stick in my head. Please comment on the following list:

  • Interstate Highway "IH", widely known
  • US Highway "US", widely known
  • State Highway "SH", widely known
  • Farm-to-Market Road "FM", somewhat known
  • County Road "CR", mostly local
  • Ranch Road "RR", mostly local

Jordanmills 13:36, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

In my experience, interstates are always prefixed with "I-", and state highways vary by state (e.g. here in Michigan they're prefixed with "M-"). I don't think most people would understand "IH-" or "SH-". "FM-" and "RR-" are completely foreign to me, but if that's what the designation for a particular road is, so be it. The bottom line is that roads should be identified to by whatever name people use for them. - Todd VerBeek 16:40, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
I've seen it mostly as "IH-", but a quick look at the NHS web site [1] (which, I guess, is about as official as it gets) shows their regular use of "I-". I'd venture to say that your usage is more correct here. While I've also seen "SH-" and "SR-" used interchangably, the DOT/FHA also uses state-specific abbreviations for state highways and state routes. Additionally, there is apparently some difference between a "U.S. Highway" and "U.S. Route". Though I can't wade deep enough into the paperwork to figure out what it is. I may have dug myself too deep here. Jordanmills 18:44, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
Talk:United States of America#Road Nomenclature. I think we should have a Manual-of-Style entry for countries (or at least the major ones) describing our writing conventions. The country MoS would cover addresses, phone numbers, and highway stuff. The MoS for a country would not override the project-wide MoS, of course. -- Colin 17:30, 10 April 2007 (EDT)
Oh goody, link and discussion. I think country-specific MoS entries for country-specific naming conventions sounds like a good plan. Jordanmills 18:44, 10 April 2007 (EDT)

Addresses[edit]

I'd argue pretty strongly against option 1 ("Always spell out street abbreviations"), since that would add around 50 pages to the printed Chicago guide! That is, length being a consideration, having iterated avenue, boulevard, street, etc. throughout all listings will lengthen our guides & unnecessarily increase costs of printing them. My preference would be to never abbreviate within prose, but to always abbreviate within listings. That said, "always abbreviate" might be more desirable in being a simpler rule to follow. --Peter Talk 00:00, 15 June 2008 (EDT)

Cool. Listings vs. prose seems a reasonable differentiation to me. Be aware there's a bug in the listings template though
  • Foo Bar, 1444 Bruce St..  edit
-- Colin 02:24, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
I'd be fine with "Always abbreviate". Jpatokal 03:32, 15 June 2008 (EDT)
Also prefer to always abbreviate – cacahuate talk 01:15, 22 June 2008 (EDT)
Fine by me. Additionally, I prefer not to use a period after abbreviations—is that kosher with everyone else? --Peter Talk 01:51, 22 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes. I. Too. Hate. Periods. – cacahuate talk 02:23, 22 June 2008 (EDT)

We should draw up a list of "abbreviatable" names though. First shot: Ave, Rd and St are OK; Blvd and Dr are a little borderline; everything else should be spelled out in full. Jpatokal 03:18, 22 June 2008 (EDT)

I'd add a few: Hwy, Fwy, Pl, Sq, Ct, Expwy. Those are all pretty common, I think. Which abbreviations should we not use? --Peter Talk 19:53, 2 August 2008 (EDT)
Is there a reason for this discussion on addresses to be geographically restricted? Would there be objections to moving the current prose, and discussion to Wikitravel:Abbreviations? --inas 19:44, 13 August 2009 (EDT)
Not from me, but I'm not familiar with publishing standards outside of the U.S. Would it be kosher to leave periods off street abbreviations in the UK, for example? --Peter Talk 21:45, 13 August 2009 (EDT)
Yeah - I don't think our experiences with spelling should push us to become too parochial. Check the Royal Mail [2] site, for their abbreviations which look much like what has been suggested above, without periods. --inas 22:12, 13 August 2009 (EDT)

Phone numbers[edit]

Re: Inas' removal of the phone number guidelines: Yes, U.S. numbers are very straightforward, and therefore don't need much explanation—country code, three digit area code, seven digit local number split by 3 then 4. But as a template, this is useful for countries that have more convoluted systems. Take a look at Hovd—I don't understand which digits are referring to city codes, local codes, etc. --Peter Talk 21:44, 13 August 2009 (EDT)

I think the standard in Wikitravel:Phone numbers, full country code, a dash between the numbers you have to dial anywhere, and spaces between the numbers that can be dropped locally, is as good a standard as I have seen for a traveller. We have just about all the info embedded in the number, and any extras in the Contact section.
If you can point out how this policy differs from the one at Wikitravel:Phone numbers, then I can see the reason for it being here. If there is no difference, what is the point of the duplication of the information? -inas 22:16, 13 August 2009 (EDT)
We don't use dashes between the numbers you have to dial everywhere. AFAIK you now have to dial local area codes throughout the entire U.S., but I could be wrong. There was a disagreement before regarding parentheses, which are very commonly used for U.S. area codes. We've decided against them, but it's news to me that parentheses are ruled out in the main phone numbers policy (that's good news IMO).
Above all, though, this isn't a policy page, it's a draft of proposed guidelines for editors working on U.S. articles. It collects the various rules, and shows in a convenient format with examples how they should be implemented. I see the goal to be similar to the Wikitravel:Administrator's handbook in this regard—a quick how-to manual. Idiosyncracies should also be detailed here, but I don't think that should be the entire scope of the page. --Peter Talk 00:32, 14 August 2009 (EDT)
Disagree. Wherever you list the same info twice, chances are it will eventually diverge - people will make changes here, just because it is easier than getting wider consensus on the main policy page. We should make every effort to minimise divergence between articles based on geography where is no necessity to do so. Your comments highlight inadvertent divergence that has already happened due to this policy being here. This page even says that the primary WT mos overrides what is here, so which to use? --inas 00:44, 14 August 2009 (EDT)

I'm not a fan of the current style. I think using italics to distinguish mandatory parts of the phone number is not obvious enough, and hard to read, and useless if the number is already italicized or if formatting isn't preserved.

My preference would be to use dashes and parentheses, as in +1 404-234-5678 (in metro areas where 10-digit dialing is required) or +1 (808) 234-5678 (in the other 90% of the country where only 7 digits are required for local numbers). It doesn't rely on text formatting, it matches how numbers are usually displayed by local businesses, and it is totally unambiguous as to what part of the number has to be dialed. Thoughts? --BigPeteB 16:27, 27 March 2011 (EDT)

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