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Wikitravel talk:One-liner listings

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Please also see relevant discussion at Wikitravel talk:Spelling

One-liner listings[edit]

this section/discussion moved to here from Wikitravel talk:Manual of style#One-liner listings

For example most ==Cities== sections, etc. (as opposed to See/Do/Eat/Drink/Sleep etc)

Is there already a guideline somewhere for how simple all-one-liner listings should usually be formatted? If so, where is it? - and if not, how about adopting the Wikitravel:Manual of style page format, which I think is by far the most common (and which until I just tidied it up was a good example of some of the variations that can creep in [1])?


  • Alphabetic - preferred, if appropriate and there's no reason not to
  • Bold for the caption - optional if it's a link; if mixed, consistency preferred
  • But not bold [2] - for footnote-style links
  • Capitalize - first word of caption, but not description (except proper nouns, etc)
  • Dash - just one simple one, not -- or — or —
  • Description - short and sweet, no full stop

(Obvious exception to alphabetic being ==Cities== sections, where capital cities/towns go at the top)

Any objections? ~ 17:01, 24 September 2006 (EDT)

One, and only one: Alphabetic. I do the listings by price with the cheapest whatever first. -- Mark 18:16, 24 September 2006 (EDT)
Not sure, could you please provide me with an example? -- Sapphire 18:20, 24 September 2006 (EDT)
Example by price - cheapest way to get from Abc to Def:
  • $5 - Boneshaker Bus Co., takes 14 hours, departs at noon
  • $8 - share taxi from the marketplace, takes 9 hours
  • $32 - Acme Air, two flights daily each way
(NB: I'm not suggesting the price would actually have to be the caption!)
For the order, all I'm trying to propose is that "logical" is preferable to "random"; if (and only if) there's no more appropriate "logical" order (ie price, distance, north-south, day of the week, whatever) then "alphabetical" as the default, rather than "random". ~ 21:56, 24 September 2006 (EDT)
Sorry, I'm not getting what you want to do. Would you please edit User:Sapphire/Sandbox/Places/Cincinnati or User:Sapphire/Sandbox/Places/Ohio to show me what exactly you want to do. Feel free to go nuts editing either page because I do want to know/see what you're talking about -- Sapphire 06:44, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
User:Sapphire/Sandbox/Places/Ohio#Cities is a good example of what I'm proposing, except two lines ended with full stops and one did not - all I did was delete the two full stops. ~ 06:55, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
And User:Sapphire/Sandbox/Places/Ohio#By_plane as an example of a one-liner list that doesn't begin with links. ~ 06:59, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
That makes sense to me, but what's with the above example with prices? -- Sapphire 07:01, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
Maybe it's just a really atrocious example. ~ 07:05, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
Ok, if the edits you made on Ohio page is what you were suggesting I have no problem with the proposed changes. Ok, now I understand where the confusion over prices came in. I have no objections. -- Sapphire 07:09, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
Both those Ohio edits are now preserved for posterity here ~ 07:20, 27 September 2006 (EDT)
I'm coming across these a lot as I go through multiple pages as well, should we come to a definite agreement and incorporate it into the article instead of just the talk page? The only thing I would semi object to is the " - " instead of the " — ", which is far sexier... Cacahuate 06:38, 3 December 2006 (EST)
Yes, but it's HTML markup, and kind of hard to understand. I'd be happy with an actual long em-dash —, but short of that I think a colon or en-dash - is preferable, since it's on most English keyboards.
Otherwise, I think that the only places we do single-liner listings is for parts of a place (cities in a region, regions in a country, districts in a city). --Evan 09:22, 3 December 2006 (EST)
I proposed " - " because that's what the overwhelming majority of contributors use, and some will have great difficulty with any of the alternatives; plus in one-liner listings it's virtually always going to follow text which is formatted as bold or as a link (or both) so in practice its purpose will be extremely obvious and unambiguous.
I don't think the question of where one-liner listings occur is an issue. In reality, appropriate use of one-liner listings can and does crop up in almost any section; I think a general one-liner listings format guideline would be helpful for all. ~ 01:54, 18 December 2006 (EST)

Still not a fan of the simple dash as a policy... the longer ndash or mdash looks far nicer. I don't think they're that difficult to use... certainly no more of a problem than some other things, notably trying find the ~ key on a Nicaraguan keyboard – cacahuate talk 02:44, 7 January 2008 (EST)

I also strongly object to a style policy mandating hyphens in one liner lists. This was also discussed (briefly) at Wikitravel talk:Spelling, a discussion which bears witness to the fact that we do not have a consensus behind this policy.
I do not think that our style policies should be based on what is easiest to type. If we did, we should not be using the listings tags for listings, for example. Style policy should be drafted with three considerations in mind: presentation, feasibility, and consistency. Any of the dashes as a policy would fulfill the consistency requirement.
I think we are in agreement that an en dash or an em dash is superior in presentation for purely aesthetic reasons. But there are grammatical reasons as well that favor the use of the em dash. As a conservative ideologue in punctuation matters, it does irk me a small bit to see either hyphens or en dashes used for the purpose of a conversation-style break in thought, which is in essence what the one liner dashes indicate. Hyphens really should only ever be used as a mathematical minus symbol or to hyphenate a compound word or phrase. En dashes exist for the sole purpose of expressing a closed range or a comparison in values. So there are significant presentation issues favoring em dash use for one liners.
In terms of feasibility, hyphens are superior because they are a regular key on most English-language keyboards. But I don't think that this superiority is that significant. As Cacahuate points out, they really aren't that difficult to use. For one, users can simply copy the em dash from one liners already present in properly formatted lists. Also, we could simply add the em dash to the edittools box in the edit window, as we do for any symbol that is not on standard American English keyboards.
Sorry for the long punctuation tirade. Above all, I just think that the hyphen looks bad in these lists. --Peter Talk 04:27, 7 January 2008 (EST)
I'd also like to emphasize that I don't think we should be making edits yet based on this draft policy. I would argue that replacing en dashes or em dashes with hyphens in lists actually constitutes a disimprovement in the quality of our guides (in their presentation). No style policy should promote efforts that decrease the quality of Wikitravel articles. In that case, no policy and inconsistency across articles would be preferable IMHO. --Peter Talk 05:10, 7 January 2008 (EST)
Strongly agree with Peter. Hyphens look weak in these kind of listings – cacahuate talk 10:31, 9 January 2008 (EST)

Ordering of items[edit]

Swept in from the pub

(Probably trivial but it bugs me!) Is there a policy on ordering of items in a list? For example, should cities be listed alphabetically, by size, by perceived importance? Should eat/sleep listings be ordered alphabetically? What about things to see and do?--Wandering 16:51, 23 July 2007 (EDT)

  • Everything should be listed alphabetically. But if there are lots of things in the list, splitting them up into subgroups is encouraged. Jpatokal 21:49, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
This has been discussed briefly at Wikitravel_talk:Region_article_template#Order_of_cities and at Talk:Mediterranean_Europe#Alphabetic_or_geographic_order.3F. For cities lists, put capitals first, then use alphabetical order. Common practice, it seems, is to just use alphabetical order within all other lists (or their subdivisions, as Jani said). --Peter Talk 22:49, 23 July 2007 (EDT)
Thanks. That makes perfect sense. --Wandering 11:24, 24 July 2007 (EDT)

Description - short and sweet[edit]

This is a main problem with one-liners everywhere they're used, imho:

  • for regions, cities and other destinations, it should give a summary of what's special there (the main thing why traveller should consider it for his plans), not just a flowery general supplemental text that doesn't help with making a choice--but very rarely it gives such summary
  • roughly the same with GetOut.

I don't think just 'short and sweet' reflects this idea--I think it clearly needs more thought. --DenisYurkin 02:26, 8 January 2008 (EST)

I'm inclined to disagree. I think there is a danger that effort will therefore be duplicated in describing the same place over and over across different articles. I agree that the one liner should explain what the main attraction is for a traveler, but I think that should be done as briefly as possible. To really understand the destination, a reader will nonetheless need to click the link. --Peter Talk 04:00, 8 January 2008 (EST)
I do favor short and sweet too... it's usually pretty easy to get the basics of a place in one line. These are kind of the equivalent of the cheesy little one-liners on Lonely Planet maps that point out 5 or 6 of the most popular destinations in a country... – cacahuate talk 10:40, 9 January 2008 (EST)
Of course clicking for more is essential. But "short and sweet" is just not enough. Consider this page. Descriptions for India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan fit well into "short and sweet", but give no idea what to travel there for, or what are the key differences between these countries. Shouldn't they? --DenisYurkin 10:44, 9 January 2008 (EST)
Actually, I think they should not. These types of lists are meant to only be navigational tools akin to a table of contents—extra text would clutter the list and make it a little less navigation/design friendly. I think the key differences between the countries (in this example) should be discussed throughout the understand, eat, drink, and other sections of the region article. South Asia looks like it's been a bit neglected in this regard! For links to smaller destinations (like a town, rather than India), it's usually feasible to mention the main attraction in just one short phrase or two. --Peter Talk 15:22, 9 January 2008 (EST)
Also, it may be worth noting (wrt the South Asia example) that most wikitravel users aren't looking for a reason to visit India, Pakistan, of Sri Lanka. Most likely, they've already decided to go and are looking for practical (survival :-))advice, itineraries, highlights, places to stay and eat, things to do, etc. That's one reason I hate the cheesy smart-alecky LP one-liners (like these ones on Thorntree). Simple and straightforward is a much better way to go. --Wandering 16:20, 9 January 2008 (EST)
Peter, I don't agitate that it shouldn't be short, I'm only focusing on sweet. Consider Hungary#Cities: although not everything is sweet there (and not perfect overall), almost every city has a descriptive annotation, giving a rough idea of what to go there for.
Wandering, but there are always people who never been in South Asia and at some point they start thinking which place to choose, and why. My point is that we should help them from the one-liners on. And the Thorntree one-liners you gave definitely do help to start for those having no idea what these regions are all about. If we don't like the way they're written there, we can change it at WT. But I disagree that we shouldn't have such stuff at all. --DenisYurkin 12:35, 11 January 2008 (EST)
I'm not against one-liners as long as they are not cheesy. The TT one-liners, for example, definitely don't help in thinking about which place to choose " Not only elephants, snake charmers, price rises, immodium and curry in a hurry,"Supplement your Shoestring with the word from the road," - why bother writing anything at all! Finally, I think that any description should try not to be western-centric, or even outsider-centric. The TT descriptions tend to be written from the point of view of a western traveler, when, any TT user of say the Indian Subcontinent, clearly knows that a good 25-30% of the regular contributers are Indians. And, we should want the millions of Indians who travel every year in their own country to check wikitravel before they leave. So (1) not cheesy, and (2) not western-centric (and (3) short and sweet) are essential (IMHO, of course!).--Wandering 13:20, 11 January 2008 (EST)
Hmm, we may just be having a semantic difference then—"short and sweet" is a colloquialism that basically just means short. The sweet part just means that the brief content should be meaningful, not fluff. The Hungary cities' descriptions all look good to me (although perhaps Budapest deserves a little more). I definitely agree that one liners should try to hit on exactly why someone should visit the destination, although this becomes rather impossible for enormous, wildly diverse destinations like India. I'll try and see if I can make the wording a little clearer and less jargony.
I do take a little issue with Wandering's advocacy that our writing not be outsider-centric, because ultimately our guides are written for the traveler. Who the outsider is, exactly, varies at each level of our hierarchy, so the content written about India generally should be geared to an outsider (of India), while content written about New Delhi should be geared to outsiders of that city (i.e., people not from New Dehli). Agree strongly though that we should do our best to avoid western-centric writing—that's not something we are always that successful with, unfortunately. But I suppose this no longer has much to do with one-liners ;) --Peter Talk 17:55, 11 January 2008 (EST)
Makes sense to me (the outsider centric part). Perhaps the focus should be on why people visit a country. Less of the immodium (no one I know visits India because of an immodium addiction) and more of the reasons. The current description "Rich and exotic culture , several languages and a billion people" for India is pretty good but perhaps overemphasizes the short. Hmmm. Isn't that what DenisYurkin was saying in the first place? (I still think though that these descriptions are closer to aesthetic fillers than to useful text.) --Wandering 18:07, 11 January 2008 (EST)
A quick clarification (and I'm still thinking through this so my apologies for any apparent inconsistencies). I'm not advocating that we write travel articles for local people (unless we start doing an insiders guide series), just that we write travel articles that local people will read. A flip description of a country or region creates the impression that the site is operated by outsiders for outsiders. We shouldn't want the site to be a turn-off. --Wandering 10:36, 13 January 2008 (EST)
Peter, this edit reflects the meaning I voted for. Thanks for resolving the misunderstanding, it was mainly my fault to be unaware of the colloquialism. --DenisYurkin 18:49, 11 January 2008 (EST)


As the "Dash - just one simple one, not -- or — or — or –" line has just been removed [3], can the {{disclaimerbox|This is a draft policy and consensus has not yet been established behind it. Discussion is underway on the talk page}} tag be removed now? ~ 04:12, 17 January 2008 (EST)

Sure, I think we have at least a tacit consensus on all other points. I've removed it. --Peter Talk 16:25, 17 January 2008 (EST)

Full stop[edit]

Can someone explain why one liner listings don't have a full stop at the end of the sentence? I understand the notion behind one liner listings but without a full stop at the end of the sentence, it looks unfinished. I think it can be short and sweet with a full stop. --MarinaK 13:29, 3 September 2008 (EDT)MarinaK.

We don't have full stops because the descriptions are supposed to be phrases, not sentences. That's a limiting measure to keep them from growing too long, since information should principally be on the city article, not the region article. We often have phrases that grow by liberal use of semicolons, which isn't that great, but that underscores the usefulness of keeping the descriptions to phrase rather than paragraph form. Not to say I'd necessarily object to the policy change you recommend, but I'd like to see more discussion and more arguments pro first. --Peter Talk 17:04, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Thanks for explaining Peter. It would be great if there was some discussion about this, but I appreciate the explanation. --MarinaK 18:23, 3 September 2008 (EDT)MarinaK.
I prefer without as well... these are similar to the little boxes on LP maps pointing out highlights... no full stops either, just quick phrase – cacahuate talk 20:55, 3 September 2008 (EDT)
Having worked at LP for over four years, I think its more clear in a printed guide that these are one liner listings- i.e, they're in a boxed text, as a caption, or italicised. Without some sort of differention that they are one liner listings, at LP we would never let them appear without a full stop. On a wikitravel article, there is no differention that these are one liner listings, so ignoring a period at the end of a sentence seems unnecessary. --MarinaK 13:34, 4 September 2008 (EDT)MarinaK.

Capital cities[edit]

OK, so capital cities come first in listings. Does this apply only at the level corresponding to the capital's domain, or does it apply to lower levels as well. Examples: Should Ottawa or Toronto appear first on the list of cities for Ontario? Should Washington, D.C. be listed first in the Mid-Atlantic article? LtPowers 13:41, 21 July 2009 (EDT)

I would think it should apply only at levels where the article area matches a region with a capital, and using that specific region's capital. Using your examples, Toronto would lead the Ontario article as provincial capital, but Mid-Atlantic would be strictly alphabetical as it's not a political entity. - Dguillaime 15:21, 21 July 2009 (EDT)
I agree with Dguillaime. Capital cities should only come first in the region for which they are capital. So Toronto over Ontario in this case. --Jtesla16 21:05, 21 July 2009 (EDT)
So North Holland should list Haarlem at the top instead of Amsterdam? I don't see how that would help travelers. --globe-trotter 14:05, 21 January 2010 (EST)
I note that Amsterdam wouldn't be first even if Haarlem wasn't. (On the other hand, I think it's fair to say that we don't follow the capital-first rule religiously for sub-national regions. For U.S. and Australian states and Canadian provinces, absolutely; for Dutch provinces, I don't know that it's necessary.) LtPowers 17:11, 21 January 2010 (EST)
The Dutch provinces are just like Canadian provinces or American/Australian states, the first administrative subdivision of the country. However, now I see this back, Haarlem is an interesting town as well, so there's no problem :-) --Globe-trotter 22:26, 6 November 2011 (EST)

Relaxing the rules a bit[edit]

I'd like to consider relaxing the "preferably one phrase" rule for regions, and maybe even districts. One could even argue for relaxing it for cities at the lowest levels of the hierarchy only.

Why? Well, let's look at something like New York (state). Would single-phrase descriptions really give a traveler any sort of way to make a choice among the regions? Sure, at the continent level, these things are just navigation tools, but at lower levels of the hierarchy, the traveler might have some idea what area he wants to visit (say, New York State) but not know what the various travel sub-regions of the area have to offer. Yes, he can (and should) click through to find out all the details, but it seems to me that the descriptive text on the super-region page can help him narrow down his choices. I think the regionlist template also looks far better with complete sentences than with simple phrases uncapitalized and unpunctuated:

several quaint, historic towns and one BigCity


With almost a dozen quaint, historic towns scattered among rolling hills and valleys, Subregion is a great place to explore after visiting the National Basketweaving Hall of Fame in BigCity.

I can see the logic behind keeping descriptions short for our lists of "Cites" and "Other Destinations", which are used for navigation only, but I think a sentence or two is much more useful to the traveler when we're talking about complete lists that the traveler must choose from to descend in the hierarchy.

-- LtPowers 12:00, 28 October 2009 (EDT)

If we could perhaps agree first that the description (be it one line or more) is a sentence (i.e it starts with a capital and ends with a full stop) then that would be a step forward I believe. Those uncapitalised, unpunctuated phrases have always looked very odd to me and I am sure I have (unintentionally) written proper sentences instead in some regional articles. I think LtPowers makes a very good point and that two sentences could be appropriate at times. --Burmesedays 12:15, 28 October 2009 (EDT)
I still prefer them in phrase "form." The second subregion description LtPowers used would be fine, IMO, if the period were removed and the first letter "de-capitalized." The point is simply to avoid having too much information included in the regions, cities, and ODs sections (since they are there only for quick navigation) when that information belongs properly in the see, do, buy, eat, drink, and sleep sections. For whatever reason, there has always been a general impulse to cram everything into the one liner lists, and I think this policy has been useful in deterring that. It's a fairly minor point, though, so I won't be inflexible; let the discussion continue ;) --Peter Talk 19:42, 28 October 2009 (EDT)
I totally agree in cases where they are only used for quick navigation. But my contention is that they should be used to impart actual, useful travel information in the article immediately above them in the hierarchy. And this just looks silly and unprofessional to me:
with almost a dozen quaint, historic towns scattered among rolling hills and valleys, Subregion is a great place to explore after visiting the National Basketweaving Hall of Fame in BigCity
-- LtPowers 22:24, 28 October 2009 (EDT)
We already have some pages like the second proposal, and I agree that it look much better. See Chugoku. It's still technically a one-liner for each prefecture listed, but there is enough to hint at the flavor of each. I also like the capitalization and period on this page. ChubbyWimbus 22:50, 28 October 2009 (EDT)
I think I'm a holdout here, so I'll go with the majority for the change to sentence form. How is this language: One-liner descriptions should be brief and to the point, preferably no more than one sentence. Further detail about the destination belongs should go in the rest of the article, as well as the article for the destination in question. --Peter Talk 22:31, 22 December 2009 (EST)
Well, for the record, I have no problem with short, fragmentary sentences for City and Other Destination lists in higher levels of the hierarchy. I think we should make that distinction. LtPowers 09:18, 23 December 2009 (EST)
I'm pretty sure that "*[[Maputo]] — the capital and largest city." is a complete sentence, with the mdash standing in for "is" (I could be mixing up Russian & English grammar, though). So basically the only change I'm now suggesting is to add periods to the end.
The regionlist template uses a wholly different form, where the description is on a different line than the name, and therefore is more appropriately capitalized.
As to relatively how much description to give where and when, within the confines of just one, at the most two sentences, I'd rather leave that to discretion, and I think we'll wind up achieving the result you are looking for. --Peter Talk 14:15, 23 December 2009 (EST)
I would still rather we come out and say that most Cities and Other Destinations lists should be short and sweet (one or two phrases), while immediate subregions (and maybe Cities and ODs for bottom-level regions) should have longer descriptions (one to three sentences). If we stick with your wording, we could get either of my two examples from the top of this section, when I think each is distinctly preferable in different situations. LtPowers 19:12, 20 January 2010 (EST)
If you think it worthwhile, please go ahead and add that. --Peter Talk 22:12, 20 January 2010 (EST)
Have a look: [4] LtPowers 10:15, 21 January 2010 (EST)
Agree with LtPowers, the Cities, OD and Get outlists should be brief (one sentence, no dot and not capitalized), but I think this looks weird when using the "regionslist" template. There I'd rather just see a full sentence. --globe-trotter 14:13, 21 January 2010 (EST)

Back to dashes[edit]

The last question still unresolved for this policy is that of the hyphen v. mdash. I've probably already made this point, but the hyphen is grammatically incorrect, as its sole purpose in the English language is to hyphenate. Whereas one of the several functions of an mdash is precisely what we are using it for in these one-liner lists—a parenthetical serving to define or clarify the preceding phrase or term. Per WP, mdashes can be used where a full stop (or "period") is too strong and a comma too weak. Em dashes are sometimes used in lists or definitions.

This may seem like hairsplitting, but this policy is really all about splitting hairs—defining our standard, preferred formatting. --Peter Talk 22:12, 20 January 2010 (EST)

The emdash is just harder to type. Simplicity over pedantry I say. --inas 23:11, 20 January 2010 (EST)
A single hyphen is too short; the em dash is much more readable. Star articles should use em dashes, but I certainly wouldn't reprimand anyone who used a hyphen (or, preferably, two or three); it's easily fixed. Maybe we could include the em dash (and maybe non-breaking space) in the click-to-insert grouping at the bottom of the edit page? LtPowers 10:01, 21 January 2010 (EST)
The correctness of using mdashes as proposed cannot be disputed. They are just a pain in the ass to compose, so few bother. A quick click-to-insert feature is a good idea.--Burmesedays 10:07, 21 January 2010 (EST)
I actually think the em dash use seems about as common nowadays as the hyphen, especially since more experienced editors have been adding them, and regular users are the more likely to create region articles. Inas' argument would apply to punctuation anywhere in the article—I think its fair to say that writers will often use incorrect punctuation, grammar, formatting not in line with our standards, etc., but I see no reason we shouldn't aim to correct that when polishing up an article.
I've added a char-insert for * — [[]] to the edittools box. We can revert that if we determine to use a different format. --Peter Talk 14:04, 21 January 2010 (EST)
Isn't there a way to make it easier to type such a dash? For example, make it that typing --- automatically turns into a dash while the page is saved. --globe-trotter 14:21, 21 January 2010 (EST)
There's always — (and its cousin –), which requires no hard-to-find key combinations, though I don't know if a seven-character replacement can honestly be called "easier". — D. Guillaime 14:26, 21 January 2010 (EST)
I know mdash by now, but I think for most newer users it is a bit of a complicated combination. --globe-trotter 14:31, 21 January 2010 (EST)
* — [[]]? Shouldn't it be * [[]] — ? LtPowers 17:07, 21 January 2010 (EST)
Indeed, fixed. --Peter Talk 17:13, 21 January 2010 (EST)
I think some wiki's set up a template so {{-}} results in an emdash. Perhaps this template, or even a more general template for one liner listings could resolve any formatting differences? --inas 17:27, 21 January 2010 (EST)
What is a char insert? The template sounds like a very good idea. --globe-trotter 18:15, 22 January 2010 (EST)
Character insert, I should say. It's down below the edit window below the one-click listings templates (with {{}}, |, #REDIRECT [[]], etc.). --Peter Talk 18:21, 22 January 2010 (EST)
I've also now made Template:-, so you can enter {{-}} to automatically create an em dash. It's advantage over — is that it doesn't leave the ugly — html code visible when editing. The disadvantage is that it seems just a little slower to type (in QWERTY anyway). If you don't like the html in the edit screen, copy a — from the article or elsewhere and do a Find + Replace to get all of them in the article. (I'm really loving FoxReplace [5].) --Peter Talk 18:27, 22 January 2010 (EST)

This is less of a concern, but I'd like to know to be sure. Should we leave spaces before and/or after mdashes, i.e. which of the following is the (most) correct:

  • Foo—beautiful city (no space)
  • Foo— beautiful city (space only after mdash)
  • Foo — beautiful city (spaces at both ends of mdash)

I think the third form is the most esthetically superior, though I am almost always inclined to use (and really get used to) the second form after, if I'm not mistaken, User:MarinaK, who said to be experienced at publishing commercial guidebooks, made a number of proofreading edits that use the second form.—Vidimian 10:53, 26 January 2010 (EST)

I agree that the 3rd example looks the nicest. I think (only think) that the 2nd example is strictly correct though; the dreaded mdash is treated like a comma with no space, then a space. Both here and at Wikipedia you often see the 1st example format as well :). --Burmesedays 11:03, 26 January 2010 (EST)
We have been using the third form for one-liner lists, and I think there's universal support to keep those spaces. In prose, both the first and third formats are acceptable in modern publishing—use without spaces is more conservative and favored by (if I'm not mistaken), Chicago, Harvard, Oxford, and me. The second form is not correct. --Peter Talk 12:39, 26 January 2010 (EST)
Peter is absolutely correct, although I admit I didn't realize that the third form was acceptable to some guides. But for one-liner listings, it's what we should use because it's serving a different function than it does in a sentence. LtPowers 18:34, 26 January 2010 (EST)
The template {{-}} is interesting, but don't we try to avoid leaving templates in articles? Meaning you would need to type {{subst:-}} which then isn't much of a shortcut? – cacahuate talk 03:01, 28 January 2010 (EST)
Routeboxes, ispartOf, etc?? --inas 07:03, 28 January 2010 (EST)
Yeah, it's still not ideal. I added an em dash char insert to the edit tools window, although of course you would still need to scroll down to click it (I wish we had control over the buttons that display at the top of the edit window...). In Linux and MacOS, I believe, you can set up your keyboard to type em dashes and en dashes pretty easily [6]. I'm sure there's a way to do so in Windows too. But like I said, if someone wants to clean up the html or wiki markup used to create dashes, you can just do a find and replace, which takes all of one second if you can do it in your browser. (Otherwise you'll need to take the extra step of pasting it into a text editor.) --Peter Talk 14:26, 28 January 2010 (EST)
If anyone is really keen to do this, the simplest solution would be use a key-redefiner. Eg, you could set Ctrl+Q to type & m d a s h ; the 7 characters required to compose an emdash. That is probably the simplest solution for the lazy. I think that is the only way to type an emdash using a single keyboard action in Windows. There is a suitable shareware app here. --Burmesedays 21:30, 28 January 2010 (EST)

Given that it is somewhat rare to get this form of agreement on something grammatical, should we now move the essense of this consensus (that is, the actual formatting preferred) to the main article? --inas 02:41, 2 June 2010 (EDT)