PBC:Manual of Style/Biography

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This page sets out guidelines for achieving visual and textual consistency in biographical articles and in biographical information in other articles; such consistency allows PBC to be used more easily. While this guideline focuses on biographies, its advice pertains, where applicable, to all articles that mention people.

For a short version, see PBC:Biography dos and don'ts.

Lead section

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The lead section must summarise the life and works of the person with due weight. When writing about controversies in the lead section of a biography, relevant material should neither be suppressed nor allowed to overwhelm: always pay scrupulous attention to reliable sources, and make sure the lead correctly reflects the entirety of the article. Write clinically, and let the facts speak for themselves. These concerns are especially pressing at biographies of living persons.

Well-publicized recent events affecting a subject, whether controversial or not, should be kept in historical perspective. What is most recent is not necessarily what is most noteworthy: new information should be carefully balanced against old, with due weight accorded to each.

When a subject dies, the lead need not be radically reworked; PBC is not a memorial site. Unless the cause of death is itself a reason for notability, a single sentence describing the death is usually sufficient, and often none is included in the lead at all, just a death date.

Opening paragraph

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MoS guidelines for opening paragraphs should generally be followed, and the opening paragraph of a biographical article should establish notability, neutrally describe the person, and provide context. The opening paragraph should usually state:

  1. Name. Handling of the subject's name is covered below in § First mention.
  2. Aliases, if found in the sources.
  3. Legal/Real name, if found in the sources and verified.
  4. Dates of birth and death, if found in the sources.
  5. Place of birth and death, if found in the sources. City, Region/State/Province, Country.
    1. In cases where the name of the city and province coincide, the name of the region/state/province is omitted.
  6. Context: nationality and occupations of the person is given in the form of an enumeration;
    1. The following order of listing the occupation of a person is established: <professional occupation (e.g. bodybuilder, mma fighter etc)>, pornograpchic actor, <intermediate occupations>, <additional occupation (e.g. escort)>/<professional occupation (e.g. bodybuilder, mma fighter etc)>, <extended list of modeling options (such as adult, webcam, glamour, fitness model etc)>, <additional occupation (e.g. escort>/<professional occupation (e.g. bodybuilder, mma fighter etc)>.
      1. Examples of proper formatting:
        1. Yes check.svg Johan Kane (also known as Ramon; born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) is a Dutch pornographic actor, glamour, adult model, and escort.
        2. Yes check.svg Johan Kane (also known as Ramon; born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) is a Dutch pornographic actor, escort, glamour and adult model.
      2. Examples of incorrect formatting:
        1. X mark.svg Johan Kane, also known as Ramon (born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Netherlands, Amsterdam, North Holland) is a Dutch escort, glamour model, adult model, pornographic actor.
        2. X mark.svg Johan Kane (also known as Ramon; born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) is a Dutch adult model, escort, glamour model and pornographic actor.
        3. X mark.svg Johan Kane (also known as Ramon; born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) is a Dutch adult model, escort and glamour model and pornographic actor.
        4. X mark.svg Johan Kane (also known as Ramon; born Sebastiaan van Leersum, 22 June 1990(1990-06-22) in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands) is a Dutch escort, adult model, pornographic actor and glamour.
  7. Additional notes about the person.

Birth date and place

The opening paragraph should usually have dates of birth and (when applicable) death. These dates (specific day–month–year) are important information about the subject, but if they are also mentioned in the body, the vital year range (in brackets after the person's full name) may be sufficient to provide context. Birth and death places, if known, should be mentioned in the body of the article.

Birth and death labels are included only when needed for clarity. When given, use full words, whether immediately preceding a date or not:

For full details on how to format simple and complex dates and ranges, see PBC:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers#Chronological items § Notes.

Beyond the first paragraph of the lead section, birth and death details are not included after a name except in a case of special contextual relevance. Abbreviations like b. and d. can be used, if needed, when space is limited (e.g., in a table) and when used repetitively (e.g., in a list of people).

Context

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The opening paragraph should usually provide context for the activities that made the person notable. In most modern-day cases this will be the country of which the person is a citizen, national or permanent resident, or if the person is notable mainly for past events, the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable. Ethnicity, religion, or sexuality should generally not be in the lead unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the place of birth should not be mentioned in the lead unless they are relevant to the subject's notability.

Names

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Most of the examples throughout this section illustrate usage in the title sentence, but are generally applicable to personal names in any encyclopedic text unless the advice provided is explicitly about the lead section at the subject's own biographical article.

First mention

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While the article title should generally be the name by which the subject is most commonly known, the subject's full name, if known, should usually be given in the lead sentence (including middle names, if known, or middle initials). Many cultures have a tradition of not using the full name of a person in everyday reference, but the article should start with the complete version in most cases. For example:

  • From Ian Tevyaw: Ian Patrick Tevyaw (also known as Joey; born 2 June 1994 ...
  • From Cameron Brown: Cameron Austin Brown (also known as Philadelphia Poison, Poison, Power House, thepowerhouseexperience, Tool; born 4 September 1969(1969-09-04) ...

Changed names

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In some cases, subjects have had their full names changed at some point after birth. In these cases the birth name should be given in the lead as well:

  • Doe John (born John Doe; February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) ...

In other cases, subjects have changed their full name multiple times in accordance to customs, corrective measure, or personal preference. One may bold or otherwise list multiple name changes if they were notably known by them as "sign posts" in the lead. It is not necessary to list all previous names of subjects when they are not notably known by them:

  • Doe John (born John Doe; May 8, 1961)  is a pornographic actor ... he was briefly known as John Smith ...

Instead the names should be distributed throughout the lead to mark major transitions in the subject's life:

  • Augustus (63 BC – 14 AD) was a Roman emperor ... He was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into a wealthy family ... he assumed the name Octavian after his adoption ...

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If the subject has had their surnames (last name) at birth changed for whatever reason (e.g. marriage, adoption, personal preference) then their surnames at birth should also be given in the lead. Editors may denote this with "born" followed by the subject's full name; they may also use followed by the surname, provided the term is linked at first occurrence. The template {{nee}} may prove useful if the é character is difficult to type.

Some practical examples:

  • From Logan Rogue: ... Mattias Isacsson, né Trygg ...
  • From Sean Duran: ... Cameron Randall Bernardino, né Berry ...

A person named in an article in which they are not the subject should be referred to by the name they used at the time being described in the article.

See also

Notes