Wikipedia:WikiProject Music Standards

  (Redirected from Wikipedia:MUSTARD)

Wikipedia has developed a large repertoire of articles about music. However, many music-related articles require significant improvement; MUSTARD (MUsic STAndaRDs) is a project to develop guidelines for achieving high quality in music-related articles. These guidelines are a set of standards that WikiProject: Music uses as a benchmark for quality assurance. They are largely based on Wikipedia policies and guidelines, and common practice.


Some abbreviations are always used in music articles. These forms are standard:

  • Op.<space><number> for opus (e.g. Op. 31)
  • No.<space><number> for number (e.g. Op. 31, No. 2)
  • Opp.<space><numbers separated by commas and spaces> for the plural of Opus (e.g. Opp. 51, 82 and 93)
  • Op. posth.<space>, or Op. posth.<space><number> for opus posthumous
  • Note: , and signs should not be used in article titles or headings.


  1. The vast majority of music genres are not proper nouns, and thus should not be capitalized.
  2. The first letter in the first and last words in English song, album and other titles is capitalized. The first letter in the other words is also capitalized, except for short coordinating conjunctions, prepositions, and articles ("short" meaning those with fewer than five letters), as well as the word to in infinitives. More specifically:
    1. Capitalize the first and last word.
    2. Capitalize every noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. This includes all forms of the verb to be (e.g., be, been, am, is, was, were).
    3. Capitalize a short preposition if and only if it is the first or last word of the title; part of a phrasal verb (e.g., "Call Off the Search", "Give Up the Ghost"); or the first word in a compound preposition (e.g., "Time Out of Mind", "Get Off of My Cloud").
    4. With compound hyphenated terms, capitalize each word-part separately, according to the applicable rule.
    5. Titles that include parentheses should be capitalized as follows: the part outside the parentheses should be capitalized as if the parenthetical words are not present; the part inside the parentheses should be capitalized as if there were no parentheses at all.
  3. Standard English text formatting and capitalization rules apply to the names of bands and individual artists (see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (trademarks) and Wikipedia:Proper names).


  1. Top-level categories, such as Category:Songs and Category:Guitarists, should not be populated. (Their category pages can be marked with the {{catdiffuse}} template.) Specific subcategories should be used such as Category:Jazz guitarists.
  2. Articles should not generally be in both a category and a subcategory of it. For example, do not put someone in both Category:Canadian musicians and Category:Canadian music, because the first is a subcategory of the latter. (For exceptions to this rule see SUBCAT.)


  1. All articles should be at natural titles, if possible. Do not disambiguate unless necessary.
  2. In general, terms that need to be disambiguated should involve the most simple, basic category possible; for example, do not use (70s concert promoter) when (concert promoter) is sufficient, or (Romantic concerto) when (concerto) will do.

Popular musicEdit

The most common disambiguators should be created using (band), (album), (musician), (record label), (song) or (composer). If further disambiguation is needed, use:

  1. Countries for performers: X (American band) and X (Australian band) (if this does not resolve the ambiguity, use genre or time period); and
  2. Performers for albums/songs/etc: Down to Earth (Ozzy Osbourne album) and Down to Earth (Stevie Wonder album). If this does not resolve the ambiguity, use the year as well. See Wikipedia:WikiProject Albums#Naming and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (music)#Bands, albums and songs for more detailed guidelines for article names.
  3. Others include: (EP), (concert promoter), (DJ), (manager), (record producer), (sound engineer), (songwriter), (talent scout).

Classical musicEdit

  1. Musician disambiguators: (conductor), (pianist), (violinist), (ensemble), (orchestra), etc.
  2. Compositions: normally (composer's name), but sometimes (cantata), (concerto), (sonata), (symphony) etc.
  3. Others: (musicologist), (music critic) etc.


  1. If the name of the opera has already been used (e.g. for an article on a mythological deity or a play etc), the word opera should be added to the title in parentheses. For example: Macbeth (opera) refers to the work by Verdi to distinguish it from Macbeth which is the play by Shakespeare.
  2. If there are two (or more) operas with the same title, subsequent articles on operas of the same name take the name(s) of the composer(s) in parentheses. For example: Otello is the opera by Verdi, and Otello (Rossini) is the one by Rossini. (Normally, the first article to be created is also on the opera that is more well-known.)

An example combining both guidelines would be: Miss Julie, the play, Miss Julie (opera), the opera by Rorem, and Miss Julie (Alwyn), the opera by Alwyn. The various works should also be listed on any disambiguation page.

Opera biographiesEdit

  1. Singer disambiguators are (soprano), (mezzo-soprano), (contralto), (tenor), (baritone), (bass-baritone), and (bass).
  2. Other disambiguators include (director) (for stage directors), (librettist), and (opera manager) (impresarios and administrators).


  1. Pages on artists, groups or works should have recording and discography sections as appropriate. These should be subdivided into albums and singles, audio and video recordings, or other simple systems as required.
  2. If the discography of an artist, group or work becomes disproportionately large in relation to the rest of the article, it should be split into a subpage list (preferably titled "<Name> discography").
  3. Do not use album, record or DVD covers in discographies, as this is an unnecessary use of images and is not compatible with Wikipedia's fair use policy.

External linksEdit

External links should be used sparingly.

  1. Articles on performers should have a link to their homepage(s), or other official pages (e.g., the record company's page for that artist, if there is one, or an official fanclub)
  2. Articles on record labels should have a link to the company's official homepage.
  3. Anything used as a reference, preferably using Template:Cite web, from within the "References" section.
  4. External pages that include significant information that could not be placed on Wikipedia (e.g., copyrighted content that is not posted in violation of copyright law) should be linked to:
    1. External pages containing information that could be incorporated into the Wikipedia article (posted on the talk page); or
    2. Respected databases of relevant information, where there is a significant quantity of information that is inappropriate for incorporation into Wikipedia. This may include such pages as fansites, provided that they are an established organization or a recognized fan community and are clearly more informative and more useful than most fansites. For example:
      1. a fansite that includes an exhaustive database of tour dates and setlists;
      2. a rights holder-approved lyrics site;
      3. a large repository of relevant images;
      4. a large repository of other trivia that may not be appropriate for Wikipedia; and
      5. forums or other community pages, only if such pages are unusually established and recognized institutions with an important focus.
  5. Articles on music genres should not have links to the homepages of an individual artist, unless it otherwise meets a criterion for inclusion.
  6. Fansites and unofficial fan clubs (subject to the above), online stores, and similar sites should generally not be linked.
  7. Music of articles (e.g., Music of Maryland) may link to community-based music sites, provided that they are well-established and versatile. A page that lists local shows, for example, should be reasonably comprehensive, regularly and reliably updated, and specifically based around the topic place (e.g., Maryland).
    1. Local bands and other performers that do not have articles should not be linked to in any section unless their notability is established by a cited, reputable and independent source. Do not create external links to specific performers on music of articles, unless they are being cited or otherwise qualify.
    2. Some performers may be sufficiently "notable" to include in an article on the music of a time, place or genre, yet without enough verifiable information for an article. Pages on these performers can be merged and redirected to an article or list, and should not generally be linked unless the target contains significantly additional useful information (e.g., a List of minor California punk bands of the 1970s with properly cited information)
  8. It is reasonable to remove a link that does not obviously prove itself under these guidelines. For example, do not remove a link to a band's official page from the band's article, but any other external link that is not cited as a reference or justified on the talk page may be removed. In general, when linking to a fanclub, unofficial community page or other such website, it may be wise to provide a justification on the talk page.


  1. Names of songs and singles are in quotes, name of albums and EPs are in italics. The names of tours are not formatted beyond ordinary capitalization.
    1. Generic titles refer to those based on musical forms, such as the concerto or symphony as well as liturgical titles like Agnus Dei or Kyrie. These should not be formatted beyond simple capitalization; e.g., Piano Concerto No. 5, Sixth Symphony
    2. True titles are specific to a work, and are always italicized; e.g., From me flows what you call time or Pelléas and Mélisande
    3. Titles of songs, albums and other media that are not in English, or are in a non-standard variety of English, should follow ordinary rules of capitalization and punctuation for that variety. This guideline does not supersede other Wikipedia:Naming conventions, and only applies wherever foreign language titles appear.
  2. The title of an article should be in bold text on its first appearance in that article. The name should be in either quotes or italics as appropriate, but quotes surrounding a title should not be in bold text, e.g., use "'''Hey Jude'''" not '''"Hey Jude"'''. Important redirects should be in bold text on their first appearance, preferably in the lead section.
  3. Regarding the use-mention distinction, words should be italicized when they are referred to; e.g., "They chose the name The Supremes" or "They called their style jelly rock" rather than "They became The Supremes" or "They play jelly rock")
  4. Unless a word meets one of these criteria, or another standard English usage criterion, it should not be in italics or bold text.
  5. Use either Unicode flat (♭= &#x266D;) and sharp (♯ = &#x266F;) symbols, or the words "flat" and "sharp". Do not use "b" for "flat" or # (the number sign) for "sharp". The template {{music}} allows these and other symbols to be entered more easily with greater cross-browser support.

Images and notationEdit

  1. Wikipedia needs to use free images. Fair use is usable only in certain circumstances. Copyrighted images, such as album covers, can be used in an article only if a fair use rationale, specific to that article, appears on the image page.
    1. The {{Non-free album cover}} template establishes fair use only in an article about the album in question.
    2. Fair use images cannot be used purely for decoration.
    3. Fair use images cannot be used in discography sections.
    4. Fair use images should be used sparingly. Each image must contribute specifically, uniquely and irreplaceably to the article.
  2. Images should be laid out in an unobtrusive manner.
    1. Start the article with a right-aligned image.
    2. When using multiple images in the same article, they can be staggered left-and-right (Example: Platypus).
    3. Avoid sandwiching text between two images facing each other.
  3. Images and the display of musical notation should follow the following guidelines:
    1. Graphics of musical examples should be large enough to be legible but not so large that they overwhelm the text of an article. They also should not contain inordinate space between the notes.
    2. When creating a graphic in a musical notation program keep the score as large as possible (through the layout or display setting in your notation program). If your example is short, three measure or less, you may increase its size on the page and decrease the page margins. That way the example will be as large as possible, but will not contain large spaces between the notes. Example of large image size with little space between notes:  
    3. Save the file as type or extension .PNG. If .PNG is not an option in your notation program then save the score as another type of image file and convert that to .PNG (with Paint, for instance). Trim the image so that it only contains the example (no blank space or large margins!) and upload it to Wikipedia.
    4. When you display that image in an article, then you specify the desired size between pipes ("|"s) as follows: [[Image:Example.png|550px|Example image]] Images larger than 550 pixels wide may not be conveniently displayed on 800x600 monitors, so keep images below that size where possible.
  4. Use {{Commons}} to link to images on Commons wherever possible.
  5. Use an informative and concise caption or alternative text for each image.
  6. The sharp (♯) and flat (♭) signs are &#9839; and &#9837;, respectively. A natural (♮) can be entered with &#9838;.
  7. Superscript and subscript may be combined, as in figured bass, in math markup, <math>C_6^4</math> =  , see Wikipedia:TeX markup or m:Help:Formula.
  8. A superscript circle, or degree sign, which indicates a diminished chord, that may not display correctly for everyone, "°", can be produced by typing &deg;, &#176, or (on Windows PCs) Alt+0176. A superscript lower case "o" (<sup>o</sup>) may be used instead. The slashed o, "ø", which may not display correctly for all readers, is produced by superscripting the character produced by typing &oslash; or &#248;, or by keying Alt+0248.
  9. For inversions and the degree sign superscript and subscript may be done thus: vii<sup>o</sup>, I<sub>6</sub>. This looks like: viio, I6.

Internal linksEdit

  1. In general, do not link to non-existent articles about recordings, e.g., songs and albums. See also: #Notability
  2. Do not use piped links to years in music (e.g., do not write: The Beatles Please Please Me came out in 1963). Instead, sparingly use parentheses after years mentioned in the article, such as The Beatles released Please Please Me in 1963 (see 1963 in music). In discography charts or other specialized forms, it is acceptable to use non-piped links to the 'year in music' articles. Generally avoid linking non-dated chronological items, such as "1988", "1920s" and "20th century".
  3. Do not link to self-titled albums like this: The New York Dolls released their debut in 1978. Instead, use some variation of "The New York Dolls released their eponymic debut, New York Dolls, in 1978".
  4. Songs that appeared in an album should be redirected (or disambiguated) to point to the album on which they were first released, unless the song itself has an article. (This may not apply to artists from the pre-LP era.)


  1. Short lists (of compositions, recordings etc.) may be useful in biographies and articles about works of music, however when they become disproportionately long in relation to the main article they should be split into dedicated subpages.
  2. Music genre articles should not contain lists of performers. A separate list page may be created.
  3. Lists should not generally include musicians who do not have an article.


  1. Copyrighted lyrics can only be used under the WP:FU provision. Thus, they should only be used to illustrate specific points, documented by relevant sources.
  2. Lists of quotes from songs or other compositions or recordings are inappropriate, as are any sections consisting entirely or primarily of quotes.
  3. Uncopyrighted lyrics can be used freely. However, they should be incorporated into an article only to illustrate specific points, and documented by relevant sources.

Names (definite article)Edit

An authoritative source will determine whether the word "the" is part of a band's name. In the case of the Velvet Underground, for example, it must be included, while in that of Black Sabbath, it must not. A redirect (or disambiguation) should be created for the alternate name (with or without "the").

Mid-sentence, the word "the" should not be capitalized in continuous prose, except when quoted or beginning a phrase in italics or bold. Capital "The" is optional in wikilinks, and may be preferred when listing: The Beatles, The Velvet Underground...

Names (foreign language)Edit

The letters, accents and diacritics in the original language should be preserved when referring to works by their original language title (provided that language uses the Latin alphabet), e.g. Schöpfungsmesse, not Schopfungsmesse, nor Schoepfungsmesse; Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, not Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune, nor Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un Faune.

The names of works, and other terms, should be marked up with the {{lang}} template, using the appropriate two-letter language code. For example, to link to the article for the work Deutschlandlied, use ''{{lang|de|[[Deutschlandlied]]}}'' which will appear as Deutschlandlied.

Nationality (biographies)Edit

The nationality of composers, historic singers etc. has sometimes been controversial. Here are three guidelines:

  1. Nationality should refer to national identity, in other words the national group with which the person identified, not the state of which the person was a citizen or subject.
  2. Nationality should not be anachronistic/retrospective, i.e. for historic figures it should not be defined by present-day borders and states, but by contemporary ones.
  3. If there is any doubt about the nationality of an individual, we should be inclusive and use a double designation (e.g. Anglo-German etc.) both in the introduction and in the categories.


  1. Opinions are desirable. However, they must be cited.
  2. If you want to mention whom a band or album sounds similar to, do so in a prose format (as in Operation Ivy has a ska punk sound similar to The Specials), not in a list. Making a list of "related bands" constitutes using your ideas and opinions, which violates both WP:NPOV and WP:OR.
  3. Do not link to 'similar performers' or 'related genres' in a 'see also' section.
  4. Claims such as popular, critically acclaimed and well-received should be cited to a reputable source.


  1. Articles on music-related topics should have all of the following qualities:
    1. content—significant and useful information;
    2. encyclopedic tone—written in an informative, precise and well organized fashion;
    3. historical awareness—informs the reader of the historical and cultural context of the topic;
    4. notability—exhibits, documents and explains encyclopedic significance; and
    5. objectivity—neutral in depth and breadth of coverage, in choice of content, and in presentation and phrasing.
  2. Articles on musicians, bands and other performers in the modern era should meet the criteria at WP:BAND.
    1. Albums and songs do not have any generally accepted specific criteria. This does not mean that all albums or songs are inherently notable, but rather that each should be decided on a case-by-case basis. See WP:NALBUMS for more.
    2. There may be discussion or proposals for record labels, albums and genres in the future.


  1. When putting titles in quotes or italics, put the punctuation outside the quotemark or italicization. For example, "I listened to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", one of my favorite songs, from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of my favorite albums."
  2. Sentences should end in periods. Exclamation marks are an example of unencyclopedic tone outside of direct, cited and described quotations. Question marks are also rarely appropriate in encyclopedic writing (e.g. do not write: What was grunge music? It was a youth subculture ...). This also applies to section headings.
  3. Things that are not sentences should not end with a period. If you make a list and it includes descriptions that are not complete sentences, do not use a period. If the list does use complete sentences, use periods. Be consistent.

Record chartsEdit

  1. The chart positions should be organized into one table, and the table should be formatted using class="wikitable sortable".
  2. Billboard component charts should not be used in the tables, unless the song fails to enter the main chart, but appears on an airplay or sales chart. For more information about the guidelines for US Charts see WP:USCHART.
  3. Charts pertaining to only one specific retailer (such as iTunes, or Wal-Mart) should not be used. In addition, unofficial charts from television-related countdown shows (such as MTV's TRL or BET's 106 & Park) should not be used as they are not derived from verifiable sales and/or airplay totals.
  4. Within the table, no chart positions should be boldfaced, as this violates Wikipedia's policy regarding neutral point of view.
  5. Albums and singles which appear on different charts during different years are formatted with the charts for the most recent year furthest down the table.
  6. Alternative versions, such as remixes or radio edits, of the same song should be indicated in the table as an additional line within the Chart name cell.
  7. A song/album's chart trajectory should not be included in an article's table or charts as this constitutes an indiscriminate collection of information. Chart trajectories may be mentioned in the article text when there is sufficient reason to do so (for example, a song debuted at number 100, became a sleeper hit and peaked at number 1). Key facts, some examples being the debut position, number of weeks spent at peak position, and/or number of weeks in total on the Chart may be mentioned within the article text.
  8. Charts should be arranged by country in alphabetical order.
  9. Chart positions should be attributed to a reliable, published source.

Sounds and other multimediaEdit

  1. Wikipedia needs to use music and video samples. Fair use is usable only in certain circumstances.
    1. Fair use music samples must be used sparingly. Each instance must contribute specifically, uniquely and irreplaceably to the article. The tag {{Music sample}} is not per se sufficient to establish fair use.
    2. Music samples should be integrated into the article rather than placed at the end of the article. Generally, reference to a sample should be made in the text; fair use is partly justified by the educational value of the sample, which can be reinforced by such reference.

Spoiler warningsEdit

The use of spoiler tags before synopses (plot summaries) of musical works that tell a story (musicals, operas, concept albums, etc.) has often been regarded as unnecessary and distracting. Consensus should be obtained on relevant talk pages before using them.


Tables are appropriate for lists with three or more fields. Sortable tables are appropriate for longer lists, that may be reordered according to title, genre, date, or place etc. Sorting should always ignore definite and indefinite articles, so sorting tags will usually be required.

Titles and section headingsEdit

  1. Only proper nouns (and the first letter) should be capitalized in article and section titles.
  2. Music genres are not proper nouns.
  3. Capitalization should follow standard practice for English capitalization, except for special cases in abundant evidence from multiple independent and reliable sources. This includes the use of all-upper-case or all-lower-case usage in album or song titles, stage or personal names, and the use of lower-case short prepositions, conjunctions and articles in the titles of albums, songs and other compositions or recordings.

Titles (bands)Edit

Bands whose names are in the format "X and the As" (e.g., Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Bob Marley & the Wailers) should use an ampersand and lowercase the. Redirects should be created for the forms Bob Marley And The Wailers, Bob Marley and the Wailers and Bob Marley & The Wailers. There should also be a redirect or disambiguator at The Wailers and Wailers. In most cases, backing bands do not need their own articles; there are exceptions, such as The Wailers and E Street Band.

  • This may not apply in certain circumstances, such as when the lead performers and the band are not considered one unit. For example, if Eddie Vedder conducted a tour with The Temptations, they might be billed as Eddie Vedder and The Temptations. In these circumstances, do not use Eddie Vedder & the Temptations, but Eddie Vedder and The Temptations.

Titles (classical music and opera)Edit

The capitalization of 'true name' (as opposed to 'generic name' ) titles of classical music and operas should follow the style used in the leading reference works: New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Dictionary of Opera and The Viking Opera Guide:

  1. For English works, and works well-known in translation under an English name, capitalize the first word and all major words e.g. The Wand of Youth, Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, Ride of the Valkyries (music); The Barber of Seville, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (opera).
  2. For titles in their original foreign language, the style used is "sentence capitalization". That is, the title is capitalized as it would be in a sentence in that language. This is the style used, not only by the major music reference works, but also by the Chicago Manual of Style. While there may be occasional exceptions, general rules can be given for various languages which hold true in the vast majority of instances:


Trivial information (anecdotes, unrelated cultural influences, and other peripheral content etc.) is not appropriate on Wikipedia. It should only be included if the information can be reasonably expected to be of interest to a typical reader of the article in question.

If a particular fact is worthy of inclusion, it should be placed in a proper context, in the body of the article. Do not use the ==Trivia== (or an equivalent, such as ==Miscellany==) subheading except on a temporary basis.


Images of collectibles (coins, banknotes, postage stamps, souvenirs and similar items) in music articles should meet the following conditions:

  1. Images should be free of copyright, or have a valid fair use rationale that satisfies WP:NFCC, specifically 'Criteria 8' (Significance): "Non-free content is used only if its presence would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding."
  2. Inclusion should contribute to information about the subject of the article, not be used to obtain credibility and value for the collectible by associating it with the subject.
  3. The information should be of interest to the average reader of the music article. It should not be trivia.

Coins, notes, stamps etc. in general circulation are more likely to meet these criteria than 'collectors' issues.


Some musical terms have multiple possible meanings. Unless a different meaning is obvious from the context (e.g., in a quote), use the same terminology as Wikipedia titles.

  1. Popular music is a broad category that is frequently compared to 'classical music' or folk music; it need not be particularly popular. Pop music is mainstream, commercial, chart-topping music.
  2. 'Classical music' is a broad term for mainstream Western tradition music dating from the Medieval period onwards. The term 'classical music' did not exist before about 1836, when it was used to refer to the music of the Classical era (of roughly 1750–1820). Many editors feel that it is inappropriate for music written since the end of the 19th century, hence apostrophes are commonly used as a short-hand for 'so-called'. (Unless it is clear from the context, do not refer to 'classical music' without qualifying it as 'Western', 'Indian', etc.)
  3. Folk music is orally transmitted and generally informal and non-commercial. Traditional music and roots music are assumed synonyms.
    1. Music such as that of Bob Dylan should be described as and linked to something more specific, such as roots revival.
  4. Hip hop music is a music genre. The act of rapping is performed by rappers. When referring to a genre, hip hop should be used, except in circumstances such as gangsta rap. The word hip hop is, like most music genres, not capitalized; it is also not hyphenated.
  5. The use of titles within articles should follow the same conventions as for titles; see #Titles and section headings.

See alsoEdit