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විකිපීඩියා:Manual of Style/Medicine-related articles

විකිපීඩියා වෙතින්
මෙම ලිපියේ අඩංගු කරුණු සැකෙවින්:
  • Article titles use the scientific or medical name.
  • Write for the average reader and a general audience—not professionals or patients.
  • Explain medical jargon or use plain English instead if possible.
  • Become familiar with the common sections, info boxes and citation templates.
  • Use the highest-quality medical sources available.
  • Avoid trivia sections and external link farms.

This is the style guide for editing medical articles. The general rules from the Wikipedia:Manual of Style also apply when writing medical articles.

Article titles


The article title should be the scientific or recognised medical name that is most commonly used in recent, high-quality, English-language medical sources, rather than a lay term (unscientific or slang name)[1] or an historical eponym that has been superseded.[2] The alternative names may be specified in the lead.[3] Create redirects to the article to help those searching with alternative names. For example, heart attack redirects to myocardial infarction. Please also add alternative names to the Wikidata entry (just fill in the blank labeled "Also known as" at the top of the Wikidata page about the subject). For more information please see the Trials Data Model.

The article title is subject to the same sourcing standards as the article content. Where there is a dispute over a name, editors should cite recognised authorities and organisations rather than conduct original research.[4]

Where there are lexical differences between the varieties of English, an international standard may be helpful, though Wikipedia generally discourages changing existing article usage. Some terminology is in flux and recently proposed names may not yet be widespread in adoption. Some examples of international standards include:

Titles requiring disambiguation


When one single term is used to describe two different topics, article titles must be disambiguated to resolve naming conflicts. To accomplish this, disambiguating words are used in parentheses after the article titles. When disambiguating a medicine- or anatomy-related article from an article about a totally different topic, the appropriate disambiguating words are "medicine" or "anatomy", respectively.

For example, "nail" may refer to several items, including a fingernail or a pin-shaped metal object used in construction. In this case, the appropriate article titles are Nail (anatomy) for the fingernail, and Nail (fastener) for the piece of hardware. Because neither of these articles can be considered a primary topic for the term, Nail is a disambiguation page that lists both articles.

When the medical or anatomical context is the primary use of the term, the article should not use a disambiguation word. For instance, the primary and most common use of the word "foot" is for the body part at the end of the leg. Thus, Foot is the appropriate title of the article; while Foot (unit) is an article about the unit of measurement called foot. Use of "anatomy" is not appropriate.

In cases when a medical- or anatomy-related term is a secondary use for a more common usage, only the medical (or anatomical) article requires a disambiguation. Most commonly, "percussion" is used to describe an instrument that makes sound when struck, so Percussion links directly to the article about the instrument; the medical-usage of the term is located at Percussion (medicine).

When there are two or more distinct uses for the same term within medicine or anatomy, using the disambiguation word "medicine" or "anatomy" will not be sufficient for distinction between topics. In this situation, the general medical specialty (for medicine) or specific body part (for anatomy) should be used. For example, "foramen ovale" may refer to either the structure of the skull or the heart. Therefore, the appropriate article names are Foramen ovale (skull) and Foramen ovale (heart), respectively. Since neither anatomical structure is a primary topic for the term, Foramen ovale is a disambiguation page.

Common pitfalls


Writing for the wrong audience


Wikipedia is written for the general reader. It is an encyclopedia, not a comprehensive medical or pharmaceutical resource, nor a first-aid (how-to) manual. Although healthcare professionals and patients may find much of interest, these two groups do not by themselves represent the target audience.

Signs of writing or editing for (other) healthcare professionals
  • You give technical advice, particularly for the steps in a thorough diagnostic workup.
  • You use jargon when there are suitable plain English words (for example, consider using "kidney" rather than "renal").
  • You use the word "patients" or "cases" when describing those who have a medical condition (see below).
  • You overstate controllable risks in the hope that your patients will be more compliant with your directions.
  • You make sure that readers know that your process or product is patented.
  • You list every unusual manifestation ever reported, because it might help someone correctly diagnose an atypical case.
  • You use a writing style appropriate only for graduate-level courses, because that's what you see in peer-reviewed journal articles and professional reference works.
Signs of writing or editing for (other) patients or their caregivers
  • You use the word "you" when describing those who have a medical condition.
  • You give advice, particularly when medical help should be sought or is required.
  • You are tempted to lift text from a patient information leaflet or website.
  • You mention treatments or practices that you've read about in a newspaper or from personal experience.
  • You add "helpful" external links, such as forums, self-help groups and local charities.
  • You emphasize or de-emphasize verifiable facts so that readers will make the "right" choice in the real world.
  • You play down information that might discourage patients (for example, that a disease is typically fatal), or you give undue attention to individual success stories.
  • You use a writing style appropriate for 12-year-olds, because the sixth grade reading level is recommended for patient information leaflets.

Sometimes you add information that is specific to one country: for example, drug-licensing and health-service provisions. In contrast, you should maintain an international perspective: for example, by seeking out English-language sources from non-English-speaking countries.

A guide for journalists, published by the RTCIL at the University of Kansas, on how to translate the writings of researchers into something understandable to the general public is available here.

Avoid lists of trivia by working these tidbits of information into the main body text. Sections on history or on popular culture may help to structure such factoids.

Articles with sections on research should be sourced to reviews and should describe research directions, rather than discussing specific studies and their results. Sections with simply a "Research" header have a risk of developing into miscellaneous and unorganized dumps of random studies, with over-emphasis on the names of the people who conducted the studies, their research institutions etc. Wikipedia is not a place to gather random studies nor is it a place to write a review from scratch, as this is original research. Articles about health and medicine should generally not cite primary sources, more details about which can be found at WP:MEDRS. Readers generally want to understand research directions in any case. See Alzheimer's disease#Research directions § Notes for an example.

Careful language


Medical usage of common terms often differs from that of the general public. This pitfall is particularly common with medical terms that are used in legal contexts, with related but significantly different meanings. (See the Manual of Style.) In addition, note that:

  • Technical terms
    • Approved and indicated mean different things, and should not be used interchangeably. Indications refer to common medical uses for a drug. Approval is a regulatory issue, which varies from country to country. Off-label refers to the use of a drug for a purpose for which it is not approved.
    • Sometimes positive and negative medical test results can have, respectively, negative and positive implications for the person being tested. For example, a negative breast cancer-screening test is very positive for the person being screened.
    • The term significant can refer to either statistical significance or clinical significance. Statistical significance means that the results would be unlikely under pure chance. Clinical significance means that the results are large enough to be noticed by the patient and will make a difference in the effect of the disease or condition on the patient. For example, a reduction of one ounce of body weight may be statistically significant in a large population, but has no clinical significance for the individual. Linking to statistical significance may be useful.
    • Do not confuse patient-group prevalence figures with those for the whole population that have a certain condition. For example: "One third of XYZ patients" is not always the same as "One third of people with XYZ", since many people with XYZ may not be seeking medical care.
    • Correctly identify what your source discusses, without generalizing or interpreting it to related ideas. If the source talks about the effect of a single chemical purified from a plant (e.g., aspirin from white willow bark), do not misrepresent the work as referring to the whole plant from which it was derived. Similarly, if the source talks about effects in cultured cells or non-human animals, do not misrepresent the work as demonstrating anything about humans.
    • Avoid using the potentially ambiguous term doctor to refer specifically to physicians or surgeons. Avoid using doctor or physician in ways that incorrectly exclude other licensed healthcare professionals, such as nurses, physician assistants, and midwives.
    • Allopathy is potentially confusing to readers in different cultures, as it could refer to traditional enantiopathic preparations or to mainstream modern medicine, depending on context. Avoid using allopathic to describe modern Western medicine; instead use conventional medicine or mainstream medicine. Not all mainstream medicine is actually evidence-based medicine, and not all alternative medicine is traditional medicine. See Wikipedia:Alternative medicine for help with terminology.
  • Neutral labels
    • Choose appropriate words when describing medical conditions and their effects on people. Words like disease, disorder, or affliction are not always appropriate. Independently observed medical signs are not self-reported symptoms. Avoid saying that people "suffer" from or are "victims" of a chronic illness or symptom, which may imply helplessness: identifiers like survivor, affected person or individual with are alternate wordings.
    • The phrase psychologically addictive has so many conflicting definitions that it is essentially meaningless. Replace the term with something specific. If you want to convey that a drug does not cause tolerance, or that its withdrawal syndrome is not life-threatening, then state that.
    • The term drug abuse is vague and judgmental. In a medical context, it generally refers to recreational use that carries serious risk of physical harm or addiction. However, others use it to refer to any illegal drug use. The best accepted term for non-medical use is recreational use.
    • Many patient groups, particularly those that have been stigmatised, prefer person-first terminology—arguing, for example, that seizures are epileptic, people are not. An example of person-first terminology would be people with epilepsy instead of epileptics. In contrast, not all medical conditions are viewed as being entirely disadvantageous by those who have them. Some groups view their condition as part of their identity (for example, most deaf or autistic people) and reject this terminology. For more information see:

Suicide and self-harm


Suicide and self-harm should be written about in an encyclopedic tone, without undue emphasis.

  • Detailed descriptions of suicidal actions, comments about how people reacted to a death, and other emotional content are forms of sensationalism and are not appropriate for encyclopedia articles. If you are uncertain whether a detail would belong in a well-written encyclopedic summary of the subject, then err on the side of omitting it.
  • Suicide and self-harm are complex behaviors with multi-factorial causes. Do not oversimplify the causes of suicide. Omit information about suicide notes and simplistic speculation on causes. Some errors include:
    • assuming that all people who attempt suicide have a mental illness,
    • assuming that people who attempt suicide actually want to be dead (e.g., vs. wanting to avoid a current or feared problem),
    • ascribing motivations to actions, such as saying that self-harming behaviors are "a cry for help" or to "send a message", and
    • presenting suicide or self-harm as a "solution" to any problem. This is romantic and unencyclopedic.
  • Wikipedia is not a how-to manual. Well-written encyclopedia articles do not provide step-by-step instructions for anything, including suicide and self-harm behaviors.
  • Language choices sometimes carry connotations that are not obvious to every editor. A term or phrase that sounds normal to you might sound stigmatising, offensive, or biased to someone else. Here are some common tips, but if someone suggests a change, try to learn about their viewpoint and see if a better approach can be found.
    • Do not describe suicide or other self-harm actions as being successful, unsuccessful, or failed. This is unclear and judgmental.
    • All deaths should be reported with equal brevity and clarity. For example, if you would have written "He died as a result of cancer" for a cancer death under reasonably similar circumstances, then write "He died as a result of suicide" for a suicide death.
    • The phrase committed suicide is not banned on the English Wikipedia.[6] However, many external style guides discourage it as being potentially stigmatising and offensive to some people. There are many other appropriate, common, and encyclopedic ways to describe a suicide, including:
      • died as a result of suicide
      • died by suicide
      • died from suicide
      • killed themself
      • took their own life
      • The cause of death was suicide.
    • Avoid metaphorical and euphemistic language like lost her battle with depression.
    • There are real-world disputes about some terms (e.g., medical aid in dying). The choice of terms may carry bias (e.g., by de-emphasizing a connection to suicide or medicalizing an action).

Medicine-related articles must adhere strictly to Wikipedia's copyright policies. Whether something is copyrighted is not always apparent. For example, the official descriptions of mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are copyrighted, as are most questionnaires used for medical screening purposes.

The overall writing style of an article should reflect Wikipedia's nature as an encyclopedia.

  • Do not address the reader directly. Ensure that your writing does not appear to offer medical advice. However, a disclaimer to this effect is never required[7] since the general disclaimer can be accessed from any page on Wikipedia. Statements using the word should frequently provide inappropriate advice (e.g., "People with this symptom should seek medical care") instead of plain statements of facts.
  • Rely on wikilinks to help articles stay focused and to avoid placing undue weight on peripheral details. For example, when writing about a blood test, don't include the normal venipuncture procedures or the type of Vacutainer generally used. Instead, link to the normal procedures but provide any important and unusual information in the article you are working on.

Wikipedia is not a medical primary resource

  • Wikipedia articles are not textbooks.
    • Most mnemonics and rules of thumb are not informative of the subject matter relevant to an encyclopedia. They are a form of memorable poetry, to aid medical students in recalling voluminous facts and procedures, and to pass examinations. They also risk non-neutrality when they winsomely express a point-of-view, reduce a complex subject to a simplified rote, or suggest an unverifiable authority. Just give the plain information, without the artificial and distracting adornment of memory aids.
  • Wikipedia is not a procedural manual. Don't give "how-to" instructions. For example, when writing about a specific surgery, don't list all the equipment that will be needed or give advice on how to hold, store, use or clean it. Instead describe the guidelines and procedures in a reader-neutral manner, perhaps by using passive voice.
  • Wikipedia is not a collection of case studies, and excessive examples should be avoided.

Cite sources, don't describe them


Sources should be used to make verifiable statements, but the sources themselves should not normally be discussed in an article.

  • Do not provide a detailed analysis of an individual study unless the analysis itself is taken from a published reliable source. Wikipedia should concisely state facts about a subject. It should not discuss the underlying literature at any length. Generally speaking, the facts will be found in the conclusions or results section of a study, not in the detailed methodology. Articles that rely on secondary sources are less likely to fall into the trap of discussing the size of a single study, its methodology, its biases, and so forth. Thus, you should write "washing hands after defecating reduces the incidence of diarrhea in the wilderness", not "An uncontrolled survey involving 132 experienced long-distance backpackers on the Appalachian trail in 1997 concluded that washing hands after defecating reduces the incidence of diarrhea in the wilderness."
  • Do not hype a study by listing the names, credentials, institutions, or other "qualifications" of their authors. The text of the article should not needlessly duplicate the names, dates, titles, and other information about the source that you list in the citation. Always omit professional titles and academic degrees: use "Smith" or "Jones" rather than "Dr Smith" or "Prof Jones". It is necessary to specifically include such information only when a specific individual is being cited as an example of a person holding a minority view: You might write, "The AIDS Denialist Society says that HIV is entirely harmless", but just use a plain statement for the widely accepted fact, "HIV causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome."
  • Do not publish your own views about studies.

Technical terminology


Good encyclopedic writing will naturally teach the reader new words and help them build confidence with harder ones. While this can be done explicitly, with definitions in parenthesis for example, the most natural way to achieve this is to use the idiomatic words, the "proper" words for something, in context. Good writing will allow the reader to pick up enough of the meaning from this context.[8]

When faced with an advanced technical word or medical jargon, consider whether the reader needs to know it to understand this article you are writing. Is it used repeatedly later? Is it a term a doctor will have to use with their patient when talking about this subject, or just something only doctors would say or write among themselves? When mentioning technical terms for the first time, also provide a short plain-English explanation if possible. If the concept is too elaborate for this, wikilink to other articles (or Wiktionary entries). If the technical word is necessary, but not used again in the article, it may be appropriate to use plain English instead and place the technical term within parentheses.

For terms related to anatomical position, you can link to Anatomical terms of location, e.g. [[Anatomical terms of location|lateral]].

Use the nonproprietary name when referring to a drug in medical articles. Wikilinked instances of the name may be followed by the proprietary name in parentheses: "trastuzumab (Herceptin)".

Infoboxes should be used where appropriate. These include

Full instructions are available on the page for each infobox. A suitable picture for the infobox is encouraged. For drugs, the 2D structure in SVG format is preferred, but PNG is acceptable. The easiest way to populate the drugbox and protein templates is to use Diberri's template-filling web site. Search DrugBank for the drug and enter the ID[9] in this page, or search HUGO for the protein and enter the ID[10] in this page.

Content sections


The following lists of suggested sections are intended to help structure a new article or when an existing article requires a substantial rewrite. Changing an established article simply to fit these guidelines might not be welcomed by other editors. The given order of sections is also encouraged but may be varied, particularly if that helps your article progressively develop concepts and avoid repetition. Do not discourage potential readers by placing a highly technical section near the start of your article.

An appropriate list of appendices follows at the end of articles for citations and other resources.

Diseases or disorders or syndromes


Clinical articles can achieve a level of consistency by limiting their top-level headers to those specified below. However, the spectrum of medical conditions is huge, including infectious and genetic diseases, chronic and acute illness, the life-threatening and the inconvenient. Some sections will necessarily be absent or may be better merged, especially if the article is not (yet) fully comprehensive.

A disease that is now only of historical significance may benefit from having its History section moved towards the top. Establishing the forms of the disease (Classification) can be an important first section. However, if such classification depends heavily on understanding the cause, pathogenesis or symptoms, then that section may be better moved to later in the article. If a disease is incurable, then the Prognosis section can be moved up, and a section called Management is more appropriate than Treatment.

The following list of suggested headings contains wikilinks; the actual headings should not.

  • Classification: If relevant. May also be placed as a subheading of Diagnosis.
  • Signs and symptoms or Characteristics or Presentation (subsection Complications)
  • Causes: Includes risk factors, triggers, genetics, virology (e.g., structure/morphology and replication), spread.
  • Mechanism: For information about pathogenesis and pathophysiology.
  • Diagnosis: Includes characteristic biopsy findings and differential diagnosis.
  • Prevention or Screening (If the section only discusses secondary prevention, it should follow the treatment section.)
  • Treatment (or Management, especially for chronic conditions): This might include any type of currently used treatment, such as diet, exercise, medication, palliative care, physical therapy, psychotherapy, self care, surgery, watchful waiting, and many other possibilities. Consider discussing treatments in a plausible order in which they might be tried, or discussing the most common treatments first. Avoid experimental/speculative treatments and preventive measures (e.g., prophylactic vaccines or infection-avoidance techniques). Wikipedia articles should not be written in a "how-to" style, but this does not prevent adding official guidelines of treatments or managements if these can be presented in an objective manner and with medically reliable sources.
  • Outcomes or Prognosis. May also be labeled "Possible outcomes" or "Outlook".
  • Epidemiology: factors such as incidence, prevalence, age distribution, and sex ratio.
  • History: Early discoveries, historical figures, and outdated treatments (not patient history)
  • Society and culture: This might include social perceptions, cultural history, stigma, economics, religious aspects, awareness, legal issues, and notable cases.
  • Research directions: Include only if addressed by significant sources. See Trivia, and avoid useless statements like "More research is needed". Wikipedia is not a directory of clinical trials or researchers.
  • Special populations, such as Geriatrics or Pregnancy or Children
  • Other animals

Drugs, treatments, and devices


The lead should highlight the name of the treatment product as per normal guidelines.

In the case of drugs, this would include the International Nonproprietary Name, while the BAN or USAN variant may also be mentioned with title words in bold. The initial brand name(s) and manufacturer follows, in parentheses. Indicate the drug class and family and the main indications. The External links section is a magnet for online pharmacy spam and should be avoided if possible.

Try to avoid cloning drug formularies such as the BNF and online resources like RxList and Drugs.com. Extract the pertinent information rather than just dumping low-level facts in a big list, which should be avoided. For example, a long list of side effects is largely useless without some idea of which are common or serious. It can be illuminating to compare the drug with others in its class, or with older and newer drugs. Do not include dose, titration or pricing information except when they are extensively discussed by secondary sources, necessary for the discussion in the article, or when listing equivalent doses between different pharmaceuticals. Wikipedia is not an instruction manual or textbook and should not include instructions, advice (legal, medical or otherwise) or "how-to"s. See also the Wikipedia:Medical disclaimer.

The following list of suggested headings contains wikilinks; the actual headings should not.

Surgeries and procedures

  • Uses (or Medical uses if clarification is required)
  • Contra-indications
  • Risks/Complications
  • Technique (avoid step-by-step instructions)
  • Recovery or Rehabilitation
  • History (e.g., when it was invented)
  • Society and culture (includes legal issues, if any)
  • Special populations
  • Other animals

Signs or symptoms


Most articles about medical signs and symptoms should follow the below recommended structure. Omit sections that your sources do not address and combine sections when this seems sensible. For example, the definition of some signs is amply covered by an explanation of the mechanism, so having a section dedicated to the definition would be redundant.

  • Definition (current definitions)
  • Differential diagnoses
  • Pathophysiology or Mechanism
  • Diagnostic approach or Evaluation
  • Treatment or Management (for the symptom itself, if any: e.g., analgesics for pain)
  • Epidemiology (incidence, prevalence, risk factors)
  • History (of the science, not of the patient: e.g., "The oldest surviving description is in a medical text written by Avicenna.")
  • Society and culture (e.g., cachexia was a literary symbol for tuberculosis in the 19th century and for AIDS in the 1980s.)
  • Research (Is anything important being done?)
  • Other animals

Articles about diagnostic tests or other medical tests may follow this suggested order. Many articles will only need some of these sections. This might also be a useful model for certain procedures.

While a general description of procedures may have encyclopedic value, articles about tests and other medical procedures should not provide step-by-step directions, patient instructions, disclaimers or warnings. Wikipedia is not an instruction manual and does not give medical advice.

  • Types, if more than one kind or variant of the test or procedure exists
  • Medical uses or Uses, including approved indications, non-approved indications (also called off-label uses), and contraindications
    • Interpretation of results, including accuracy and specificity of test results
  • Adverse effects
  • Procedure
    • Preparation
  • Mechanism, how the test or procedure works
  • Legal issues, such as whether special counseling is mandated, if any
  • History of the test
  • Society and culture
  • Research
  • Veterinary use
  • Structure including a description of location and size, course, insertions and attachments. Possible subsections for blood supply, lymphatic drainage and nerve supply if these are complex enough. If covered on the same page, subsections may be devoted to individual substructures.
    • Variations, describing variations, if appropriate
    • Development, discussing the embryological/foetal and early-life development of the structure. May be included as a subsection in "Structure", especially for minor anatomical structures.
    • Microanatomy or Histology, where appropriate
  • Function or Physiology as appropriate
  • Clinical significance, discussing related diseases, medical associations with the structure, and use in surgery.
  • Society and culture, which may be excluded in minor anatomical structures.
  • History, describing the structure and the etymology of the word. Etymology may be included as a separate subsection, if sufficient information exists.
  • Other animals, which may include comparative anatomy for discussing non-human anatomy in articles that are predominantly human-based.
  • Additional images may be used to display high-quality images, preferably in a gallery format. Each image must help the reader understand the subject and should provide something unique.


  • The lead should begin by stating in the most general form the location and purpose of the structure. For example, "The metatarsals are bones found in the human foot."
  • A link to the Commons image category for images may be provided in the "See also" section. If article makes use of anatomical terminology, please add {{Anatomy-terms}} or {{AT}} as the first link in the "See also" section.
  • "Nerve supply" is preferred to "innervation" as a subsection title.
  • If the article uses text from a public domain source, please add appropriate tags such as සැකිල්ල:TI as the first link in the section relating to references.
  • Do not add images: just because they are pretty; that are too similar to existing images; or several images of the same thing in different levels of zoom—assume instead that readers can use the gallery tool or click to see the image/more images on Commons. The {{Commons category}} link may be included in this section.

Medical specialties

  • Scope including typical diseases/medical conditions; include any important sub-specialties
  • History development of field, including notable founders
  • Investigations investigations, diagnostics, and related techniques used in specialty
  • Treatments
  • Training may be subdivided by country if necessary
  • Ethical and medicolegal issues any ethical issues that are specific to this field

This list of sections deliberately does not include: lists of professional organizations, training programs, publications, and companies working in the field.

Standard appendices


After the content of the article, please organize citations and other resources in the following order:

  • See also: Avoid the See also section when possible; prefer wikilinks in the main article and navigation templates at the end.
  • Notes and References: Both WP:General references and WP:Inline citations belong here.
  • Further reading: The Further reading section lists books and other publications (not usually websites) that were not used as references and that editors recommend to readers. These may be historically important publications, significant textbooks, or popular science works. (It is best if when adding a journal it is of a general review type.)
  • External links: Avoid if possible; see additional advice below.

Society and culture


Articles on medical conditions sometimes include lists of notable cases of the disease. For the person to be included in such a list there must be significant coverage of them having the condition, not simply a mention in passing or them self disclosing on social media. One restriction that some editors favor is to include only those individuals who have lastingly affected the popular perception of a condition, such as through public awareness campaigns that have received enduring media coverage.

Unsourced additions, particularly about living persons, must be removed. Responsibility for justifying controversial claims rests firmly on the shoulders of the editor making the claim. Be very firm about high-quality references, particularly about details of personal lives.

If the list is (or could be) long enough to support a separate article, then consider splitting it off. The format can be prose, such as Societal and cultural aspects of Tourette syndrome#Notable individuals § Notes, or a list, such as List of people with epilepsy. Regardless, such articles must be well verified or they may quickly end up deleted. Wikipedia's Naming conventions generally discourage the use of words such as "notable" or "famous" in such list titles.

Media portrayals


Before including in a disease or medication article that the topic was covered in a television show, movie, or book there must be significant third party coverage of the event. Therefore, it is not enough to reference the Internet Movie Database or the book itself. The event must have been commented on by the medical literature or mainstream press.

These details may be included in the article about the show or book based on criteria found in those guidelines.

Etymologies are often helpful, particularly for anatomy. Features that are derived from other anatomical features (that still have shared terms in them) should refer the reader to the structure that provided the term, not to the original derivation. For example, the etymology section of Deltoid tuberosity should refer the reader to the deltoid muscle, not to the definition 'delta-shaped, triangular'. The etymology in Deltoid muscle, however, should identify the Greek origin of the term.

In articles that focus on anatomy, please include the Latin (or Latinized Greek) name of anatomical objects, as this is very helpful to interwiki users and for people working with older scientific publications.

Many articles about eponymous diseases and signs include the origin of the name under the history section.


Disease-related organisations and government health departments sometimes produce web pages containing substantial information that would be of interest to readers wishing to further study the topic. Such links are chosen for the information content, not because the organisation is particularly worthy or helpful. All links must meet Wikipedia's external links guidelines, which in particular exclude discussion forums.

Don't use external links

  1. that lead to information already included in the article
  2. to web-based or email-based support groups for patients, professionals, or other affected people (even if run by a charitable organization)
  3. to local, state, or regional charities, hospitals, clinics, or programs, or to meetings or events in a single location
  4. to personal experiences or survivor stories
  5. that recruit for clinical trials, sell products, or raise money

If the disease is very rare, then a manageable set of charitable organisations may be of encyclopaedic interest. In these cases, prefer links that provide information that is likely to be interesting to readers worldwide, such as a detailed article on the specific topic. It is usually better to link to an external web page that lists such charities, rather than try to provide such a list ourselves. The {{Curlie}} template links to a directory based on the Open Directory Project that contains many such links. For example, on the Tourette syndrome page:

  * {{Curlie|Health/Conditions_and_Diseases/Neurological_Disorders/Tourette_Syndrome/Organizations}}


There are a number of templates that help format external links for common medical web sites. Full instructions are available on their respective pages. The most common ones are integrated in {{Medical resources}}.

Citing medical sources


Medical articles should be relatively dense with inline citations. It is not acceptable to write substantial amounts of prose and then add your medical textbook to the References section as a non-specific or general reference. It is too easy for a later editor to change the body text, and then nobody is sure which statements are backed up by which sources. Unlike many established scientific disciplines, medicine attracts controversy and opponents on even the most basic and commonly held facts.

There is no universal standard for formatting citations on Wikipedia, but the format should be consistent within any one article. Some editors format their citations by hand, for more control over the presentation. Most editors on biomedical topics prefer to use citation templates such as {{Cite journal}}, {{Cite book}}, {{Cite web}}, {{Cite press release}}, or {{Cite news}}. The now-deprecated alternative templates {{Cite doi}} and {{Cite pmid}} used to produce citations that did not match the above citation style.

Templated citations

In the visual editor, paste a PubMed URL into the automatic cite dialog, and it will fill out a {{cite journal}} template for you. Insert it, and then click the "Edit" button on the context menu to make any changes you want. In the "Manual" tab, you can choose other citation templates or insert non-templated footnotes.

Citations in the Vancouver format can be produced using the "vcite" family of templates rather than the standard templates. Simply replace the "Cite" with "vcite" when typing the template name: for example, {{vcite journal}}. AMA citation guidelines suggest that if there are more than six authors, include only the first three, followed by et al.[11] The Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (URM) citation guidelines list up to six authors, followed by et al. if there are more than six.[12] Some editors prefer to expand the abbreviated journal name; others prefer concise standard abbreviations.

Abstracts of most medical journals are freely available at PubMed, which includes a means of searching the MEDLINE database. The easiest way to populate the journal and book citation templates is to use Diberri's template-filling web site or the Universal reference formatter. Search PubMed for your journal article and enter the PMID (PubMed Identifier) into Diberri's template filler. If you use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox (2.0+), then Wouterstomp's bookmarklet can automate this step from the PubMed abstract page. Take care to check that all the fields are correctly populated, since the tool does not always work 100%. For books, enter the ISBN into Diberri's tool. Multiple references to the same source citation can be achieved by ensuring the inline reference is named uniquely. Diberri's tool can format a reference with the PMID or ISBN as the name. An alternative is to use a Harvard-style reference: for example, name=Hedley2004.

In addition to the standard citation text, it is important to supply hyperlinks, which greatly assist verification. If citation templates are used, these links can be supplied via the |pmid=, |doi=, |url= and |pmc= parameters. Do not add a "Retrieved on" date for convenience links to online editions of paper journals (however "Retrieved on" dates are needed on other websources).

A citation using {{cite journal}}:

{{cite journal |vauthors=Bannen RM, Suresh V, Phillips GN Jr, Wright SJ, Mitchell JC |title=Optimal design of thermally stable proteins |journal=Bioinformatics |volume=24 |issue=20 |pages=2339–2343 |year=2008 |pmid=18723523 |pmc=2562006 |doi=10.1093/bioinformatics/btn450 |url=//bioinformatics.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/20/2339 }}


  • Bannen RM, Suresh V, Phillips GN Jr, Wright SJ, Mitchell JC (2008). "Optimal design of thermally stable proteins". Bioinformatics. 24 (20): 2339–2343. doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btn450. PMC 2562006. PMID 18723523.

The alternative {{vcite journal}}:

{{vcite journal |authors=Bannen RM, Suresh V, Phillips GN Jr, Wright SJ, Mitchell JC |title=Optimal design of thermally stable proteins |journal=Bioinformatics |volume=24 |issue=20 |pages=2339–2343 |year=2008 |pmid=18723523 |pmc=2562006 |doi=10.1093/bioinformatics/btn450 |url=//bioinformatics.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/24/20/2339 }}


The date parameter should reflect the "Publication date" as given on PubMed or elsewhere, rather than a preprint e-pub date:

{{cite journal |vauthors=Meunier B, Robert A |title=Heme as trigger and target for trioxane-containing antimalarial drugs |journal=Acc Chem Res. |date=Nov 16, 2010 |volume=43 |issue=11 |pages=1444–1451 |type=Review |pmid=20804120 |doi=10.1021/ar100070k}}


  • Meunier B, Robert A (Nov 16, 2010). "Heme as trigger and target for trioxane-containing antimalarial drugs". Acc Chem Res. (Review). 43 (11): 1444–1451. doi:10.1021/ar100070k. PMID 20804120.

Hand-coded citations


Even when hand-coding citations, there are still template tools to assist editors with making these links. If the abstract of a journal article is available on PubMed, use the {{pmid}} template to add a link. If the article has a digital object identifier (DOI), use the {{doi}} template. If and only if the article's full text is freely available online, supply a uniform resource locator (URL) to this text by hyperlinking the article title in the citation. If the full text is freely available on the journal's website and on PubMed Central, prefer to link the former as PubMed central's copy is often a pre-publication draft. When the source text is available in both HTML and PDF, the former is preferred, as it is compatible with more browsers.

For example:

Levy R, Cooper P. [//www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD001903/frame.html Ketogenic diet for epilepsy.] Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD001903. {{doi|10.1002/14651858.CD001903}}. {{PMID|12917915}}.</ref>

produces the footnote


Suitable templates for navigation boxes can be found here:

Navigational boxes should follow a standardized style. Navboxes are constructed using the hlist class to organise material into horizontal lists. For more information, see WP:HLIST. As when choosing article titles, drugs should be referred to by their International Nonproprietary Names, using piped links when required.

Medical navboxes should be placed on appropriately specific articles and satisfy the general criteria found in WP:NAVBOX. General navboxes such as {{Medicine}} should not be placed indiscriminately on all articles. Conversely, specific navboxes such as {{Bone, cartilage, and joint procedures}} should not be placed on general articles such as surgery. Do not insert meta or "index" navboxes that link only to other navboxes.[13]

For drugs, footnotes may be manually added to indicate the regulatory status of a drug; for instance, one may wish to note that a drug is still in development, is only used in veterinary medicine, or has been withdrawn from the market. The recommended order of footnote symbols is: *, †, ‡, §. A standardised list can be included in drug navboxes by adding |below={{PharmNavFootnote}} Working examples may be seen in several navboxes, including {{Antiretroviral drug}} and {{Nucleic acid inhibitors}}.

Diseases or disorders or syndromes

Diseases/disorders/syndromes should be categorized within Category:Diseases and disorders by their ICD-10 code(s). These articles should not also be categorized by medical specialty or body part if they are properly categorized in a subcategory of Category:Diseases and disorders. If applicable, diseases/disorders/syndromes may also be categorized within subcategories of Category:Genetic disorders.


Drugs should be categorized within Category:Drugs by target organ system based on ATC code. Drugs can also be categorized by mechanism of action in Category:Drugs by mechanism of action and by physical structure.

Symptoms or signs

Symptoms and signs should be categorized in subcategories of Category:Symptoms and Category:Medical signs, respectively. Symptom categorization should be based on ICD-10 code.

Medical tests

Articles about medical tests themselves should be categorized in subcategories of Category:Medical tests based on the type of sample tested (e.g. Category:Blood tests). Diagnostic imaging should be categorized into subcategories of Category:Medical imaging (e.g. Category:Radiography for X-ray based imaging). Articles about results of medical tests should be categorized by ICD-10 code in subcategories of Category:Abnormal clinical and laboratory findings (e.g. Hyperglycemia is located in Category:Abnormal clinical and laboratory findings for blood).


Articles about anatomy should be categorized within subcategories of Category:Organs and Category:Organ systems.

Medical specialties

Major specialties practiced within the field of medicine should each have their own eponymous category within Category:Medical specialties. Articles for medical specialties should be a member of its eponymous category.


People with a medical condition should only be categorized within subcategories of Category:People by medical or psychological condition – not within any category for medical specialties, diseases or disorders categories. Where the categorization is at all contentious or doubtful, it should not be included. A source for the categorization must be provided within the article. See also the policy on living persons and guideline on categorizing people.


Stub articles may additionally be categorized according to the list at Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/Stub sorting.

Categorizing redirects


Please categorize redirects only if the redirect is for a significantly different alternative name, not minor variants on spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. Categorizing these redirects allows readers to find articles by browsing the categories, even if they only know one of the names for the condition.

Example: Acne aestivalis (article) and Mallorca acne (redirect) are two names for the same condition. Both the article and the redirect include Category:Acneiform eruptions.

Redirects that are categorized should be additionally tagged with {{R from alternative name}}, and the talk page may be tagged for the project with {{WPMED}}, with the class set to Redirect and the importance either left blank or set to NA.

Redirects to minor variations should not be categorized and should not be tagged with {{R from alternative name}}. Other {{R from}} templates may be appropriate on these redirects, such as {{R from alternative spelling}}, {{R from alternative capitalization}}, {{R from alternative punctuation}}, or {{R from plural}}.

In addition to the usual standards of image selection outlined by the Wikipedia:Image use policy and Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Images, which cover image quality and pertinence, several other considerations apply to articles about medical conditions:

  • Identifiable people: Although the Wikimedia Foundation does not require any special protection for people whose images are being used in medicine-related contexts, editors are encouraged to be especially cautious about associating living people with diseases. In general, identifiable images of people should be provided with the person's consent, and preferably this noted on the image's description (an example of an image with this is here). Where consent is not documented, good faith should be assumed. In choosing images of identifiable people with a medical condition, prefer images of people who are strongly associated with the condition (e.g., Terry Fox for osteosarcoma) or are engaged in a public activity associated with that disease (e.g., AIDS patients at an ACT UP event) when such images are available.
  • Technical images: Highly technical images, such as of stained pathology slides, are appropriate for many articles. However, they are often not the most accessible images for the introduction. Consider placing simpler images in the lead and placing more technical images in a specific, relevant section with captions in plain English.
  • Shock value: Some images of medical conditions or procedures disturb some readers, e.g., because of visible deformities or the presence of blood. Potentially disturbing images should not be used for their shock value, for decoration, or merely to add an image. A detailed caption that identifies specific features may simultaneously increase the educational value of the image and reduce the likelihood of disturbing readers. Placement in a highly relevant section, rather than in the introduction, is also likely to reduce the shock value to readers. Wikipedia:Offensive material offers additional advice.
  • Sexual images: Many medicine-related articles include images of genitals or other body parts normally kept covered, and a significant fraction of articles are directly related to sexuality. In general, Wikipedia aspires to be a high-quality reference source, and thus follows the general patterns of other high-quality reference sources. Doing so also helps editors comply with the directive from the Wikimedia Foundation's board of trustees to follow the principle of least astonishment in image selection. In some cases, these closely related principles of following the sources and not needlessly surprising readers means providing multiple photographs of genitals, even though that may offend some viewers. In other cases, this means using line art or other drawings. In still others, it means choosing non-sexual images. For example, images for anatomy articles should normally be taken from line art and unemotional photographs in the standard anatomical position, rather than from art nudes or pornography magazines. In general, editors should choose images of the sort they find in high-quality reliable sources, with the least distraction or irrelevancies (e.g., high heels on an otherwise naked woman or visible genitals in an image that is supposed to illustrate Navel), and use appropriate captions to maximize the educational value of the images. Wikipedia:WikiProject Sexology and sexuality/WIP-image-guidelines offers some additional advice.
  • POV pushing: On occasion, disputes arise over the neutrality of image choices. For example, an editor may want to include a picture of a person urinating outdoors to tell the world that urinating outdoors is natural and appropriate. An editor who denies the existence of AIDS may oppose inclusion of an image of the HIV particle because they believe the virus does not exist. Other editors have promoted the inclusion of long-term survivors of normally deadly diseases to "give other patients hope". None of these are good reasons for choosing or deleting images. Images should be chosen and located because they illustrate specific concepts described in the text they are attached to.
  1. ^ This convention was documented at the now-defunct WikiProject Clinical medicine,[1] and was the result of several discussions in 2004.[2] [3] [4]
  2. ^ Arguments for and against eponyms, plus background information, can be read at the List of eponymously named diseases.
  3. ^ These lists can evolve into bloated laundry lists by spammers; encyclopedic, sourced content such as "many generic brand names exist" is preferred.
  4. ^ Examples of original research include counting Google or PubMed results, comparing the size or relevance of the varieties of English, and quoting from personal or professional experience.
  5. ^ CBE Style Manual Committee (2002). "Chaper 19: Drugs and Pharmacokinetics". Scientific Style and Format: the CBE Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers (6th ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-521-47154-1.
  6. ^ See this RfC from January 2021 on the subject.
  7. ^ Templates for deletion: Medical
  8. ^ Readability Formulas: 7 Reasons to Avoid Them and What to Do Instead
  9. ^ DrugBank IDs follow the format APRDxxxxx, and may be found in the page's URL.
  10. ^ HUGO IDs follow the format hgnc_id=xxxx, and may also be found in the page's URL.
  11. ^ Delaney, Robert (November 8, 2006). "AMA Citation Style, American Medical Association Manual of Style" (9th ed.). Long Island University C.W. Post Campus, B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. සම්ප්‍රවේශය 2008-04-16.
  12. ^ "International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Sample References". MEDLINE/Pubmed Resources. United States National Library of Medicine. සම්ප්‍රවේශය 2009-10-08.
  13. ^ Consensus from February 2016 here