Help:Style guide

Help page

Depending on which writing style people have been taught in school and which region they are from, there are going to be differences in opinion about how words are typed and used on Portal Wiki.

This guide will hopefully help people adhere to a consistent standard of style and formatting throughout Portal Wiki articles. Covering all situations would take a long time and the following is only meant to be a reference for Portal Wiki specific guidelines. For a complete manual of style the Wikipedia Manual of Style should be consulted.

Article titles

Article titles should be short, simple, and to the point. As a general rule, the first word should be capitalized and any subsequent words should be lowercase. This isn't a hard and fast rule though, and some words may be capitalized to adhere to other guidelines (see specific wording). Superfluous words such as "properly", "correctly", and "the right way" should be avoided, as should the use of pronunciation marks. Articles are usually about one subject, so the title should not be on multiple topics.

Examples of good titles

  • GLaDOS responses
  • Thermal Discouragement Beam
  • Chell
  • Weighted Storage Cube

Examples of bad titles

  • How to solve chapter 1

Introduction (lead)

The introduction of a Portal Wiki article is the section before the first heading. The table of contents, if displayed, appears between the lead section and the first headline.

The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article, briefly describing its most important points. It should contain up to four paragraphs and should be written in a clear, accessible style so as to invite a reading of the full article.

The article's subject should be mentioned at the earliest natural point in the prose within the first sentence, and should appear in boldface. For example:

The Valve Steam and game statistics allows Valve to monitor player and server statistics through Steam.

General writing style

Articles should be written in the third-person if possible. Although writing on Portal Wiki doesn't need to be neutral, you should try to avoid personal references. Sentences such as "I like to duck behind the boxes because it gives me better cover." could easily be phrased as "Ducking behind the boxes provides better cover".

Formatting functions like bold, italics, and linking are provided to improve readability of articles, therefore use them (see the Wikipedia cheatsheet for additional help). If you wish to emphasize a word, use italics rather than bold or CAPITALS. Use of the bold face type should be limited within an article whenever possible to definitions, table headers, and name highlighting (although names should be highlighted only once in an article). Double emphasis should also be avoided, but can be used for text such as important warnings by making the word bold italic. Italics are also used in titles of works in media (comics, games, books, videos, music, poems, etc.) whether published by Valve or others.

Do not use
  • Instant messenger language abbreviations - R U OK?
  • Emoticons - :)
  • Excessive punctuation - !!!
  • Sentences starting with lowercase - "first, place a portal in the corner"

Spelling and grammar

For a broader list of detailed style conventions, see Help:Style guide/A-Z

National variations of English will occur depending on the nationality of the author. There is no preferred variation for articles and users should be aware of this, however consistency should be maintained. If the article was written in American English, then this form should be used throughout – British English, Canadian English, or Australian English users should not change it to their variation part way through.

If possible, try to avoid the situation altogether by using common substitutions. For instance "analyze the situation" could be changed to "examine the situation".

This does not extend to the discussion pages where users can use variations freely.

General spelling and grammar should be legible and correct. Use the preview button to check your work for errors before you submit your edit. If English is not your first language or you have difficulties with writing, it is recommended you bring up your point in discussion so that other editors may add it. This makes copy-editing additions much easier.

Overlinking and underlinking

For a complete guide to linking, please refer to Wikipedia's Manual of Style (linking).

The use of links is a difficult balance between providing the reader enough useful links to allow them to "wander through" articles and excessive linking that can distract them from their reading flow.

Underlinking can cause the reader to become frustrated because questions may arise about the article's contents that can only be resolved by using the search option or other sources for clarification, interrupting and distracting the reader.

Overlinking may distract the reader because links are usually colored differently causing the eye to shift focus constantly. Additionally, if the same word is linked multiple times in the same paragraph it can cause the reader to question if the links are directing them to different articles or not. Excessive linking is defined as multiple linking of the same term, or a high concentration of links that almost certainly appear needlessly on the viewer's screen.

Remember, the purpose of links is to direct the reader to a new spot at the point(s) where the reader is most likely to take a temporary detour due to needing more information.

The guidelines for linking are:

  • No more than 10 percent of the words in an article are contained in links.
  • Links for any single term generally should not be repeated in the same article.
  • Duplicating an important link in a larger article can be justified in some situations. If an important term appears many times in a long article, but is only linked once at the very beginning of the article, it may actually be underlinked. Indeed, readers who jump directly to a subsection of interest may find such a repeated link useful. But, take care in fixing such problems, the distance between duplicate links is an editor's preference, however if in doubt duplicate the term further down the article.
  • Disambiguation and other lists: The general wiki style is exactly one link per line of a list; ideally, that link should be to the article for subject of the line. Any temptation to add more links in the line is usually to add links that are already in the first or second sentence of the linked article, and, so are totally unnecessary in the list.
  • Adding links to established articles: New editors are often tempted to add links to established pages. Generally, the level of linking on this wiki's pages are more than adequate; so, you should add a link only where you honestly do not know what the page is discussing at that point.

Specific wording

Portal Wiki

When using the name of the wiki in articles, the name should be used in two ways:

Short hand
Portal Wiki
Long hand
The Unofficial Portal Wiki

Characters, items, and terms

Names of the Portal Characters will generally be capitalized (Chell, GLaDOS, etc). Normally English nouns within a sentence are lowercased (atlas and p-body); however, when referred to within the context of Portal, they are treated as proper nouns and thus capitalized. Words and abbreviations of specific names should be capitalized unless referring to things that have become general types. This will also apply to names of Cubes, Items and terms (see glossary) within Portal, however if the name has more than one word, any successive words should be title-cased.

In the case of items prefixed with "Aperture Science", for example: "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device", we require the "Aperture Science" be exempt from the article name and references to the object of topic. The correct version of the above example would be: "Handheld Portal Device".

Also keep in mind to avoid using and including unnecessary definite articles. For instance, avoid creating pages with titles such as; "The Enrichment Centre" etcetera. Instead use titles such as the following; "Enrichment Centre" etcetera.


  • Weighted Storage Cube, not Weighted storage cube
  • Aperture Science, not Aperture science
  • (Note: Any other examples are welcome.)

When referring to the player or the Co-op bots, Atlas and P-body, gender neutral pronouns such as "they" and "their" are used. For example: "The player can pick up the radio." or "Atlas can fire their purple portal".


When adding data that has been recently changed or added via patch, do not add a note stating that it was added on the '[Date] Patch' but instead write it as if the new data was always the norm unless the old data is somehow relevant. This is to avoid pages that talk about "recently patched data" which is now years old, as well as articles that have long sections of outdated information followed by "However, this was patched and now does not work".


Walkthrough contain advice instead of neutral statements about gameplay, so writing "you," giving commands, being accurate and being brief are preferred to encyclopedic language. Whenever applicable, the scope of a strategy should be specified. In some cases, this will require phrases that are normally weasel words, such as "probably" and "on occasion."

Unique cases

In order to avoid ambiguity, certain considerations should be followed for specific topics and words.

  • "Binds": Many players don't play on a PC, and even those that do often times don't use default key assignments. References to commands should refer to those commands in simple, bind-neutral terms – including default key assignments – only as extra information (possibly added in parentheses, and not repeated at additional mentions of the same command within the article). For example, "hit Mouse1 to fire a blue portal" would be more appropriately phrased "fire a blue portal (default Mouse1 on a PC, left trigger on an XBox 360, R1 on a PS3)" or, if recently described with key bindings already, simply "fire a blue portal".

See also