Virtual Skipper Wiki

This Manual of Style outlines a standard of clean, consistent formatting for articles on this wiki. The formatting described here is a guideline and can be overridden where circumstances warrant it. These guidelines will never be unerringly perfect for every situation. However, please try your best to keep to the advice outlined in this article so others may use your edits as an example when creating and editing their own articles.

These guidelines are a summary of the most important guidelines for this wiki, but a more expansive set of style guidelines can be found on Wikipedia at Wikipedia Manual of Style. A sample article based off these guidelines can be found on Project:Manual of Style/Sample.

Article layout[]

One of the most important parts of wiki editing is how to structure an article. The structure is a powerful thing: it dictates what information the reader reads and when he or she reads it. It can influence what people contribute, where it goes, and how it might be written. Structure has the power to inform or confuse the same way good or bad writing does. Keep a well structured article, and you're more likely to have a high quality one.

Organize sections in an article in a hierarchical structure like you would an outline. Keep it logical, but feel free to forsake strict logic for readability. Wherever possible, try to have an introduction for each section. Just like the article as a whole, each section should start with an introduction and then have its subsections below it. Try using a shallow structure rather than a deep one. Too many nested sections usually leads to a confusing or unreadable article.

Above all, keep your layout consistent. Don't throw your reader a curve ball too often. The following sections will offer some good advice on keeping your articles clean, consistent, and clear.

Lead section[]

Unless an article is very short, it should start with an introductory lead section, before the first subheading. The lead should not be explicitly entitled == Introduction == or any equivalent header. The table of contents, if displayed, appears after the lead section and before the first subheading.

The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article, establishing context, and explaining why the subject is interesting or notable. It should be just one or two paragraphs long, and should be written in a clear and accessible style so that the reader is encouraged to read the rest of the article.

If possible, make the title the subject of the first sentence of the article. For example, write:

For an observer standing at the stern and facing the bow the '''starboard''' side is the observer's right-hand side.

to produce:

For an observer standing at the stern and facing the bow the starboard side is the observer's right-hand side.

The first time the article mentions the title, put it in bold using three apostrophes — '''article title''' produces article title. Avoid other uses of bold in the first sentence, except for alternative titles of an article; for example:

A boat is said to gybe (also jibe in USA) when it changes course by turning so that the stern (and not the bow) passes through the direction from which the wind is blowing. See also: Sailing by the lee

Follow the normal rules for italics in choosing whether to put part or all of the title in italics. This will mainly apply to the titles of books and games:

The Demon Soul is a novel in the [[War of the Ancients]] trilogy.

Do not put links in the bold reiteration of the title in the article's lead sentence. For example, "The night [[elves]] are an ancient race..." versus "The night elves are an ancient race."

Table of contents[]

A table of contents will automatically appear in articles with a minimum of four headings (unless forced by the below options). By default this will be left-aligned above the first section heading.

  • To the force a TOC position (left-aligned): __TOC__
  • To completely remove the TOC from a page: __NOTOC__

The table of contents can be right-aligned - but only if it is very long (over 15 entries) and an information box is not occupying the top-right corner of the article (rare exceptions exist).

  • Right-aligned TOC that floats next to text: {{tocright}}

Section headings[]

Use the == (two equal signs) style markup for main headings, equivalent to <h2>. Each section heading becomes an entry in the article's table of contents (TOC). Do not use a single =. This is because a single = creates an <h1> heading which is already used by the page header and would be bad coding. Also, do not use any wiki links in subject headings. When edited, these sections become confusing in the edit history because of the link code. Consider instead putting the word in the first or second sentence of the section and using a wiki link there.

Casual headings
A useful alternative to a section heading is the definition format. This format does not produce a TOC entry. This paragraph as well as the one below labeled "Capital letters" both use this format which follows the syntax: ;Term: Definition of term ... viz.

;Capital letters: Capitalize the first letter of
:* only the first word in the title or heading
:* the first letter of any proper nouns in a heading
:* all letters of an acronym : and leave all of the other letters in lowercase.

Capital letters
Capitalize the first letter of
  • only the first word in the title or heading
  • the first letter of any proper nouns in a heading
  • all letters of an acronym
and leave all of the other letters in lowercase.

Use "How realistic is VSK racing?", not "How Realistic is VSK Racing?". Note that this bias in favor of lowercase is possibly different from section title rules you may encounter elsewhere. It works very well at wikipedia and has become widely adopted at other wikis ever since.

Avoid special characters in headings, such as an ampersand (&), a plus sign (+), curly braces ({}), or square braces ([]). In place of the ampersand, use the word "and" unless the ampersand is part of a formal name.

Always keep headings short and simple. Headings are guidelines to your page's structure and should inform the reader rather than confuse. To keep it short, avoid unnecessary words or redundancy in headings, i.e. avoid a, an, and the, pronouns, repeating the article title, and so on. Also, avoid giving identical titles to different sections - remember that section titles appear as entries in the article's TOC.

Acronyms and abbreviations[]

When first using an acronym or abbreviation in an article expand it. Note how this was done for the TOC acronym used in the previous section. If you don't plan on using the acronym a second time then there is no need for the acronym in the first place.

Redirect pages
Some abbreviations are likely to be used in articles throughout the wiki and these are best handled using internal links. For example, TWA is short for true wind angle and it is also one of the numeric readings on the in-game instrument panel. Since TWA is used to compute the layline and as a reference guide when choosing head-sail and so on and so forth, it is best handled as an internal link the first time it is used in an article or section. In this case the TWA link above is a redirect to the article Acronyms. For second and subsequent uses the wiki link format is usually not necessary but this will depend on the length of the article or section.

Redirects can be a useful way of setting up many-to-one mappings of jargon/terminology to one page that defines multiple terms. Example: Bow, Stern, Port are all redirects to the article with title Starboard.

ISAF RRS blockquote[]

In articles discussing a rule any quote from the ISAF Racing Rules of Sailing publication shall be identified by a colored block as follows:

direct quote from ISAF RRS

Note that when mouse cursor hovers over the quoted text a tool-tip style pop-up attributes the quote to ISAF RRS 2009-2012.

To make this both convenient and consistent the VSK template rrs has been created. viz.
{{rrs|begin}}direct quote from ISAF RRS{{rrs|end}}
That template is easily accessible from a table near the bottom of every edit page on this wiki. Just highlight the text and click on the link from the VSK templates list in that table.

This is designed to clearly separate the rules from the discussion/interpretation of the rules especially where the VSK implementation differs from the letter of the ISAF RRS. If ever this wiki is required to give some other form of attribution to ISAF for eeach quote from the RRS then that can easily be implemented by editing just the one template instead of searching and editing numerous articles.


File formats versus
(i) format features and
(ii) compatible free tools
Transparency y ? n n y y y
Animation y n n n n y ?
Scalable (zero loss) n n n y n y y
Scalable (lossy) y y y n y n n
Screenshots n n ok n ideal n y
Photographs n n ideal y n n y
Diagrams/Drawings y n n y y ideal y
Illustrated documents n n n ideal n n n
other noteworthy?
Please avoid! x x x
GIMP y y y n y y y
OOo Draw y ? n n y y n
IrfanView y y y n y y n
Adobe Reader n n n y n n n
other noteworthy?

Images make an article memorable and break up the tedium of black text on white background. They can speak where words fail. This is especially true when describing the relative positions of two sailboats as they move through the water. At the same time, misplaced or untidy images can detract from an article. When choosing images, keep in mind placement, size, and the appropriateness of the image to the section. Let images flow with the text instead of breaking it up.

  • Sometimes you'll need to place an image before it's text so the text appears alongside it
  • Use the {{Clr}} template before a new section title if you do not want a tall image to intrude into that new section.

Large images (such as a screen shot) should use the "thumb" option

  • [[File:Favicon.png|thumb|left]])

which displays a large image as a thumbnail in the article.


Smaller images and smaller thumbnails can be left aligned to break up the monotony. Larger images should generally be right aligned to enhance readability by allowing a smooth flow of text down the left margin.

  • If the opportunity presents, consider using the boat name "" if purposefully taking a screen shot to illustrate some game concept specifically for this wiki. This is a neutral name that should not attract any reaction when viewed here and it is also a way to promote the wiki.

If an infobox is not being used in an article, a right aligned picture in the very first section is encouraged. When placement of such a lead in image is interfered with by a wikia inserted advertisement use an empty table {| |} at the very first line of an article to force the ad format to be a banner-ad rather than a block-ad.

Avoid lossy file formats (such as JPG) and formats yielding very large file sizes (such as XCF). Instead choose formats that are friendly to web publishing and which support transparency.

  • SVG, PNG and GIF are strongly recommended.

SVG and GIF support animation which can be useful when illustrating boat maneuvers. Free tools such as IrfanView and the GIMP can prepare your screen shots for saving as JPG, PNG or GIF image files. OOo Draw can be used to save racing scenario illustrations in the scalable vector graphics format SVG.

For more information, see Help:Images.


When many images are relevant to an article, or he article can be improved by having more illustrations but, having numerous inline images is going to detract from the readability of the article, the use of a gallery element is encouraged. viz.

Markup Rendered

Racing situation illustrations[]

A list of files (mostly images) wanted for this wiki can be viewed at Special:WantedFiles.

Palette of icons in RSI.odt

If you are motivated to contribute to the wiki then you will be doing the community a great service to create SVG format images for the various race scenarios to illustrate the rules as well as other sailing situations described at this wiki. Suitable free tools include:

  • OOo ( Writer or OOo Draw (see also RSI.odt) OOo Draw will easily export to SVG format.
  • Inkscape ( Changing a boat's fill color is more complicated than in OOo.

At the present time image placeholders have been created on pages where illustrations are needed and a preference for animated or static images is indicated however, even where an animated image is requested a numbered static image will usually satisfy the need. Use your best judgment.

  • Despite the .gif or .png file name extension shown, wherever possible use SVG format because .svg illustrations will scale beautifully in a browser with no pixel loss.
Guidelines for situational diagrams
(If you are the first to start contributing in this area then feel free to modify this guide if it is unrealistic.)
The guidelines are provided in anticipation of multiple contributors supplying images and with the goal of ensuring a degree of similarity or consistency from one image to the next.
  1. fast loading pages - this usually means small image files (<< 100kB for animated images and <20kB for static)
  2. print friendly plus screen friendly resolution - 630x630 pixels is suggested since this will print well without enlargement effects. When displaying on page it is trivial to specify a smaller resolution (210x210 is suggested) using (example:[[Image:CoolImage.png|thumb|210px]]) (Mediawiki software takes care of creating the scaled-down image and caching it so you only need to upload the one 630x630 image.)
  3. SVG file format is preferred for reasons already mentioned but PNG file format for static images and GIF for animated images will also be appreciated. These file formats are less prone to data loss due to compression. (JPG, on the other hand is notorious for losing data and introducing unwanted graphic artifacts.) SVG, PNG and GIF also support transparency which can be handy on a web page in case a background texture or image or solid color is ever added in the future.
  4. fewer colors is better as this keeps file size small and load time fast.
    As you engage in the process and if you find these guidelines to be unreasonable please feel free to modify them. Use your best judgment.
Situational diagram colors per the color palette
OOo color name Used for Inkscape (X11) color name
Invisible Any off-white background can be converted to transparent before the image is saved Transparent
Turquoise Boat A and it's path taken Teal
Magenta Boat B and it's path taken Maroon
Brown Boat C and it's path taken Olive
Gray Boat D and it's path taken Gray
Light gray Boat E and it's path taken LightGrey
Black Black for committee boat, other vessels, continuing obstructions, etc. A black border with white fill (i.e. not transparent) is better than transparent fill. Black
Light red Light red = mark that must be left to port Red
Green Green = mark that must be left to starboard Green
White Opaque white (i.e. not transparent) background for any labels used to
(i) boat letter and/or numbered position
(ii) indicate contact or protest actions
(iii) provide commentary
Light blue Light blue background for an arrow used to indicate wind direction. Blue
Yellow Yellow background for an arrow used to indicate direction of current or stream. Yellow
Orange 1 "Orange 1" background for any obstruction such as land, pier, bridge, etc. Chocolate
The colors for boats A through E were chosen primarily because these appear in the top 8 slots for the drop down list of colors in OOo applications. Lines drawn in these five colors also happen to contrast well against a white background.
The OOo colors: red, blue and green (equivalent to X11 colors: dark red, dark blue and green) were avoided, as boat colors, either (i) because of the poor contrast they gave for sail trim lines drawn in black or (ii) because they might be confused for indicators of port and starboard tack or (iii) because they might otherwise imply some right-of-way meaning.

Colors - reduce, reuse, recycle[]

For the sake of a consistent look and feel throughout the wiki please use the template:color rather than hard coded sRGB hex-triplets. It is easy enough to add your hex-triplet to this template and assign it a unique identifier. See the template documentation for instructions. which might make a chosen color less prominent or meaningful can easily be remedied by tweaking that hex-triplet at the 'one template and cause all pages that use this template (and unique color identifier) will then automatically benefit from color tweaks without requiring extensive page edits.

That template is easily accessible from a table near the bottom of every edit page on this wiki. Just type and highlight any of the predefined identifiers and then click on the link from the VSK templates list in that table.


Tables should use a "class" design when possible, and should include as little 'fancy' formatting as possible. Tables can also be made sortable by adding a "sortable" class.

For long tables, it is recommended to create an "alt" class to alternate row colours to enhance readability. The below examples use "toccolours" as a class, but this is only for the purposes of demonstration, and isn't generally recommended.

With row headings, table caption, sortable[]

I am a caption
Heading one Heading two Heading three
Row heading 1 Row data 2b Row data 3c
Row heading 2 Row data 2b Row data 3a
Row heading 3 Row data 2c Row data 3b

{| class="wikitable sortable"
|+ I am a caption
! Heading one || Heading two || Heading three
| class="title" | Row heading
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
| class="title" | Row heading
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
| class="title" | Row heading
| Row data 2
| Row data 3

Without row headings, with alt rows[]

Heading one Heading two Heading three
Row data 1 Row data 2 Row data 3
Row data 1 Row data 2 Row data 3
Row data 1 Row data 2 Row data 3
Row data 1 Row data 2 Row data 3

{| class="toccolours"
! Heading one || Heading two || Heading three
| Row data 1
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
| Row data 1
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
|- class="alt"
| Row data 1
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
| Row data 1
| Row data 2
| Row data 3
|- class="alt"
| Row data 1
| Row data 2
| Row data 3

Navigation boxes[]

Navigation boxes are not encouraged. The default skin across all wikia communities is the monaco skin and a comprehensive left-hand navigation bar is provided with powerful customization possibilities.

Article message boxes[]

Add me! You may want to look at Wikipedia:Article message boxes.

See also, references, external links, and navigational tables[]

The last sections, if they exist, should always be "See also", followed by "References", followed by "External links". In the case of "See also", use bullets to list the internal links. Under the references section should be placed <references/>. Finally, in the external links should be all external links.


Categories should be added to the end of an article - a full list can be found on Special:Categories. They take the form [[Category:Categoryname]].

All articles should be accessible starting from Category:Browse, via subcategories.


A disambiguation line is sometimes put at the beginning of an article to link to another article with the same or similar title. The line should be italicized and indented once. Most usually contain the phrase, "Were you looking for X?" For example:

Were you looking for "[[The Battle of Terrafield]]", an official novel?

The templates {{for}} and {{disambig}} can also be used for this purpose. See also: Project:Templates#Disambiguation_articles


Format a long quote (over four lines) as an italicized block quotation, which will be indented from both margins. Do not enclose the block quote in quotation marks. To format a block quotation, do not use the wiki indentation mark ":" — instead, use the HTML <blockquote> element.


Grammar is a writer's toolbox. You can't build good sentences without knowing how to use your tools. Since a wiki article must be as clear as possible for all the people reading it, editors must keep close to correct grammar standards to ensure clear communication.


Titles such as lord or king start with a capital letter when used as a title (followed by a name): "King Arthas", not "king Arthas". When used generically, they should be in lower case: "Furion is a powerful lord." The correct formal name of an office is treated as a proper noun. Hence: "Anduin is the current King of Stormwind."

Classes should only be capitalized when used as a proper noun, i.e. as someone's name. ("Warlock, go be evil" versus "That warlock is quite evil.")

Titles of works[]

Italics are used for the titles of works, such as books and games. The titles of articles, chapters, and other short works are not italicized but are enclosed in double quotation marks.

For example, italicize [[The Last Guardian]] and [[World of Warcraft]], and use quotes for "[[Arathor and the Troll Wars]]".


“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs” -- Stephen King

We now come to the meat of an article: the words themselves. When you're editing wikis, you're both academic and artist. You have to be accurate, but you also have to be interesting. Neither one can dominate; you have to skillfully balance both.

Keep your writing concise. Don't use two words where one will do. Keeping your writing simple will make it easy to understand and easy to expand on. Use complete sentences whenever possible. When you write, use grammar as a toolbox: know the rules, but only break them on purpose.

Check your spelling and grammar. Do not use 'u' in place of 'you' or '2' in place of 'to'. Write the way you would for a class paper or a newspaper article.

Keep all of the topics you cover within the scope of the article. What that means is, you don't need to give a detailed history of humans on the page about Winston Churchill. Consider the article's title as your point of origin and write from that perspective. Make use of the wiki's ability to link to more detailed articles or external sources for more information.

Write from an impersonal perspective.' Do not use "I." For example, do not write, "Hellscream was a fervent member of the Horde. He served both the Old and New Horde, As far as I know." Avoid drawing attention to the author (yourself) as much as possible.

Be bold. If you know something is wrong, correct it. If you think you could word something better, write it. If an article has a glaring deficiency, fill it. Even if your first attempt isn't golden, you can fix it later or someone else will come along and fix it for you. Don't be afraid to screw up.


There are probably other trends/fashions you'll notice at this and other wikis. If it isn't explained here then just look at the wiki markup code for the page in question and copy how you see something being done. (It's a little more tedious to undo a style that you don't like so if you do come across that situatin then leave a message at the article's talk page and the chances are good that the original author will respond.

Every article can be improved including this one! Following these guidelines will not ensure a perfect article the first time, but it will give the article a stronger skeleton. It's ultimately your job as an editor to put meat on it.

See also[]

External links[]