What is the style rule on HTML and inline CSS?

+16 votes

Here's a proposed style rule: HTML and inline CSS is not recommended unless it's specifically recommended.

The page explaining it: http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/HTML_and_Inline_CSS

The way the rule is phrased here is almost tautological. But maybe there are points that need to be considered before the rule is finalized.

Before commenting, please be sure you read HTML and Inline CSS. Is something about it unclear?

in Policy and Style by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)

This new page is very well written.  The tautology is appreciated in the name of clarity.

Minor change thoughts:

  • In the Wiki Mark-Up vs. HTML section, maybe the last sentence could say "For a list of the items that are considered to be Wiki Mark-Up, please see Editing Tips.
  • In the HTML Tags and Inline CSS are Non-Standard section, add "is" to this sentence, " It is not officially recommended."


I agree with wiki markups, but anyone here ever done a major profile?. I recommend you do before you make rules that effect others
I'm hoping for a more clearly documented and easily accessible list of the existing accepted / supported / recommended formatting tools first. I think that is what this topic is about. The official list of recommended items are strewn amongst many pages, which serve their own purpose. Before we can make requests about future rules, we need to know what is currently supported, yes?
Spot on
This is now "official": http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/HTML_and_Inline_CSS

I'm still working on http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Recommended_Tags and related pages.
A thought just came to me... while we have explicitly said that more creative expression (in terms of using HTML/CSS) is allowed on free-space profiles and Private profiles we have not specifically mentioned category, template, and help pages.

I will leave it up to others to suggest what is correct for category and help pages but I suggest that to make things crystal clear (even though editing pages in the template namespace is restricted to leaders anyway) we add a specific exemption for {{Template:}} pages; since they are largely used for presentation rather than content, and are somewhat 'centrally managed' anyways, etc.

HTML and CSS are required for some parts of the 'display' templates - notably borders and backgrounds, other layout elements, and using wikitables rather than html tables inside templates (alongside all the other braces and pipes/vertical bars) can make creation and maintenance an absolute nightmare.

5 Answers

+10 votes
I support fully Wiki Markups, after 1 week of trial and using them, there is practicaly no difference and its not going to break, Being creative is a challenge but not impossible but the thing is everything must have standards.. Plus there easier to use ~ Eric
by Anonymous Daly G2G6 Mach 4 (47.0k points)
+5 votes
I know a little bit about HTML, but mostly use an HTML text editor. I know nothing about CSS or Wiki Mark-up. I tried creating a Wiki Mark-up table, did something wrong and had dismal results so went back to HTML because of familiarity. For those of us coming from this degree of inexperience, how are we to know which is which? I use the <ref></ref> tags a lot, but I don't know what that language is. It looks like HTML to me. Most of my HTML use is making tables for census records. I know where some of those tables are, but I don't know where all of them are. Is there a simple way to find them system wide so they can be changed?

Also, if others are like me and see something they're not familiar with so delete it, what if it is Wiki Mark-up so they've deleted something they weren't supposed to?
by Debby Black G2G6 Mach 8 (81.2k points)
I think everybody knows me, I have used HTML extensively, If i was to chose between HTML and Wiki Markups, i would choose Wiki Markups it is much easier to use and much more fairer on those who edit after me
I'm sure it will be fine. I just have to learn how to use it effectively. :)
+3 votes
Since the tags for adding footnotes and listing source information in the Sources section are no longer recommended, what is the new recommended way of handling this?
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (948k points)
Very well written page, Chris. It's good that you have also created the 'Recommended Tags' page so that those of us who aren't as experienced in wiki mark up will have something to refer to.

Hi Chris

I don't see the format modifier parameters and attributes for Wiki markup tables on the recommended list.

Just to be clear, are any of them allowed?  

For example:

  • border="1"
  • align="right"
  • cellpadding="2"
  • width="50"
  • valign="top" 
  • cellspacing="0"
  • colspan="3" and rowspan="3"

If not, will someone be setting up some basic templates for tables and table cells?

Thanks for WikiTreesmiley.


As Chris said above please read the section http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/HTML_and_Inline_CSS and it states "Unless specifically recommended on a WikiTree help page or style page, all HTML and inline CSS should be considered non-standard. Although we do not have rules about all possible combinations of HTML and CSS, when there is no rule that means it's not supported. It not officially recommended. It is not part of the recommended style."


[[:Image:...]] link to but don't display an image.

~~~~ sign and timestamp


question: if == is level two header what is a level one header?

why is blockquote preferred over ":" for extended quotes? I know that Rob Ton prefers it but why has it been made a wikitree-wide standard?
Earlier in this thread, Rob had suggested including blockquote, with explanation of several ways in which it is better, and Chris responded that he thought that was very good to do.

I believe the main reason Chris liked it is because the tags set it apart when you look at the code page and people who are intimidated by codes are more likely to leave it alone.  The idea is that anything included in a blockquote should not be subjected to any "improvement" - it is a direct quote from some source.

By the way, I prefer it too - for the same reasons Rob does.  As to making sure people leave it alone, I think we need to establish a way to use it instead of just <blockquote>.  I would like to see something like:

<!-- *************************************************
     ************************************************** -->
Whatever the quote is
<!-- ********************************
     ********************************* -->

This still leaves the possibility that someone will make changes, but at least nobody will do it because they don't know they're not supposed to!

Personally, I would rather see something that is not ever to be changed put there in a way that does not have ability of changing.  If you take a screenshot of the source content, crop it, save the graphic, and upload it to the profile to use, THAT would solve the problem.
Naming of header levels is artificial.  In html, there is are tags for 6 header levels, numbered from 1 to 6.

I would guess that wiki markup, which uses equal signs for headers, cannot use 1 equal sign because that has to be allowed for people who want to use and equal sign to mean that 2 things are equal  -  how silly can they be, to want to use a text character in their content!!!

Anyhow, my guess is that since wiki header markup starts with 2 equal signs, they thought it would be less likely to confuse people if they call it level 2.
Hi Jillaine,

Level 1 headers are for the headline of the page, which in the case of profiles is the name of the person.

I didn't think it made sense to include the tildes in Recommended Tags because that page is meant to be used by someone looking up whether a tag they've seen in a profile can be removed. You don't see the tildes, you see what they create.

I tried to avoid making that page a cheatsheet that people would be tempted to use for instructions on how which tags to use and how to use them. That opens a can of worms. The rest of the help pages and style pages are the instructions.

Regarding blockquote, the strongest reason for them is the principle of separating content and presentation. Using blockquote leaves it up to WikiTree to decide how to display extended quotes. The tag just identifies them. We can always decide separately to indent or not, italicize or not, etc.

To be clear: Level 1 headers, whether done with HTML (<h1>) or wiki markup (=) do work inside wikitext pages.

Every page should have a level 1 headline. But they already do. On profiles they're the name of the person. On free-space profiles, project pages, etc., they're the title of the page.

Thererfore, when editing the text inside a profile or page, you shouldn't include a level 1 headline, you should start with level 2.
Thanks for the explanation of first level header. Understood.

Still don't understand the ":" vs blockquote distinction and separating content from presentation, but it clearly makes sense to you. And others. I will just trust there's a good reason.
Hi Jillaine,

I know you don't need an explanation (thank you!) but I think this is a very good one and I want to spell it out. :-) It's why I didn't think we needed to debate the issue, i.e. why unlike most style rules, it was just set rather than being discussed here carefully with an attempt to reach consensus.

The beauty of blockquote tags is that they just say what something is. They say a block of text is an extended quotation. They're pure HTML in this sense.

Deciding to use blockquote lets us separate the discussion of styling quotations. Right now we have a set style in our CSS files for blockquote. I think they're just indented. We could decide at any time, through discussion here, because of accessibility considerations, etc., to not indent them, italicize them, make them bold, make them smaller or larger, etc.
+5 votes
Personally, I can identify most of the forest plants in Nova Scotia and I can tell one species of sphagnum from another but all this computer lingo is way over my head and I don't have the patence to figure it out. Can there be a page or two of does and donts with examples of each.

For me I see something I like on another profile and I use it. I have no idea if I'm using html or css or wiki or some other computer lingo.

If I go to one of my profiles and see that it has been changed I'll assume that it was incorrect formatting and accept that and move on.
by Eugene Quigley G2G6 Mach 7 (76.0k points)
Hi Eugene,

Other help pages have instructions with dos and don'ts. This won't pretty much just says: If it's not on another help page, don't. :-)

It's not recommended that you copy from other profiles. Some of them, even Profile of the Week winners, are currently using non-standard styles. We're working on that (the first step on that road is clarifying this rule.)


Roger Wilco!

What about the stuff found on "Tons Tweaks"? http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Space:Tons_Tweaks


I often use a lot of features from that page. Others likely do also so it would be good to fix it up if required.


There are lots of Pages, Robs is one. Lets not blame him
Hi Eugene. Rob's page is not official.

Official instructions include anything in the non-editable portion of a page, e.g. the contextual instructions on edit pages, or in http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:WikiTree_Help or http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Category:Styles_and_Standards

There's no guarantee that there aren't incorrect or outdated instructions on help pages, but we do make an attempt to keep them correct and up-to-date.
I'm not blaming anybody -really just want to know if I can continue to use the stuff on his page - not because I'm trying to single him out but because I like the things he has done.
I guess Chris is talking about me, i have won Profile of the Week over 12 times, personaly or by assocation. The differance with HTML and Wiki Markup was not an issue then. But there are issues with continual compatability and also edabily, plus we have to look to the future. Frankley i cannot see any differance other than HTML is continually changing
Gaille i have to reply here as i cant answer otherwise as that section is hidden. Ref Tags are an important Part of Sourcing in a Wiki. There are two levels of sourcing on a profile. When you take the time to write a Biography, the refs are your primary level, the ones below that are further reading and back up your primary level

Eugene I understood you were not blaming me.

Eric thanks for your concern.

As I have said in a number of previous discussions: the code on the Tweaks page was always intended to be used sparingly and for specific purpose or effect - and to showcase what is possible.

Although not recommended, anything from the tweaks page can still be used on non-open profiles with the understanding that eventually it may/will be removed when the profile becomes open.

Even on open profiles, css html is not forbidden, and chances are pretty good that if you have used inline css or html discriminately and for a very clear purpose future editors will just leave it alone (which itself is a reason for not using it - covered under "advanced coding adds complexity").

Perhaps more importantly, what is "non-standard" can easily become standard by community consensus. Some CSS/HTML can be incorporated into the style guide as a recommended/allowed use (and more importantly can be incorporated into the style sheets if appropriate); in some cases templates might be an appropriate way to apply certain effects while limiting use of CSS/HTML in profiles directly; at the extreme end of the spectrum, new extensions and magic words can be added to wikitree to extend wikitext. For example if superscript is something the community feels is needed it could be added to wikitext as:

  /\ item to be displayed in superscript /\

Thank you, Rob! As usual, you think and write more clearly than I do. These are excellent points.
Did not know about superscript wiki code.  Interesting.

Reminds me: need to add template code to



Just to be clear, the superscript wiki code I mentioned above does not currently exist (as far as I know), it was just an example of something that could be added if the community wants the ability to use superscript in profiles in a "more wiki way" than using <sup> tags or CSS styling. It could also be done as a template {{sup|superscript text}} is desired.

Template code has a lot of twists of it's own - and the template specific code is technically already covered by the "anything in the help files caveat". (however the parser functions detailed here are not visible to all users). Further, it would be exceptionally rare to embed template code (other than calling templates) in profiles of individuals; template code is far more likely to be added to freespace pages which are a bit more 'lenient' (discussed under heading of "More Creative Freedom on Private and Free-Space Profiles). Moreover template code on freespace profiles should usually focus on providing content rather than style.

While not perfectly accurate, as a generalization 'template code' can be considered as anything between double braces {{ }} or triple braces {{{ }}}, the tags <noinclude>, <includeonly>, and <onlyinclude>, and content between the latter two tags.

+4 votes

I just re-read your original question here and realize that not a lot of the discussion so far has been responsive to the last question "Is something about it unclear?".  I would now like to provide my answer to that.

It is obviously very well and carefully thought out, however I would like it to be more "glass is half full" than "glass is half empty" in style.  I recommend that it start with a positive statement instead of "the following ... doesn't apply to most WikiTree members".

After that statement, it identifies 2 types of members - at high and low end of technical skills - for whom it *is* intended, but does not have different content for these 2 groups.

I also have an issue with the statement about things not being recommended unless they are specifically recommended, which had me scratching my head to figure out what it meant - at first, it sounded like some kind of riddle to me.  Although I suppose it might not be technically correct to say this is unclear since I did manage to extract a clear meaning (after considerable thought), it is certainly not immediately clear upon reading the words.

I think reader impressions will be more positive if the wording establishes a more positive feeling, even if the actual content is identical.

Since html is among the "not recommended", I see no reason to confuse things by including comparison of how to do the same thing in both wiki markup and html markup.  I would prefer to see ONLY what is recommended presented here, although I suppose a brief statement at the end of the presentation that says something like "this is accomplished in html by use of the <whatever> tag".

I would like to see the presentation of EVERY SINGLE ELEMENT that is "recommended" included on this page.  I would like to see the elements grouped by some commonality, i.e., a group for elements that change text appearance (large/small, bold, italic, indents), a group for lists, a group for organizing data displays, etc.  I would also like to see the same style of presentation for each element, which would be:

   1. The name of the element and a brief description of what it does and the situations when it is good to use.

   2. A sample of the code that would be used.

   3. An illustration of the result of using the sample code.

   4. An explanation of the characters used in the code - where they need to be placed, why, and exactly what each one does.

Numbers 2 and 3 of those are there now.  Number 4 would probably be good for the WikiTree members who are currently excluded from your intended audience of this page - those members who do not know how to do these things, but would like to learn how in order to enhance profiles they work on instead of just being able to figure out how to avoid breaking things they see in existing profiles.

Finally, under your heading "Wiki Mark-up is Standard", you say that "all wiki mark-up tags can be considered standard" unless they are recommended against on a WikiTree help or style page, with links to the index pages for "help" and "style".  There are a lot of pages in both of those categories, and I think it is extremely unreasonable to ask anyone to go read all of them to try to find out which wiki mark-up tags are recommended against.

If ALL tags that are recommended are on this page then, by definition, if a tag is not on this page, it is not recommended.  We need this kind of clear, direct, and easy to find answer when we wonder if we can use a particular tag, and also to immediately see how to use it.

If you give me a list of ALL recommended elements, I will be happy to provide a draft of items to identify, give examples, and describe the code used for them.  You can then work on whatever changes are necessary/desirable to what I produce to ensure that the result is clear, concise, technically correct, and user friendly,  I like to think I'm pretty good at translating technobabble to English, but the bottom line is that I am an engineer, not a creative writer.

I hope you don't take this (painfully long, for which I apologize) comment as criticism.  You obviously have a lot of work invested in that page already and what I'm suggesting is more in the nature of fine tuning than any kind of changes.
by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (948k points)

I'll say the same thing here as I did in a comment above (since I believe we are in agreement), if our Editing Tips page could become something configured like this, I think we'd move a long way towards clarity.


I do understand the "if we haven't specifically recommended it, then we don't recommend it".  This is good "all encompassing" verbiage, but I also heartily support putting a listing of what we "recommend" in terms of formatting codes all in one searchable cheat sheet page.

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