Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Blazon

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This page is a guide to providing heraldic blazons in a style that is clear and consistent throughout Wikipedia. As with any style guide, there will be exceptions, and this guide does not carry the same weight as policy. This is a guide to the agreed-upon preferences on how to best represent blazons in Wikipedia's articles. Before making changes to it, please make sure they reflect consensus.

English (Anglo-Norman) blazons[edit]


Anglo-Norman blazons (i.e. most if not all blazons) should be put in italics.

This defines blazons as non-standard English and treats them like quotations or foreign or technical terms. Single words and phrases of Anglo-Norman blazonry should also be italicized when expressed separately from a blazon, as a foreign or technical term would be. This follows, amongst others, Charles Boutell (1864): "It appears desirable always to print all heraldic blazon in italic".[1] Heraldry has its own vocabulary, word-order and punctuation, and showing it in italics thus indicates to the reader the presence of a quasi-foreign language. Double quote marks may also be suitable instead of italics, as explained at WP:MOS#Words as words.

Inline quotes or indented block quotes[edit]

Short extracts may be put in-line but longer ones should be indented on a new line (similar to quotations).

This is another convention that treats blazons like quotations and makes them more manageable. In particular, extracts longer than two lines should be indented using <blockquote></blockquote>.


Tinctures should not be capitalized unless the first word of a blazon, i.e. the field. Similarly charges should not be capitalized.

While the College of Arms nowadays tends to capitalize tinctures, this is a recent trend, and should be avoided here. (Tinctures are in effect adjectives, which are not capitalised in standard English usage.) Historically, heralds have shown very little consistency in capitalizing tinctures and charges. (It was for example common practice in the 18th century to capitalise all nouns in English literature.) Fox-Davies advocated leaving all tinctures uncapitalized. The convention of capitalizing the tincture or to distinguish it from the conjunction "or" is not correct heraldic usage and should be avoided. A properly expressed blazon should by definition avoid any possibility of misinterpretation. If a blazon can be misinterpreted by a person with competence in heraldry, the blazon's imperfect and requires re-stating.

Exceptions may exist, such as German heraldry, where charges have been consistently capitalized throughout history. Exceptions may also be made for blazons which feature capitalization in the original text and where that original text is expressly quoted verbatim.

Repeating tinctures[edit]

Tinctures may be repeated (e.g. "Or, on a bend gules a sword or") or truncated (e.g. "Or, on a bend gules a sword of the first"), as it appears in the source.

Brevity and clarity may indicate changing a truncated blazon to repeat its tinctures. Clarity should always be the final guide.


Exceptions may be made to any or all of these guidelines if doing so is more appropriate to a blazon than following the guideline.

Foreign-language blazons[edit]

  • This guide should be used in a manner consistent with other guides and policies, particularly, with respect to the Non-English sources (WP:NONENG) policy:

    English-language sources are preferable to sources in other languages so that readers can easily verify the content of the article. However, sources in other languages are acceptable where an English equivalent is not available. Where editors translate a direct quote, they should quote the relevant portion of the original text in a footnote or in the article. Translations published by reliable sources are preferred over translations made by Wikipedia editors.

  • If your source contains a non-English blazon in a formal style or technical register reserved to heraldry:
    • You may translate it into an Anglo-Norman blazon. This may be particularly appropriate when dealing with a blazon within Gallo-British heraldic tradition (such as Irish or French).
    • An English blazon appearing in a reliable source is preferred over a blazon translated by a Wikipedia editor, per WP:NONENG.
    • Alternatively, you may translate a non-English blazon into plain English. This may be appropriate for blazons outside the Gallo-British heraldic tradition (such as Scandinavian blazons).
  • If your source contains a non-English description of a coat of arms in layman's terms:
    • You may translate the description into plain English.
    • Alternatively, a complete and reliable blazon written in an informal style may be translated into an Anglo-Norman blazon.
  • Provide the original (non-English) text and its source in a footnote for optimal verifiability.
  • Non-English blazons and passages longer than a word or phrase should not appear in the main text of the article.
    When a non-English term is provided in the main text of the article, it should be clarified as necessary in plain English.
  • Formal blazons should not be constructed from loose descriptions or incomplete blazons, as this may violate the No original research policy and may result in an inaccurate blazon.
    Only a complete and reliable blazon should be translated into an Anglo-Norman blazon. Translating into Anglo-Norman should never be used to achieve an affectation of authority not supported by reliable sources.

See also[edit]