Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Cue sports

This is a style guide for articles about cue sports. It describes spelling, terminological and other conventions for the article (and category) names and content of Wikipedia topics related to cue sports (billiards-family games). Snooker has further specialized style needs, as explained in WP:Manual of Style/Snooker.

The purposes of this guideline are to:

The overall intent is to ensure that cue sports article prose is comprehensible, by avoiding awkward and ambiguous constructions. Compare:

  1. "While 9-ball is a 9-ball game, the 9-ball is the real target; pocket it in a 9-ball run if you have to, but earlier is better." (Huh?)
  2. "While nine-ball is a nine ball game, the 9 ball is the real target; pocket it in a nine ball run if you have to, but earlier is better." (Oh, right!)

Nine-ball, being the most popular professional cue sport, and also a complex case because it can be seen as being named either for its "money ball" or for its number of object balls, is used frequently as the example game (and namesake ball) for these conventions, but they are generally applicable to all games and balls.


Key: never means it is not done at all (unless an enumerated exception applies); always means it is done this way in every case (unless an enumerated exception applies); deprecated means it is not done unless absolutely necessary; try rewriting to avoid it; and usually means there may be variants, as shown in examples.

This Wikipedia guideline is for the consistent, disambiguated rendering of text in articles (including captions and headings, and names of articles and categories), and although ideally it could influence and help clarify usage elsewhere, it operates independently of (and, really, in direct compensating reaction to) the unbridled chaos of random, idiosyncratic usage outside the encyclopedia that would makes for hopelessly confusing, inconsistent writing.

General terminology[]


The game[]

Nine-ball (colloquially also "9-ball") is a pool (pocket billiards) game [...]

The ball and other numbered equipment[]

  • The "the" is generally required, except where the indefinite article, a more specific reference, or a clause providing such, precedes "9". Examples, respectively: "a 9 ball shot", "that 9 ball opportunity", "first shoot the 7 ball, then the 8 and 9" (emphasis added for clarity).
  • If one "insists" on beginning a sentence with a bare reference to the ball itself, it logically must be rendered as "Nine (9) ball..." to prevent ambiguity, especially for non-native English speakers; few languages are as cavalier and confusing about operator overloading of number usage as is English. About the only reason to do this would be a sentence in which more than one 9 ball were referred to (e.g. "Nine (9) balls keep getting stolen from our tables."), but there are other ways to phrase such sentences, therefore this usage is strongly deprecated, and ors are encouraged to rewrite any such usage encountered.

Organizations and publications[]

Names of organizations and titles of publications, because they are usually officially-registered and often trademarked designations, should be left as-is, but redirected-to from the name that would adhere to this guideline. An organization legally called the Aruba 9Ball Association should have its article appear at Aruba 9Ball Association, and have a redirect page to it at Aruba Nine-ball Association.

See "Respecting official organization names", below, for additional (non-numeric) organization naming guidelines.

Tournaments and other events[]

Apply these naming guidelines rigorously to events, but redirect from attested alternate spellings. Because tournaments and the like are generally not officially-registered corporate entity designations, and especially because promoters, organizers, sponsors and sanctioning organizations rarely consistently use one name for them (e.g., using "9-ball", "9-Ball", "Nineball", etc., among other differences), there is no compelling reason to use anything but this guideline's recommended number formatting and spelling when it comes to the actual article name (i.e. "Nine-ball", capitalized because it is part of a proper name/title). Any demonstrable trademark for the event, or other sourceable semi-official name (one used by sponsors, organizers, etc.) should exist as redirects to the main article. Real-world example: The Six-red World Championship article is named in accordance with this guideline. Numerous spellings are attested, with the event's own official homepage (as of December 18, 2009) giving the spellings "6Red World Championship", "6red World Championships" and "Six Reds World Championships" all at once.

See "Naming of competitions and other events", below, for additional (non-numeric) event naming guidelines.

Statistics and winnings[]


Numeric compound adjectives[]

Other numbers[]

Non-numeric game names[]

Organizations, titles and competition[]

Respect for official organization names[]

The article for an organization should use the most official name of the organization (such as that found on contact or legal information pages at the organization's web site, without any legal abbreviations like "Inc.", "Ltd" or "GmbH", and expanding any organizational abbreviations in the name itself, e.g. "Southwestern Pool Assn." to "Southwestern Pool Association"). While the most authoritative official name should be used as the real article, any additional official or semi-official ones should exist as redirects to the former. A real world example is the World Pool-Billiard Association (their most authoritative name, and thus also their real article), who also appear as the World Pool Association, the World Pool-Billiards Association and the World Pool Billiard Association on several of their own documents; these sourceably attested alternates should certainly be redirects.

For the handling of numbers in names of organizations, see "Numbers: Organizations and publications", above.

Naming of rulesets[]

  • Right: "WPA World Standardised Rules" (Commonwealth English, actual title of published rules document)
  • Right: "WPA World Standardized Rules" (US English version; both spellings have been used in WPA's own documents.)
  • Right: "WPA international standard rules"
  • Right: "WPA World Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "WPA Standardized Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "World Standardised Rules" (reasonable unambiguous shortening)
  • Right: "standardized rules"
  • Right: "world rules"
  • Right: "international WPA rules"
  • Deprecated: "World Standardized WPA Rules" (same length as proper title, no point in changing the usual word order)
  • Deprecated: "Standardized World Rules" (reasonable shortening, but no reason to change the usual word order)
  • Right: "BCA bank pool rules"
  • Right: "BCA Billiards: The Official Rules & Records Book ('Tournament Pocket Billiards Games: Bank Pool' section)"
  • Right: "BCA Billiards ('Bank Pool' section)" (reasonable, unambiguous shortenings).
  • Right: "APA 8-Ball Game Rules" (actual title of rulebook)
  • Right: "APA's eight-ball rules"
  • Right: "VNEA 8-Ball Official Rules of Play" (actual title or rulebook)
  • Right: "VNEA rules"
  • Right: "WPA World Standardised Rules, section 2"
  • Right: "The tournament uses WPA's World Standardized Rules."
  • Right: "The 'Bank Pool' section of the BCA rulebook was updated with a rule change in August, 2012."
  • Right: "The bank pool rules of the BCA were those used in 2005 event, but not the following year." (Note no capitalization here either – "Bank Pool Rules" is not the name of the bank pool ruleset section in the book.)

Naming of sporting titles[]

  • Right: "Smith was the 2007 WPA Women's Division World Eight-ball Champion, the runner-up in 2008, and World Champion again in 2009."
  • Right: "Smith was the 2007 WPA World Eight-ball Champion (Women's Division), the runner-up in 2008, and World Champion again in 2009."
  • Right: "Smith is a world champion pool player."
  • Right: "Smith was a 2007 WPA World Championship winner."
  • Wrong: "Smith was the 2007 WPA Women's Division World Eight-ball victor." (There is no such thing as "World Eight-ball".)

Naming of competitions and other events[]

  • Use the official name to the extent possible without violating the number-related guidelines here.
  • Use the clearest and least excessive official name when there are more than one, generally preferring that of the sanctioning organization (the supplier of the rules) over those of local organizers and especially of commercial sponsors, all other things being equal.
  • Precede the event name with the acronym (or where there is no acronym, the name) of the sanctioning organization, when this can be identified, and it is relevant: i.e. the event is a championship or qualifying match; if something like an exhibition match happens to use WPA (or whatever) rules, this is not a particularly relevant fact and should not be reflected in the article name, though if sourceable should be mentioned in the article.
  • Exceptions: If all or nearly all events in a sport are sanctioned by a single organization, do not add its acronym. Also, if the event's name is unique and unambiguous and likely to remain that way, then the organization acronym may be superfluous as unnecessary disambiguation.
  • Not include the name of a commercial sponsor unless disambiguation would be severely hindered by omitting it, or it has been determined that this version is the WP:COMMONNAME for article titling purposes. (See "Commercial sponsors" below for details.)
  • However, if the event is referred to in some reliable sources by the name of the sponsor rather than by the name of the sanctioning body, also give that name as an alternative, secondarily, in the article introduction, and in bold. Example: the San Miguel Asian Nine-ball Tour (Guinness Asian Nine-ball Tour as of 2007), which is really the WPA Asian Nine-ball Tour. In articles titles and links to them, please use the sanctioner, not sponsor, version of the name.
  • Use the singular (e.g. "Championship", "Tournament", etc.), unless the even has multiple, independent divisions, and multiple titles to win.
For the handling of numbers in names of events, see "Numbers: Tournaments and other events", above.
For the handling of non-English names of events, see "Organization names", above.
For the handling of "Championship" and "Masters" in event names, see "Other terms", below.

Games, frames, rounds and matches[]

In reference to game types that are played purely recreationally, the terms game or frame can be used synonymously to refer to a single instance of game play, start to win. One term should be chosen (with WP:ENGVAR in mind), and used consistently throughout the article.

For game types that are subject to organized competition (i.e., are sports), "game" refers to the game rules and subculture (e.g. "the game of Russian pyramid"), while "frame" is used in articles to refer to an instance of game play, regardless of English dialect. This terminological clarity is especially important for competitions that may involve multiple races to frames or rounds of frames. The term "round" is used to mean a segment of game play consisting (or potentially consisting) of more than one frame, but not constituting an entire match. A "match" is the entire competition between vying parties, (individual or team). Where the match consists of a single frame, or a single round, it should be referred to as a match, again regardless of colloquial use, for inter-article consistency. If a match conclusion is also the conclusion of a larger stage of tournament play, a term for that may reasonably be substituted for match (e.g., "She won the last frame 8–3, and took the semi-final [instead of 'match'] and will face Jackson in the final match" or "The World Championship [instead of 'match'] went to Shen after an eleven ball run.").

"Round" can be used more generically in reference to levels of play in a large competition, e.g., "the quarter-final rounds of the National Cup". When specific players or teams in opposition are being discussed, use "match" to describe their contest, and use "round" as recommended in the previous paragraph.

Other competition terms[]

"Championship" is only capitalized when used as part of the official name (or common short or extended version) of an event, e.g. "UK Snooker Championship", "UK Championship", but not "his third championship" even when in reference to the same event.

A real-world case: The Six-red World Championship article is named in accordance with this guideline. Numerous spellings are attested, with the event's own official homepage (as of December 18, 2009) using both "Championship" and "Championships" interchangeably on the same page! This is a good example of why Wikipedia must sometimes ignore "official" spellings, since we cannot obey multiple conflicting instructions, and attempting to hunt down every published spelling and then decide upon one based on our estimation of the prevalence is original research.

"Masters" is basically always capitalized because it is never really used outside of an actual event name (e.g. if Doe won the Isle of Man Masters and the Botswana Masters, we would not write "Doe is a two-time Masters winner", since "Masters" would have no clear referent.



  • the cue stick and cue ball are mentioned in the same sentence (e.g. "strike the cue ball with the cue" is not ambiguous; "using a lot of follow-though with the cue" is not;
  • the context is not about games at all, so no confusion could arise: "George Balabushka did not actually make the 'Balabushka' cue used in the movie The Color of Money".

Mechanical bridge[]


Language conflicts[]

  • US/Canadian example, in an article about an eight-ball player: "Using the rake, she shot with high left english from the foot rail, to pocket the 8 ball with a carom off one of the stripes."
  • British/Australian/etc. version, about a blackball player: "Using the rest, she shot with top left side from the top cushion, to pot the black with a cannon in-off one of the yellows."
(And jargon terms not previously defined in the article should be wikilinked to their Glossary of cue sports terms entry with {{Cuegloss}}.)

Nationalities and flags[]

In international professional and amateur competition, it is normal practice for pool and billiards players to represent their countries of present origin in most cases. This is known as sporting nationality, and is not always synonymous with citizenship. For British players/teams, the constituent countries of the United Kingdom (i.e. England/Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland) are recognized independently in most but not all cases. On Wikipedia, flags are used to visually identify the sporting nationality of teams and individual players within drawsheets and result tables, for sports in which sporting nationality is recognized. This is as true in cue sports as in other sports. When Northern Ireland is recognized independently, in most cases the sometimes-controversial Ulster Banner is usually used as the flag, despite its having political connotations in other contexts. This is not a Wikipedian imposition, but actual sporting usage in the real world, and changing it here would be a violation of Wikipedia's Neutral point of view and No original research policies.

For the particular and well-documented handling of these issues in international snooker competition, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (snooker)#Nationalities and flags.


  1. ^ Major cue sports discipline is a categorization for clarity of writing the English Wikipedia, not an estimation of world popularity, influence or other notability. This is why major popular carom and pool games are not specifically listed. English billiards, Russian pyramid and five-pins are listed because players of them are not usually referred to as simply carom or pocket billiards players, but players of those specific disciplines.
  2. ^ Admittedly most are not hyphenated today [which used to be spelled "to-day"], with "stick-ball" being a common optional exception; but in their early days these games were universally referred to as "foot-ball", "base-ball", etc., and the particularly old ones were originally written as two words, before the "-ball" convention evolved. Cf. also "e-mail" ⇒ "email", etc. — compounding and the eventual dehyphenization of compounds, to form new unified words, are very common processes in English. But contrast these compounded sports names with "ice hockey" and "field hockey", or "long jump" and "high jump", etc.; in references to games and pastimes, this compounding phenomenon is mostly peculiar to "ball" and "skate/skating" sports and games, and a few others, and those inspired by them, e.g. "snowboarding" from "skateboarding". One day, generations from now, we will surely play nineball [though surely not 9ball!], but this is not anywhere close to a standard usage yet (a non-exhaustive scan of a dozen books on pool, and a small stack of Billiards Digest and other pool mags, revealed no occurrences of the "9ball" spelling and only a handful of "nineball" instances).
  3. ^ Note also that for "number-named" games, the names of which refer to the number of balls being used, such as "eight-ball", "three-ball billiards" and "seven-ball", the name is both a compound noun by being a reference to a game as such, and a compound adjective, making the hyphen even more appropriate. Since only someone who already knows perhaps more about a given game than they would learn from reading the article about it here is likely to know whether or not the game in question is named for its money ball (eight-ball), its number of balls (three-ball), or both (nine-ball), the consistent use of game names in the hyphenated format "nine-ball" is doubly indicated; applying a standard of "nine ball" name formatting to some games and "nine-ball" to others, based on this distinction, would be even more confusing than the overall usage before this Wikipedia standard was drafted!
  4. ^ This is a common feature of English; e.g.: "I did a Wikipedia look-up on 'billiards' last night" – it was not an upward glance, even metaphorically, but a "look-up", which despite its etymology has a distinct synergistic meaning as a compound noun that differs greatly from the simple sum of its two parts. Indeed, a game based on the non-synergistic concept "9 ball" (no hyphen) would be pretty boring, what with only one ball to shoot at!
  5. ^ Cf. "X-ray" – though we pronounce it "ecks-ray" we never spell it that way, and it is only very infrequently misspelled "x-ray" in scientific literature, because scientists know that "X" is a symbol not a letter of the alphabet as such, in this context. X-rays are not one type of ray in a series ranging from "a" through "z"; rather, the X is an arbitrary, symbolic designation, like "gamma". Just like the numbers (which could just as easily have been letters or Egyptian hieroglyphs) on pool balls, which were added simply to tell the balls apart specifically rather than just by suit/group (as still evidenced even today by the fact that the British, among others, do not regularly call shots, and thus do not typically use numbered object balls, other than the adopted 8 ball). Obviously nine-ball and other more obscure numerical rotation games were invented to take advantage of the already existing numbers (it would be absurd to posit that such games existed before numbered balls but with no one actually playing them until unfulfilled demand resulted in numbering being added to balls!) So, they are symbols. We do not spell out symbols, unless those symbols do not exist in our character set (e.g. the Artist Formerly Known as Prince's symbol) or would not be understood by the target audience (e.g. we write "gamma" if the reader cannot be expected to recognize the actual Greek letter). Neither condition applies to "9" of course. Note that "X-ray", aside from being capitalized as a symbol, and The X-Files (which is further capitalized as a title), are both hyphenated as compound nouns, because these two cases — unlike "the 9 ball", but very much like the game of "nine-ball" — refer to unique things named as discrete entities unto themselves, not near-identical things described and differentiated from their neighbors. That is, if the show had been about actual case names filed alphabetically under "X", like "Xavier, James A.", the show would have been called The X Files, and references to the files themselves would be rendered "the X files" with a lower case "f" (and, further, could have correctly been referred to as "the x files" had the show centered on someone obsessed with keeping files about non-proper-noun dictionary words beginning with that letter.) [back]
  6. ^ Still-capitalized shortenings are common in other contexts, e.g. the shortening of book or film titles in reviews, to avoid repetition: "The Two Towers is slower and darker than The Fellowship of the Ring; Towers, like most middle acts, takes its time setting up tension that will not be resolved until the finale."


  1. ^ a b H. W. Fowler & E. Gowers A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford U. Pr., UK, 1926/2003, ISBN 0198605064; and H. W. Fowler & R.W. Burchfield, [The New] Fowler's Modern English Usage, 3rd [Rev.] Ed., Oxford U. Pr., UK, 1996/1999/2004, ISBN 0198610211. The former is the highly prescriptive original, the latter the remarkably more descriptive and permissive total rewrite; both agree on these points.
  2. ^ "Old Base Ball Ground: Gone Over Again During the Recess". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, NY: 7. January 6, 1889. Retrieved 2011-10-14.