Persondata is a special set of metadata that can and should be added to biographical articles only. It consists of standardized data fields with basic information about the person (name, short description, birth and death days, and places of birth and death) that, unlike conventional Wikipedia content, can be extracted automatically and processed by cataloging tools and then used for a variety of purposes, such as providing advanced search capabilities, statistical analysis, automated categorization, and birthday lists.

Adding the {{Persondata}} template to a biographical article doesn't affect its normal display, since the information isn't meant to be read by human beings and remains hidden unless users change their personal stylesheet specifically for it to appear.

As of ಜುಲೈ 2014, there are over 1,157,000 articles with persondata on the English-language Wikipedia. (As of ಜುಲೈ 2014, the German Wikipedia had over 537,000 articles with "Personendaten".)

The WikiProject that works to improve the usage of Persondata, WikiProject Persondata, is seeking contributors.

Without uniform formatting, such as the (born .... died ...) parentheses, it is very difficult to extract useful information from biographical articles automatically. It is also hard to alphabetize all the biographical articles automatically, since the titles typically begin with the person's first name (although we have DEFAULTSORT for that). By adding standardized metadata to such articles, we can facilitate the creation of new applications for Wikipedia content, such as Wikipedia CD-ROMs, custom search applications, etc. Hopefully, this will be the first of many steps towards enriching Wikipedia with semantic content.

Uses ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Wikidata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Wikidata is a metadata system still in development. Eventually, information from Persondata will be moved to Wikidata, and Persondata may become obsolete. However, for now, users may still add and maintain Persondata. Users are encouraged to get involved with the Wikidata project. This includes creating and maintaining wikidata for individual pages, as well as working on the mechanics of wikidata itself.

The template can not get its information from Wikidata yet:

Parameter Type Property ID
NAME Firstname Lastname Label, e.g. (Q151605)
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Other Name1, Othername2 alias ??
SHORT DESCRIPTION Claim to fame description ??
DATE OF BIRTH day or year of birth p569
PLACE OF BIRTH birthplace p19
DATE OF DEATH day or year of death p570
PLACE OF DEATH deathplace p20

Viewing persondata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

A screenshot showing Persondata from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

By default, persondata is invisible to normal users. To make persondata visible, you must:

  • Either install this JavaScript in Special:Mypage/skin.js, which will add a button to the top button bar of every page allowing you to easily show and hide persondata boxes;
  • Or edit your user stylesheet as explained below, causing persondatas to be always visible;
  • Or even do both, as one method doesn't interfere with the other and the above JavaScript has useful persondata-editing features.

To make persondatas permanently visible, first make sure you are logged in. Then edit (or create) a page at Special:Mypage/skin.css and add the following line:

table.persondata {display:table !important;}

or, if you use Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 or earlier:

table.persondata {display:block !important;}

Tip: After saving the CSS, you must empty the browser cache to see the changes: Mozilla/Firefox (Windows): Ctrl-Shift-R; Mozilla/Firefox/Camino (Mac): Cmd-Shift-R; Internet Explorer (Windows): Ctrl-F5; Opera (all): F5; Safari (Mac): Cmd-R; Konqueror (Linux): Ctrl-R. Some Firefox (Linux) users report that both lines must be present in their monobook.css (though they can probably be simplified to table.persondata {display:block table !important;}), and users who switch between browsers and platforms may need to do likewise.

If you can see a block with data about Ferdinand Magellan between this paragraph and the next, you have successfully made persondata visible:

Otherwise this paragraph will follow directly below the previous one.

To make the persondata box invisible again, simply remove the CSS line provided above from your user stylesheet.

Warning: Since persondatas are by default invisible, editors rarely plan for them when designing the layout of an article, which means that making them visible might cause some article footers to look strange for you. For the same reason, if you have persondatas visible while editing and previewing, remember that most people don't, so planning the layout to accommodate it might cause them to find a strange-looking article footer. Thus, take care to edit from the perspective of the majority. It is best to follow the persondata placement advice given on this page.

Using the template ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Position ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

To use the {{Persondata}} template, copy the wikitext below to the end of a biographical article and fill in the parameters manually, use this javascript or you can use AWB which can add the template and fill in the information semi-automatically from infoboxes. If you add the template manually, place it just before the categories. {{DEFAULTSORT:Sort key}} is not a real template but a direct part of categorization, and therefore should be located between persondata and categories. The same applies to the {{Lifetime}} template, which implements DEFAULTSORT.

| NAME              = 
| DATE OF BIRTH     = 
| DATE OF DEATH     = 

Next, fill out the data fields. Make sure the name is entered with the surname first (the same way you would with a category listing). Do not delete empty data fields, for example, if a person is still alive, you'll leave the date and place of death blank. Here is an example of a properly filled out template:

| NAME              = Magellan, Ferdinand
| ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Magalhães, Fernão de (Portuguese); Magallanes, Fernando de (Spanish)
| SHORT DESCRIPTION = Sea explorer
| DATE OF BIRTH     = Early 1480
| PLACE OF BIRTH    = Sabrosa, Portugal
| DATE OF DEATH     = 27 April 1521
| PLACE OF DEATH    = Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines

Parameters ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

The parameters NAME, ALTERNATIVE NAMES, SHORT DESCRIPTION, DATE OF BIRTH, PLACE OF BIRTH, DATE OF DEATH, and PLACE OF DEATH are used to construct a persondata record. These fields can possibly be extended in the future, and currently it isn't necessary to provide wikilinks in them; however, these might be useful in some future application, so feel free to add them to locations if you wish.

Please follow these general guidelines when filling these fields:

Name and titles ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

The person's most commonly known name should be in the |NAME= field, in the following format: Family Name, Given Name Middle Names, title. For most cases this will be straightforward. For example, "George Walker Bush" becomes "Bush, George Walker". Family-name-first names, common in Asia, do not take a comma: "Ho Chi Minh" is specified in this parameter as "Ho Chi Minh". In some cases, however, there may be ambiguity about a person's surname. When in doubt, format the name according to how you would expect it to be alphabetized. For example, Ludwig van Beethoven would be alphabetized under "Beethoven", while Townes Van Zandt would be alphabetized under "Van Zandt". Also please note that some multi-part family names (e.g. commonly in Spanish) may appear to be a middle name and family name to a native English speaker. If you are unsure, ask someone familiar with the subject how they would alphabetize the name or consult a cataloging guide such as the AACR2. Also check the Library of Congress at [೧] or the German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek) at [೨]. For European names with "van/Van", "del/Del", etc., the most common Continental European practice is to alphabetize by the significant part of the name (e.g. "Zandt", "Toro"), while the typical UK, North American, Australian and New Zealand practice is to alphabetize by the entire surname (e.g. "Van Zandt", "del Toro"). Names that do not include a family name should be given as-is, e.g. "Brutus of Troy", not treated as if they had a family name, e.g. not "Troy, Brutus of".

It is usually a good idea to list as much of a person's name as possible in the name field to avoid confusion with similar names. Unless it is part of a title of nobility, do not include |TITLE=; i.e., do not include honorifics such as "Dr.", "Professor", or "PhD".

Articles which do not have a |NAME= field, or leave the field blank, will be added to ವರ್ಗ:Persondata templates without name parameter. Please follow these guidelines when working on articles in this category.

Alternative names ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

The optional |ALTERNATIVE NAMES= field is used to list other common (usually international) forms of the person name, but not simply abbreviated versions of the full name. It follows a similar pattern to the |NAME= field, but with added information, adding as many semicolon-separated names as needed to fully identify the person:

|ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Alternative Name1 (language); Alternative Name2 (language); Alternative Name3 (pen/stage/etc. name)

An alternative name in another language should not be added unless the subject has a particular connection with that language (e.g., the Japanese romaji for Oprah Winfrey is not important metadata for her article on the English-language Wikipedia, while the Italian and Spanish for Christopher Columbus definitely are, since "Christopher Columbus" is simply an English translation of them).

Suggested optional attributes in parentheses (adapted from the German):

Attribute Description
pseudonym This name is a pseudonym, a fictitious name, used by the person, for example a writer's pen-name.
stage name This name is a stage name. In contrast to a pseudonym this is always publicly known.
nickname This name is one that the person has not given themself (for example "Jacko").
real name This is the real name of the person, and is not a pseudonym.
birth name The name the person had at birth, but that through marriage or other reason, is no longer the main name. The birth name is always also a "real name".
full name The full name is always also a "real name". It contains more forenames and extensions than usually written (Kennedy, John Fitzgerald compared to the main name Kennedy, John F.).

Short description ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

A small description of the person. Try to be concise but informative enough so that anyone reading this entry in a table will roughly know who the person is/was or does/did. The first letter of this should be capitalized, but non-proper nouns should not otherwise be capitalized, e.g. |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Rock musician, not |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Rock Musician. If the article name is disambiguated, or a disambiguation redirects to it, the disambiguation term/phrase is usually a good selection for this parameter; e.g., |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Cyclist and |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Billiards player are good bets for Eddy Merckx (cyclist) and Eddy Merckx (billiards player), respectively. An exception is when the disambiguation is a description of a field instead of an occupation/role (e.g. Connie Mack (baseball), whose article details suggest |SHORT DESCRIPTION=Baseball manager and team owner).

Articles which do not have a |SHORT DESCRIPTION= field, or leave the field blank, will be added to ವರ್ಗ:Persondata templates without short description parameter. Please follow these guidelines when working on articles in this category.

Dates of birth and death ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Follow the Manual of Style guidelines on whether to use D Month YYYY format or the Month D, YYYY style when filling the |DATE OF BIRTH= and |DATE OF DEATH= fields. Do not link the date or numbers. YYYY-MM-DD is also acceptable, provided the Gregorian calendar is used and the year is at least 1583.

Do not use templates within these fields, as they can interfere with data extraction. Abraham Lincoln's birthday, for example, should be listed as February 12, 1809 and not as {{birth date|1809|2|12|mf=y}}.

Places of birth and death ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Be specific, but not to the point of listing a street address. Usual formats are City/Village, State/Province, Country; or City/Village, country; or State/Province, Country; etc. Again avoid using templates in these fields. Although you can link to locations if you wish, avoid using piped links as they clutter the field.

Examples ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Fieldname Examples

Magellan, Ferdinand
Bush, George Walker
Beethoven, Ludwig van
Van Zandt, Townes
Brutus of Troy
King, Martin Luther, Jr.
Wainwright, Loudon, III
John Paul II, Pope
Elizabeth II
John the Baptist
Francis of Assisi, Saint
Tokugawa, Ieyasu
Fujiwara no Michinaga


Magalhães, Fernão de (Portuguese); Magallanes, Fernando de (Spanish)
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne (real name)


Sea explorer
German philosopher
Anarchist writer and publisher
39th President of the United States


25 October 1806
October 25, 1806
c. 470 BCE


Sabrosa, Portugal
Newark, New Jersey


27 April 1521
April 27, 1521
January 1945


Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines
Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Ushuaia, Argentina

Extraction of persondata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

With project Templatetiger ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

With project Templatetiger it is possible to view and output the data with:

From an SQL database ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Using an SQL query, the persondata can be filtered from Wikipedia articles stored in a database. As an example, here is an SQL query that can be used to extract persondata:

   SUBSTRING(SUBSTRING(pages.cur_text FROM INSTR(pages.cur_text,'{{Persondata')), 1,
      INSTR(SUBSTRING(pages.cur_text FROM INSTR(pages.cur_text,'{{Persondata')),'}}')+1)
      AS 'Persondata'
FROM cur AS pd
JOIN templatelinks AS tl
   ON pd.cur_namespace = tl.tl_namespace
   AND pd.cur_title = tl.tl_title
JOIN cur AS pages
   ON tl.tl_from = pages.cur_id
   AND pages.cur_namespace = 0
WHERE pd.cur_namespace = 10
AND pd.cur_title = 'Persondata'

In order to be useful, however, the persondata must be further divided into individual data fields.

From the XML dump ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Persondata can also be extracted from the regular Wikipedia database dumps. The following procedure has been adapted from scripts written to do this for the German Wikipedia by de:User:JakobVoss (who is also User:Nichtich). This is described (in German) at de:Hilfe:Personendaten/Datenextraktion. The process consists of four stages: downloading the database dump, extracting the persondata, parsing the persondata, and optionally loading it into a MySQL database. (This is an example of an Extract, transform, load process). As a rough guide, downloading the database dump will take a few hours with a fast internet connection, extracting the persondata will take around an hour, parsing the persondata and loading it into a MySQL database each take a few seconds.

System requirements ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

The original scripts were written for Linux; however, they can also be run in Windows using either a Linux emulator, or by downloading Windows versions of the necessary software:

In addition if you want to load the extracted persondata into a MySQL database you will need MySQL (Download here).

Downloading the database dump ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Database dumps can be found at The subdirectories are named after the date of the dump. The file needed for extracting persondata is named enwiki-date-pages-articles.xml.bz2, e.g. enwiki-20070908-pages-articles.xml.bz2. The latest version of this file can always be found at As of June 2012 this file is 8.0 GB in size. You may find it useful to use wget to download this.

Extracting persondata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

Files needed:

Bzip2 is used to uncompress the dump, and the output is passed to three piped STX-scripts to extract the information in the persondata templates. STX is implemented in the java archive joost.jar.

The syntax for calling these scripts is

bzip2 -dc enwiki-20070908-pages-articles.xml.bz2 | java -jar joost.jar - addNamespaces.stx extractPersondata.stx pd2tab.stx >

This can be typed in at the command prompt in Linux or in Windows (Start->Run->cmd). Alternatively in Windows it can be typed into a text file with the .bat extension (e.g. extract.bat) which can then be run by double-clicking on it. Note that in Windows you will need to add type bzip2.exe instead, and if bzip2 is not in the same directory as the database dump you will need to specify the full file path (e.g. C:\full\file\path\bzip2.exe).

This process outputs a running total of the number of articles found with persondata. It also outputs a running total of articles with Template:PND. This is a legacy of the original German scripts; it was easier not to remove it when adapting them. (A Personennamendatei number is assigned to all German-speaking authors, and can be used to link to the catalogue of the German National Library. Some 170,000 articles in the German Wikipedia use this template. A few hundred articles currently use it in the English Wikipedia.)

The output of this step is a tab-separated file ( in the above example) which contains the information from the persondata template.

Parsing persondata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

File needed:

The information entered in the fields of the persondata template can take many forms, especially the dates. For many applications it is useful to have such information in standardised form. The Perl script takes the file from the previous step and parses the fields to obtain quantities such as day, month, year, decade, century for the dates, given name and surname for names of the form Smith, John, article name where the first place in the birth/death place field is a wikilink, etc.

The syntax for this step is >

This produces another tab-separated file. If desired this can be loaded into a spreadsheet and certain basic information obtained, by either sorting the columns or searching for appropriate terms, however more complicated analysis is more easily done using a database.

Loading persondata into a database ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

File needed:

If you have MySQL installed you can run table.sql to create a table called pub_pd_en, and load in the data from the file. (You will need to change the filename at the end of table.sql).

Within MySQL the syntax to run this is

source C:/full/file/path/table.sql;

Linux scripts ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ

In the original implementation on the German Wikipedia the whole process from extracting data to loading it into a database was performed by a single shell script, etl, which in turn called scripts, and If you wish to use these they can be found at In addition to the modified files listed under the previous steps, some minor modifications to and are necessary to use these for the English case, e.g. replacing de with en, and extractPersonendaten with extractPersondata in, and using your own username in The modified version of given under Parsing persondata above should of course be used as well.


Tools for filling out persondata ಬದಲಾಯಿಸಿ