Writing:Profiles of state legislators

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Writing profiles of
state legislators
Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Legislatures#Lists of writing guidelines
Starting the article
Infobox and photo
Committee assignments
Recent newsControversies
Links and references
Succession box
Tenure in office
Library of tutorials
Writing about elections
Writing about legislatures
State legislative project
This page is a content-and-style guide about articles about incumbent state legislators and candidates for state legislature.

This page is a general overview. For each suggested section of an incumbent or candidate profile, there are help articles with guidelines discussing just that section. Each of those articles can be accessed in the menu you'll find on the far right of this page.

See also: Overall state legislature project


  • Any article about an incumbent or candidate should be written in a neutral tone-of-voice.
  • The article should be balanced so that it does not give undue weight to any particular characteristic, history or aspect of the candidate/incumbent in question.
  • The article should not contain original research.
  • If statements of opinion are provided in the article, the statement of opinion must be sourced to someone whose opinion it is, who must be identified. The opinion-holder should be notable in some relevant sense.
  • The article should generally focus on the person's political background, interests, achievements, goals, etc. Other aspects of the person may be mentioned but, in the general, the article should focus on politically interesting or relevant information.
  • Information included in the article should be supported with footnotes.
  • The information you add must be written in your own words and should never violate copyright.

Order of components

The symbol Approveda, when it appears in front of items in the lists below, means that a particular set of guidelines is developed to the extent that you can generally rely on it for your work, although there are always anomalies that will require you to be a resourceful problem-solver...or to ask someone who can answer any questions you may have, if you get stuck.

We recommend that an article about an incumbent or a candidate include these components (sections), in this order, once the article has been started.

Approveda Starting the article
Approveda Infobox and photo
Approveda Introductory section
Approveda District details
Approveda Committee assignments
Approveda Policy positions
Approveda Election history
Approveda Donors
Approveda Personal

  • Recent news

Approveda Legislative scorecards
Approveda Links and references
Approveda Succession box

  • Navigation templates

Approveda Categories

Although we recommend that a mature article contain sections in the order outlined above, some articles may not include some of the suggested sections. In that case, the sections that are included should still follow the recommended order.

Article details

Writing profiles of
state legislators
Ballotpedia:WikiProject State Legislatures#Lists of writing guidelines
Starting the article
Infobox and photo
Committee assignments
Recent newsControversies
Links and references
Succession box
Tenure in office
Library of tutorials
Writing about elections
Writing about legislatures
State legislative project
Refer to the menu on the far right of your screen for additional information on each of these sections/components.

Name of article

For additional detail, see: Naming an article about a state legislator or candidate

The title of an article about a person (in this case, a person who is a state legislative incumbent or a candidate for state legislature) should be the most common name that does not conflict with the names of other people or things.

The title of the article should be:

  • The name of the person that is most generally recognizable
  • The name that is unambiguous with the name of other articles

This leads to an article name in the following format:

<First name> <Last name> (examples: Thomas Todd, Brian Munzlinger)

If the legislator or candidate is generally identified with a middle initial or a middle name, the title of the article should include those items:

<First name> <Initial> <Last name>
<First name> <Middle name> <Last name>

Introductory sentence

For additional detail, see Introductory sentences of state legislator/candidate articles

Examples of appropriate introductory sentences:

"Brian Munzlinger (b. April 24, 1956) is a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives, representing District 1. He was first elected to the chamber in 2002."

'''Sally Jones''' (b. January 15, 1968) is a [[State legislative elections, 2012|2012]] [[Democratic]] candidate for [[Arkansas House of Representatives elections, 2012#District 17|District 17]] of the [[Arkansas House of Representatives]].

That will look like this:

Sally Jones (b. January 15, 1968) is a 2012 Democratic candidate for District 17 of the Arkansas House of Representatives.


For additional detail, see Writing the lead section of an article about a state legislator/candidate, and Infobox and photo

The introductory, or lead, section of the article should briefly summarize core information about the state legislator/candidate covering these areas:

  • Current political post, if he or she is not an incumbent.
  • Seat the person is currently running for, if applicable, including name of legislative chamber, district number or description, and date of election.
  • Partisan affiliation.
  • Brief recap of political history.
  • Information on any leadership positions held.

The introductory section should also include an infobox. The infobox will ideally include a photography of the incumbent or candidate, although photos can only be included:

  • If the photograph is available under some form of copyleft licensing.
  • If the photograph is in the public domain.
  • If you specifically obtain permission to use the photo from the copyright holder.


The biography section will immediately follow the introduction section and cover these areas:

  • Brief recap of educational background.
  • Brief recap of career outside of politics, if applicable, including current position/job.
  • Brief recap of any military service performed.
  • Any interesting background information about the person.

The lead section is essentially a brief biography of the person, with an emphasis on their political situation and current political seat or aspirations. The language in this section should use the following the language:

Ribs earned his B.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990 and his M.A. in Education from Ohio State University in 1992. His professional experience includes working as a history teacher at River Valley High School, salesman at Boss Equipment, Inc., and shop foreman at Wisconsin Garage Door Manufacturer. Ribs served as a Lieutenant in the United States Army from 1980 to 1990.

Committee assignments

For additional detail, see Writing about a state legislator's committee assignments

The purpose of this section is to acquaint your readers with key information about the committees that the legislator serves on. If you have access to notable information about the impact of this legislator in a particular committee, how they got appointed to it, and so on, that can also be included here.

  • Every state legislature (joint), every state senate, and every state house/assembly has standing committees such as the Rules Committee, Utah Senate.
  • Virtually every state legislature is assigned to serve on one or more of these standing committees.
  • It is usually easy to ascertain which committees a legislator serves on, since the legislator will usually provide this information on his/her official website and, failing that, the official state legislative website will nearly always have a section devoted to describing the standing committees and who is on them.


Writing guidelines
Ballot measures
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Congressional districts
School Boards
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Criminal behavior & scandal
News articles
For additional detail, see Writing about the policy positions of state legislators/candidates

The purpose of this section is to familiarize your reader with the positions that the legislator takes on various policies and bills.

The section should be called "Issues." This section may have up to three subsections: "(Issue) legislation," "Sponsored legislation," and "Campaign themes."

(Issue) legislation

This subsection will be renamed based on whatever the unique news content addition was about. An example would be "Marijuana legislation." Stories in this subsection should be unique and in some way interesting or controversial. They should contain articles referring to the legislator's support or sponsorship of said legislation.

This subsection will contain a list of legislation sponsored by a legislator during his career. Sponsored legislation lists are frequently found on the official website of a state legislature. Lists should use the following format:

Edward's sponsored legislation includes:[1]

  • HB 1025 - Relating to preparation of public school students to enter the workforce.
  • HB 1026 - Relating to establishing legislative district volunteer emergency response teams.
  • HB 1027 - Relating to the authority of a peace officer to stop, detain, or arrest a person for a violation of certain traffic offenses.
  • HB 1666 - Relating to the tax imposed on certain tobacco products.

Campaign themes

This subsection will contain statements about the issues directly from a candidate. These will be found either on a candidate's campaign page, or in a submission directly to Ballotpedia. Campaign theme subsections should take as much language from the original source as possible, while editing out partisan rhetoric or references to the policy or performance of other politicians. This subsection will be further broken down by individual year (2012, 2010, etc.) with each year containing no more than five bullet points and fifteen total lines of text. This subsection should use the following format:

Carreiro's website highlights the following campaign themes:[2]


  • Excerpt:"Stronger economy by promoting local businesses, local wealth and localism."


  • Excerpt:"Stronger sustainable development goals and approaches to cherish and preserve our environment."


  • Excerpt:"Stronger educational models based on the success in Swansea."


  • Excerpt:"Stronger support and honor to those who serve our country."


For additional detail, see Writing about election histories

The goal of this section is to familiarize your reader with the key facts about the election campaigns the subject of your article has participated in, or is currently participating in.

This information should be included for each election you write about:

  • An indented upper link to an overview article about the legislative elections this race was part of, if such an article exists. (See an example.)
  • Exact date of the election
  • Name of the office the candidate sought
  • Name of any general election opponents
  • Who won, who lost
  • Number of votes received by the subject of the article
  • Percentage of votes received by the subject of the article, if available.
  • Number of votes received by any opponents
  • Percentage of votes received by any opponents, if available.

Election sections should use the format referenced here.

The election results information should be supported by a reference link to an official source of information -- preferably, a statement of the vote from a government election office.


For additional detail, see Writing about donors

The purpose of the "donors" section is to give your reader information about who gave money to the candidate's campaign committees in particular years.

Specific charts are used, which you'll see in action here.


Some candidates list endorsements on their campaign website, or other politicians may endorse them. To provide this information on a profile, use the following format:

In 2012, Gray's endorsements included the following:[3]

  • Modesto Bee
  • Merced Sun Star
  • Dennis Cardoza, U.S. Representative
  • Cathleen Galgiani, Assemblymember
  • Barbara Matthews, Former Assemblymember
  • Jerome Horton, Chairman, California State Board of Equalization
  • Merced County Deputy Sheriff's Association
  • Stanislaus County Sworn Sheriff's Deputies Association
  • Merced Police Officers Association
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)
  • California Association of Highway Patrolmen
  • CDF Firefighters, Local 2881


For additional detail, see Writing about family/personal information

Recent news

In order to automatically provide links to news articles on a profile, we use the following template:

{{submit a bio}}
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "'''FIRSTNAME + LASTNAME + STATE + CHAMBER'''"
:''All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.''
{{RSS|feed=http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&gl=us&q=FIRSTNAME+LASTNAME+STATE+CHAMBER&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss|template=slpfeed|max=10|title=FIRSTNAME LASTNAME News Feed}}


Occasionally, an incumbent or candidate may do something controversial or illegal. Use this section to inform readers of those happenings. Be careful to closely cite any information included in this section and be sure to avoid bias. Each specific controversy should have its own subsection with a title such as "Tax fraud" or "DUI arrest."

Links and references

For additional detail, see External links and references


For additional detail, see Categories for articles about state legislators/candidates

Visual imagery


It's good to add a picture of the state legislator or candidate.

If you add images, you can only add images that you have permission to use.


You can also embed a video.

The article about Abel Maldonado is an example of an article with an embedded YouTube video.


Other images that can make an article more informative are images of:

  • Campaign graphics
  • Maps of districts

Again, however, you can only upload and use images that you have permission to use.



General research resources for incumbent legislators include:

More specific research recommendations:

  • Each state senate and state house has its own official website. These websites often (but not always) have a subpage of biographical information for each state senator or representative. These links should be used for research, and should also be included as an external link at the end of your article.
  • In many states, there is one website (and sometimes more than one) that focuses on compiling political almanac style information about state legislators. If you can find such a page for the state you are working on, these can be very helpful.
  • During election seasons, many state political parties feature information on their website about their party's state legislative candidates.
  • State legislative candidates increasingly use Twitter, Facebook and blogs to reach an audience, in addition to any official campaign websites they maintain. You can usually find the social networking sites affiliated with a particular incumbent or candidate on his or her main campaign website. (Generally, you'll use standard internet search methods to find incumbent and candidate campaign websites.)

Contact information

Do not include a legislator or candidate's contact information on their profile.

Editor's note

Remember to write these profiles in an encyclopedia form, which means neutral articles. Avoid slander or vandalism on these pages. If you spot biased information on a profile, do not delete the information (unless its obvious vandalism) but instead expand on it or alter it until it is an objective view.

Example of slander: George Bush is a war mongering president whose "Terror Alert Levels" directly coincide with his approval ratings. This type of information is obvious slander and can be deleted.