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
  • 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. He has represented District 1 since 2003."

'''Sally Jones''' (b. January 15, 1968) is a [[Democratic]] candidate for District 17, [[Arkansas House of Representatives]] in the [[Arkansas House of Representatives elections, 2010|November 2, 2010 state legislative election]].

That will look like this:

Sally Jones (b. January 15, 1968) is a Democratic candidate for District 17, Arkansas House of Representatives in the November 2, 2010 state legislative election.


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.
  • Brief recap of career outside of politics, if applicable, including current position/job.
  • Brief recap of educational background.
  • If the person is particularly notable for something, this should be mentioned in the introduction.

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 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.

Policy positions

Writing guidelines
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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 "Policy positions".

Evidence for what a legislator/candidate's policy positions are come from:

  • The legislation he or she supports, or says they will support.
  • The person's overall voting record. In some states, groups or individuals provide assessments of a legislator's guiding philosophy based on the legislator's votes on a variety of bills.
  • How the legislator/candidate describes his/her views.

You can add a bullet-pointed list of policy positions, derived from the multiple sources indicated above, or you can create subsections within this section, labeling them with words like "Taxes", "Marijuana", etc...whatever the general topic is that you're going to explain the legislator's views on in the actual subsection.

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.


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.

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.

A specific chart is used, which you'll see in action here.


For additional detail, see Writing about districts


For additional detail, see Writing about family/personal information

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

Editor's Note: If you include contact information for the state legislator in your article, only use contact information provided on the state legislator's official government biography/website. Any other type of contact information is subject to immediate removal.

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.