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Welcome to Wikipedia! Anyone can edit almost every page, and millions already have.

This page takes you through a set of tutorials aimed at complete newcomers interested in contributing. It covers all the basics needed to navigate, comment on, and write Wikipedia articles. We're glad you're here — good luck in your journey to becoming a proficient Wikipedian!

Starting introduction

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it. Since 2001, it has grown rapidly to become the world's largest reference website, with 6.2 million articles in English attracting billions of views every month. For a more detailed account of the project, see About Wikipedia.

How you can contribute

A 3D-printed Wikipedia globe being held in someone's hands

Don't be afraid to editAnyone can edit almost every page; just find something that can be improved and make it better! You can add content (preferably with references), upload images, correct spelling and grammar mistakes, improve prose to make it more readable, or any number of other tasks. It's normal for new contributors to feel a little overwhelmed by all of our policies, but don't worry if you don't understand everything at first; it's fine to use common sense as you edit, and if you accidentally mess something up, another editor can always fix or improve it later. So go ahead, edit an article and help make Wikipedia the world's best information source!

Suggest improvements – Each article also has a "Talk" page, where you can suggest improvements and corrections to the article.

Donate – Wikipedia is free to use and edited by entirely volunteers, but it relies on donations to keep the servers running. Please consider donating to help fund the project's maintenance and development costs.


Sign up for an account

You're welcome to edit anonymously, but there are many benefits of registering an account.

Sign up


Why not try out the editor right now?

You can test out how editing feels by editing one of the "sandbox" test pages below:

Edit page visually Edit page visually or Edit using wiki markup Edit using wiki markup

Just type some text and click Publish changes when you're happy with the way it looks. Don't worry about breaking anything; these pages are open areas for experimentation.


Get to know some members of Wikipedia's diverse, enthusiastic community. (4 min 10 s)

There's plenty more behind the scenes

Wikipedia has a large number of community pages in addition to its articles.

Task Center – List of tasks with which you can help
WikiProjects – Special-interest editor communities
Extensive help pages – Support and advice from other Wikipedians
Community portal – A general directory to the community pages


Policies and guidelines

Wikipedia actually has few strict rules, but rather is founded on five fundamental principles. Wikipedia's policies and guidelines are developed by the community to clarify these principles and describe the best way to apply them, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free and reliable encyclopedia.


Policies express the fundamental principles of Wikipedia in more detail, and guidelines advise how to apply policies and how to provide general consistency across articles. Formal policies and guidelines have a notice at the top of their pages, and the prefix "Wikipedia:" or "WP:" before their page name.


While there is a policy or guideline for almost every issue imaginable, no one is expected to know all of them! Luckily, there are a handful upon which all others are based. The next few pages describe the most significant of these, representing the general spirit of Wikipedia's rules. Knowing these basics makes discussions and editing easier and more productive.

Content

Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia, and the community constantly strives for accuracy. Articles should be neutral and should contain only verifiable information and opinions that already exist in reliable sources.


Conduct

A pile of pages in the shape of a heart

Writing on Wikipedia is highly collaborative. There are two good starting points for how to get along with other editors: be bold, and be civil.


When editing, be bold! Most edits make the encyclopedia better, and mistakes can always be reverted or corrected. If you see something that can be improved, improve it, and do not be overly concerned with breaking anything. If the change is in the spirit of improvement and makes sense to others, the odds are good that everything will turn out all right and the change will be kept. If not, it's easy for someone to change it back.


Being civil entails remaining polite and assuming good faith when interacting with others, and focusing on the content of edits rather than on personal issues. It requires participating in a respectful and considerate way, without ignoring the positions and conclusions of others. Assuming good faith means that we assume by default that other people's intentions are to improve the project. If criticism or modification is needed, we discuss editors' actions but do not accuse them of harmful motives without clear evidence.


Editors typically reach consensus as a natural and inherent product of editing; generally, someone makes a change or addition to a page, then everyone who reads it has an opportunity to leave the page as it is or change it. Being reverted may feel a bit deflating, but do not take offense, as it is a common step in finding consensus. If you have a disagreement or suggestion, express it on the article's talk page, and politely discuss the change until a consensus can be reached. Never repeatedly undo another editor's edits; this is called edit warring and is disallowed. As a last resort, you can file a request for help resolving a dispute.


Editing

A note about editing on mobile devices: Most Wikipedians prefer to edit from a computer, as the editing interface works better there. You can edit from a mobile device, though. See this page for more information.

WikiEditor-edit tab-en.png

Wikipedia is formatted using its own language called Wiki markup, also called Wikitext. It's pretty easy to learn the basics.


You have a choice of using one of two editing tools; the "Source Editor" uses wiki markup.


WikiEditor-choosing the editor-en.png

Alternatively, you can use VisualEditor, a secondary editing interface that works more like a word processor. While VisualEditor is simpler to use, the Source Editor can be more effective for some tasks. You can easily switch between them while editing, as shown at right.


Don't be afraid to click the edit button! (1:06 min)

To view and edit a page using Wiki markup, click Edit source at the top of any page. This will allow you to type text that you want to add, using wiki markup to format the text and to add other elements like images and tables that are explained later in this tutorial.


Wiki markup can initially seem intimidating (especially references) but it actually requires only a few rules to understand and use, and you'll quickly get used to it! You can always test new techniques in your personal "sandbox" page.

Formatting

WikiEditor-toolbar-en.png

Most articles actually need very little text formatting.

All formatting is achieved by placing symbols on either side of blocks of text. You can either type the markup manually, or add it through the toolbar at the top of the editing area.


Headings and subheadings can be added by clicking MediaWiki Vector skin action arrow.png Advanced then Heading MediaWiki Vector skin action arrow.png in the extra toolbar line which now appears.

Selecting "Level 2" will format text as a main heading, the most frequently used subdivision of any page.
"Level 3" gives you a subheading for a Level 2 heading, and so on.
To create a heading without using the toolbar, put text between = signs; the number of = signs on each side of the text indicates the level:
==Heading== (Level 2)
===Subheading=== (Level 3)


Text can be made bold or italic using the B and I buttons on the toolbar.
To create bold or italics without using the toolbar, put text between ' apostrophes; three on each side for bold, or two on each side for italics.
'''bold'''
''italic''
An article's subject is always written in bold the first time it is mentioned, but not thereafter. For detailed guidance on how and where bold and italic text should be used, see the Manual of Style sections on bold and italic formatting.

Links and wikilinks

A video tutorial about the basics of wiki markup, including creating links (3:37 min)

Wikilinks are one of the key components of Wikipedia. Wikilinks connect pages to each other, tying the whole encyclopedia together.


In general, wikilinks should be added for the first mention of important or unfamiliar concepts in an article.


Typically, wikilinks use square brackets, like this: [[target page]]


If you want to link to an article, but display some other text for the link, you can use a pipe | divider (⇧ Shift+\):
[[target page|display text]]


You can also link to a specific section of a page using a hash #:
[[Target page#Target section|display text]]


Here are some examples:


You may also encounter templates, which allow frequently used elements to be included on multiple pages. These are designated by curly brackets like: {{template name|parameters}}


For instance, to insert the [citation needed] tag, you can use this code: {{Citation needed|date=November 2020}}

Saving your changes

Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes)

 

This is a minor edit Watch this page

By publishing changes, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL. You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license.

Publish changes Show preview Show changes Cancel

 


When you think you're ready to publish (save) your changes, there are a few things to do first.


You should preview your changes to check that your edits look as you intended, by clicking the Show preview button. We all make mistakes, so this step can help you catch them before the article is changed.


Write a short edit summary in the "Edit summary" box to help other editors understand what change you have made and why you've made that change. It is okay for your explanation to be quite short. For example, if you are making a spelling correction, you might just put "fix typo".


If you've made a minor change that should be uncontroversial, such as a spelling or grammar correction, you can check the "☑ This is a minor edit" box. Minor edits are those that do not modify the meaning of a page or make a change that another editor might reasonably dispute.


To add a page to your Watchlist, so that you'll be notified of any further changes, use the "☑ Watch this page" box.


Previewed the page? Written an edit summary? Then you are ready for the final step: Click the Publish changes button, and your changes will instantly be uploaded to Wikipedia!

Creating new articles

AFC-Logo.svg

Wikipedia already has 6.2 million articles, so most of the time you'll likely be updating and improving existing pages. Sometimes, however, you may want to create a completely new article! Before you do so, there are three criteria you need to know:

Notability

Is the topic notable? Topics need to be sufficiently important to be included in Wikipedia. This means that the subject must have received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, such as newspapers, magazines, scholarly journal articles, and books.

Try it! Take a quiz on notability

Reliable sources

Are there reliable and verifiable sources to back up any claims? Before you start writing an article, it is best to gather a set of independent, reliable, verifiable sources to cite as references. These are essential for ensuring that the contents of Wikipedia remain accurate, verifiable, and trustworthy.

Conflicts of interest

Do you have a conflict of interest (COI)? It is best to avoid writing articles about yourself, your company, or someone you know personally. This is because it is difficult to avoid bias and achieve a neutral point of view on these topics. Even if you cannot write the article yourself, you can always request that someone else write it and provide them with reliable sources to use.

Where to create a new page

It is typically best to create a new article as a Draft (e.g. "Draft:Example"). This allows you to write and develop your article before it gets moved to Wikipedia's mainspace.


Referencing

Verifiability

"Wikipedian protester" by Randall Munroe, xkcd. Wikipedians famously demand citations for facts!

One of the key policies of Wikipedia is that all article content has to be verifiable. This means that reliable sources must be able to support the material. All quotations, any material whose verifiability has been challenged or is likely to be challenged, and contentious material (whether negative, positive, or neutral) about living persons must include an inline citation to a source that directly supports the material. This also means that Wikipedia is not the place for original work, archival findings that have not been published, or evidence from any source that has not been published.


If you are adding new content, it is your responsibility to add sourcing information along with it. Material provided without a source is significantly more likely to be removed from an article. Sometimes such material will be tagged first with a "citation needed" template to give editors time to find and add sources before it is removed, but often editors will simply remove it because they question its veracity.


This tutorial will show you how to add inline citations to articles, and also briefly explain what Wikipedia considers to be a reliable source.

Inline citations

Inline citations are usually small, numbered footnotes like this.[1] They are generally added either directly following the fact that they support, or at the end of the sentence that they support, following any punctuation. When clicked, they take the reader to a citation in a reference section near the bottom of the article.


While editing a page that uses the most common footnote style, you will see inline citations displayed between <ref>...</ref> tags.


If you are creating a new page, or adding references to a page that didn't previously have any, remember to add a References section like the one below (here is info on where specifically to place it):

== References ==
{{reflist}}


Note: This is by far the most popular system for inline citations, but sometimes you will find other styles being used in an article, such as references in parentheses. This is acceptable, and you shouldn't change it or mix styles. To add a new reference, just copy and modify an existing one.

References
  1. ^ Wales, J (2020). What is an inline citation?. Wikipublisher. p. 6.

RefToolbar

WikiEditor-reference toolbar menu-en.png
This screencast walks through how to use RefTools (5:03 min)

Manually adding references can be a slow and tricky process. Fortunately, there is a tool called "RefToolbar" built into the Wikipedia edit window, which makes it much easier.


To use it, simply click on MediaWiki Vector skin action arrow.png Cite at the top of the edit window, having already positioned your cursor after the sentence or fact you wish to reference. Then select one of the 'Templates' from the dropdown menu that best suits the type of source. These are:


  • {{cite web}} for references to general websites
  • {{cite news}} for newspapers and news websites
  • {{cite book}} for references to books
  • {{cite journal}} for magazines, academic journals, and papers


A template window then pops up, where you fill in as much information as possible about the source, and give a unique name for it in the "Ref name" field. Click the "Insert" button, which will add the required wikitext in the edit window. If you wish, you can also "Preview" how your reference will look first.


Some fields (such as a web address, also known as a URL) will have a System-search.svg icon next to them. After filling in this field, you can click it to handily autofill the remaining fields. It doesn't always work properly, though, so be sure to double check it.


Often, you will want to use the same source more than once in an article to support multiple facts. In this case, you can click Named references  Nuvola clipboard lined.svg in the toolbar, and select a previously added source to re-use.

Reliable sources

Wikipedia articles require reliable, published sources that directly support the information presented in the article. Now you know how to add sources to an article, but which sources should you use?


The word "source" in Wikipedia has three meanings: the work itself (for example, a document, article, paper, or book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, Cambridge University Press). All three can affect reliability.


As a general rule, more reliable sources have more people engaged in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the writing in a publication. Academic and peer-reviewed publications are usually the most reliable sources. Other reliable sources include university textbooks, books published by respected publishing houses, magazines, journals, and mainstream newspapers. (Be aware that some news organisations and magazines, such as CNN's iReport, host "blogs" and user-written articles on their websites. These may be reliable if they are written by the publisher's professional writers, but posts by readers are not usually considered reliable sources.)


Self-published media, where the author and publisher are the same, including newsletters, personal websites, books, patents, open wikis, personal or group blogs, and tweets, are usually not acceptable as sources. The general exception is where the author is an established expert with a previous record of third-party publications on a topic; in this case, their self-published work may be considered reliable for that topic (but not other topics). Even then, third-party publications are still preferable.


Whether a source is usable also depends on context. Sources that are reliable for some material are not reliable for other material. You should always try to find the best possible source for the information you have. For information about living people, only the most reliable sources should be used. On the other hand, self-published sources written by articles' subjects can sometimes be used as sources of information about themselves.


These are general guidelines, but the topic of reliable sources is a complicated one, and is impossible to fully cover here. You can find more information at Wikipedia:Verifiability and at Wikipedia:Reliable sources. There is also a list of commonly used sources with information on their reliability.


Try it! Take a quiz on reliable sources


Images

Generic rendered image of sailboat

To use an image on Wikipedia, it must first be uploaded. However, there are some important restrictions on what images Wikipedia can accept. This tutorial introduces you to the relevant rules and guidelines.


First things first: if you do not already have one, you will need to create an account in order to upload images.


Hopefully, your image will be improving an article very soon!

Uploading images

Wikimedia Commons logo

The best place to upload most images is Wikimedia Commons, where they become part of a collection that can be used by Wikipedias in multiple languages, as well as our sister projects and the general public.


To upload images to Commons you can use the Commons Upload Wizard tool, which will guide you through the process.


There is an important caveat: Commons accepts only freely licensed images. This means that you cannot upload most images found on the internet, as the vast majority of them are not free.


However, there are some circumstances in which Wikipedia can use non-free or fair use images. This is typically when an image's presence significantly increases readers' understanding of a topic, no free alternative is available, and its use does not negatively affect the commercial interests of its owner. Examples include movie posters, corporate logos, and screenshots of web pages.


To upload a non-free image, use the File Upload Wizard, which will help you add all of the required information. A link to the wizard can be found under "Tools" at the left of the screen.

Using an image

Once your image is uploaded to Commons or Wikipedia, you will probably want to use it in an article. Simply click Edit on the article you want to include the image in, then add the following where you want the image to appear:


[[File:Image name.jpg|thumb|Caption for the image]]


For example:

[[File:Durdle Door Overview.jpg|thumb|[[Durdle Door]], a [[natural arch]] near [[Lulworth Cove]]|alt=Beach with a large rocky arch over the water]]

Notice that the caption can contain links.


See caption
The Colosseum in Rome

By default, images display on the right side of the article. You can place images on the left side of the article by including |left:

[[File:Colosseum in Rome, Italy - April 2007.jpg|thumb|left|The [[Colosseum]] in Rome]]


See Wikipedia:Extended image syntax for more details on adjusting the display of images, including their size.

Tables

Enhanced editing toolbar


Tables are a common way of displaying data. This tutorial provides a guide to making new tables and editing existing ones. For guidelines on when and how to use tables, see the Manual of Style.


The easiest way to insert a new table is to use the editing toolbar that appears when you edit a page (see above). Clicking the Vector toolbar insert table button new.png button will open a dialog where you define what you want in your new table. Once you've chosen the number of rows and columns, the Wiki markup text for the table is inserted into the article. Then you can replace the "Example" text with the data you want to be displayed.


Tables in Wikipedia, particularly large ones, can look intimidating to edit, but the way they work is simple.

Editing tables

Whether you've just inserted a new table, or are editing an existing one, changing the text in the table cells determines what the table looks like to a reader. But you can do more than just change text.

A table consists of the following basic elements, all of which you can modify:

{| start Besides beginning the table, this is also where the table's class is defined – for example, class="wikitable". A table's "class" applies standard Wikipedia formatting to that table. The two most commonly used classes are "wikitable" and "wikitable sortable"; the latter allows the reader to sort the table by clicking on the header cell of any column.
|+ caption Required for accessibility purposes on data tables, and placed only between the table start and the first table row.
! header cell Optional. Each header cell starts with a new line and a single exclamation mark (!), or several header cells can be placed consecutively on the same line between double exclamation marks (!!).
|- new row To begin a new row of cells, use a single vertical bar (|) and a hyphen (-).
| new cell
in row
To add a new cell in a row, start each new cell with a new line and a single vertical bar (|), or several cells can be placed consecutively on the same line between double vertical bars (||).
|} end To end the table, use a single vertical bar (|) and a left facing curly brace (}) alone on a new line.

Blank spaces at the beginning and end of a cell are ignored.

Layout

When you edit an existing table, you'll probably see one of two common ways that the table is laid out:

To a reader, both of the above examples will look the same:

Caption
Header C1 Header C2 Header C3
R1C1 R1C2 R1C3
R2C1 R2C2 R2C3

Expanding tables

It is common to want to edit an existing table by adding just one extra column or row of information.


Adding a row

To add an extra row into a table, you'll need to insert an extra row break and the same number of new cells as are in the other rows.


The easiest way to do this in practice, is to duplicate an existing row by copying and pasting the markup. It's then just a matter of editing the cell contents. Make sure that you preserve the end of table markup, |}, below the last row of the table.


Adding a column

To add an extra column to a table, you'll need to add a single extra cell in the same position to each row.


Preview your changes

Previewing your edits is especially important for tables; it is easy to make a minor error that breaks table formatting.


Talk pages

If you have a question, concern, or comment related to improving a Wikipedia article, you can put a note on that article's talk page.


Wiki discussion tab.png

You get to the talk page by clicking the "Talk" tab at the top of the article. If the tab shows up in red, it just means no one has commented yet; feel free to start a discussion.


When you start a new discussion topic, put it at the bottom of the talk page. The best way to do this is by clicking the "New section" tab at the top of the page. This allows you to enter a new section heading and your comments.


If you are responding to someone else's remarks, put your comment below theirs. You can do this by clicking on the "[edit]" link to the right of that section's heading and then scrolling down.


Always sign your comments by typing ~~~~. This will automatically insert your user name and a link to your personal talk page, along with the time you saved the page. You can choose how your signature looks if you have created a free account. If you are not logged in, then a number (IP address) representing your internet connection is used as your signature.

User talk pages

Everyone contributing to Wikipedia has their own user talk page. On this page, anyone can leave a message for you. People can ask you questions or give you advice. There are also some automated "bots" that can add helpful messages.


When a registered user receives a message, they get a notification at the top of their screen:

Screenshot of talk page notification for logged-in user


Unregistered users on a shared internet connection, like school or home networks, get a shared talk page. If someone leaves an unregistered user a message, the user will see a notification at the top of whichever page they are looking at:


To reply, add a comment below the message on your own user talk page (start with {{ping|theirusername}} to notify them).


Generally, you can find an editor's user talk page by following the link labelled "talk" in their signature, located at the end of their messages. You can always reach their user talk page by clicking on their name in the signature, and then clicking on the "Talk" tab, as you would with an article.

Layout

Indenting can help improve the readability of a discussion, making it much easier to understand where one editor's comments end and another's begin. Always indent your reply one level deeper than the person you are replying to. The best way to indent is to place a colon (:) at the beginning of a line. The more colons you use, the more indented the text will be.

You type You get
This is aligned all the way to the left.
: This is indented slightly.
:: This is indented more.

This is aligned all the way to the left.

This is indented slightly.
This is indented more.


To create a list, add an asterisk (*) at the start of each point. This goes after any markup (:, *, or #) that was used in the preceding line. It will add a bullet point (•) to each line, like this:

You type You get
* First list item
* Second list item
** Sub-list item under second 
* Third list item
  • First list item
  • Second list item
    • Sub-list item under second
  • Third list item


Example of a well-formatted discussion

Hi. I have a question about this article. I'm pretty sure only purple elephants live in New York! JayRandumWikiUser 02:49, 10 Nov 2019 (UTC)

Well, I have visited New York before, and the elephants definitely come in green. try2BEEhelpful 17:28, 11 Nov 2019 (UTC)
I think you should find a source for your claims before I believe them! Living × Skepticism 20:53, 11 Nov 2019 (UTC)
Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
I've done my research! try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Nov 2019 (UTC)
I guess you're right. Thanks for listing out your sources. JayRandumWikiUser 23:09, 12 Nov 2019 (UTC)


To keep comments in line, use the same amount of colons as the previous line, before adding your own indentation and/or bullet point.

An example of an indented discussion with bullet list
You type You get
::: Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
::: * [http://www.ElephantsMonthly.com/NewYork Elephants Monthly]
::: * [http://www.ElephantsWorld.com/Purple Elephants World]
::: * [http://www.ElephantsEnthusiast.com/10-12-15 Elephants Enthusiast]
::: I've done my research! ~~~~
Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
I've done my research! try2BEEhelpful 11:08, 12 Dec 2019 (UTC)


Navigating

Footprints graphic

Wikipedia is a big place!


For a start, there are currently 6.2 million articles, the most extensive encyclopedia in human history. If we printed them all out, they would take up about 2,797 volumes, which would look something like this.


In addition to this, there are another 45.8 million supporting pages devoted to helping build the project.


This tutorial will help you to get your bearings, teach you how to find what you're looking for, and introduce you to a few of the most important pages.

Namespaces

Wikipedia's pages are divided into namespaces. Each namespace (except the main article space) has a prefix that is followed by a colon at the start of page names. Here are some of the namespaces you might encounter, along with an explanation and examples:

Namespace Purpose Example(s)
Main/article
no prefix
Articles Starfish
Disambiguation pages to help people find the article they're looking for David (disambiguation)
Wikipedia:
a.k.a. "Project"
Policies and guidelines Wikipedia:Neutral point of view
Wikipedia:Manual of Style
Process pages Wikipedia:Articles for Creation
Discussion forums and noticeboards Wikipedia:Village pump
WikiProject communities focusing on a particular topic Wikipedia:WikiProject history
User: Personal profile pages about users User:Jimbo Wales
Sandboxes and personal draft articles User:Example/sandbox
Draft: Draft articles that are in progress Draft:Exampledraft
Help: Help pages Help:Contents
Template: Templates, which can be included or substituted on other pages Template:Citation needed
Template:Infobox album
Category: Groups of pages organized by their similarities Category:Painting
Category:Wikipedia maintenance
File: Images and other files, stored and described File:Wiki.png
Portal: Pages to highlight Wikipedia content in a particular topic area Portal:Current events
Portal:Solar System
MediaWiki: Messages that appear in the wiki software (edited by administrators) MediaWiki:Wikimedia-copyrightwarning
Special: Pages that are part of the software Special:RecentChanges
Special:Preferences


Wiki discussion tab.png

Each page in each of these namespaces, except for Special, also has a corresponding Talk page for discussion. So, for example, you can discuss the starfish article at Talk:starfish, or talk about Wikipedia:Neutral point of view at Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view. You can switch between the normal page and the talk page by clicking the tabs at the top left.

Searching pages

The search box is at the top right of every page. Start typing, and it will begin to suggest pages you might be looking for — you can click on one to go directly to that page. Alternatively, if you type in a complete page title and hit ↵ Enter, you'll be taken straight to that page.


If you type a word or phrase that isn't an article title and hit ↵ Enter, you will see a full search page, which lists articles where your search term occurs. You can also reach this page by clicking the magnifying glass, or by typing something into the search box, then clicking the "containing..." link at the bottom of the list of suggestions. For example, you might do this if you wanted to search for occurrences of the word "Fish" across Wikipedia, rather than be taken straight to the article Fish.


Search page advanced July 2014.png

The search page also allows you to limit your search to specific namespaces. You can choose a preset option (Content pages, Multimedia, Everything) or use the Advanced option to specify the namespace(s) you wish to search.


Categories

A simple category tree
organisms
/
animals
\ 
plants 
/
dogs
\ 
cats

Another useful way to find pages is by browsing categories grouping related pages, which are listed at the bottom of a page. They form hierarchy trees from generalized topics to more specific ones, so pages should have only the most specific applicable categories. For instance, do not add [[Category:Musicians]] to an article already categorized under [[Category:Irish musicians]].


Try it! Go to a random page needing more categories

Redirects and shortcuts

Redirects

Some pages on Wikipedia are redirects — they don't have any content of their own, but just send you on to another page. For example UK is a redirect to United Kingdom. So, if you type UK in the search box, it will take you directly to the article on the United Kingdom. (There will also be a note below the article title saying "Redirected from UK".)


To create a redirect to a page, you can then either use the VisualEditor VisualEditor - Icon - Menu.svg MediaWiki Vector skin action arrow.png menu and then click VisualEditor - Icon - Settings.svg Page settings to choose a destination page, or you can insert the Wiki Markup code: #REDIRECT [[Destination]].


Shortcuts

Wikipedians often refer to internal Wikipedia pages by shortcut names to make typing quicker. The Wikipedia namespace prefix can also be further abbreviated as WP:. These shortcut pages are just redirects to the target page.


For example, Wikipedia:Neutral point of view can be written as WP:NPOV to link to it, or typed into the search bar. Shortcuts to a page are usually listed in a box in the top right of that page.

Useful links

At the top

If you are logged in, you'll also see some useful links at the top right of your screen:

  • Your username takes you to your userpage, where you can add information about yourself.
  • Talk is your user talk page, where people can leave messages for you.
  • Sandbox is a page in your user space where you can experiment with editing without worrying that you will cause problems on an actual Wikipedia page.
  • Preferences allows you to change your password and customize your email and wiki software settings.
  • Watchlist shows recent changes to pages you're watching (click the star at the top right of a page to watch it).
  • Contributions has a list of all the edits you have made.
  • Log out logs you out of your account.


On the left

There's an additional set of useful links on the left side of each page:

  • Help is the entry point for Wikipedia's help pages.
  • Community portal has information about where you can help out, and projects you can join.
  • What links here shows you what other pages are linking to an article.
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Yet more useful links

There are a few other pages on Wikipedia that are really handy to know about:

  • You can ask questions at either the Help desk (using or editing Wikipedia) or the Teahouse (help for newcomers).
  • The Village pump is a set of central discussion forums.
  • The Task Center lists various tasks you can help out with.
  • The Signpost is Wikipedia's community-written newspaper, a good way to keep up with goings-on.


Manual of Style

Bookshelf with full set of Encyclopaedia Britannica volumes

The Manual of Style (MoS or MOS) is an in-depth guide that provides standards on how to format Wikipedia articles. Following these guidelines helps keep the encyclopedia clear, consistent, and stable.


The simplest way to do this is to find a well-written article and copy its formatting. But if you want more information on any formatting, the MoS probably has a recommendation (you can search its contents here).


Remember, the MoS is a guideline; you don't need to have the whole thing memorized! It's there to assist you when you're unsure how to best display information, and to minimize arguments if another editor disagrees with your formatting choices.


Content is more important than formatting, and other editors can assist you if you're in doubt (similarly, assume good faith when others help by formatting your writing).

Article sections

An article with a table of contents block and an image near the start, then several sections

An article should start with a simple summary of the topic, then lead the reader into more detail, breaking up the text into manageable sections with logical headings.


The lead

The lead section is the very first part of an article, appearing before the table of contents and any headings. The first sentence of the lead typically contains a concise definition and establishes the topic's notability. The rest of the lead should introduce the article's context and summarise its key points.


The lead section should be one to four paragraphs long and stand alone as a concise overview of the article. The emphasis given to each statement in the lead should roughly reflect its relative importance to the topic. Statements should be carefully sourced if covering material not sourced elsewhere in the article, and should be written in a clear, accessible style to encourage a reading of the full article. The rest of the article's prose will give detail for readers who want more information.


Sections and headings

Articles are organised into sections and subsections, each with a short heading that will automatically appear in the table of contents. In general, sections that are one to four paragraphs long are the most readable.


Headings normally omit an initial "the" or "a", and avoid repeating the title of the article. Typically only the first word in a heading is capitalised (sentence case).


Heading 1 is the article's title and is automatically generated. The section headings in the article start at the second level (==Heading 2==), with subsections at the third level (===Heading 3===), and so on. Sections should not skip levels from sections to sub-subsections (e.g., a fourth-level subsection heading immediately after a second-level heading).


See also

Images and references

Images should support the body of an article without overwhelming it, and references should be provided for information that is controversial or likely to be challenged.


VisualEditor - Media editing 3.png

Images

Images help readers to understand an article. Add or replace images only if they are better than the existing ones or further support the text of the article. When creating and uploading an image, it should be of sufficiently high resolution and in an appropriate file format.


Images should be spread evenly through an article, be relevant to the sections in which the images are displayed, and include an explanatory caption. Images are shown as small thumbnails and aligned to the right of the article by default, to maintain the visual coherence of the page. If necessary, other formats are possible, e.g. left-aligned, galleries, and panoramas.


Avoid stacking too many images in a short section: they can overflow into the next section and reduce readability (standard layout is aimed at a 1024 × 768 screen resolution).

See also


lefteless

Citing

  • Don't overuse quotations from sources; articles should generally paraphrase and summarise what sources say about a topic.
  • Use reliable sources of information.
  • Use the article's existing reference style, with a reference list at bottom of the article.


Sources should be cited when adding material that is controversial or likely to be challenged, when quoting someone, when adding material to the biography of a living person, and when uploading an image. While you should try to format citations correctly, the important thing is to include enough information for a reader to identify the source; others can improve the formatting if needed.


Just as with images, there's a default referencing style, but sometimes an alternative format is used (e.g. Parenthetical referencing in some history articles). When adding new references, use the same style that is already used in the article, or seek consensus on the talk page before changing it. Inline references that you insert into the article will automatically be added to the "References" section at the end of the article (which should be placed below the "See also" section and above the "External links" section if either or both are present).


See also

Linking

Links

Example of good wikilinking, with only the first occurrence of each key term linked.

Linking with hyperlinks is an important feature of Wikipedia. Internal links (or "wikilinks") bind the project together into an interconnected whole. Links provide instant pathways to locations within the project that are likely to increase our readers' understanding of the topic at hand. You learned how to add them during the Editing section of this tutorial.


To determine how many internal links to include in an article, ask yourself, "Would a reader of this subject be interested in that other article? Does it help explain a concept that is only briefly described in this article, or that may be unfamiliar to a reader?". Typically, the first instance (but not subsequent instances) of an important word should be linked to the relevant article on that topic. Take care not to include too many links, which detracts from readability.


External links (to websites other than Wikipedia) can be added in the "External links" section, along with a short description. These should be included only if they are highly relevant or provide more detail than the article has space for. Websites used as references to support the article's content should instead be put in the "References" section.


See also


Try it! Take a quiz to build your linking skills

Consistency

The MoS contains extensive guidelines on all manner of stylistic points. Below are a sample of the sorts of things you can search for advice on.


Language

The English Wikipedia prefers no major national variety of the language over any other. These varieties (e.g. US English, British English) differ in vocabulary (soccer vs. football), spelling (center vs. centre), and occasionally grammar. For consistency, only one variety should be used in a given article.

Avoid words like I, we, and you, except in quotations and names of works.

Avoid phrases like note that and remember that (which assume "you" for the reader); and avoid such expressions as of course, in fact, and obviously.


Dates and numbers

Avoid phrases that will go out of date with time (e.g. recently).

Do not write #1; number one works instead. Comic books are an exception.

Write 12,000 for twelve thousand, not 12.000; conversely, decimal points are thus: 3.14, not 3,14.

Both 10 June 1921 and June 10, 1921, are correct, but should be consistent within an article. A comma is not used if only the month is given, such as June 1921. Avoid inserting "the year" before a year, and avoid "of" in items such as "April of 2008".

400 AD and 400 BC are correct, but so are 400 CE and 400 BCE. Use one style consistently in an article.

Use one, two, three, ..., eight, nine in normal article text, not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (although there are many exceptional circumstances; some other numbers may also be written as words).


Capital letters

Seasons (e.g. winter) and plant/animal names (e.g. bald eagle) are not capitalized. Exceptions include scientific names (Felis catus) and proper nouns occurring as part of a name.

Names of scriptures are capitalized (e.g. Bible and Qur'an, but not biblical). Always capitalize God when it refers to a primary or only deity, but not pronouns that refer to deities: he, not He.


Abbreviations

To indicate approximately for dates, the non-italicized abbreviation c. (followed by a space) is preferred over circa, ca., or approx.

Write US or U.S., but not USA.

Use "and" instead of the "&" sign, except in tables, infoboxes, and official names like AT&T.


Punctuation

Use straight quote marks " and apostrophes ' as available from the keyboard, and not alternatives such as “ ” and ‘ ’.

Italicize names of books, films, TV series, music albums, paintings, and ships—but not short works like songs or poems, which should be in quotation marks.

Place a full stop (a period) or a comma before a closing quotation mark if it belongs as part of the quoted material (She said, "I'm feeling carefree."); otherwise, put it after (The word carefree means "happy".). Please do so irrespective of any rules associated with the variety of English in use.

The serial comma (for example the comma before and in "ham, chips, and eggs") is optional; be sensitive to possible ambiguity arising from thoughtless use or thoughtless avoidance, and be consistent within a given article.

Avoid comma splices.

Picture captions should not end in a full stop (a period) unless they are complete sentences.

Avoid using a hyphen after a standard -ly adverb (a newly available home).

A hyphen is not a dash. Hyphens are used within words or to join words, but not in punctuating the parts of a sentence. Use an en dash (–) with &nbsp; before, and a space after – or use an em dash (—) without spaces (see Wikipedia:How to make dashes). Avoid using two hyphens (--) to make a dash, and avoid using a hyphen as a minus sign.

Use an en dash, not a hyphen, between numbers: pp. 14–21; 1953–2008. An en dash is also used to connect parallel terms: red–green colorblind; a New York–London flight. Use spaces around the en dash only if the connected terms are multi-unit dates: January 1999 – December 2000.


Non-breaking spaces

Line breaks between words can be prevented by inserting a non-breaking space instead of an ordinary space by using the code &nbsp; or {{nbsp}}. This avoids lines breaking in the middle of expressions such as 17 kg, AD 565, £11 billion, November 2020, 5° 24′ 21.12″ N, Boeing 747, and World War II.


Try it! Take a quiz on the Manual of Style

Summary

The MoS is a great resource, but you're not expected to read the whole thing! Here are the key principles to keep in mind:


  1. Consistency – Keep style and formatting consistent within an article, and between articles where possible.
  2. Stability – Avoid changing an article from one guideline-defined style to another without a very good reason.
  3. Clarity – Aim to make the encyclopedia as readable as possible (e.g. wording, layout, formatting, diagrams).
  4. Referencing – Make sure readers are able to trace information in the encyclopedia back to reliable sources.


The full MoS contains further advice on everything from punctuation to units of measurement to trivia. You can look up advice about specific issues using the MoS search box on the right. When in doubt, copy the formatting of an existing article (ideally a featured article) on a similar subject. Although it is important to follow the MoS where possible, verifiable content is more important than formatting!


More detailed information


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Conclusion

Congratulations, you are now a Wikipedian! Go forth boldly, and edit!
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Getting help

You can search for help pages by using the prefix "Help:" in the search box or by visiting the help portal (listed in the left sidebar in desktop mode).


If you have questions, the Teahouse is a friendly space where experienced editors can help you.


Finding tasks

The Task Center provides an overview of different ways you can help out. Find one that suits you and jump in!


Share your knowledge with the world! (1 min 26 s)

Learning more

These tutorials have covered everything you need to know to get started — the best way to learn now is by editing!


As you spend time here, you'll learn more about how Wikipedia functions as a community. You may want to catch up on the latest happenings in The Signpost, our newspaper. You can also browse the massive essay directory to read contributors' thoughts about every aspect of the project.


A small token

Completing this tutorial series has earned you the right to display a userbox on your user page! To add the box, just click here and then click Publish.