Articles on the Simple English Wikipedia are usually shorter than their English Wikipedia counterparts, typically presenting only basic information: Tim Dowling of the Guardian newspaper explained that "the Simple English version tends to stick to commonly accepted facts". The interface is also more simply labeled; for instance, the "Random article" link on the English Wikipedia is replaced with a "Show Any Page" link; users are invited to "change" rather than "edit" pages; clicking on a red link shows a "not yet started" message rather than the usual "page does not exist". The project uses around 2,000 common English words, and is based on Basic English, an 850-word auxiliary international language created by Charles Kay Ogden in the 1920s.
Simple English Wikipedia's basic presentation style makes it ideal for beginners learning English. Its simpler word structure and syntax, while detracting from the raw information standpoint, can make the information easy to understand. Material from the Simple English Wikipedia forms the basis for One Encyclopedia per Child, a One Laptop per Child project.