Help:Files

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File on Wikipedia means an image, a video clip, or an audio clip, including document length clips. Here the term file can mean the data file itself, or the title of a file page (or description page). The file page contains a comprehensive description of the file so that a search result will produce all files related to the descriptive search terms you enter.

Search for data files on Wikipedia, or upload your own file. (See Uploading files below.) To find an image enter "File:search terms" into the search box. Your search results will include every search term found on the description pages, which all have titles that begins with the word File followed by a colon. Knowing the page name you can then link to it in the wikitext. (See Using files below.) For example, the page named File:Wikipedesketch1.png will appear in the search results for File:wikipede".

There are three variants of links to files:

  • [[File:pagename]] will insert the image, video or audio directly into the page, except for audio MIDI files where a text link to the file page will be inserted;
  • [[:File:pagename]] will make a text link to the image, video or audio file page;
  • [[Media:pagename]] will make a text link directly to the image or audio or video clip data file, rather than to the file description page.

The prefix Image: can be used instead of File: in links or in the search box, (see WP:namespace#Aliases), and the term image is used as a synonym for file in these contexts. So image can even mean an audio file or a video file.

Uploading files

The first step in using an image or other media file is to choose an upload server. Some files must use Wikipedia's upload server. Many files can use the Wikimedia Commons upload server which homes files at Wikimedia Commons. (Commons does not allow fair use. If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia.) All files uploaded are mirrored between Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, and searchable from either one. (See Special:Filelist.)

The preferred formats

You will probably need to rename your file for Wikipedia: see Naming files below. Also, please bear in mind that the Exif format of many digital cameras, smartphones, and scanners may imbed personal metadata, and that if your media files are handled by unknown persons, "steno programs" can imbed hidden information in them.

High resolution images and animated .gif files may pose a problem for performance, but see the problem description in terms of bandwidth and reader's computing power at Consideration of image download size. For photographs in JPEG format, upload the best quality and highest resolution version available; these will be automatically scaled down to low-resolution thumbnails when needed.

Once the file is uploaded, please verify its file page image quality and description, considering how it key words help tag it for proper indexing in a search result. If a file of the same name exists on both Wikipedia and Commons, the Wikipedia file will be displayed.

Copyrighted materials cannot be uploaded to either location; see Wikipedia:Image use policy. Files subject to any restrictions whatsoever, even "for use on Wikipedia only", may not be free enough. In case an image is non-free content, use low-resolution, low-bandwidth files.

Using files

For all the details on the fields of a file link, see Wikipedia:Extended image syntax.

Search for and find one of many existing image files, or upload your own file. Knowing the file's page name you can then edit your page and refer to that file to insert it into your wikitext. You will wikilink the page name, which will in turn include its file (of that name) in the page you edit. Take for example File:Wikipedesketch1.png. Use the following all on one line (with no line breaks). Then the results will be as shown in the image to the right:

[[File:Wikipedesketch1.png|thumb|alt=A cartoon centipede... detailed description.|The Wikipede edits ''[[Myriapoda]]''.]]
A cartoon centipede with 7 hands reads a book, lifts another, types on a laptop, and holds a bottle.
The Wikipede edits Myriapoda.

The above link contains "fields":

  1. the page name, "File:Wikipedesketch1.png"
  2. "thumb", short for thumbnail and referring here to the reader's default size for images (See Help:User preferences to specify your own thumbnail sizes.)
  3. the alt text, such as might read "A cartoon centipede with seven hands reads a book, lifts another, types on a laptop, and holds a bottle". Alt text is intended for visually impaired readers or those with browsers or computers that do not display images. It should describe the gist of the picture's appearance in detail
  4. the caption, as "The Wikipede edits Myriapoda." The caption is intended for viewers of the image and explains the meaning while using terms that refer directly to items as they appear in the image.

Text and captions need have little text in common. A reader of the article can click on the thumbnail, or on the small double-rectangle icon below it, to go to the corresponding file page.

By default, the page layout will place the image to the right of the wikitext, one line below where you placed the link. The extended image syntax provides many options to control how an image is displayed. You can make it "float" to the left, or center it, or place it without text flowing around it. You can force its size (to differ from the default set by the user), or even provide for the reader move around in a panorama. You can avoid image "stackups" in several ways, for example, by alternating left and right images, by aligning images, and if all else fails by forcing a break. You can create a gallery of images arranged into an array by using table syntax, (see {{Gallery}}), and by using a gallery tag. (Gallery tags do not support alt text, so they generate galleries that will not be accessible to readers who cannot see the images) Also, you can create plain pictures that do not have captions and can be mingled with text and other images; these can use more fine-grained techniques, including borders, vertical alignment with text, and control over links. You can also link to an image without displaying it.

For examples of all these techniques, see Picture tutorial.

Naming files

File names should be clear and descriptive, without being excessively long. While the image name doesn't matter much to the reader (they can reach the description page by simply clicking on the image), it matters for editors. It is helpful to other contributors and for maintenance of the encyclopedia if images have descriptive or at least readable file names. For example, File:Skyline Frankfurt am Main.jpg is more manageable than File:14004096 200703230833355477800.jpg.

To avoid accidental overwriting of images or other media, generic filenames should not be used when uploading. For example, a picture of an album cover should not be given the name File:Cover.jpg. Sooner or later someone else will try to do the same thing, and that could overwrite the old image. Then the new image will appear wherever the old one was seen before—an album article would then show the wrong album cover.

Renaming files

Renaming a file page is different than renaming other kinds of pages. The page name of a file page is renamed by a file mover. A file mover is a user granted special rights. Unless you have been granted file mover rights, you must make a request to rename the page.

The request to rename a page is made by adding the following template to the wikitext file page, anywhere on the page:

{{Rename media|new filename|reason for name change}}

This will add the file page to Category:Wikipedia files requiring renaming, where a file mover will notice it.

The most common and accepted reasons a file mover will change a name are:

  • Uploader request
  • Changing from a meaningless to a descriptive title
  • Changing from a misleading name to an accurate name
  • Correcting important errors denoting, for example the spelling of a proper noun, or a false historical date
  • Harmonizing file names with a set of related names
  • Disambiguating files with very similar names
  • Remove pejorative, offensive or crude language

The bolded words are description enough for the reason for a name change.

See also