Wikipedia:Essays in a nutshell/Article writing

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Essay.svg Nutshell.png This essays in a nutshell page summarizes the gist of user written essays on Wikipedia. Essays can also be navigated via categories, navigation templates, or Special:Search. For more information on navigating essays, see Wikipedia:About essay searching.

Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion. Essays are not Wikipedia policies.

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The following are summaries of essays written by users on Wikipedia. This list is incomplete. If you have an essay, or know of an essay that's not included, feel free to add it to the list.

Editing[edit]

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
Advanced article editing

There are techniques that can make the editing of Wikipedia articles faster and more convenient.

WP:EDITFAST

Low

Amnesia test

If you can't write an article after leaving all your prior knowledge about the subject behind, it fails the amnesia test, and regardless of how many external links you can dig up that relate to the subject, those links don't satisfy notability guidelines.

WP:AMNESIA, WP:FORGET

Low

An article is the sum of its parts

The impact of any individual contribution should be considered in regards to the tone and perspective of the article as a whole.

WP:PIECEMEAL, WP:PIECE

Unranked

Avoid mission statements

Mission statements rarely tell us much and should generally not be transcribed in full in Wikipedia articles.

WP:MISSION, WP:SLOGAN

Low

Avoid prelimit of articles as if excluding many of 54 cards

Don't exclude details from articles if the complexity of the subject demands it.

WP:54CARDS

Unranked

Beef up that first revision

The articles for deletion and speedy deletion processes would be greatly better off if editors put out solid, substantive drafts as the first mainspace revision of an article rather than just a few lines and the promise that an article will grow in the future.

WP:BEEF

Low

Cherrypicking

Do not cherrypick. When selecting information from a source, include contradictory and significant qualifying information from the same source.

WP:CHERRYPICKING
WP:CHERRY-PICKING
WP:CHERRYPICK
WP:CHERRY-PICK

Dictionaries as sources

Dictionaries and glossaries present special challenges and limitations.

WP:DICTS
WP:DICTIONARIES

Don't overload your watchlist!

A watchlist becomes harder to navigate the longer it is. Only watch articles that need watching.

WP:OVERLOAD

Unranked

Edit count

Edit counters are a useful tool, but remember that it's the quality of edits that counts, not the quantity.

WP:EC, WP:EDITCOUNT

Low

Editing on mobile devices

Editing on Wikipedia can be done on mobile devices, but beware of the challenges.

WP:DEVICES

Unranked

Editors are not mindreaders

Put yourself in the shoes of other editors. How can they distinguish the incomplete, unreferenced article you've just created but plan to improve from one that will never be improved?

WP:MINDREADER

Low

Endorsements

In light of BLP, commercial endorsements usually should not be reported in the present tense. Other care also should be applied.

WP:ENDORSEMENT
WP:ENDORSEMENTS
WP:ENDORSE
WP:ENDORSED

Example cruft

Writing an encyclopedic entry about a subject will involve generalizations. Avoid the temptation to engage in original research by finding every example of a phenomenon, or every exception to a phenomenon.

WP:GENERALIZE, WP:EXAMPLES, WP:EXCEPTION, WP:EXAMPLEFARM

Unranked

Featured articles may have problems

Featured articles are not necessarily to be emulated; focus on our policies and guidelines

WP:ARTICLEPROBLEM

Low

Minors and persons judged incompetent

In light of BLP, editing about minors and persons legally judged incompetent should be especially protective of their rights.

WP:MINORS
WP:INCOMPETENTS

Give an article a chance

Don't be too hasty in nominating newly-created articles for deletion. Remember that some people don't have as much free time to edit as others and that we shouldn't bite the newbies.

WP:CHANCE

Low

Not editing because of Wikipedia restriction

If your planned article or editing would conflict with Wikipedia's standards, it's happened before. No website can be everything for everyone. Examples follow.

WP:NOTEDITING
WP:NOEDITING
WP:NOTEDIT
WP:NOTWRITING
WP:NOWRITING
WP:NOTWRITE
WP:NOWRITE

Nothing is in stone

Wikipedia is always bound to change

WP:STONE

Low

For publicists publicizing a client's work

Publicists may want tips on legitimately reporting clients' achievements and have their articles stay in Wikipedia, not deleted.

WP:PUBLICITY
WP:PUBLICIST
WP:PUBLICISTS

Robotic editing

Robotic editing is the manual performance of the same or similar edit to multiple, perhaps numerous pages.

Mid

There is a deadline

If the preservation or survivability of the knowledge is at stake, contribute it to Wikipedia before it's too late.

WP:TIAD

Mid

There is no deadline

Wikipedia is a work in progress. Don't rush to edit, it's not a competition.

WP:TIND, WP:NORUSH, WP:DEADLINE

Mid

Vague introductions

Explain the subject of the article concisely in the lead. The lead should summarize the contents of the article.

WP:VAI

Mid

Why Johnny can't wiki-read

Techniques to improve the readability of articles.

WP:JOHNNY

Unranked

Wikipedia is a volunteer service

The editors on Wikipedia are mainly volunteers. Editors can contribute as much as they want, and however long they desire.

WP:VOLUNTEER

Low

Wikipedia is a work in progress

Wikipedia is constantly being improved and expanded, and it will never be finished.

WP:WIP, WP:WNF, WP:NOTDONE, WP:NOTFINISHED, WP:WORKINPROGRESS

Mid

Wikipedia is not being written in an organized fashion

Wikipedia grows organically, thus the quality of pages is varied.

WP:ORGANIZE

Low

Write the article first

Editors are encouraged to write the article on a given subject before adding a link to the article on list pages, disambiguation pages, or templates.

WP:WTAF

Low

Writing better articles

A guide on layout and style, and how to make an article clear, precise and relevant to the reader.

WP:BETTER

Mid

Formatting[edit]

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
98 percent table width anomaly

Tables in class wikitable or infobox, wider than 98%, trigger bottom scroll bars. Use margin-right:0 or infobox margin-left:0 to avoid the scrollbar and allow full width.

WP:98WIDE

Low

Advanced footnote formatting

Remote footnotes can be added for pronunciations or examples. Footnotes can be indented, line-split and shortened by deferring details into References or External links. Due to a WP quirk, the 1st footnote on a page might not indent properly. Beware websites violating copyrights.

Low

Advanced table formatting

Techniques to improve the display or editing of wikitables in Wikipedia

WP:ADTABLE

Low

Advanced template coding

Techniques to improve the display or editing of templates in Wikipedia.

WP:ADTEMPLATE

Low

Advanced text formatting

Techniques to control or adjust the alignment of text on a page.

WP:TYPESET

Low

Autosizing images

Techniques to auto-size, or scale, any image ("thumb" or "frameless").

WP:Autosizing, WP:Scaling, WP:AUTOSIZE, WP:SCALE

Low

Avoiding text gaps

Text gaps may appear on certain browsers, but not on others. Be careful to avoid accidentally creating them.

WP:TEXTGAP

Unranked

Avoiding Wikipedia quirks

There are many quirks on Wikipedia, but they have workarounds.

WP:QUIRK

Low

Bare URLs

Simply copying and pasting the URL of an online reference is not helpful in the event of linkrot. It is preferable to use proper citation templates when citing sources.

WP:BURL, WP:BURLS

Unranked

Don't draw misleading graphs

Graphs should accurately represent the context of the data.

Low

Don't leave giant breaks between sections

Avoid whitespace and fix it if spotted.

WP:GIANTBREAKS

Low

Graphs and charts

How to create and use graphs and charts on Wikipedia.

Unranked

Overlink crisis

Avoid overlinking Wikipedia pages, especially in navboxes or infoboxes.

WP:LINKCRISIS

Low

Specialist style fallacy

Wikipedia has its own set of guidelines for article layout and naming. Facts on a subject should be drawn from reliable sources, but how content is styled is a matter for the Wikipedia community.

WP:SPECIALSTYLE, WP:SSF, WP:SSM

Unranked

Walled garden

Articles should have outgoing and incoming links to the wider encyclopedia. Don't create a group of articles that exclusively link to each other.

WP:WG, WP:WALL

Low

Stubs and short articles[edit]

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
An unfinished house is a real problem

An unfinished article is not a harmless thing. As such you should make it accurate and readable before saving.

WP:REALPROBLEM

Low

Don't demolish the house while it's still being built

An article too short to provide more than rudimentary information about a subject should be marked as a stub and edited, and expanded, rather than simply deleted.

WP:INSPECTOR, WP:DEMOLISH, WP:DONOTDEMOLISH

Low

Don't hope the house will build itself

A little planning and a little effort is all that is needed to prevent an article from being deleted.

WP:BUILDER

Low

Make stubs

Why make a red link, when you can make a stub?

WP:MAKESTUBS

Low

One sentence does not an article make

One sentence "articles" and "essays" should be deleted as not worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia.

WP:1S, WP:2S, WP:1 SENTENCE, WP:2 SENTENCES

Low

Put a little effort into it

When creating a new article, even if it is a stub, try to put in at least a little bit more than just the absolute minimum.

WP:PUTEFFORT, WP:LITTLEEFFORT

Low

Use of templates[edit]

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
A navbox on every page

Navbox templates can be useful as a tool for navigation.

WP:NBFILL, WP:ANOEP

Low

Alternatives to the "Expand" template

Avoid using {{expand}} templates. There are alternatives.

WP:ALTEXPAND, WP:EXPANDALTS

Unranked

Avoid template creep

Don't overuse templates. Keep it simple, stupid!

WP:ATC, WP:TCREEP

Low

Clarify the cleanup

Use a specific cleanup template other than {{cleanup}}.

WP:CTC, WP:CCLEANUP

Low

Navigation templates

A navigation template is a template that links between multiple articles belonging to the same topic. There are two types of navigation templates, navigation boxes, or navboxes, and sidebars.

WP:NAV

High

Not everything needs a navbox

Navbox templates can be useful as a tool for navigation, but use them sparingly.

WP:NENAN

Low

Responsible tagging

If you identify problems in an article but don't have the knowledge or time to fix them yourself, please take care to only add the most relevant and specific tags, and leave an explanation on the talk page so that others can understand what the problem was and determine if they can do anything to fix it.

WP:RESPTAG

Mid

Tag bombing

Adding multiple tags without explaining the reason is disruptive.

WP:TAGBOMB

Low

Tagging pages for problems

It is important to clearly and concisely identify problems with Wikipedia pages to allow other editors to fix them.

WP:TAGGING

Low

Templates are lazy

We have templates. They're great. Don't use them when you don't need to.

WP:LAZY

Low

Too many boxes

Be Free. Think outside the Box.

WP:NOBOX, WP:UNBOX

Unranked