A video (screencast) showing how to make bold and italics
Formatting a Wikipedia article is a bit different from writing on a standard word processor (see the cheatsheet). Instead of a strict WYSIWYG approach ("What You See Is What You Get"), Wikipedia uses text codes to create particular elements of the page (e.g., headings). This markup language is known as wikitext (or wiki-markup) and is designed for ease of editing.
Bold and italics
The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing are done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ('):
On Wikipedia, the names of an article's subject are written in bold when they are first mentioned in the article. For example, the article Elizabeth II begins:
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states, known as the Commonwealth realms, and their territories and dependencies, and head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations. ...
Italics may be used for the names of books, movies, albums, and computer / video game titles. If the first mention of the subject of an article is also a book or movie title, then bold italic is used.
Headings and subheadings are a way to improve the organization of an article. If you can see two or more distinct topics being discussed, with more than a couple paragraphs for each, you can make the article more readable by inserting a heading for each topic — that is making each into its own section.
This can go up to subsubsubsubheadings
Headings are created like this:
== Elizabeth II hats ==
Elizabeth II hats
=== Straw hats ===
If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents will automatically be generated. Try creating a heading in this page's sandbox. It will be added automatically to the table of contents for the page, assuming three others already exist.
This code is presented via buttons, just like the Bold and Italic buttons
Wikitext contains all the features required to follow Wikipedia's formatting conventions and knowledge of HTML code is not necessary, although it is often used for more specific formatting such as using colors, text and paragraph styles, and page layout.