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Help:A quick guide to templates

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This is a quick overview of templates. Full details can be found in Help:Template and m:Help:Advanced templates.

A template allows you to reproduce content quickly.

A template is a Wikipedia page created to be included in other pages and usually contain repetitive material that might need to show up on any number of articles or pages.

Template pages are found in the template namespace. This means any page whose title begins with "Template:", such as "Template:foo", can be used for that purpose. The content from a template titled Template:foo can be added into a Wikipedia page by editing a page and typing {{foo}} into it. When then viewing the page, {{foo}} is automatically replaced by the content of the page "Template:foo". If the page "Template:foo" is later altered, all the pages with {{foo}} in them will change automatically.

Among other things, templates are used to add recurring messages to pages in a consistent way, to add boilerplate messages, and to create navigational boxes.

When a template is automatically expanded and appears on a page, it is said to be "transcluded".

Templates are documented (or should be) at their pages. Thus if you want to know how to use a template whose name is "foo" (perhaps because you've seen {{foo|...}} in the source of an article), then go to "Template:foo". (The documentation itself will usually be located at "Template:foo/doc", but is also transcluded onto the "Template:foo" main page).

Creating, editing, and using templates

You can start a new template in the same way that you would start an article page. The only difference is that its title must start with Template:.

Once you have made the template—for example Template:foo—you can add {{foo}} to the pages that you want to use it on. Every page using this template uses the same boilerplate text each time that a user visits it. When the template is updated, all pages containing the template tag are automatically updated.

Alternatively, if you do not wish the page to reflect future updates to the template, you can add {{subst:foo}} to the pages on which you want to use the boilerplate text. The system fetches a one-time copy of the template text and substitutes it into the page in place of the template tag. If anyone edits the template afterwards, pages that used the subst: keyword do not update. Sometimes that is what you want.

If the template that you want to edit looks like {{foo}}, you would go to Template:foo to edit it. To get there, type "Template:foo" in the search box (see search), or make a wikilink like [[Template:foo]] somewhere, such as in the sandbox, and click on it.

Once you are there, just click "edit" or "edit this page" at the very top of the page (not the documentation edit button lower down) and edit it in the same way that you would any other page. You can add anything that you would add to a normal page, including text, images, and other templates. When editing templates that are used, it is suggested to use sandboxes, as described in the template sandbox and test cases how-to guide.

Parameters

Templates can have parameters which the page can dynamically incorporate into the transcluded page. Instead of just the template name, like {{foo}}, an embedded template tag would have additional values separated by vertical bars (|), e.g. {{foo|July|lc=yes}}. Here July is the value of the first unnamed parameter; yes is the value of the named parameter lc. Writing the template page for a template with parameters is more complicated than for a template with no parameters. See Help:Template.

Template link template

To include the actual full name of the template as text (including the surrounding braces) in a Wikipedia article, apply the template link template. The primary motivation to do this is in instruction and documentation. A short example is the code:

{{tl|foo}}
generates
{{foo}}

FAQ

How can I find out how to use an existing template?

To see the documentation for the template whose name is "foo", go to "Template:foo".

Can I use a template in more than one project?

No, if you want to use it on two different language Wikipedias, for example, you would need to create it twice.

Are templates case-sensitive?

Yes, except usually the first letter.

How can I add parameters?

See Help:Template for instructions.

I edited the template, so why didn't the page it is used on change?

Wikipedia and your computer both store webpage caches – or saved copies – and don't always show you an updated page. First, try to bypass your browser's cache by pressing ⌘R, Ctrl+R, or F5. If that fails, you may need to purge the page's cache (which can be done several different ways). Perhaps the easiest way to do this is by clicking edit on the page in which the template appears, and then clicking on Save page without having changed anything – there is no need to fill in the Summary field since there will not be any history of this as a change generated.

Can I move a template to a new name?

Yes, this works in exactly the same way as normal page moves. When a page called for inclusion is a redirect page, the redirect target is included instead.

Can I use a template within a template?

Yes.

How do I add a new template?

You start a new template in the same way you would start a normal page. The only difference is that its title must start with Template:. Don't forget to document it so that other editors can use it!

Where is the manual for the programming language used to write templates?

The language inside templates is the same language as regular wiki markup, but template writers tend to use the more complex available functions such as #if: statements. See Wikipedia's Help:Template and Wikimedia's mw:Help:Template, including all of "advanced functioning" help pages listed toward the bottom of that page.

Examples

Wikipedia-specific help