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Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout

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This page is about typical layout of Wikipedia articles. For the layout of Wikipedia talkpages, see Wikipedia:Talk page layout.
An article with a table of contents block and an image near the start, then several sections
Sample article layout (click on image for larger view).

This guide presents the typical layout of Wikipedia articles, which includes the sections an article usually has, ordering of sections, and formatting styles for various elements of an article. For advice on the use of wiki markup, see Help:Editing; and for guidance on writing style, see Manual of Style.

Order of article elements

A simple article should have at least a lead section and references. Elements that are used typically appear in the following order:

  1. Before the lead section
    1. Hatnotes
    2. Deletion/Protection tags (CSD, PROD, AFD, PP notices)
    3. Maintenance / dispute tags
    4. Infoboxes
    5. Foreign character warning boxes
    6. Images
    7. Navigational boxes (header navboxes)
  2. Body
    1. Lead section
    2. Table of contents
    3. Content
  3. Appendices[1]
    1. Works or publications (for biographies only)
    2. See also
    3. Notes and references (this can be two sections in some citation systems)
    4. Further reading
    5. External links[2]
  4. Bottom matter
    1. Navigation templates (footer navboxes)[3]
    2. Geographical coordinates (if not in Infobox) or {{coord missing}}
    3. Authority control template
    4. {{featured list}}, {{featured article}} and {{good article}} (where appropriate for article status)
    5. Persondata template (Deprecated)
    6. Defaultsort
    7. Categories[4]
    8. Stub template

Body sections

The same article, with the central left highlighted: it contains just text in sections.
Body sections appear after the lead and table of contents (click on image for larger view).

This style guide only lightly gives recommendations of how the body of an article should be ordered, because the diversity of presentation in various Wikipedia subjects is too great to do more in general summary form. The order of sections in the body of a Wikipedia article may be recommended by a relevant WikiProject, or may not exist at all for some topics. Contributors are advised to follow their instincts in proposing an order for sections in the body then seek community consensus in establishing a final order.

Headings and sections

Headings introduce sections and subsections, clarify articles by breaking up text, organize content, and populate the table of contents. Very short or very long sections and subsections in an article look cluttered and inhibit the flow of the prose.

Headings follow a six-level hierarchy, starting at 1 and ending at 6. The level of the heading is defined by the number of equal signs on either side of the title. Heading 1 (=Heading 1=) is automatically generated as the title of the article, and is never appropriate within the body of articles. Sections start at the second level (==Heading 2==), with subsections at the third level (===Heading 3===), and additional levels of subsections at the fourth level (====Heading 4====), fifth level, and sixth level. Sections should be consecutive, such that they do not skip levels from sections to sub-subsections; the exact methodology is part of the Accessibility guideline.[5] Between sections, there should be a single blank line; multiple blank lines in the edit window create too much white space in the article.

Names and orders for section headings

Wikipedia has no general standards or guidelines for what section headings are expected in the bodies of articles or what order they should take. The usual practice is to name and order sections based on the precedent of some article which seems similar. There was no early standard proposed, and there is no general outline to follow.

Some WikiProjects have developed their own style advice which include section naming and ordering recommendations. Here are some examples from Category:WikiProject style advice:

In other cases, community-wide guidelines provide suggested orders:

Section templates and summary style

When a section is a summary of another article that provides a full exposition of the section, a link to that article should appear immediately under the section heading. You can use the {{Main}} template to generate a "Main article" link.

If one or more articles provide further information or additional details (rather than a full exposition, see above), references to such articles may be placed immediately after the section heading for that section, provided this does not duplicate a wikilink in the text. These additional references should be grouped along with the {{Main}} template (if there is one), for easy selection by the reader, rather than being scattered throughout the text of a section. You can use one of the following templates to generate these links:

  • {{Details}} – this generates a "For more details on this topic, see" link
  • {{Further}} – this generates a "Further information" link
  • {{See also}} – this generates a "See also" link

For example, to generate a "See also" link to the article on Wikipedia:How to edit a page, type {{See also|Wikipedia:How to edit a page}}, which will generate:


Sections usually consist of paragraphs of running prose. Between paragraphs—as between sections—there should be a single blank line and the first line of each paragraph is not indented. Bullet points should be minimized in the body and lead of the article, if they are used at all; however, a bulleted list may be useful to break up what would otherwise be a large, grey mass of text, particularly if the topic requires significant effort on the part of readers. However, bulleted lists are typical in the reference and further-reading sections towards the end of the article. Bullet points are usually not separated by blank lines, as that causes an accessibility issue (WP:LISTGAP).

The number of single-sentence paragraphs should be minimized, since they can inhibit the flow of the text; by the same token, paragraphs that exceed a certain length become hard to read. Short paragraphs and single sentences generally do not warrant their own subheading; in such circumstances, it may be preferable to use bullet points.

Standard appendices and footers

For the list and order of common appendices and footers, see § Order of article elements.


When appendix sections are used, they should appear at the bottom of an article, with ==level 2 headings==,[6] followed by the various footers. When it is useful to sub-divide these sections (for example, to separate a list of magazine articles from a list of books), this should be done using level 3 headings (===Books===) instead of definition list headings (;Books), as explained in the accessibility guidelines.

Works or publications

Contents: A bulleted list, usually ordered chronologically, of the works created by the subject of the article.

Title: Many different titles are used, depending on the subject matter. "Works" is preferred when the list includes items that are not written publications (e.g., music, films, paintings, choreography, or architectural designs), or if multiple types of works are included. "Bibliography", "Discography", or "Filmography" are occasionally used where appropriate; however, "Bibliography" is discouraged because it is not clear whether it is limited to the works of the subject of the article.[7] "Works" or "Publications" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.[8]

"See also" section

For "other uses" templates (such as this one), see Wikipedia:Hatnote.

Contents: A bulleted list, preferably alphabetized, of internal links to related Wikipedia articles. Consider using {{Columns-list}} or {{Div col}} if the list is lengthy. The links in the "See also" section might be only indirectly related to the topic of the article because one purpose of "See also" links is to enable readers to explore tangentially related topics.

Editors should provide a brief annotation when a link's relevance is not immediately apparent, when the meaning of the term may not be generally known, or when the term is ambiguous. For example:

Whether a link belongs in the "See also" section is ultimately a matter of editorial judgment and common sense. The links in the "See also" section should be relevant, should reflect the links that would be present in a comprehensive article on the topic, and should be limited to a reasonable number. It is also not mandatory, as many high-quality and comprehensive articles do not have a "See also" section, although some featured articles like 1740 Batavia massacre and Mary, Queen of Scots include this section.

The "See also" section should not link to pages that do not exist (red links) nor to disambiguation pages (unless used for further disambiguation in a disambiguation page). As a general rule, the "See also" section should not repeat links that appear in the article's body or its navigation boxes.

Other internal links: {{Portal}} and {{Wikipedia books}} links are usually placed in this section.

Title: The most common title for this section is "See also".

Notes and references

Notes and References appear after See also (click on image for larger view).
For how to generate and format these sections, see Help:Footnotes and Wikipedia:Citing sources, particularly "How to create the list of citations".

Contents: This section, or series of sections, may contain any or all of the following:

  1. Explanatory footnotes that give information which is too detailed or awkward to be in the body of the article,
  2. Citation footnotes (either short citations or full citations) that connect specific material in the article with specific sources,
  3. Full citations to sources, if short citations are used in the footnotes
  4. General references (full bibliographic citations to sources that were consulted in writing the article but that are not explicitly connected to any specific material in the article)

Editors may use any citation method they choose.

If there are both citation footnotes and explanatory footnotes, then they may be combined in a single section, or separated using the grouped footnotes function. General references and other full citations may similarly be either combined or separated (e.g., "References" and "General references"). There may therefore be one, two, three or four sections in all.

It is most common for only citation footnotes to be used, and therefore it is most common for only one section to be needed. Usually, if the sections are separated, then explanatory footnotes are listed first, short citations or other footnoted citations are next, and any full citations or general references are listed last.

Title: Editors may use any section title that they choose.[9] The most frequent choice is "References"; other articles use "Notes", "Footnotes", or "Works cited" (in diminishing order of popularity) for this material.

Several alternate titles ("Sources", "Citations", "Bibliography") may also be used, although each is questionable in some contexts: "Sources" may be confused with source code in computer-related articles, product purchase locations, river origins, journalism sourcing, etc.; "Citations" may be confused with official awards or a summons to court; "Bibliography" may be confused with the complete list of printed works by the subject of a biography ("Works" or "Publications").

If multiple sections are wanted, then some possibilities include:

  • For a list of explanatory footnotes or shortened citation footnotes: "Notes", "Endnotes", or "Footnotes"
  • For a list of full citations or general references: "References" or "Works cited"

With the exception of "Bibliography", the heading should be plural even if it lists only a single item.[8]

Further reading

Contents: An optional bulleted list, usually alphabetized, of a reasonable number of publications that would help interested readers learn more about the article subject. Editors may include brief annotations. Publications listed in Further reading are cited in the same citation style used by the rest of the article. The Further reading section should not duplicate the content of the External links section, and should normally not duplicate the content of the References section, unless the References section is too long for a reader to use as part of a general reading list. This section is not intended as a repository for general references that were used to create the article content. Any links to external websites included under Further reading are subject to the guidelines described at Wikipedia:External links.

External links

Contents: A bulleted list of recommended relevant websites, each accompanied by a short description. These hyperlinks should not appear in the article's body text, nor should links used as references normally be duplicated in this section. "External links" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.[8] This section may be replaced by a "Further reading" section.

Links to sister projects

Links to Wikimedia sister projects and {{Spoken Wikipedia}} should generally appear in "External links", not under "See also". Two exceptions are Wiktionary and Wikisource links that may even be linked inline (e.g. to an unusual word or the text of a document being discussed).

More precisely, box-type templates such as {{Commons}} shown at right have to be put at the beginning of the last section of the article (which is not necessarily the "External links" section) so that boxes will appear next to, rather than below, the list items. Do not make a section whose sole content is box-type templates.

If box-type templates are not good, either because they result in a long sequence of right-aligned boxes hanging off the bottom of the article, or because there are no external links except sister project ones, then consider using "inline" templates, such as {{Commons-inline}} in the "External links" section, so that links to sister projects appear as list items, like this:

Navigation templates

Contents: Navigation templates and footer navboxes, such as succession boxes and geography boxes (for example, {{Geographic location}}). Most navboxes do not appear in printed versions of Wikipedia articles.[10]



Images should ideally be spread evenly within the article, and relevant to the sections they are located in. All images should also have an explanatory caption. An image that would otherwise overwhelm the available text space on a 800×600 window should be shrunk or formatted as a panorama. It is a good idea to try to maintain visual coherence by aligning the sizes of images and templates on a given page.

When placing images, be careful not to stack too many of them within the lead, or within a single section; if the images in a section spill over into the next section at 1024×768 screen resolution, that may mean that the section is too short or there are too many images in that section. If an article has many images—so many, in fact, that they lengthen the page beyond the length of the text itself—you can use a gallery. Another solution might be to create a page or category combining all of them at Wikimedia Commons and use a relevant template ({{Commons}}, {{Commons category}}, {{Commons-inline}} or {{Commons category-inline}}) to link to it instead, so that further images are readily found and available when the article is expanded. Please see WP:IG for further information on the use of galleries.

As a general rule, images should not be set to a larger fixed size than the 220px default. If an exception to the general rule is warranted, forcing an image size to be either larger or smaller than the 220px default is done by placing a parameter in the image coding in the form |XXXpx. Lead images should usually be no wider than "300px" ("upright=1.35" defaults to that size, but may appear larger or smaller based on the thumbnail width setting in preferences). Larger images should generally be a maximum of 500 pixels tall and 400 pixels wide, so that they can comfortably be displayed on the smallest displays in common use.

Avoid referring to images as being on the left or right. Image placement is different for viewers of the mobile version of Wikipedia, and is meaningless to people having pages read to them by assistive software. Instead, use captions to identify images.

Horizontal rule

Horizontal rules—a series of hyphens (----) resulting in a straight line—are deprecated; that is, they are no longer used in articles. Rules were once employed to separate multiple meanings of a single article's name, but this task is now accomplished through disambiguation pages.

Rules can be used to provide separation inside certain templates (for example, {{sidebar}} derivatives), within discussions, or when needed in some other formats.

See also

Specialized layout

Other project pages


  1. ^ This sequence has been in place since at least 2003 (when "See also" was called "Related topics"). See, e.g., See also Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Changes to standard appendices. The original rationale for this ordering is that, with the exception of Works, sections which contain material outside Wikipedia (including Further reading and External links) should come after sections that contain Wikipedia material (including See also) to help keep the distinction clear. The sections containing notes and references often contain both kinds of material and, consequently, appear after the See also section (if any) and before the Further reading section (if any). Whatever the validity of the original rationale, there is now the additional factor that readers have come to expect the appendices to appear in this order.
  2. ^ There are several reasons why this section should appear as the last appendix section. So many articles have the External links section at the end that many people expect that. Some External links and references sections are very long, and when the name of the section is not visible on the screen, it could cause problems if someone meant to delete an external link, and deleted a reference instead. Keeping the External links last is also helpful to editors who patrol external links.
  3. ^ Rationale for placing navboxes at the end of the article.
  4. ^ While categories are entered on the editing page ahead of stub templates, they appear on the visual page in a separate box after the stub templates. One of the reasons this happens is that every stub template generates a stub category, and those stub categories appear after the "main" categories. Another is that certain bots and scripts are set up to expect the cats, stubs and ILLs to appear in that order, and will reposition them if they don't. Therefore, any manual attempt to change the order is doomed unless the bots and scripts are also altered.
  5. ^ For example, skipping heading levels, such as jumping from ==Heading 2== to ====Heading 4==== without ===Heading 3=== in the middle, violates Wikipedia:Accessibility as it reduces usability for readers on screen readers who use heading levels to navigate pages.
  6. ^ Syntax:
    ==See also==
    * [[Wikipedia:How to edit a page]]
    * [[Wikipedia:Manual of Style]]

    Which produces:

    See also
  7. ^ Rationale for discouraging the use of "Bibliography."
  8. ^ a b c See, e.g., Wikipedia:External links#External links section.
  9. ^ One reason this guide does not standardize section headings for citations and explanatory notes is that Wikipedia draws editors from many disciplines (history, English, science, etc.), each with its own note and reference section naming convention (or conventions). For more, see Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Changes to standard appendices, Wikipedia:Perennial proposals#Establish a house citation style and Template:Cnote2/example.
  10. ^ The rationale for not printing navigation boxes is that these templates contain wikilinks that are of no use to print readers.[1] There are two problems with this rationale: First, other wikilink content does print, for example See also and succession boxes. Second, some navigation boxes contain useful information regarding the relationship of the article to the subjects of related articles.