User:Andrewa/Simplified Manual of Style – Layout

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Wikipedia articles have a standard structure but with many optional sections and a standard order. There is a lot of flexibility within this framework, and there are many features that help you to quickly get to a great-looking article using it. read more ...

The article will always start with a lead that briefly describes the topic and must (even for a stub) make it clear what it is about the topic that makes it notable enough to have an encyclopedia article, normally in the first paragraph. The topic will be in bold type and normally in the first sentence: The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. They became the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed act in the history of popular music. read more ...

There are several things that normally precede the lead if they are used at all. The most useful is an infobox. This is a standard summary tailored to a range of subjects that appears to the right of the article at the top. An infobox helps to quickly produce a good-looking and informative article if one is available covering the article topic. Infoboxes typically have provision for many optional facts and a few that should be always present. The vast majority allow inclusion of an image. If you can find a suitable image in Wikimedia commons, or have one you are willing to donate there, that greatly enhances most articles. read more ...

Following the initial paragraph will be other paragraphs (technically part of the lead) and/or sections. The section headings are place on a line of their own and two equal signs are used before and after the heading text. Three equal signs may be used to create a subheading within a section, while single equal signs also work and produce a higher-level heading but this heading level is never used in articles. These sections form the body of the article. If there are more than three section headings in all (including the standard footer sections) then a table of contents is automatically generated. read more ...

Following the body may be many standard optional sections, in a standard order. One that should almost always be present is headed References and, for the most common reference scheme, consists only of the heading ==References== followed by a reflist template {{reflist}} each on its own line. This automatically lists the references created by <ref> and </ref> tags.

Following this section, in order, will normally be

  • A footer navbox template if a relevant one is available for the subject area. Sometimes more than one footer is included; Most footer navboxes automatically reduce to a single line if they are not the first, so just place the most important first.
  • One or more category links. Every article should appear in at least one category, most in several.
  • If the article is very short and its main value is that it should grow, a stub template. This adds a notice to the bottom of the article and also adds the article to a stub category. Use the most specific stub template you can find. read more ...