User:Yunshui/Article creation for beginners

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This is an informal guide to the process of article creation, based on personal experience. It is not intended to replace the guidance at Your first article, or the Article wizard.

Choose your subject[edit]

It's easy to make the assumption that just about everything that can be covered on Wikipedia has been written about already. That's not the case though, and there are a number of ways you can find new topics to write about.

  • Wikipedia:Requested articles has hundreds of ideas for entries people would like to see in the encyclopedia. Choose a subject area that interests you, and take your pick of the suggestions.
  • Hunt for redlinks; links to subjects that aren't yet the topic of a Wikipedia article. They appear all over the place. Be wary, though; it could well be that the article linked to does in fact exist, but the link hasn't been correctly formatted - if you find that to be the case, fix the link!
  • Check out other online encyclopedias like Britannica or, and especially special interest encyclopedias such as the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Catholic Encyclopedia. They may well have articles on subjects we haven't covered here yet, and you'll have your first source readily available to boot.
  • Think of something you know a lot about; everyone has fields of interest that are a bit specialised. If there isn't an article on your favourite TV show, book, engine part, subspecies of otter, type of handbag, snackfood, chemical reaction, sportsperson, mathematical equation, beer, computer program or masonry technique, you could be the one to write it.
  • Think of something you know almost nothing about; creating a Wikipedia article can be a fascinating learning experience. Never considered the experiences of early Dutch explorers in South Africa? Pick one and find out more about him, in the process learning whole chunks of information you'd never have encountered otherwise.
  • Check that it isn't already covered. This is an important step, otherwise all your hard work could be wasted. Search for alternate spellings and coverage within other articles before you start.
  • Avoid creating an article on: yourself, your company, your band, your website or anything else with which you might have a conflict of interest.

Hunt for sources[edit]

All Wikipedia articles need to be supported by reliable sources. This is non-negotiable - without such sources, articles will be deleted. Not every source is reliable; blogs, self-published books and websites, sources which espouse fringe or extreme viewpoints, editorials and Wikipedia itself do not make the cut. Here are some tips on finding good sources.

  • If you're writing about a living person or a recent event, the Google News Archive is your friend. Searching here will give you any mentions of your topic that have appeared in news sources; if you get more than two or three hits here, chances are you've chosen something worthy of an article. It's also a good way to find reliable book reviews to help you meet the criteria at WP:NBOOK or WP:AUTHOR. In addition, there's a considerable number of (generally reliable) news sources listed at WP:NWSRC.
  • If you're writing about a historical event or person, a place, a sport or just about anything else, you should find sources at Google Books. Many texts are available and searchable online, enabling you to track down reliable coverage in just a few minutes. Be wary, though; not all books are reliable sources. Check the publisher - if it's the author, or a self-publishing outlet like or CreateSpace, you may need to find something more substantial.
  • If you're writing about science or medicine, you'll need some very sound sources. Start with WP:CSTS for recent events, then hit up Google Scholar for more searches. Scientific and medical claims generally require hard evidence, so your sources will be challenged if they aren't up to scratch.
  • The Wikipedia Resource Exchange is a project where you can ask other Wikipedians to locate sources that you might otherwise not be able to get your hands on - editors there have access to specialised databases, archives and paysites that the average Joe can't see, and they're willing to share.
  • You can also search the web; lots of articles are cited only to other websites. It's important to evaluate your sources carefully, though; just about anyone can put just about anything up on the 'net these days, so you'll need to vet what you find. If in doubt, you can always start a discussion about a source at the Reliable Sources Noticeboard, where other editors can give you advice.

Write the article[edit]

That's the point of the exercise, after all... There are some suggestions for basic text formatting here, but if you want a more complete explanation, see WP:MARKUP.

  • Start with a draft, that way you can mess about with it without getting a slew of other editors jumping all over your work. To create a draft, put "Draft:name of your article" into the Search Wikipedia box in the top right. You'll see a message saying, "You may create the page Draft:name of your article...", click on the red text to start writing the draft.
  • You don't need to create a header for the article title; it will be automatically generated. You should, however, put the title in bold text the first time it appears. To create bold text, place three apostrophes on either side of your text, like this: '''bold text'''. The first sentence of the article ought to be something like: "Foo is an imaginary placeholder used on Wikipedia..."
  • Structure your article. Group related text and concepts together, and place them under headers. You can generate a header by placing equals signs on either side of your text, thus: ==Level 2 Header==. If you place four or more of these headings, a contents list will be generated automatically.
  • Put your references in. You went to all the trouble of finding them, after all... To add a reference, find the place in the text where you want the citation to appear and type <ref>, followed by your source (if the source is a webpage, you can link to it by enclosing it in square brackets like this: []). Then close the tag with </ref>. You will also need to add a {{Reflist}} template to the bottom of the article, otherwise the references won't display. More instructions are available in this essay.
  • Use neutral language. Wikipedia strives to maintain a neutral point of view in articles, so phrases like "They are the best band in the whole world", "He is a complete idiot who can barely manage to breathe and walk at the same time", "When she walks into a room, everyone there spontaneously breaks out in applause because she is so awesome" and so on really aren't appropriate. Confine yourself to reporting verifiable facts from those reliable sources you worked so hard to find. As Terry Pratchett has suggested, "Use adjectives as though each one costs you a toe."[1]
  • The Wikipedia Manual of Style is pretty vast, but it's carefully structured to help you find what you need. In an ideal world, your article will conform to all points of the MoS from its inception, but don't worry if it's not quite there - Wikipedia has a legion of specialised editors who will be along to straighten out the kinks soon enough.
  • When you're happy with your article, you can either submit it to Articles for creation by adding the code {{subst:submit}} to the top of the page or, if you're a confirmed user, move the draft into mainspace.

Now what?[edit]

Your baby has been released into the wilds of Wikipedia mainspace. What should you do next?

  • If you think more sources exist, or if there are parts of the article that could use improvement, by all means carry on working on it. Just because it's now in mainspace doesn't mean it's got to remain static; in fact the reverse is true, which leads me to...
  • You don't own the article. Once you hit the "Save page" button, you irrevocably release your contributions under a CC-BY-SA licence, so anyone can edit the text as they see fit. Don't get annoyed if other editors show up and start changing things. If you disagree with something someone has added to the article, you can discuss it on the article's talk page. Remember, Wikipedia is all about verifibility - if the new addition is reliably sourced, it should probably stay.
  • Likewise, try not to become disheartened if someone proposes your article for deletion. There are three ways this may be done.
    • Speedy deletion: If the article meets the criteria at WP:SPEEDY, it can be deleted without delay by the next administrator who happens along. These criteria are very strict, however - if your article doesn't meet them, it will not be speedily deleted. You can contest the deletion on the article's talk page, but do not remove the speedy deletion tag yourself.
    • Proposed deletion: An editor with concerns about an article can give a reason and propose it for deletion; if this is uncontested the article will be deleted after a week. You can remove WP:PROD templates, but give a reason for keeping the article either on the talk page or in your edit summary.
    • Articles for deletion: The article may get listed at AfD, in which case there will be a discussion over whether or not to keep it. You can join the discussion, but again, do not remove the template from the article. If your article is well-sourced and neutral, it will survive the deletion process.
  • Add some categories. This helps other users find the article. Find some appropriate categories at Portal:Contents/Categories and add the text [[Category:<appropriate category>]] to the very bottom of the article.
  • Create more! During your research for this page you may well have encountered other place, people, concepts, animals or things which don't yet have an article - why not write those as well?


  1. ^ Various authors; Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2012, A & C Black, 2011) ISBN 1408135809