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Help:Editing

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This page is about a general introduction on how to edit. For the editing policy, see Wikipedia:Editing policy. For the page on how and where you can contribute, see Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia.
Editing tutorial for Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a wiki, meaning that anyone can edit any unprotected page and improve articles immediately for all readers. You do not need to register to do this. Anyone who has edited is known as a "Wikipedian" and, no matter how trivial the edit may seem, can be proud that he or she has helped make Wikipedia what it is. All of these edits add up! Wikipedia uses two methods of editing: the new VisualEditor (VE), and classic editing through wiki markup (wikitext).

Some pages are protected from editing. These pages are denoted by a lock icon on the top right of the page and, if you are not allowed to edit the page, have a View source tab instead of an Edit tab. You can still edit these pages indirectly, by submitting an "edit request" – an editor with the ability to edit the protected page will respond to your request. You can submit a request by clicking on the View source tab on that page and using the "Submit an edit request" link at the bottom right.

Editing articles

Content protocols

Short video explaining the concepts of "verifiability" and "neutral point of view". (2:10 min)
Further information: Wikipedia:Core content policies

When adding content and creating new articles an encyclopedic style with a formal tone is important. Instead of essay-like, argumentative, or opinionated writing, Wikipedia articles should have a straightforward, just-the-facts style. The goal of a Wikipedia article is to create a comprehensive and neutrally written summary of existing mainstream knowledge about a topic. Accordingly, Wikipedia does not publish original research. An encyclopedia is, by its nature, a tertiary source that provides a survey of information already the subject of publication in the wider world. Ideally all information should be cited and verifiable by reliable sources. Sourcing requirements are significantly stricter in articles on living persons.

Edit screen(s)

Editing most Wikipedia pages is simple. Wikipedia uses two methods of editing: classic editing through wiki markup (wikitext) and through a new VisualEditor (VE). Wiki markup editing is chosen by clicking the Edit tab at the top of a Wikipedia page (or on a section-edit link). This will take you to a new page containing the editable contents of the current page. Wiki markup is used extensively throughout Wikipedia for such things as hyperlinks, tables and columns, footnotes, inline citation, special characters and so on.

The VisualEditor option is intended as a user-friendly, "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) editing aid allowing one to edit pages without the need to learn wikitext markup, It is only available to registered logged-in users through an opt-in choice available through personal preferences, see the VisualEditor user guide for more information.

The Wikipedia community has developed style guidelines to make articles and facts appear in a standardized form, and Wikipedia easier to use as a whole. A basic list of wiki markup can be found on the cheatsheet. An "edit toolbar" is provided just above the edit box (pictured below), which will allow logged in users (by selecting the option in personal preferences) to automatically place and format various aspects of wiki code. See Help:Wiki markup for more information, remember that you can't break Wikipedia, and, although there are many protocols, perfection is not required, as Wikipedia is a work in progress.

Advanced toolbar of vector skin.png

When you have finished editing, you should write a short edit summary in the small field below the edit box (pictured below). You may use shorthand to describe your changes, as described in the legend. To see how the page looks with your edits, press the "Show preview" button. To see the differences between the page with your edits and the previous version of the page, press the "Show changes" button. If you're satisfied with what you see, be bold and press the "Save page" button. Your changes will immediately be visible to all Wikipedia users.

Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes)

 

This is a minor edit Watch this page

By clicking the "Save page" button, you agree to the Terms of Use and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL with the understanding that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient for CC BY-SA 3.0 attribution.

Save page Show preview Show changes Cancel

Note: Do not sign the edit summary line with your ~~~~ signature, as it does not work there.

Minor edits

Further information: Help:Minor edit
The "minor edit" checkbox (circled) in the wikitext editor

A check to the "minor edit" box signifies that only superficial differences exist between the version with your edit and the previous version: typo corrections, formatting and presentational changes, rearranging of text without modifying content, etc. A minor edit is a version that the editor believes requires no review and could never be the subject of a dispute. The "minor edit" option is one of several options available only to registered users. Editors should not feel that marking a change as minor devalues their effort.

Major edits

All editors are encouraged to be bold, but there are several things that a user can do to ensure that major edits are performed smoothly. Before engaging in a major edit, a user should consider discussing proposed changes on the article discussion/talk page. During the edit, if doing so over an extended period, the {{In use}} tag can reduce the likelihood of an edit conflict. Once the edit has been completed, the inclusion of an edit summary will assist in documenting the changes. These steps will help all to ensure that major edits are well received by the Wikipedia community.

A major edit should be reviewed to confirm that it is consensual to all concerned editors. Therefore, any change that affects the meaning of an article is major (not minor), even if the edit is a single word.

There are no necessary terms to which you have to agree when doing major edits, but the preceding recommendations have become best practice. If you do it your own way, the likelihood of your edits being reedited may be higher.

When performing a large edit, it is suggested that you periodically, and before pressing "Save page", copy your edits into an external text editor (preferably one without formatting, such as Notepad). This ensures that in the case of a browser crash you will not lose your work. If you are adding substantial amounts of work, it is also a good idea to save changes in stages.

Adding references

A screencast that walks through the essentials needed in citing your sources. (2:01 min)
A screencast that walks through how to use the various features of RefTools. (5:03 min)

Generally sources are added directly after the facts they support at the end of the sentence and after any punctuation. Wikipedia permits editors to use any citation system that allows the reader to understand where the information came from, and strongly encourages use of inline citations to do so. Common methods of placing inline citations include footnotes, shortened footnotes and parenthetical references.

Inline citations are most commonly placed by inserting a reference between <ref> ... </ref> tags, directly in the text of an article. When one saves, that will display in the text as a footnote (e.g.[1][2]), and the source you keyed in will appear on the page in a collated, numbered list corresponding to the footnote numbers in the text, wherever a {{Reflist}} template or <references /> tag is present, usually in a section titled "References" or "Notes". If you are creating a new page, or adding references to a page that didn't previously have any, don't forget to add a references section with this display markup.

There are a number of tools available to help with citation placement and formatting, some of which are internal tools and scripts while others are available from external sites. For an example of the former, RefToolbar is a JavaScript toolbar displayed above the edit box that provides the ability to automatically fill out various citation templates and insert them in the text already formatting inside <ref> ... </ref> tags. For an example of the latter, the Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books converts a Google Books address (URL) into a filled-out {{cite book}} template ready to be pasted into an article. See Help:Citation tools for many others.

Adding images, sounds and videos

A file that is already hosted on Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons can be inserted with the basic code "[[File:FILENAME|thumb|DESCRIPTION]]". ("Image:" can be substituted for "File:" with no change in effect; the choice between the two is purely a matter of editorial preference.) Using "thumb" generates a thumbnail of an image (the most common placement option), which is typically sized differently from the original image. The Wikimedia Commons' File Upload Wizard and Wikipedia's File Upload Wizard, will guide you through the process of submitting media. All files uploaded are mirrored between Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, and searchable from either one. There are various file formats available.

Article creation

A screencast demonstrating how to create a Wikipedia article manually. (7:50 min)

Before starting a new article please understand Wikipedia's notability requirements. In short, the topic of an article must have already been the subject of publication in reliable sources, such as books published by major publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, peer-reviewed scholarly journals and websites that meet the same requirements as reputable print-based sources. Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have a separate article. Wikipedia's concept of notability applies this basic standard to avoid indiscriminate inclusion of topics.

An Article Wizard is available to help you create articles — it is not required but will help you construct better articles. Only registered users may create articles directly, though people editing by their IP address can submit a proposed article through the Articles for Creation process, where it will be reviewed and considered for publication. Before creating an article, please search Wikipedia first to make sure that an article does not already exist on the subject, and please also review the article titling policy for guidance of what to name the article.

Talk pages

A screencast demonstrating how to use a talk page. (2:43 min)

Every article on Wikipedia has a talk page, reached by clicking the Talk tab just above the title (for example, Talk:Alexander the Great). There, editors can discuss improvements to the content of an article. If you ever make a change that gets reverted by another editor, discuss the change on the talk page! The BOLD, revert, discuss cycle is a popular method of reaching consensus. It is very important that you conduct yourself with civility and assume good faith on the part of others. Edit warring (repeatedly overriding or reimplementing contributions) is highly discouraged.

Most other types of pages on Wikipedia also have associated talk pages, including the User page each editor is assigned once they sign up. When other editors need to contact you, they will usually do this by leaving a message on your talk page. When someone has left you a message that way, you will see a notice the next time you log in or view a page on Wikipedia.

Sign your contributions to a Talk page by using four tildes (~~~~), which produces your username and a time/date stamp.

Protected pages

Some pages are protected from editing. These pages have a View source tab instead of an Edit tab. You can still edit these pages indirectly, by submitting an "edit request" – an editor with the ability to edit the protected page will respond to your request. You can submit a request by clicking on the View source tab on that page and using the "Submit an edit request" link at the bottom right.

Policies and conventions

Policies, guidelines, and formatting norms are developed by the community to describe the best practices, to clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goals. Make sure that you submit information which is relevant to Wikipedia's specific purpose, or your content might be deleted. You can always use the talk pages to ask questions or check to see if your idea will be accepted. Please make note of the license your contributions will be covered by.

Further reading

Helpful tips
Naming and moving
Style and layout
Tools
Related
  • WikiProjects, if you are writing an article about something that belongs to a group of topics, check here first!
  • Wikimedia Bookshelf, learning materials, videos, and handouts.

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