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The term "outline", as used here, is short for "hierarchical outline", which is a type of hierarchical list arranged in levels using indents. An outline is a type of tree structure, designed to graphically convey subjects' connectedness, showing the parent–offspring relationships between topics, and their subtopics.

Because using "Hierarchical outline of..." makes article titles too long (e.g., "Hierarchical outline of the Central African Republic") we use the short form "Outline of...". This is consistent with how the academic community and other encyclopedias refer to hierarchical outlines.

Outlines on Wikipedia are stand-alone lists designed to help a reader learn about a subject quickly, by showing what topics it includes, and how those topics are related to each other.

Due to the software features used on Wikipedia, outlines here use subheadings and bullet-list indentation to convey hierarchy. Entries may be in the form of topics (terms) or statements (sentences) or a combination of the two (using annotations). Entries that have a corresponding article are linked to that article.

General reference encyclopedias vary in their application of hierarchical outlines, including Wikipedia's two main competitors. The World Book Encyclopedia has traditionally provided a sparse outline at the end of each of its articles, while the Encyclopædia Britannica's approach has been to provide an extensive stand-alone Outline of Knowledge divided into many numbered subject sections in its Propædia volume. Wikipedia has correlates to both of those implementations: WP article TOCs compete with World Book's outlines, while a Wikipedia outline article will compete with a Britannica Propædia section, to scope the same subject.

While portals are collections of excerpts, sort of like the Reader's Digest, outlines are more like site maps. But with the addition of annotations, and by virtue of the hierarchical arrangement of their entries, outlines on Wikipedia go beyond being mere site maps and are evolving into classified glossaries.

Wikipedia's outlines are kind of like restaurant menus. They help you select what to devour next.

Outlines on Wikipedia combine the benefits of tables of contents, site maps, and glossaries. They provide a more organized presentation of a subject's subtopics than either articles or portals. This makes the title subjects faster to navigate, and allows narrowing one's study to desired areas even when the names of the topics one is looking for are unknown. Outlines also make subjects easier to learn by virtue of being knowledge structures, due to the information conveyed within the structures themselves.

Regular articles (which are prose arranged in paragraphs) are intended as introductions to their respective subjects. They make for a good read, but they aren't all that effective for browsing or navigating an entire subject. An outline is intended to provide more direct access to Wikipedia's coverage of an entire subject via linked branches.

Wikipedia's coverage of a subject goes far beyond the scope of the prose article on that subject. (For example, there are over 30,000 articles on mathematics). The arbitrary network of links embedded in paragraphs throughout a subject do not map out that subject very well at all, and they can't because the ability of the prose format to do this is limited. For lists, however, mapping subjects is a strength, especially for outlines.


What are outlines?[edit]

Outline articles are a type of stand-alone list.

Outlines are a type of tree structure, using graphical elements (indents) to display class ownership between concepts resulting from categorical or conceptual grouping.

Outline articles are usually named "Outline of x", where "x" is the name of the subject being covered.

Just like other articles and other stand-alone lists, outlines are subject to the five pillars of Wikipedia, and must comply with Wikipedia's core content policies: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability.

The network of outlines is also one of Wikipedia's navigation systems, and assists browsing.

Note that most lists on Wikipedia are item lists, which present the members of a particular class of things. Outlines are more inclusive than item lists. Outlines are a type of general topics list. Therefore, an outline is not constrained to list a single class, but instead has the scope of the subject named in its title. Outlines, because of their scope, may include item lists within them. Item lists are often branches of outlines.

The other main type of general topics lists presents entries that are entirely alphabetically sorted. Those are indexes, not outlines. Note that the designations "outline" and "index" refer to the contents of list articles, regardless of the list articles' titles.

Outlines always have a hierarchical structure, so they differ from other types of lists such as "Index of", "Glossary of", and "Timeline of" lists. Indexes and glossaries list articles alphabetically, while a timeline is a chronological list of events organized by date. Outlines are also different from portals, as portals are a collection of excerpts about the subject in various formats without seeking to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject area. Outlines seek to be comprehensive overviews to give the reader the broadest understanding possible of the subject.

Wikipedia outlines have two main purposes:

  1. Since outlines present a subject's subtopics and how they are related to each other by where they are placed on the outline's tree structure, outlines provide understanding, especially to those who are not completely familiar with the subject.
  2. Since the subtopics in outlines are linked whenever Wikipedia has articles about them, outlines serve as a table of contents or site map to its subject's coverage on Wikipedia. In this respect, each outline is a navigation aid, for its subject and Wikipedia's coverage of it.

For examples of well-developed outlines, see:

Key features of an outline article[edit]

Outline articles are a type of stand-alone list. The other types of lists in the stand-alone list family include item lists (such as List of national parks), alphabetical indexes, glossaries, and timelines.

Outlines are hierarchical lists about subjects[edit]

"Outline" is short for "hierarchical outline", which is a hierarchically-structured list about the subject of the list.

Outlines present their content as subheadings and list entries: an outline article breaks its subject down into a taxonomy in which the levels are represented by list entry indentation, subheading levels, or both. A list with indented levels without subheadings is still an outline.

Where the subtopics are placed in the taxonomy shows how they relate to the other topics and to the overall subject.

Wikipedia outlines are hybrids[edit]

Wikipedia outlines are a hybrid of topic outlines (outlines made of terms) and sentence outlines (outlines made of sentences), and many outlines include elements of each.

Many outlines provide descriptive annotations in their entries, to assist readers in topic identification and selection, to help them at a glance to understand the terms and choose which one to click on to read more about.

An outline provides links to subtopics. When there's an article about a subtopic, the subtopic should be linked. This makes outlines useful navigation aids.

Scope of outlines and splitting[edit]

Outlines may grow to be comprehensive. When a branch begins to grow too large, it should be split off. Such a branch that is itself an outline is split off to become a new outline. But if the branch to be split off is an item list, make a new ("List of") item list out of it. For example, List of treaties is much too large to be included in its entirety in the Outline of politics. See Wikipedia:Splitting.

What an outline is not[edit]

Not paragraph format[edit]

Entries in outlines are list items, and the list items may be in the form of a topic term, a sentence, or a topic term and an annotation.

Not a prose article[edit]

An outline is not a mere copy of the lead section of the main subject article followed by an unstructured list of links. Even the lead section must be in outline format, to differentiate the outline at first sight from a regular article.

This means that in the lead section of an outline, there should be a lead sentence identifying the contents of the page as an outline, optionally followed by the primary entry of the outline (a list item presenting the main subject). The name of the subject is the top of the outline's hierarchy.

Not merely an item list[edit]

An item list is a list that names the members of a particular class of things, where the class is more specific than "x topics" or "x articles". Outlines are not item lists, but they may have item lists in them (more about this below).

For example, Outline of sharks is all about sharks, not merely a list of them. Meanwhile, List of sharks is an item list, where the items listed are shark species. Outlines are more comprehensive, and deal with the entire subject.

Stand-alone item lists should be named "List of x", like this: List of bus routes in London, List of cattle breeds, and List of mummies.

But, while outlines are not item lists they often include item lists in them as branches of their hierarchies. If a stand-alone list of items exists corresponding to an item list within an outline, if it is small enough and its format is compatible, the stand-alone item list should be merged into the outline, otherwise summary style should be applied in that section of the outline.

Outlines misnamed as "List of"[edit]

Sometimes outlines are simply named lists (such as "List of foo topics") when they are actually hierarchically-structured lists (outlines). Structured topics lists, that is, hierarchical lists of topics about a subject, should be renamed to "Outline of foo" (where foo is the name of the subject), or if there is an existing outline on that subject, merged into the outline.

Wikipedia outlines differ from conventional outlines in the following ways...[edit]

Problems and opportunities presented by the nature of Wikipedia, the Mediawiki software, and the Wikipedia community have resulted in design features in Wikipedia outlines that differ from traditional outlines. The following sections describe the differences.

Wikipedia outlines use headings as additional level indicators[edit]

Conventional outlines use indents to indicate levels in the hierarchy. Wikipedia outlines use indents too, but also employ section headings to represent levels as well. In outline articles, the top few levels are usually represented by section headings, with levels further down consisting of indented list entries.

Wikipedia outlines have limited entry-prefixes[edit]

Unlike Wikipedia outlines, conventional outlines often include alpha-numeric prefixes on their entries, like this:

A. Nature of chess
B. Chess equipment
  1. Essential equipment
  2. Competition equipment
C. Rules of chess
1. Initial set up
2. Moves
a. How each piece moves
3. End of the game
4. Competition rules
D. Game play
1. Pawn structure
2. Chess tactics
a. Fundamental tactics
b. Offensive tactics
i. Checkmate patterns
c. Defensive tactics
i. Possible responses to an attack
3. Chess strategy

Entries in Wikipedia outlines do not include the standard alpha-numeric prefixes because they would make headings look awkward in the Table of Contents generated by the wiki-software which automatically includes prefix paths. Manually adding prefixes to headings would cause the Table of Contents to have interfering prefixes.

List entries within an outline article's sections are usually prefixed by bullets or numbers, because these don't show up in an article's automatically generated Table of Contents. Standard outline alpha-numerics are not employed even at this level, because having not been used in the higher levels contained within the section headings, they would make no sense and would be useless for representing entry paths (similar to the file paths on a home computer, using prefixes instead of filenames).

Wikipedia outlines are a hybrid between topic outlines and sentence outlines[edit]

Traditional outlines come in two basic types:

  1. Sentence outlines – outlines comprised of sentences. Sentence outlines are usually created in preparation for writing a document such as an essay or book.
  2. Topic outlines – outlines in which the entries are topics. Topic outlines are often used to summarize the itineraries of academic courses in college, breaking a course down into the topics planned for study.

Wikipedia outlines are not limited to one or the other. In an open working environment like a wiki, where expansion is easily facilitated and innovation is encouraged, topic outlines provide excellent starting points for building sentence outlines. Sentences are useful for clarification, wherever it is needed.

Many outlines present entries that include both a topic and a sentence (in the form of an annotation). In many cases the topic is linked, and a descriptive annotation has been included to aid in topic selection (to help the reader choose which topics he wishes to click on to learn more about).

Most Wikipedia outlines are reverse outlines[edit]

Traditional outlines are usually created as a planning tool for a writing project, such as for writing an essay assigned to students by their teacher, or by an author writing a book. Such outlines are developed before the document is composed. This was the role in which the Encyclopedia Britannica built its Outline of Knowledge: as a tool for planning what that encyclopedia would contain.

Only a few of the outlines were created for early content planning on Wikipedia (and those weren't even in outline format at the time). By the time the rest got started, Wikipedia was already quite extensive (due to its wiki-nature), so outline development took advantage of this by outlining what was already there and using that as a starting point for the further development of each outline.

In academic and writing fields, reverse outlines serve as a revision tool, for improving an existing work, and while they work well for this purpose on Wikipedia, Wikipedia outlines are intended as published documents in their own right. This is because the terms presented in them are hyperlinked to the rest of the encyclopedia (making outlines an excellent navigation aid), and because tree structures are a useful form of presentation (due to their graphical format and degree of organization).

Wikipedia outlines are subject outlines[edit]

While traditional outlines summarize other documents, the scope of each Wikipedia outline is an entire subject independent of any specific written work about it, Wikipedia and its articles not withstanding. The focus of each outline is its subject, not necessarily Wikipedia's or any other publication's (incomplete) coverage of it. They are subject outlines as opposed to document outlines. (Wikipedia outlines are a type of article, and like other articles, they describe the external world. As structured list articles, outline articles differ from standard articles primarily by their format.)

Wikipedia outlines are list articles, and share list article features[edit]

Being a type of list article on Wikipedia, outlines include Manual of Style list features such as article leads, headings, section leads, {{Main}} article links, bullets, pictures with captions, annotations, reference citations, categories, page footers, and specialized end sections (See also, References, and External links).

Why do we have outlines in addition to...?[edit]

Occasionally, an editor will notice that outlines overlap in scope and function with another type of page, and wonder why we have both. In general, it is because outlines are optimized for browsing and for showing a subject's structure. And because readers vary in their learning styles: some readers find outlines more convenient for exploring and for review than other forms of knowledge access and presentation. For more information about redundancy between Wikipedia's info navigation systems, and its benefits, see WP:CLN.

What is an outline of knowledge?[edit]

An outline of knowledge is a hierarchical list of the subject "knowledge". Its scope is everything known by humankind. Outlines of knowledge are typically large, though some are more in-depth than others.

Wikipedia's Outline of knowledge has been under construction (under various names) since October 2001. It is the combination of all outlines on Wikipedia. Its main page is Portal:Contents/Outlines.

Another example is Encyclopaedia Britannica's Outline of Knowledge, presented in its Propædia volume.

Universal library classification systems, such as the Dewey Decimal Classification and Library of Congress Classification may also serve as outlines of human knowledge.

Comparison of Wikipedia's and Britannica's outlines of knowledge[edit]

Britannica's Outline of Knowledge is currently broader (covering the spectrum of subjects more evenly) and more refined. The original took a large team 8 years to complete, and has 517 pages (including suggested reading lists, which aren't part of the subject classification outline itself). Wikipedia's Outline of knowledge has been under development as part of the encyclopedia proper (in article space) since 2005, with the bulk of the development being done by a small team of contributors, and so far it has grown to about 500 pages (as of April 2009). Wikipedia's outline goes into more depth on some subjects, but has many blatant gaps Britannica's does not have.

The Britannica's outline uses outline numbering, Wikipedia's does not (except in outline pages' auto-generated tables of contents - these are displayed in the decimal outline format, and only show those topics/branches that are presented as headings). As manual numbering is infeasible and renders the auto-generated TOC unreadable, a new software feature would be needed to enable automatic outline numbering in Wikipedia.

How to find outlines[edit]

See the top page of Wikipedia's Outline of knowledge - the main subjects are presented there, and in turn lead to more refined topics. The top page can be accessed from Portal:Contents which has a link on Wikipedia's sidebar in the navigation menu ("Contents" is the second link on the menu, right below "Main page").

You can see a list of most outlines in Wikipedia's alphabetical index. See also Special:PrefixIndex/Historical outline of.

Outlines should be included under Category:Wikipedia outlines. Those identified as being unfinished are usually listed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Outline of knowledge/open tasks.

Naming outlines[edit]

The titles of outlines on Wikipedia usually start with "Outline of".

The word "outline" in the title is never plural ("Outlines of" or "X-related outlines", or "List of x outlines" or "List of outlines of"), since all outlines are components of an integrated network of outlines. That is, when one or more outlines are branches of the same subject, links to them should be included on the outline for that subject.

Subjects in the titles should be plural when it is grammatically correct. For example: Outline of ants, Outline of sharks, etc.

Why not other name forms?[edit]

A title with "topic outline" is inappropriate because outline pages on Wikipedia can at any time take on aspects that detract from that model and render the title false. That is, a "topic outline" is an outline composed of topics only, so as soon as an editor comes along and adds an annotation or sentence or descriptive lead or section lead, it ceases to be a topic outline and then has an erroneous title.

"Sentence outlines" are outlines composed of sentences (each summarizing a point) - so we don't use this in the title either, because most outlines on Wikipedia include topic entries, or may have them added at any time, which immediately renders that title false. Also, people tend to associate the term "outline" with sentence outlines, which makes "sentence outline" redundant.

Wikipedia outlines tend to include elements found in both of these types of outline and additional wiki-elements as well, such as descriptive lead sections. This mixture of elements, and the potential for them being added at any time by editors, makes the general term "Outline" more appropriate to describe Wikipedia's outlines.

Standardizing outlines to a single name also helps to prevent the need to merge redundant outlines with similar titles ("topic outline of x", "subject outline of x", "outline of x topics", "sentence outline of x", etc.) - the simple form "Outline of x" will do.

How to create an outline page[edit]

Important: Please don't create outline stubs in article space. Outlines that are bare skeletons and sparsely populated outlines are likely to get AfD'd, even while you are working on them. It's better to create each new outline as a draft in the draft collection of the Outline of knowledge WikiProject, and move the draft to article space after it has plenty of meat on it. Before creating an outline draft, be sure to check that no outline or draft already exists for that subject. Outline drafts are included in the planned and ongoing expansion presented at Wikipedia:WikiProject Outline of knowledge#Projected outline.

General outlines are created using the {{Outline generator}} template, like this:

{{subst:Outline generator|topic uncapitalized|topic capitalized}}

Outlines on countries are created using the {{Outline generator}} template, like this:

{{subst:Template:Outline country|country name}}

If you see a gap in the Outline of knowledge, and the gap is also in the projected future outline of knowledge on the OOK WikiProject page, feel free to create a redlink for the subject in the projected outline or create a request. If the (draft) outline already exists in the projected outline space but is a redlink, one can create it via template and develop, or leave it for others to create (again, please don't create new outlines directly in article space - they need to be developed first as drafts and then moved there).

How to develop a good outline[edit]

For advice on country outlines, see Country outline development (below)

Outline format[edit]

Formatting of Wikipedia's outlines differs somewhat from that employed in conventional alphanumeric outlining, due to the strengths and limitations of the MediaWiki software.

Hierarchical structure[edit]

A list without a hierarchical structure isn't an outline, it's just a plain list.

The hierarchy in Wikipedia outlines is represented by headings, and is further extended below those headings by embedded indented lists. The use of headings in this way, where the headings are part of the outline itself, takes advantage of the MediaWiki software's automatic TOC feature and makes long outlines easier to navigate because its headings are displayed in a contents box at the beginning of the article. See WP:TOC.

Embedded lists in outlines are typically bulleted, and indented to show levels, like this:

Vertical space can be conserved through using columns or in blocks to represent items on the same level. See Help:Columns for assistance in creating columns, additionally all available column templates should be listed in Category:Multi-column templates.

Lead section[edit]

The purpose of the lead section in outlines is to present just enough description to uniquely identify and recognize the subject. A bloated lead detracts from the content of the outline.

The lead should differentiate the subject from similar subjects. For example, "Oklahoma is a state of the United States" doesn't help much, because there are 50 states. To help the reader distinguish it from the others, include a few key elements that define Oklahoma's character, setting it apart from the other states.

Section leads[edit]

Rather than a section lead in the form of a descriptive paragraph (prose), a section should be comprised of outline entries. For example, (from Outline of cell biology):

Cell biology can be described as all of the following:

  • Branch of science – systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge.
    • Branch of natural science – the branch of science concerned with the description, prediction, and understanding of natural phenomena.
      • Branch of biology – study of life and living organisms, including their structure and function.

Here is an example (from a section of Outline of forestry) that uses an annotated lead entry:

Forest management – comprises the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects of forest regulation

  • Analog forestry – a management focus that seeks to establish a tree-dominated ecosystem that is similar in architectural structure and ecological function to the naturally occurring climax and sub-climax vegetation community.
  • Bamboo cultivation – farming and harvesting bamboo for commercial purposes such as construction.

Do not place links in headings[edit]

Outline entries include annotations. But headings can't be annotated. Therefore, place the link in the body of the section, even though it duplicates the heading.

Note that links provided as {{Main}} hatnotes also cannot be annotated, and therefore should not be used as the alternative to linking in outline headings. Instead, provide the link as a list entry, in the body of the section.

No alpha-numeric prefixes in headings[edit]

While outlines in general usually have alphanumeric indexing at the beginning of each entry, outlines on Wikipedia do not, because the MediaWiki software does not yet support automatic outline numbering. Manually numbering the items (including headings) in an outline is not practical or advisable, as it wreaks havoc with the article Contents box feature of MediaWiki, is error prone, and makes outline pages exceedingly tedious to revise - every time an item were to be inserted into a branch, that level of that branch would have to be renumbered. Therefore, Wikipedia outlines are plain, without "outline numbering".

Note that "outline numbering" does not refer to numbered bullets. Numbered bullets can be used to number the items within a section. They are useful for when the number of items is identified in the section lead, like the number of counties in a state. The numbers help show that the list is complete.

Section headings in outlines[edit]

The branches of a subject may be prominent in their own right. Because of this, sections in outlines are often the destination for redirects and embedded links. Also, a great many outlines share the same format and therefore look very similar at a glance, especially country outlines (and state outlines too).

The Manual of Style, under "Section headings" (MOS:HEAD), states: "Headings should not refer redundantly to the subject of the article, or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer." Well, for outlines, for the reasons presented above, doing so makes outlines clearer and less likely to trip up section-hopping readers.

Therefore, unlike prose articles, and invoking the "clearer" exception to MOS:HEAD, the common practice for outline headings is to use complete titles for sections, even when that refers redundantly to the subject of the outline. That way, readers know exactly what they are reading about when they arrive at a section of an outline via a link, or when they are jumping back and forth between similar outlines.

Priority of link types[edit]

Outlines reflect the structure of their subjects, and so as subjects branch out to subjects, outlines branch out to outlines whenever possible.

Being a part of an overall outline which itself is one huge list, the various pages of this system link together. The Outline of knowledge is first and foremost an outline, secondarily a list, and finally an article.

When an outline of a topic exists, link to that. If there isn't one, and there's a list, link to that. Failing that, link to an article. If none of the types exists, leave it as an article redlink (as those are most likely to turn blue first).

Outline generator templates provide article links, because these are more likely to exist. When outlines or lists become available, these should replace the article links).

To accomplish this in wiki syntax, the topic <code>[[geography]]</code> would link to <code>[[Outline of geography|geography]]</code>, while still being displayed as "geography".


In order to facilitate annotations, navigation templates (navboxes) should not be embedded in the body of an outline in place of actual outline content.

External links[edit]

Because outlines on Wikipedia serve as tables of contents and site maps of Wikipedia, external links should be presented in an outline page's External links section only.

Standard ordering of topics[edit]

[for ease of comparison]

[for ease of navigation]

Country outline development[edit]

To create a new country outline, see How to create an outline page (above).

Most countries already have outlines created for them, but they need further development...

Major problems:

  • bloated lead section
  • incorrectly named and/or empty Administrative divisions section
  • incorrect data in Government branches sections

There is some awkward stuff in the incomplete outlines:

  • redlinks
  • empty brackets
  • apparently irrelevant entries (e.g., "fjords" for a landlocked country)
  • blank entries

When encountered in article space, many editors tend to delete the awkward stuff instead of complete it. You need to be on the look out for this. One way to check for this is to compare the outline against the template:Outline country. Comparing with that will show you what standard items have been removed.

Here's a good basic order by which to complete an outline in:

Lead section[edit]

For most country outlines, as a convenient starting point the lead section was copied from the corresponding country article.

These lead sections should be condensed down to a single paragraph including just enough for good solid country identification. Unfortunately, we haven't developed a standard for this yet (perhaps general location, main distinguishing characteristics, and something the country is famous for) - more thought is needed on this. It was never intended to leave the full article leads in these outlines. We simply copied and pasted the leads from the articles to provide an easy starting point for editing. Some of the leads are monstrous - these pages are supposed to be outlines, not articles or article forks. Any topics in the lead that are essential to the country as a subject should be converted to outline entries and included in the body of the outline (if they are not already there).

Administrative divisions[edit]

The administrative divisions sections for many countries are incorrect on the drafts, and the sections are empty. These need to be corrected and filled.

If there are way too many divisions to list, provide a link instead.

Provide a map if you can find one (for each admin div section).

Government branches sections[edit]

These too start out in error for many countries. They must be corrected before the outline can be moved to article space.


Each country outline should include:

  1. Location map
  2. General map (with roads, rivers, cities, etc.) - usually placed next to or below the table of contents
  3. Satellite photo or topological map - usually placed in the Geography section
  4. Map(s) showing administrative divisions - one for each administrative division section, if available
  5. Population density map (or some other demographics-related map) - in the demographics section
  6. Etc.

Look for these at Wikimedia Commons. A faster way to get to what you need is to click on the atlas link in the country outline. ;)

Sometimes the selection to choose from is pitiful. Do the best with what you have to work with.

The best examples of map support so far are Outline of the Isle of Man and Outline of Japan.


All blank entries and empty link brackets need to be filled in.

Bluelink the redlinks[edit]

Generally, either move a page to the name of the redlink, or click on the redlink and create a redirect to the article and section where the information is.

Entries in the natural geographic features section that don't seem like they belong, we still keep for comparison purposes. These outlines serve as profiles, and the standard entries and the standard order they are in let you compare country profiles easily. So rather than remove "Glaciers" for countries that have none, instead add a colon and type in "none". This also helps remove ambiguity. If the glacier item is missing, the reader may not know whether it means that there are no glaciers, or if the outline just isn't complete yet. We're trying to make these outlines as unambiguous as possible.

Finish the coverage[edit]

These outlines were created using a template that had all the links most likely to be found for most of the countries of the world. But countries are highly individualized, and there are lots of non-standard topics on Wikipedia about them. We need to find them for each country. Here are some searching tips:

When a section grows too large[edit]

These outlines are not indexes, and they shouldn't include every article related to the country. We have alphabetical indexes and specialized lists for that. For example, in the outline of the United States, don't include the name of every municipality in the country, because there are thousands of them. That's too much data!

But small countries might only have a handful of cities, towns, and villages. Sure, add them in.

If a section grows too large and Wikipedia doesn't yet have a list that includes those items, split the section off. If the section is too large and there is a list with those items, merge the section with the list. In both cases, apply the summary style on the section (using list content instead of paragraphs).

Search techniques[edit]

Use the "intitle" parameter of the search box, or use an external search engine to do title searches of Wikipedia.

Basically, in Google you type in "of" "x" (including the quotes!). (Where "x" is a country name). Then click on Advanced search, and configure it to "title only" and add Wikipedia's URL to the domain field. As you get up to speed with this technique, you'll probably start editing the url directly in the url field at the top of your browser, but you could skip to an advanced method and make an url list of google searches on a user page and load them with Linky (this technique speeds up multi-Google searches immensely).

Here are some examples:

(You can use the wikicode for the links above as the basis for new searches - just replace "Austria" with any other country or region name).

In the results, you'll recognize a lot of the article names on there (guess how the standard article names were found for the region outlines in the first place!) Look over the results, keeping an eye out for article names that are not already included in the country outline you are working on.

(Using "-subject", where "subject" is the name of a subject, you can eliminate a lot of the standard subjects already in use, to make it easier to spot new ones in your results).

Then repeat for "in x", and look them over as above.

Other search terms that may be useful include the country's name (without "of" or "in"), the country's adjectival(s) (e.g. "German", "Germanic"), the country's demonym(s), etc.

In the search results, you'll recognize a lot of the article names on there. Search results helped standardize article names in the first place. Look over the results, keeping an eye out for article names that are not already included in the country outline you are working on.

Check the country's categories[edit]

You can usually find blatantly missing topics in Wikipedia's category system.

Browse the subject's articles on Wikipedia[edit]

By this point the outline itself is already a powerful research tool. Click on its links to find more links for the outline. For example, History of Russia is a great place to look for links for the history section. And don't forget to read the main article on the country!


Images are best saved for last, because once you've added all the links and maps to the outline, then you know how much room you need to fill with images. But it's OK to add them sooner or as you go - pictures are worth a thousand words and they liven up the page. Just keep in mind that as more links are added, so is more space which needs to be filled with images.

For images, the standard size we've been using is 300px. If the image can't be seen at that size, make it bigger. Placement is usually to the right, but large images usually work best centered at the top or bottom of a section. Be creative, but make it look good.

Try to find pictures that are not already in use in the main country-related articles. You can usually find some at Commons, and in more-specific articles (like place articles, or animal type, etc.). Go a few clicks deep. ;)

The best examples of image placement are Outline of France, Outline of Gibraltar, Outline of Iceland, Outline of Japan, Outline of Taiwan, Outline of Thailand, and Outline of Vatican City.

Follow up outline creation with link support[edit]

After an outline has been created in article space, or after it has been moved there from draft space, there are a few tasks that need to be done to support it:

  1. Double check the categories at the bottom of the outline (if missing, add them in!)
  2. Add an entry for the outline to Portal:Contents/Outlines
  3. Add a link to Wikipedia:Community bulletin board#Outlines
  4. Create the outline's talk page, with the appropriate WikiProject banners
  5. Add a link to the corresponding root article's See also section
  6. Add a sectional link to the corresponding subtopics' See also sections
    1. For example, in History of chess#See also leading to Outline of chess#History of chess
  7. Add a link to the corresponding navigation footers
  8. Add a link to the corresponding sidebar navigation boxes
  9. Remove its draft links from Wikipedia:WikiProject Outlines
  10. Add its new title to Wikipedia:WikiProject Outlines#What's going on with outlines

How to get involved[edit]

Just as with any article on Wikipedia, outlines can be created and edited by anyone, so the easiest way to get involved is find an outline, click "edit", and start typing away. Please keep in mind that outlines have standard formats (by type) to make it easy to compare subjects. This is especially so for outlines on countries.

The Outlines WikiProject was founded to coordinate outline activity. Its main objectives are to build the Outline of knowledge by creating new outlines for it, expand existing outlines, develop standards for outlines, and maintain them all.

Because many subjects have similar structures, their outlines have similar formats and share elements. The development and maintenance of these can often be automated. There is a team of editors dedicated to the use of advanced wikitools to improve Wikipedia's outlines. If you are interested, they can be reached via the Outlines WikiProject's talk page.

Important: Outlines of countries need immediate attention to their government branches sections. These need to be corrected and completed as soon as possible.

See also[edit]


Portal | WikiProject | Category