Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/Academy/Writing a featured article

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This essay provides a brief list of major points that should be addressed before an article is listed as a featured article candidate; some of them are general recommendations, while others are related specifically to common objections candidate articles encounter.

Know the criteria
Perhaps the most basic element of writing an article that meets the featured article criteria is knowing what those criteria are. Becoming familiar with the formal list is vital; beyond that, it's often useful to review/observe the current featured articles and the ongoing candidacies to get a better grasp of how the criteria are typically applied in practice.
Take advantage of the review process
Articles nominated for featured status should already be of a superlative quality, as attempts to fix major problems during the featured article nomination itself are usually chaotic and unsuccessful. Thus, the article should be reviewed for potential problems before a nomination is made. A full review process is outlined below; while these steps are not required, they are usually quite helpful:
  1. Peer review: A peer review can offer exhaustive suggestions for improvement; it can be undertaken at any point, but is most useful once a majority of the article's content is present. This can be run for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
  2. Good article nomination: Good for a first formal review against a set criteria. It can also help to provide a non-Milhist view of an article
  3. A-Class review: A review for A-Class status is less flexible, and serves primarily to verify that the major criteria for featured article status are met; it runs for at least five days, to a few weeks, or even a month or so.
  4. Featured article nomination: It is final step in the formal nomination for featured article status; it can run anywhere from a week to a month.
Check your citations
Perhaps the most critical flaw in an article—and among the few that serve to guarantee a failed featured article candidacy—is a lack of proper citations. An article should have copious inline citations, preferably from high-quality scholarly sources such as published historical works; for more information, see the project's sourcing and citation guidelines. It is a good idea to spot check your own citations before you get to FAC, to ensure that they match the content, as over the course of an article's development small errors may creep in, which are best caught before FAC.
Ensure the article has been copyedited
One of the most common objections that articles encounter is that the prose is too dense or poorly written. It is incumbent on editors to ensure that an article has been thoroughly copyedited before being nominated for featured status; while this can be done, to an extent, on one's own articles, it is better to ask someone unfamiliar with the text to review, as this is generally very helpful in catching less obvious stylistic problems. A full copy edit can be requested at the Guild of Copy Editors.
Find suitable illustrations
While lavish illustration is not a requirement (but is nevertheless a good thing, where enough images are available), particular attention must be paid to cartography; in articles about battles or wars, the lack of a suitable map can result in numerous objections to a featured article candidacy. Some resources for obtaining suitable maps can be found here. Requests can also be made at the Graphics lab. It is important to ensure these are properly licenced, though, and should have verifiable sources like any other content.
Watch the length
While editors are encouraged to expand articles, there comes a time when the overall length of an article becomes a potential problem for readers, and reviewers as well; if you find that an article is overflowing, consider splitting it up or moving some of the information to other articles. More advice on recommended bounds for article size can be found here; note, however, that the numbers given are usually applied only to the prose of the article, and do not include additional material (such as footnotes or reference lists).
Be mindful of resolution settings
Higher monitor resolution settings can have the adverse effect of leaving large spaces between paragraphs if too many images or tables are present in one area or along one margin of an article. Consider alternating images from left to right to help prevent large spacing between sections, and leaving extra room below tables and images before adding any additional media to that side of the page. Other editors who use higher or lower resolution settings can help you identify any areas of an article that may need reformating to address this.
Be mindful of redlinks
The number of redlinks in an article should go down as the article's quality goes up. If your article is well-cited but has a large number of redlinks, it may be a good idea to invest some time in creating articles for the missing links or finding existing articles on Wikipedia that can serve as acceptable substitutes for them. Note that an article need not necessarily be completely redlink-free; but, in general, fewer redlinks visible in an article correlate to a higher chance of passing a featured article candidacy.
Stay updated
FA criteria will shift over time, so ensure that your article stays up to date with newer requirements by updating it periodically. If an article has not had an official review for over a year since its last recorded entry in the {{article history}} template on the talk page it may be a good idea to list the article at peer review to invite needed updates and bring the article back into line with current FA standards. If an article is in particularly bad condition it will eventually end up listed at Featured Article Review (FAR). If an article is not brought into line with current FA standards by the time an FAR ends the FAR will automatically become a Featured Article Removal request; if an article fails FARC, it will be delisted from Featured status until such a time as it renominated for FA status.