Wikipedia:WikiProject Women in Red/Essays/Ten Simple Rules for Women in Red

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Ten Simple Rules for Creating Women's Biographies

Introduction[edit]

This set of guidelines is intended to help editors who are trying to create women's biographies for the first time. Rather than linking to all the usual pages editors receive at editathons or on their talk pages after they register, it summarizes the bare essentials of how to write biographies which stand a good chance of becoming part of the encyclopaedia instead of being deleted. In general, it is easier to write the biographies of women who are no longer alive as biographies of living people (BLPs) need much more careful attention and more detailed sourcing. The rules below should nevertheless help with women's biographies in general.

One of the best ways to gain experience is to look at how existing women's biographies have been written. Try to find a few articles on other people with backgrounds or interests similar to those you wish to cover. You might have some names in mind but you can also use one of the many Lists of women to find useful examples corresponding to the occupation and/or nationality of the person you want to cover.

Start your article in your user space, creating it as User:Yourusername/Person covered, e.g. User:Wikiwonder/Ann Raymondia. This will allow it to be moved into the main article space when you think it is ready.

Rule 1. Choose carefully[edit]

Not every woman in history or in today's news is notable. For Wikipedia, it is not sufficient to write biographies based on primary sources such as an individual's website, CV or job description, no matter how impressive these may appear. For Wikipedia, notability depends on a person's clear recognition by third parties. Avoid writing about yourself, your colleagues or your friends (or your organization).

Rule 2. Do your research[edit]

Establish notability with mainstream reliable sources which have been edited or curated such as newspapers, journals, books or award citations. Do not use personal, fan-based, or employer websites; or blogs; or promotional sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Rule 3. Write why they are important[edit]

The lede (i.e. the first couple of lines) should summarize text cited in the body and tell why your subject is noteworthy on their own merits. The body of the article should explain this in more detail with references to pertinent sources.

Rule 4. Cite everything[edit]

The article needs references to your source material. At a minimum, one source for each paragraph must be given. These can be given in the form of links (URLs) or by citing the book or journal in which you have found the information.

Rule 5. Write in your own words[edit]

Plagiarism is unethical and could be illegal if you use copyrighted material without properly attributing your source. In general, you should rewrite everything you find in your own words. If you include verbatim quotes, you should identify them clearly as such, citing the author and the source.

Rule 6. Wikilinks[edit]

Avoid orphans. An article must have links to it from other Wikipedia articles and, in turn, should contain links to other articles.

Rule 7. Layout[edit]

Ideally, articles should run to several hundred words although informative "stubs" are also acceptable. The article should start with a "lede" (or short introduction) followed by a biographical section (headed "Biography" or "Life") which can be broken down into sections such as "Early life", "Career" and "Awards". You should also include a section on "References" together with the template {{Reflist}}and you can use "External links" to provide URLs to the person's website or to primary sources. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout for more info on the standard layout of Wikipedia articles.

Rule 8. Further additions[edit]

It is useful to add the template "Authority control" and to add categories such as Category:19xx births, Category:20xx deaths, and categories defining the person's occupation(s). Look at existing articles to see how these are formatted. You can add other templates as you gain experience.

Rule 9. Talk page[edit]

Although it is not strictly necessary to create a talk page for your new article, it is useful to add the template {{wpbio}} which shows the article is a biography. {{wpbio|living=yes}} is for living people and {{wpbio|living=no}} for those who are no longer alive. You can add other templates as you gain experience. Look at the talk pages of existing biographies for inspiration. You should also tag it as a women's article. If you are participating in a specific editathon, use that template, which should be listed on your sign up page. If you are not participating in a specific editathon, tag it with the {{WIR-00-2018}} banner, which can be copy and pasted for any article created in 2018. The tag allows project members to track our progress and monitor articles which may be under discussion.

Rule 10. Images[edit]

Articles can be enhanced with images. But you should not add images you find on the web unless they comply with copyright rules. On the other hand, you are free to use photographs you have taken yourself. (It's not too difficult to upload them on Wikimedia Commons.) To be absolutely safe, you should not add photographs or paintings of people unless the author has been dead for over 70 years. If you are in doubt, you should ask for advice.


Once you are happy with your new article, seek advice from a more experienced editor or ask for help. (See "Help desk" below.) After receiving feedback on your first two or three articles, you will probably be able to work more or less independently.

See also[edit]

Information icon.svg Help desk