Difference between revisions of "Help:Editing"

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Revision as of 18:17, 16 July 2006

This writeup copied from mediawiki.org --BigWhiteTruck 22:46, 19 May 2005 (EDT)



To edit a MediaWiki page, click on the "Edit this page" (or just "edit") link at one of its edges. This will bring you to the edit page: a page with a text box containing the wikitext: the editable source code from which the server produces the webpage. Depending on the preferences that has been set, a version of the edit page called preview page appears: in this case the rendered page is also shown; if not you get it by pressing "Show preview", see below.

The edit link of a page showing an old version leads to an edit page with the old wikitext. This allows restoring the old version. However, the edit link of a diff page gives the current wikitext, even if the diff page shows an old version below the table of differences.

After adding to or changing the wikitext it is useful to press "Show preview", which produces the corresponding webpage in your browser but does not make it publicly available yet (not until you press "Save"). Errors in formatting, links, tables, etc., are often much easier to discover from the rendered page than from the raw wikitext.

If you are not satisfied you can make more changes and preview the page as many times as necessary. Then write a short edit summary in the small text field below the edit-box and when finished press "Save". Depending on your system, pressing the "Enter" key while the edit box is not active (i.e., there is no typing cursor in it) may have the same effect as pressing "Save".

You may find it more convenient to copy and paste the text first into your favorite text editor, edit and spell check it there, and then paste it back into your web browser to preview. This way, you can also keep a local backup copy of the pages you have edited. It also allows you to make changes offline, but before you submit your changes, please make sure nobody else has edited the page since you saved your local copy (by checking the page history), otherwise you may accidently revert someone else's edits. If someone has edited it since you copied the page, you'll have to merge their edits into your new version (you can find their specific edits by using the "diff" feature of the page history). These issues are handled automatically by the Mediawiki software if you edit the page in your web browser.

For a redirect page the preview and the rendered page may show the contents differently: the latter shows the canonical form of the target, while the preview renders the link in the usual way, compare [1] with the preview of [2].

See also MediaWiki architecture.

Composition of the edit page

  • edit toolbar (optional)
  • edit box
  • edit summary box
  • save/preview/cancel links
  • list of templates used
  • preview (optionally either on every edit page or just after pressing "Show preview"; optionally the first item)

Dummy edit and null edit

If the wikitext is not changed no edit will be recorded and the edit summary is discarded.

A dummy edit is a change in wikitext that has no effect on the rendered page, such as changing the number of newlines at some position from 0 to 1 or from 2 to 3 or conversely (changing from 1 to 2 makes a difference, see below). This allows an edit summary, and is useful for correcting a previous edit summary, or an accidental marking of a previous edit as "minor" (see below).

To refresh the cache of some item in the database a lesser kind of dummy edit, called a null edit, may be sufficient: one that does not cause any change in the wikitext, and no entry in the history, in Recent Changes, etc.: this can be done by opening the edit window and saving; a section edit is sufficient. See also A category tag in a template; caching problem.

Minor edits

When editing a page, a logged-in user has the option of flagging the edit as a "minor edit". This feature is important, because users can choose to hide minor edits in their view of the Recent Changes page, to keep the volume of edits down to a manageable level.

When to use this is somewhat a matter of personal preference. The rule of thumb is that an edit of a page that consists of spelling corrections, formatting, and minor rearranging of text should be flagged as a "minor edit". A major edit is basically something that makes the entry worth revisiting for somebody who wants to watch the article rather closely. So any "real" change, even if it is a single word, should be flagged as a "major edit".

The reason for not allowing a user who is not logged in to mark an edit as minor is that vandalism could then be marked as a minor edit, in which case it would stay unnoticed longer. This limitation is another reason to log in.

The wiki markup

In the left column of the table below, you can see what effects are possible. In the right column, you can see how those effects were achieved. In other words, to make text look like it looks in the left column, type it in the format you see in the right column.

You may want to keep this page open in a separate browser window for reference. If you want to try out things without danger of doing any harm, you can do so in the Sandbox.

Sections, paragraphs, lists and lines

What it looks like What you type

Start your sections with header lines:

New section



== New section ==

=== Subsection ===

==== Sub-subsection ====


A single newline has no effect on the layout.

But an empty line starts a new paragraph.

(<p> disables this paragraphing until </p> or the end of the section)

(in Cologne Blue two newlines and a div tag give just one newline; in the order newline, div tag, newline, the result is two newlines)

A single
has no
effect on the

But an empty line
starts a new paragraph.
You can break lines
without starting a new paragraph.

Sufficient as wikitext code is <br>, the XHTML code <br /> is not needed, the system produces this code.

You can break lines<br>
without starting a new paragraph.
  • Lists are easy to do:
    • start every line with a star
      • more stars means deeper levels
  • A newline
  • in a list

marks the end of the list.

  • Of course
  • you can
  • start again.
* Lists are easy to do:
** start every line with a star
*** more stars means deeper levels
*A newline
*in a list  
marks the end of the list.
*Of course
*you can
*start again.

  1. Numbered lists are also good
    1. very organized
    2. easy to follow
  2. A newline
  3. in a list

marks the end of the list.

  1. New numbering starts
  2. with 1.
# Numbered lists are also good
## very organized
## easy to follow
#A newline
#in a list  
marks the end of the list.
#New numbering starts
#with 1.
  • You can even do mixed lists
    1. and nest them
      • like this
        or have newlines
        inside lists
* You can even do mixed lists
*# and nest them
*#* like this<br>or have newlines<br>inside lists
  • You can also
    • break lines
      inside lists
      like this
* You can also
**break lines<br>inside lists<br>like this
Definition list 
list of definitions
the item's definition
; Definition list : list of definitions
; item : the item's definition
A colon indents a line or paragraph.

A manual newline starts a new paragraph.

  • This is primarily for displayed material, but is also used for discussion on Talk pages.
: A colon indents a line or paragraph.
A manual newline starts a new paragraph.
IF a line of plain text starts with a space THEN
  it will be formatted exactly
    as typed;
  in a fixed-width font;
  lines won't wrap;
this is useful for:
  * pasting preformatted text;
  * algorithm descriptions;
  * program source code
  * ASCII art;
  * chemical structures;

WARNING If you make it wide, you force the whole page to be wide and hence less readable. Never start ordinary lines with spaces.

(see also below)
 IF a line of plain text starts with a space THEN
   it will be formatted exactly
     as typed;
   in a fixed-width font;
   lines won't wrap;
 this is useful for:
   * pasting preformatted text;
   * algorithm descriptions;
   * program source code
   * ASCII art;
   * chemical structures;
Centered text.
<center>Centered text.</center>
A horizontal dividing line: above

and below.

(However, in most cases a section header is more useful. The horizontal dividing line should only be used if what follows is logically part of the same section; otherwise that part would be hidden in the TOC.)
A horizontal dividing line: above
and below. 

Summarizing the effect of a single newline: no effect in general, but it ends a list item or indented part; thus changing some text into a list item, or indenting it, is more cumbersome if it contains newlines, they have to be removed; see also w:Wikipedia:Don't use line breaks.

Links, URLs

What it looks like What you type
Sue is reading the video policy.
  • First letter of target is automatically capitalized.
  • Internally spaces are automatically represented as underscores (typing an underscore has the same effect as typing a space, but is not recommended).

Thus the link above is to http://meta.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_policy, which is the page with the name "Video policy".

Sue is reading the [[video policy]].

Link to a section on a page, e.g. List_of_cities_by_country#Morocco; when section linking does not work the link is treated as link to the page, i.e. to the top; this applies for:

  • links to non-existent sections
  • links in redirects
  • interwiki links
Link target and link label are different: answers.

(This is called a piped link).

Same target, different name:
[[User:Larry Sanger|answers]]
Endings are blended into the link: official positions, genes
Endings are blended
into the link: [[official position]]s, [[gene]]s

Automatically hide stuff in parentheses: kingdom.

Automatically hide namespace: Village pump.

The server fills in the part after the | when you save the page. Next time you open the edit box you will see the expanded piped link. A preview interprets the abbreviated form correctly, but does not expand it yet in the edit box. Press Save and again Edit, and you will see the expanded version. The same applies for the following feature.

Automatically hide stuff in parentheses:
[[kingdom (biology)|]]. 
Automatically hide namespace:
[[Wikipedia:Village pump|]].
When adding a comment to a Talk page,

you should sign it. You can do this by adding three tildes for your user name:

Karl Wick

or four for user name plus date/time:

Karl Wick 08:10 Oct 5, 2002 (UTC)
When adding a comment to a Talk page,
you should sign it. You can do this by
adding three tildes for your user name:
: ~~~
or four for user name plus date/time:
: ~~~~
The weather in London is a page that doesn't exist yet.
  • You can create it by clicking on the link.
  • To create a new page:
    1. Create a link to it on some other page.
    2. Save that page.
    3. Click on the link you just made. The new page will open for editing.
  • Have a look at how to start a page guide and the naming conventions page for your project.
[[The weather in London]] is a page
that doesn't exist yet.

Redirect one article title to another by putting text like this in its first line.

#REDIRECT [[United States]]

A link to the page on the same subject in another language or, more generally, to a page on another wiki: fr:Wikipédia:Aide. For more info see m:Help:Interwiki linking.

[[fr:Wikipédia:Aide]], [[:fr:Wikipédia:Aide]]
"What links here" and "Related changes" can be linked as:

Special:Whatlinkshere/Wikipedia:How to edit a page and Special:Recentchangeslinked/Wikipedia:How to edit a page

Wikipedia:How to edit a page]] and
Wikipedia:How to edit a page]]
External links: Nupedia, [3]
External links:
[http://www.nupedia.com Nupedia],
Or just give the URL: http://www.nupedia.com.
  • In the URL all symbols must be among: A-Z a-z 0-9 ._\/~%-+&#?!=()@ \x80-\xFF. If a URL contains a different character it should be converted; for example, ^ has to be written %5E (to be looked up in ASCII). A blank space can also be converted into an underscore.
Or just give the URL:

To link to books, you can use ISBN links. ISBN 0123456789X See Help:ISBN links

ISBN 0123456789X

Link to Request for Comments: RFC 123 (URL specified in mediawiki:Rfcurl)

RFC 123

To include links to non-image uploads such as sounds, use a "media" link.

Use links for dates, so everyone can set their own display order. Use Special:Preferences to change your own date display setting.
[[July 20]], [[1969]] , [[20 July]] [[1969]]
and [[1969]]-[[07-20]]
will all appear as 20 July 1969 if you set your date display preference to 1 January 2001.


What it looks like What you type
A picture: Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia
  • For many projects, only images that have been uploaded to the same project or the Commons can be used. To upload images, use the upload page. You can find the uploaded image on the image list
A picture: [[Image:Wiki.png]]

or, with alternate text (strongly encouraged)

- The Free Encyclopedia]] 

Web browsers render alternate text when not displaying an image -- for example, when the image isn't loaded, or in a text-only browser, or when spoken aloud. See Alternate text for images for help on choosing alternate text. See Extended image syntax for more options.

Clicking on an uploaded image displays a description page, which you can also link directly to: Image:Wiki.png


To include links to images shown as links instead of drawn on the page, use a "media" link.
Image of a Tornado

[[media:Tornado.jpg|Image of a Tornado]]

Character formatting

<tr> <td> Use leading space on each line to keep newlines and multiple spaces, and get typewriter font: arrow → italicslink </pre> </td> <td valign="bottom">
 arrow      &rarr;


</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Use typewriter font:

arrow →

italics link

</td> <td valign="bottom">

<tt>arrow      &rarr;</tt>


</td> </tr> <tr> <td> Show character references:

&rarr; </td> <td valign="bottom"> &amp;rarr;</pre> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> Commenting page source:
not shown in page

  • Used to leave comments in a page for future editors.

</td> <td>

<!-- comment here -->

</td> </tr> </table>


Some part of a page may correspond in the edit box to just a reference to another page, in the form {{name}}, referring to the page "Template:name" (or if the name starts with a namespace prefix, it refers to the page with that name; if it starts with a colon it refers to the page in the main namespace with that name without the colon). This is called a template. For changing that part of the page, edit that other page. Sometimes a separate edit link is provided for this purpose. A convenient way to put such a link in a template is with a template like m:Template:ed. Note that the change also affects other pages which use the same template.

Page protection

In a few cases the link labeled "Edit this page" is replaced by the text "Protected page" (or equivalents in the language of the project). In that case the page cannot be edited.

Position-independent wikitext

Wikitext for which the result does not depend on the position in the wikitext page:

  • interlanguage links (see also above) - the mutual order is preserved, but otherwise the positions within the page are immaterial
  • category specification - ditto
  • __NOTOC__, __FORCETOC__, see Help:Section

Separating edits

When moving or copying a piece of text within a page or from another page, and also making other edits, it is useful to separate these edits. This way the diff function can be usefully applied for checking these other edits.

Error message

If, due to server problems, a save command results in an error message, either the saving has failed, or just the confirmation. Check e.g. My Contributions to find out.

External links

What it looks like What you type

Emphasize, strongly, very strongly.

  • These are double and triple apostrophes, not double quotes.
''Emphasize'', '''strongly''',
'''''very strongly'''''.

You can also write italic and bold if the desired effect is a specific font style rather than emphasis, as in mathematical formulas:

F = ma
  • However, the difference between these two methods is not very important for graphical browsers, and many people choose to ignore it.
You can also write <i>italic</i>
and <b>bold</b> if the desired effect is a 
specific font style rather than emphasis, as 
in mathematical formulas:
:<b>F</b> = <i>m</i><b>a</b>
A typewriter font for technical terms.
A typewriter font for 
<tt>technical terms</tt>.
You can use small text for captions.
You can use <small>small text</small> 
for captions.
You can strike out deleted material

and underline new material.

You can <strike>strike out deleted material</strike>
and <u>underline new material</u>.

Umlauts and accents: (See MediaWiki User's Guide: Creating special characters)
è é ê ë ì í

Ú Û Ü ß à á
â ã ä å æ ç
è é ê ë ì í
î ï ñ ò ó ô
œ õ ö ø ù ú
û ü ÿ

è é ê ë ì í

&Agrave; &Aacute; &Acirc; &Atilde; &Auml; &Aring;
&AElig; &Ccedil; &Egrave; &Eacute; &Ecirc; &Euml;
&Igrave; &Iacute; &Icirc; &Iuml; &Ntilde; &Ograve;
&Oacute; &Ocirc; &Otilde; &Ouml; &Oslash; &Ugrave;
&Uacute; &Ucirc; &Uuml; &szlig; &agrave; &aacute;
&acirc; &atilde; &auml; &aring; &aelig; &ccedil;
&egrave; &eacute; &ecirc; &euml; &igrave; &iacute;
&icirc; &iuml; &ntilde; &ograve; &oacute; &ocirc;
&oelig; &otilde; &ouml; &oslash; &ugrave; &uacute;
&ucirc; &uuml; &yuml;

¿ ¡ « » § ¶
† ‡ • - – —

&iquest; &iexcl; &laquo; &raquo; &sect; &para;
&dagger; &Dagger; &bull; - &ndash; &mdash;

Commercial symbols:
™ © ® ¢ € ¥

£ ¤
&trade; &copy; &reg; &cent; &euro; &yen;
&pound; &curren;
Subscript: x2

Superscript: x2 or x²

  • The latter method of superscript can't be used in the most general context, but is preferred when possible (as with units of measurement) because most browsers have an easier time formatting lines with it.

ε0 = 8.85 × 10−12 C² / J m.

1 hectare = 1 E4 m²

Subscript: x<sub>2</sub>
Superscript: x<sup>2</sup> or x&sup2;

or in projects with the templates sub and sup:

Subscript: x{{sub|2}}
Superscript: x{{sup|2}}

&epsilon;<sub>0</sub> =
8.85 &times; 10<sup>&minus;12</sup>
C&sup2; / J m.

1 [[hectare]] = [[1 E4 m²]]
Greek characters:

α β γ δ ε ζ
η θ ι κ λ μ ν
ξ ο π ρ σ ς
τ υ φ χ ψ ω

&alpha; &beta; &gamma; &delta; &epsilon; &zeta;
&eta; &theta; &iota; &kappa; &lambda; &mu; &nu;
&xi; &omicron; &pi; &rho;  &sigma; &sigmaf;
&tau; &upsilon; &phi; &chi; &psi; &omega;
&Gamma; &Delta; &Theta; &Lambda; &Xi; &Pi;
&Sigma; &Phi; &Psi; &Omega;

Math characters:
∫ ∑ ∏ √ − ± ∞
≈ ∝ ≡ ≠ ≤ ≥
× · ÷ ∂ ′ ″
∇ ‰ ° ∴ ℵ ø
∈ ∉ ∩ ∪ ⊂ ⊃ ⊆ ⊇
¬ ∧ ∨ ∃ ∀ ⇒ ⇔
→ ↔ ↑

&int; &sum; &prod; &radic; &minus; &plusmn; &infin;
&asymp; &prop; &equiv; &ne; &le; &ge; 
&times; &middot; &divide; &part; &prime; &Prime;
&nabla; &permil; &deg; &there4; &alefsym; &oslash;
&isin; &notin; &cap; &cup; &sub; &sup; &sube; &supe;
&not; &and; &or; &exist; &forall; &rArr; &hArr;
&rarr; &harr; &uarr;
x2   ≥   0 true.
  • To space things out, use non-breaking spaces - &nbsp;.
  • &nbsp; also prevents line breaks in the middle of text, this is useful in formulas.
<i>x</i><sup>2</sup>&nbsp;&nbsp;&ge;&nbsp;&nbsp;0 true.

Complicated formulae:
  <math>\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{x^n}{n!}</math>

<math>\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{x^n}{n!}</math>

For comparison for the following examples:

arrow →

italics link

arrow      &rarr;


Use <nowiki> to suppress interpretation of wiki markup, but interpret character references and remove newlines and multiple spaces:

arrow → ''italics'' [[link]]

<nowiki>arrow      &rarr;


Use <pre> to suppress interpretation of wiki markup and keep newlines and multiple spaces, and get typewriter font, but interpret character references:

arrow      →

<nowiki><pre>arrow      &rarr;