Wikipedia is a collaboratively edited encyclopedia to which you can contribute. This tutorial will help you become a Wikipedia contributor.

The following pages will give you guidance about the style and content of Wikipedia articles, and tell you about the Wikipedia community and important Wikipedia policies and conventions.

This is a basic tutorial, not an extensive manual. If you want more details, there are links to other pages for more information. To read them as you go along, you can open them in a separate browser window or tab.

There are links to "sandbox" pages where you can practice what you're learning. Try things out and play around! Nobody will mind if you mess up and experiment in these practice areas.

With the exception of a few protected pages, every page has a link that says "edit this page", which lets you edit the page you are looking at. It is Wikipedia's most basic feature, and allows you to make corrections and add facts to articles. If you add information to a page, please provide references, because unreferenced facts can be removed.

Go to the sandbox and click the "edit this page" link. This will open an editing window containing the text for that page. Add something fun and interesting or "Hello world!", then click Save page and see what you have done! Be careful to make sure that you are editing the sandbox page, and not the text of this tutorial.
Show preview

One important feature to start using now is the Show preview button. Try making an edit in the sandbox, then clicking the Show preview button instead of Save Page. This allows you to see what the page will look like after your edit, before you actually save. We all make mistakes; this feature lets you catch them. Using Show Preview before saving also lets you try format changes and other edits without cluttering up the page history. Do not forget to save your edits after previewing, though!
Edit summary

Before you hit Save page, it is considered good etiquette (or "Wikiquette") to enter a polite explanation of your changes in the Edit summary box between the edit window and the Save page and Show preview buttons. It can be quite short; for example if you just enter "typo", people will know you made a spelling correction. Also, if the change you have made to the page is minor, such as correcting a spelling or grammar error, be sure to check the box "This is a minor edit" (this is only available if you have logged in).

Formatting Wikipedia articles is a bit different from writing on a standard word processor. Instead of a strict WYSIWYG approach ("What You See Is What You Get"), Wikipedia uses text codes to create particular elements of the page (e.g. headings). This "language" is known as Wikitext (or Wiki-markup) and is designed for ease of editing.
Bold and italics

The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing are done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ('):
You type You get
''italic'' italic



'''''bold italic'''''

bold italic

On Wikipedia, the names of an article's subject are written in bold when they are first mentioned in the article. For example, the article Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom begins:

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of sixteen sovereign states, holding each crown and title equally.

Italics may be used for the names of books, movies, albums, and computer/video game titles. If the first mention of the subject of an article is also a book or movie title then bold italics is used.

For more information about when to use bold and italics, see Wikipedia:Manual of style.
Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are an easy way to improve the organization of an article. If you can see two or more distinct topics being discussed, you can break up the article by inserting a heading for each section.

Headings can be created like this:
You type You get





If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents will automatically be generated. Try creating a heading in this page's sandbox. It will be added automatically to the table of contents for the page, assuming three others already exist.

Wikitext contains all the features required to follow Wikipedia's formatting conventions and knowledge of HTML code is not necessary, although it is often used for more specific formatting such as using colors, text and paragraph styles, and page layout.
See How to edit a page or the Cheatsheet for more on editing a page.
You can also check out an annotated example page.
Test what you have learned in the sandbox

How to link

To make a link to another Wikipedia page (called a wiki link), put it in double square brackets, like this:

[[Sandbox]] = Sandbox

If you want to link to an article, but display some other text for the link, you can do so by adding the pipe "|" divider (SHIFT + BACKSLASH on English-layout and other keyboards) followed by the alternative name. For example:

[[Target page|display text]] = display text


You can make a link to a specific section of a page like so:

[[Target page#Target section|display text]] = display text

If you want the display text of the link to appear in italics or bold, nest the double square brackets for the link within the multiple apostrophes that delimit the italicized or bold text, like this:

''[[War and Peace]]'' = War and Peace

Please check your links to ensure they point to the correct article. For example, Apple points to the article about the fruit, while Apple, Inc. is the title of the article about the computer manufacturer. There are also "disambiguation" pages -- these are not articles, but pages which contain links to articles with similar titles. Some, such as Apple (disambiguation) are obvious, while others such as Georgia use generic titles. These differing titles make piped links especially useful, as a link to Georgia (country) is far less readable than a piped link called Georgia.
When to link

Adding links to an article makes it more useful, but too many links can be distracting. This is why you should only link the first occurrence of a word. Lead sections can have more links.

Looking at other Wikipedia articles can also help you learn when to add links. See the featured articles page for a list of high quality articles.

You can also put the article in a category with others in a related topic. Just type [[Category:]], and put the name of the category between the colon and the brackets.

It is very important to put in the correct categories so that other people can easily find your work. The best way to find which categories to put in is to look at pages on similar subjects, and check which categories they use. For example if you write an article about a type of tree, you may look at an article on another type of tree to see which categories could be appropriate.

As explained in About Wikipedia, "if you add information to an article, be sure to include your references, as unreferenced facts are subject to removal." It is best to use inline citations so that other editors and readers can verify the information you add. Also, make sure that the sources you use are trustworthy and authoritative.

The easiest way to create an inline citation is using footnotes. You can create footnotes with Wiki markup (under the edit box on your Wiki GUI) by adding

* <ref>YOUR SOURCE</ref> ref tags around your source, and if not there already,
* {{Reflist}} or <references/> under the heading ==References== near the bottom of the page.

If your source is a website, you should create an external link to the website address. Do not use other Wikipedia articles as sources.

To create an external link to your source, put the website address (URL) in square brackets before the text you add, such as

* <ref>[Google Google search engine]</ref>

It is a good idea, though not required, to provide a short description just after the external site address. This description will be displayed in the reference list as the title of the external site, rather than the actual URL of the site.

To cite a webpage without giving a description, you can just give the URL and enclose it in ref tags, for example

* <ref></ref>

There are templates allowing to format references, such as links to news articles, see Wikipedia:Citation templates.
The external links section

Many Wikipedia articles have a separate section labelled External links. This section is for linking to websites with significant and reliable additional information on an article's topic. Not all external links are appropriate for use in a Wikipedia article, see Wikipedia:External links for a guideline. Before adding a website to an External links section, it is advised that you suggest it on the article's Discussion (talk) page.

Inside a single set of brackets, simply type in the full URL for the link, followed by a space and the text that will be visible, for example:

[Google Google search engine]

will display the following, whilst linking to the full URL:

Talk pages are a key feature of Wikipedia, offering the ability to discuss articles and other issues with other Wikipedians. They are not to be used as a chat room, soapbox, battleground or for general discussion of the article topic.

If you have a question, concern or comment related to improving the article put a note in the article's talk page and not in the article itself. You do that by clicking the "discussion" tab at the top of the page. Do not worry if the link shows up in red; it is all right to create the talk page if it does not already exist.

When you post a new comment, put it at the bottom of the talk page. The exception is, if you are responding to someone else's remarks, put your comment below theirs. You can indent your comment by typing a colon ( at the beginning of a line.

You should sign your comments by typing ~~~ for just your username, or ~~~~ for your username and a time signature (see the example discussion below). This way, when you save the page, your signature will be inserted automatically. Otherwise your comments, etc., will still appear but without your name. Most of us use time signatures because it makes following discussions much easier. For your convenience, there is a button at the top of the edit box with a signature icon inserts "--~~~~" when pressed.

You can get a username by creating an account (it is 100% free). If you do not have an account, or if you have one but have not logged in, your computer's external IP address is used instead.
User talk pages

Every contributor has a user talk page on which other contributors can leave messages. This includes contributors who have not created an account. If someone has left you a message, you will see a note saying "You have new messages", with a link to your user talk page.

You can reply in either of two ways. One is to put a message on the user talk page of the person you are replying to. The other is to put your reply on your own talk page beneath the original message. Both are common on Wikipedia; however, be aware that replying on your own talk page runs the risk that your reply won't be seen, if the user does not look at your talk page again. If you choose this approach, it is a good idea to post a notice at the top of your talk page so people know they have to keep an eye on it.

Indenting can improve the layout of a discussion considerably, making it much easier to read. A standard practice is to indent your reply one level deeper than the person you are replying to.

There are several ways of indenting in Wikipedia:
Plain indentations

The simplest way of indenting is to place a colon ( at the beginning of a line. The more colons you put, the further indented the text will be. A newline (pressing Enter or Return) marks the end of the indented paragraph.

For example:

This is aligned all the way to the left.
: This is indented slightly.
:: This is indented more.

is shown as:

This is aligned all the way to the left.

This is indented slightly.

This is indented more.

Bullet points

You can also indent using bullets, usually used for lists. To insert a bullet, use an asterisk (*). Similar to indentation, more asterisks in front of a paragraph means more indentation.

A brief example:

* First list item
* Second list item
** Sub-list item under second
* Third list item

Which is shown as:

* First list item
* Second list item
o Sub-list item under second
* Third list item

Numbered items

You can also create numbered lists. For this, use the number sign or octothorpe (#). This is usually used for polls and voting. Again, you can affect the indent of the number by the number of #s you use.


# First item
# Second item
## Sub-item under second item
# Third item

Shows up as:

1. First item
2. Second item
1. Sub-item under second item
3. Third item

Example discussion

Here is an example of a well-formatted discussion:

Hi. I have a question about this article. I'm pretty sure purple elephants only live in New York! JayRandumWikiUser 02:49, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, last time I was in New York, the elephants I saw were green. — try2BEEhelpful 17:28, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I think you should find a source for your claims. Living × Skepticism 20:53, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:

* Elephants Monthly
* Elephants World

— try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I live in Australia, where the elephants look like kangaroos! The people below agree with my statement: -DontGdayMateMe 17:28, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)

1. ElefantLuvr 01:22, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
2. AisleVoteOnAnything 05:41, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
3. alittlebehindthetimes 18:39, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Note that if you want to include a list in your comments, add colons before each item, for example:

::: Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
::: * ''Elephants Monthly''
::: * ''Elephants World''
::: ~~~~

Also, signing your message off is done by:

* Writing ~~~ for the name (try2BEEhelpful), or
* Writing ~~~~ for the name and date (try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)), or
* Writing ~~~~~ for the date only (19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)).

You should usually sign with both name and date, but votes are often signed with names only.

Experiment! This time, instead of editing a sandbox, leave a message on the talk page by clicking "Discuss this page" or "Discussion". Remember to sign your user name. You might want to try responding to someone else's post. Remember, you should use "Show preview" to see if your formatting works before you save.
Try a sample discussion at this page's Discussion Page
Other project pages

In addition to Talk pages, there are some other categories of behind-the-scenes pages that help Wikipedians communicate with each other, and serve a variety of other roles in building Wikipedia. These different areas are often referred to as namespaces — as in, "the Talk namespace".

Pages in the Wikipedia namespace (also known as the "Project namespace") provide information about Wikipedia and how to use it.

Content written in a Template page will be displayed in articles that contain the corresponding template reference. For example, the content written in Template:Protected will appear in any article that contains the {{protected}} tag. Take a look at Wikipedia:Template messages to see what templates have already been created. You can use the corresponding tags in articles. You can also create new templates.

All these project pages also have Talk pages of their own.

Editorial policies
Subject matter

Wikipedia is an editable encyclopedia (along with some topics that would typically be found in an almanac). Hence, articles should consist of encyclopedic information about "notable" subjects. What exactly constitutes notability is the subject of constant debate on Wikipedia, but few of us believe that there should be articles about every person on the planet, every company that sells anything, or each street in every town in the world. However, there are sister projects for certain types of non-encyclopedic content.

Any article that simply defines a word, or short phrase, as you would find in a typical dictionary, and that cannot be expanded into an encyclopedic entry, should be contributed to the Wiktionary sister project.

Original source text, such as from a public-domain book that you want to post to make it more accessible, should be contributed to one of Wikipedia's other sister projects, Wikisource. Wikipedia is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that also hosts a range of other projects:
Commons Commons
Free media repository Wikinews Wikinews
Free-content news Wiktionary Wiktionary
Dictionary and thesaurus
Wikiquote Wikiquote
Collection of quotations Wikibooks Wikibooks
Free textbooks and manuals Wikisource Wikisource
Free-content library
Wikispecies Wikispecies
Directory of species Wikiversity Wikiversity
Free learning materials and activities Meta-Wiki Meta-Wiki
Wikimedia project coordination

For a list of all related projects, see the Complete list of Wikimedia projects.

Wikipedia is also not the place for "original research" — that is, new theories, etc., that have not been supported by peer review. For more details about what Wikipedia should include, see What Wikipedia is not and Criteria for inclusion of biographies.

We also tend to discourage authors from writing about themselves or their own accomplishments, as this is a conflict of interest. If you have made notable accomplishments, someone else will write an article about you eventually. Wikipedia:Autobiography has more detail on this.
Neutral point of view

Wikipedia's editorial policy is the "neutral point of view," often abbreviated "NPOV." This policy says that we accept all the significant viewpoints on an issue. Instead of simply stating one perspective, we try to present all relevant viewpoints without judging them. Our aim is to be informative, not persuasive. Our policy does NOT mean that our articles are expected to be 100% "objective," since in any dispute all sides believe their view to be "true."

It is OK to state opinions in articles, but they must be presented as opinions, not as fact. Also, it is a good idea to attribute these opinions, for example "Supporters of this say that..." or "Notable commentator X believes that..."

You might hear Wikipedians referring to an article as "POV." This is Wikipedia slang for a biased article, or one obviously written from a single perspective. Advertising would fall in this category, as would a political diatribe. In a less extreme case, an article might have "POV" problems if it spends significantly more time discussing one view than another view of equivalent significance, even if each view is presented neutrally.

If you are going to spend time on controversial articles in subjects like religion or politics, it is important that you read the neutral point of view policy page as soon as possible. You should probably also read Staying cool when the editing gets hot. If you are going to spend your time on less emotional subjects like math or video games, you should still read the policies, but it is a less pressing concern. Keep in mind the advice here, and read the full policy if an NPOV issue comes up. See also the NPOV tutorial.
Citing sources

Wikipedia requires that you cite sources for the information you contribute. All sources should be listed in a section called "References". If any websites would be of particular interest to a reader of an article, they should be listed and linked to in an "External links" section, and books of particular interest should be listed in a "Further reading" section, but only if they were not used as sources for the article. Citations help our readers verify what you have written and find more information.
See Wikipedia:Citing sources for more information.


Do not submit copyrighted material without permission. When adding information to articles, make sure it is written in your own words. Remember that all information found on the Internet is copyrighted unless the website specifically states otherwise.
For more information, see Wikipedia:Copyrights.

English dialects

All common forms are welcome on Wikipedia. An abridged version of the related policy could be stated as:

1. Do not edit a page simply to "correct" the spelling in either direction.
2. If the subject is related to the U.S., then U.S. English is preferred:

Child labor laws in the United States

3. If the subject is related to an organization using British English (UK, Commonwealth, Ireland, UN, etc.) then British English is preferred.:


4. If the subject is not a regional one ("astronomy," for example), the original contributor's usage should be followed. See American and British English differences if you have difficulty with this.
5. The usage should be consistent throughout an article, unless it mentions both US- and Britain/Commonwealth-related topics. In that case, Policies 2 and 3 prevail.
6. When you create a new article, generally the most commonly used title is preferred. A simple way of testing this is to try a Google Test either on the actual Google or on, or on a different search engine to your preference, and see which generates more results.

For a more detailed version of the policy, see the Manual of Style.


Wikipedia encourages an atmosphere of friendliness and openness. Of course, in practice there are sometimes disagreements and even an occasional heated argument, but members of the community are expected to behave in a generally civil manner.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should always assume good faith on the part of other editors. Do not assume that someone is acting out of spite or malice. If someone does something that upsets you, leave a polite message on the relevant article's talk page or on the user's talk page, and ask why. You may find that you have avoided a misunderstanding and saved yourself some embarrassment.
For a more detailed discussion of conduct, see Wikipedia:Etiquette.

Creating articles

You may create articles on Wikipedia, try to take the advices given in the tutorial and to follow the policies mentioned here, such as neutrality. It is important to cite sources to establish the notability of the topic and make the article verifiable. You need to be registered to directly create an article in the encyclopedia, but if you are not, you can still use the articles for creation process.
For details on how to create an article, see Wikipedia:Your first article.

Renaming articles

If you find an article that you believe is mis-named, please do not copy and paste the contents of the old article into a new article — among other things, it separates the previous contributions from their edit history (which we need to keep track of for copyright reasons). The preferred method is to move the page to the new name, you need to be registered for that. If it is your first move, please read the warnings on the move page carefully, as there are a number of issues to consider before moving a page. If a "disambiguation" page is involved, it is best to review Wikipediaisambiguation.

Registering a username is optional, but encouraged.

Everyone can contribute to Wikipedia, regardless of whether they choose to register. However, you must have a registered username in order to create new articles.

There are three main reasons people are encouraged to register:

Having an account gives you many benefits, including more editing options and user preferences. One handy feature is the watchlist, which makes it easier for you to track changes to pages you are interested in. Another is the ability to move or rename a page. (Do not move pages simply through copying and pasting as the edit history is not preserved that way. Instead, ask at the Village pump for a registered user's help.)

An unregistered user is identified by his or her machine's IP address, which is used as their public identifier when making contributions (and signing comments on talk pages). Your computer's IP address can sometimes be used to find information about you, so registering increases your privacy by hiding it. Also, because IP addresses often change, unregistered users sometimes find it more difficult to gain respect and recognition from other editors through building a good track record. It can also be more difficult to carry on conversations with such non-registered users since they lack a unique talk page. For these reasons, many Wikipedians consider registering to indicate a greater willingness by you to stand behind your edits, and your comments on discussion pages. This means your contributions to articles and discussion pages will generally be given more weight.

Finally, only registered users are allowed to become administrators (also known as sysops). If you register, do not forget your password or your user name. If you are prone to forgetting these, make sure you enter your email address and verify it when you sign up so you can have a new password sent to you if you forget your current one.

See Why create an account? for more information.

How to register

To register, click above, or click the Sign in link at the top right corner of any page. You won't be able to (easily) change your username once you choose it, so reading the username policy before creating a username is highly recommended.

You now know the most important things for contributing to Wikipedia. Any comments or feedback on this tutorial? Feel like something wasn't explained well enough, or want to know about something that isn't here? Let us know by inserting a comment on this page's talk page. If you need any further help, the main help page is located at Help:Contents (a link is always available through the interaction sidebar under Help).
Is there anything else to learn?

This tutorial has been kept short and sweet, but you can always learn more. Now continue your learning through the links below.

Advice and general information...

* The Frequently Asked Questions answers the most common questions about all aspects of Wikipedia.
* Faux pas avoidance helps you avoid some common mistakes.
* Know how to contribute, but not what to write about? See Contributing to Wikipedia for help.
* Learn how articles grow at Article development.
* Examples of some of Wikipedia's best articles, based on these criteria.
* Abbreviated glossary — the ten most likely words you'll encounter.

Policy references ...

* Five pillars is a summary of the fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates
* Policies and guidelines

Free on-line books on how to edit Wikipedia ...

* How Wikipedia Works
* Wikipedia: The Missing Manual

Editing references...

* "Cheatsheet" listing the basic editing commands.
* How to edit a page is a far more detailed version, with information on things like character sets and variables.
* How to start a page
* Manual of Style is a comprehensive style guide for Wikipedia articles.
* NPOV tutorial is a tutorial on how to write from a neutral perspective.
* Annotated article
* The Community Portal provides links to community resources — this page is always available in the navigation sidebar.

Creating new articles

* When you're ready to create your own articles, consider using a Wizard to help you. See the Article Wizard (shortcut:WP:WIZ2).