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Some of Wikipedia's articles are comprehensive right from the outset, but most start off as
This page describes the stages in the life of an article and lists the ways in which you can help an article grow into the next stage. Skipping stages is not just permissible—it is, in fact, recommended! The following categories should give you an idea of how articles typically grow on Wikipedia.
Stages of an article
(Summary) The Journey of a Wikipedia Article
Consider using a Wizard to help you create articles. See the Article Wizard.
Every article starts with an idea in the mind of a contributor. You can
For more suggestions on how to think of subjects to contribute on, see Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia.
Before you start, it's helpful to read the
Good ways to find articles to create:
- Wikipedia:Requested articles
- Wikipedia:Most wanted articles
- Wikipedia:Articles for creation
- Wikipedia:Pages needing translation into English
If you do not have the time to write a full article, consider writing a "stub". Stubs are very short articles—generally just a few sentences. These are the "ugly ducklings" of Wikipedia. With effort, they can mature into "swans".
Good ways to find stub articles and grow stubs:
To find stub templates appropriate for an article, see these WikiProject Stub sorting sub-pages.
- See Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types for more information on existing stub types.
- See Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/List of stubs for a compact list of all stub types.
Article stub placement
The article stub (or stubs) template is added after the last line of the article. For example:
Last line of the article.
(first blank line)
(second blank line)
Talk page stub class
Article quality assessments are mainly performed by members of WikiProjects, who tag talk pages of articles. For beginning stub articles, the class=Stub parameter is added to the article's WikiProject banner on the talk page.
Once a stub has real content, it is a real article and the article's stub template(s) can be removed. The vast majority of articles fall into this category. They may have weaknesses, so you are encouraged to
As an article is improved in quality it goes through stages of development. Here is an
Good ways to find and improve developing articles (see below for more information):
- Wikipedia:WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors
- Category:Wikipedia pages with to-do lists
- Category:Articles needing attention
- Wikipedia:List of WikiProjects
- Wikipedia:Regional notice boards
- Wikipedia:Writing better articles
- Good articles
- Wikipedia:Good articles
- Wikipedia:What is a good article?
- How to get great articles up to featured quality
Once an article is certified as featured, it joins an exclusive group of
Featured articles are well polished, but there are usually small improvements that can still be made.
What constitutes a featured article
Good ways to display our best articles:
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia in the media
How to develop an article
Suppose you want to create a good, or even
Once you have decided on an
Additional research is usually necessary to write a great article. A great article has to be verifiable and
Finding relevant articles
There are several ways to find and retrieve articles online, without having to leave home.
Many libraries have agreements with
Wikipedians are also eligible to apply for access to paywalled research databases via the Wikipedia Library. Partners with the Wikipedia Library include:
- EBSCOFull academic version (Academic Search Premier) has full text of millions of articles from over 4,600 sources. Full public library version (MasterFILE Premier) has full-text coverage of about 2,100 sources.
- JSTOR has complete text of articles from several hundred scholarly journals from their beginning to approximately five years ago. It is operated by a consortium of universities. They include most of the "high prestige" journals in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
- Questia Online Library allows full-text search and reading access to all 64,000+ books and 1,000,000+ journal, magazine, and newspaper articles in their collection. Their strength is full text of recent academic books by major publishers such as Oxford University Press, University of North Carolina Press, and Greenwood Press, along with thousands of older academic books that are available only in larger university libraries. Unlike most other online services, they offer short-term individual subscriptions for students and researchers.
- Newspapers.comTwo separate newspaper databases, each including thousands of newspapers dating back hundreds of years.
Other paywalled general interest databases that may be available through your local library are:
- Thomson Gale (formerly Gale Group), a subsidiary of the Thomson Corporation.
- LexisNexis – Full version (mostly accessed by lawyers and journalists) has millions of full-text articles (from magazines, journals, and newspapers), court opinions, statutes, treatises, transcripts, public records, and more. Academic version (available at many universities) offers large subsets of the legal and news databases.
- New York Timespublished between 1851 and 2001. Most libraries offer access to only part of the huge ProQuest database, through account types like eLibrary, Platinum, Silver, Gold, or Discovery.
Academic libraries often subscribe to special interest databases with in-depth coverage, of which there are far too many to list here.
- Factiva – Provides multiple language interfaces and multilingual content covering nearly 9,000 sources.
Finding relevant books
If you are doing in-depth research on a complex or controversial subject, you should obtain relevant books in addition to articles. If the subject is of historical interest, you may have to visit a library to obtain articles that were published before 1980, since few online databases contain such old articles.
To find books or periodicals stored as bound volumes, the best place to start is with the catalog of your local public library. If you have searched the catalogs of several local libraries without success, try searching library "union" catalogs. With one search in a union catalog, it is possible to determine which books are available on a subject in an entire county, state, province, or country. The largest union catalog is OCLC WorldCat, which claims to have worldwide coverage, though most of its member libraries are in North America.
Only by citing the best sources in a field can a Wikipedia article be taken seriously by its critics. For more on this issue, see Wikipedia:Verifiability.
If you are creating a brand-new article (see
Start your article with a concise lead section or introduction defining the topic and mentioning the most important points. The reader should be able to get a good overview by only reading the lead, which should be between one and four paragraphs long, depending on the length of the article. See
Remember that, although you will be familiar with the subject you are writing about, readers of Wikipedia may not be, so it is important to establish the context of your article's subject early on. For instance, if you are writing an article about a sports event you should mention the sport and, if relevant, any national details: rather than
The Red Cup was a domestic league competition that ran between 1994 and 1996
it would be more helpful to write
The Red Cup was a domestic rugby league competition in New Caledonia that ran between 1994 and 1996
Again, rather than
Bobby the Salmon is a goalkeeper who joined the club in 2006
Bobby the Salmon is a
Do not simply
It is often a good idea to separate the major sections of your articles with section headlines. For many topics, a history section is very appropriate, outlining how thinking about the concept evolved over time.
If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the Neutral point of view.
Try to get your spelling right. Wikipedia does not yet contain a spell checker, but you can write and spell-check your article first in a word processor or text editor (which is a lot more comfortable than the Wikipedia text-box anyway) and then paste it into said text-box. Another option is an extension (such as ieSpell for Internet Explorer or SpellBound for Mozilla and old versions of Firefox – Firefox 2 and up feature built-in spell checking) that can be installed on your web browser and used as a spell checker in text boxes.
Keep the article in an encyclopedic style: add etymology or provenance (when available), look for analogies and eventual comparisons to propose. Be objective: avoid personal comments (or turn them into general statements, but only when they coincide), do not use personal forms (I found that...). The Wikipedia Manual of Style can help you with your English. You can post questions about English grammar and usage at the Wikipedia language and grammar desk.
Try to avoid using
At the end, you should list the references you used and the best available external links about the topic. These references are what will allow Wikipedia to be the most trusted, reliable resource it can be.
Finish the article with a good relevant image or graphic. See
One way to get a good article is to bounce it back and forth between several Wikipedians. Use the Talk pages to refine the topic, ask for their confirmations, note their doubts: it is usually interesting to discover that, perhaps from the other side of the planet, after a while, some other contributors can check other sources, or propose different interpretations. The composition of a commonly agreed interpretation is the most important ingredient of a serious Wikipedia article.
It may also be useful to look up your subject in one of the foreign-language Wikipedias, such as the German or French editions. While the English-language Wikipedia is the biggest one in terms of the total number of articles it contains, you may find that other Wikipedias sometimes contain more in-depth articles, especially if the subject is of local importance. Even if your foreign language skills are not particularly developed, you may still glean important information from those articles, like birth dates, statistics, bibliographies, or the names of persons that are linked on the page. If you have incorporated the additional information, please also make the appropriate
Do not neglect the External links and References sections. The most useful and accurate material that you have found with your Internet research might make good links for a reader, too. In addition, sometimes a standard work is mentioned repeatedly in connection with your topic. Mention it, with its author and publication date. Even better, obtain a copy and use it to check the material in the article.
In addition, remember to create links to your article from related articles and subjects. This includes any redirects your article may need, for instance, redirects for other capitalizations of your article title, abbreviations, plural versions, alternative spellings or common misspellings. This helps people find your article and may even help you find a related, already-written article. You can also create redirects from related subjects or subtopics which do not yet have their own articles (redirects with possibilities).
You are encouraged to ask for feedback about the quality of an article at any time. Ask your fellow editors for their opinions, list outstanding issues, and areas to improve on article talk pages, get other editors involved. Networking to identify like-minded Wikipedians is one of the most important (and enjoyable) aspects of the project. It is best to have a reasonably well-developed article before you do this so that those giving feedback have something substantial to analyze. Wikipedia:Peer review is the normal route for evaluating articles.
- Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia
- Wikipedia:Defending article quality
- Wikipedia:Build content to endure
- Wikipedia:Picture tutorial