Wikipedia:Article size

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Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Keep it short, please! People have fallen asleep after just reading half of this document.

This page contains an overview of the key issues concerning article size. There are three related measures of an article's size:

  • Readable prose size: the amount of viewable text in the main sections of the article, not including tables, lists, or
  • Wiki markup size: the amount of text in the full page edit window, as shown in the character count of the edit
    history page
  • Browser page size: the total size of the page as loaded by a web browser.

The article size impacts usability in multiple ways:

  • Reader issues, such as attention span, readability, organization, information saturation, etc.
  • Maintenance, such as articles becoming time-consuming to maintain when they are very long.
  • Technical issues, such as limitations of mobile browsers.

When an article is too large, consider

breaking it into smaller articles, spinning part of it out into a new article, or merging part of it into another existing article. When an article is too small, it may be merged with one or more other existing articles. Such editorial decisions require consensus. Guidelines on the size of articles, and detailed solutions, are provided below. The licensing policy mandates that whenever any content is copied from one article to another new or existing article, an edit summary containing the required copy attribution
must be used.


Each Wikipedia article is in a process of evolution and is likely to continue growing. Other editors will add to articles when you are done with them. Wikipedia has practically unlimited storage space; however, long articles may be more difficult to read, navigate, and comprehend. An article longer than one or two pages when printed should be divided into sections to ease navigation (see

version of Wikipedia can be helped by ensuring that sections are not so long or so numerous as to impede navigation.

A page of about 10,000 words takes between 30 and 40 minutes to read at average speed, which is close to the attention span of most readers.[1] Understanding of standard texts at average reading speed is around 65%. At 10,000 words it may be beneficial to move some sections to other articles and replace them with summaries per Wikipedia:Summary style – see Size guideline (rule of thumb) below.

Articles that cover particularly technical subjects should, in general, be shorter than articles on less technical subjects. While expert readers of such articles may accept complexity and length provided the article is well written, the general reader requires clarity and conciseness. There are times when a long or very long article is unavoidable, though its complexity should be minimized. Readability is a key criterion.

Readable prose

Readable prose is the main body of the text, excluding material such as footnotes and reference sections ("see also", "external links", bibliography, etc.), diagrams and images, tables and lists, Wikilinks and external URLs, and formatting and mark-up. The measure may substantially underestimate the amount of content in articles that summarize much of their information in tables, especially when these contain notes and explanations in text columns.

XTools shows prose information, including number of characters (under "Prose" in the "General statistics" section). It may be used for an article currently being looked at by selecting the View History tab for the page, then Page Statistics from the line near the top headed External Tools. The prosesize gadget is also helpful for estimating readable prose size.

Lists, tables and summaries

Lists, tables, and other material that is already in summary form may not be appropriate for reducing or summarizing further by the



Wikipedia articles are in constant need of maintenance. This ranges from minor edits correcting spelling and grammar, to major updates reflecting new events and new source material. Some articles may require being rewritten after some time, especially articles created about recent events. It is generally good practice to ensure that articles do not become too long to maintain, especially articles in need of frequent updating. Maintenance can become more difficult when the amount of text on a topic grows.

Technical issues

Total article size should be kept reasonably low, particularly for readers using slow internet connections or mobile devices or who have slow computer loading. The text on a 32 kB page takes about five seconds to load for editing on a dial-up connection, with accompanying images taking additional time, so pages significantly larger than this are difficult for older browsers to display. Some large articles exist for topics that require depth and detail, but typically articles of such size are

into two or more smaller articles.

Mobile browsers can be a problem if these devices have little memory and/or a slow CPU; long pages can take too much time to process, if they can be fully loaded at all. When using slow connections, e.g., a desktop computer with an analog modem dial-up or the wireless connection of some mobile devices, long articles can take too much time to load. For notes on unrelated problems that various web browsers have with MediaWiki sites, and for a list of alternative browsers you can download, see Wikipedia:Browser notes.

The maximum limit for Wikipedia is via the MediaWiki software's

or 2,097,152 bytes).

Exceeding the

post-expand limit
will result in templates in the article appearing incorrectly.

Splitting an article

Very large articles should be

transcluding the split parts (for example with Template:Excerpt

When splitting a section into a new article, you should refer to the steps in

edit summary
in the new article attributing the origin of the content to the existing article.

No need for haste

There is no need for haste in splitting an article when it starts getting large. Sometimes an article simply needs to be big to give the subject adequate coverage. If uncertain, or with high-profile articles, start a discussion on the talkpage regarding the overall topic structure. Determine whether the topic should be treated as several shorter articles and, if so, how best to organize them. If the discussion makes no progress consider adding one of the split tags in order to get feedback from other editors.

Breaking out trivial or controversial sections

A relatively trivial topic may be appropriate in the context of the larger article, but inappropriate as the topic of an entire article in itself. In most cases, it is a violation of the neutral point of view policy to specifically break out a controversial section without leaving an adequate summary. It also violates that policy to create a new article specifically to contain information that consensus has rejected from the main article. Consider other organizational principles for splitting the article, and be sure that both the title and content of the broken-out article reflect a neutral point of view.

Breaking out an unwanted section

If a section of an article is a magnet for unhelpful contributions (such as the "external links" section or

sections), be aware that while moving it to another article may help to clean up the main article, it creates a new article that consists entirely of a section for unwanted contributions. If an article includes large amounts of material not suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia, it is better to remove that content than to create a new article for it.

Size guideline

Some useful rules of thumb for splitting articles, and combining small pages:

Readable prose size[a] What to do
> 15,000 words > 100 kB Almost certainly should be divided or trimmed.
> 9,000 words > 60 kB Probably should be divided or trimmed, although the scope of a topic can sometimes justify the added reading material.
> 8,000 words > 50 kB May need to be divided or trimmed; likelihood goes up with size.
< 6,000 words < 40 kB Length alone does not justify division or trimming.
< 150 words < 1 kB If an article or list has remained this size for over a couple of months, consider combining it with a related page. Alternatively, the article could be expanded; see Wikipedia:Stub.
  1. ^ Each kB can be equated to 1,000 characters

Please note: These rules of thumb apply only to readable prose and not to wiki markup size (as found on history lists or other means). Word counts can be found with the help of Shubinator's DYK tool or Prosesize.

The rules of thumb apply somewhat less to

list articles, consider the impact of breaking up a sortable table

Content removal

Removing appropriate content, especially summary style, and/or reliably sourced and non-tangential information, from an article simply to reduce length without moving that content to an appropriate article either by merging or splitting, may require a consensus discussion on the talkpage; see Wikipedia:Content removal#Reasons for acceptable reasons.

Markup size

Markup or markup language is the code used to organise a document and make it readable. Wiki markup is the codes used on Wikipedia. Markup size includes readable prose, the wiki codes, and any media used in the article, such as images or audio clips. Markup size will always be greater than or equal to the readable prose size on which the above size guideline is based.

You can find the size of the markup of a page in

box entry: intitle:Article title will show both number of words in the article and the size of the article in kilobytes. In most cases these are not reliable indications on their own of whether an article should be split.

The largest articles by markup size are listed at Special:Longpages.

Note that the ability to

edit a section rather than the entire page
decreases wait time, removing some of the many, oversized-page problems for editors; however, readers with slow connections will still have to wait for the entire page to load.

If you have problems editing a long article

If you have encountered an article that is so long you can't edit it, or if your browser chops off the end of the article when you try to edit it, there are a few ways you can solve the problem.

The best improvement is to simply upgrade to a more modern web browser, if possible. There are also many other benefits to upgrading to their latest version, such as better security, better displaying of content written to more modern HTML, and bug fixes. Many articles on Wikipedia may be longer than 64 kB on a permanent basis, so older browsers will continue to have occasional problems with long articles.

Often you can edit the article one


If you find a section too long to edit correctly and safely, or have a problem otherwise relevant, you can post a request for assistance on the help desk. Follow the "New section" link, which will allow you to post a new comment without editing any existing text.

See also