Wikipedia:Contributing to Wikipedia

Wikipedia Help desk
Page semi-protected
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Wikipedia's purpose

A short video about that "Edit" button and what it can do when you are bold! (1:06 min)

formal tone instead of essay-like, argumentative, promotional, or opinionated writing. The five pillars is a popular summary of the most pertinent Wikipedia principles

Getting started

As a new editor, or contributor, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of

Wikipedia is a work in progress. Collaborative editing means that incomplete or poorly written first drafts can evolve over time into excellent articles

Introductions and tutorials

For a listing of introductions and tutorials by topic, see: Help:Getting started
A downloadable "Editing Wikipedia guide" in PDF form written by the staff at the Wikimedia Foundation

To achieve our goals, a wide range of

how-to and information pages are made available. Aside from this page, there are some other introductions (tutorials) to the project. The module introduction is a step-by-step guide explaining what this place is all about and how to contribute. The Wikipedia Adventure is a comprehensive 7-mission interactive guided tour, which covers all the essentials about editing and the expectations and norms of the Wikipedia community. For an extensive textbook see Help: Wikipedia: The Missing Manual

Creating an account

You do not have to log in to read Wikipedia. You do not even have to log in to edit articles on Wikipedia. Just about anyone can edit almost any article at any given time, even without logging in. However, creating an account is free of charge and has several benefits (for example, the ability to create pages, upload media and edit without one's IP address being visible to the public). To create an account in seconds, click Create account and fill out the few required fields. This will be logged, your account will be created, and you will be provided with a link back to this page.

Community protocols and conventions

Policy and Guideline: Wikipedia:Civility and Wikipedia:Etiquette
How to pages:
Help:Introduction to policies and guidelines and Wikipedia:Simplified ruleset
A video that articulates the diversity and enthusiasm of the Wikipedia Community by editors like you. (4:10 min)


behavioural expectations may be enforced. General social norms should be followed by all Wikipedia editors. The Wikipedia community is made up of people from different countries and cultures, with different views, perspectives, opinions, and backgrounds, sometimes varying widely. Editors should treat each other respectfully, work together collegially, and avoid behaviour that would be widely seen as unacceptable, disruptive, tendentious, or dishonest

discretion. Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia and, as a means to that end, an online community of individuals interested in building and using a high-quality encyclopedia. Therefore, there are certain things that Wikipedia is not and common mistakes that should be avoided

Discussion and consensus

Guideline page: Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines
How to pages:
Help:Using talk pages
A screencast demonstrating how to use a talk page. (2:43 min)

Behind the scenes of Wikipedia articles, there is a large community of

Disruptive editing is not always intentional, as new editors may simply not understand the ins and outs of Wikipedia

Most other

user page each editor is assigned once they sign up. When other editors need to contact you, they will usually do this by leaving a message on your user talk page
. When someone has left you a message that way, you will see a notice the next time you log in or view a page on Wikipedia.

There are many other types of discussions that take place on Wikipedia. For example:

requested moves is the launching point for debating the retitling of pages; and the village pump is a centralized area for discussion where editors debate various aspects of the encyclopedia project, such as proposals for new features, policy changes and technical issues

The basics of contributing

Policy page: Wikipedia:Editing policy
A short video about the satisfaction editors get from contributing. (1:23 min)

Wikipedia is the product of thousands of editors' contributions, each one bringing something different to the table, whether it be: researching skills, technical expertise, writing prowess or tidbits of information, but most importantly a willingness to help.

copyedit articles, add content and create new articles if they have knowledge about the topic at hand or are willing to do the necessary research to improve it. Although you should use a broad vocabulary of regular, non-technical terms, do not use words or expressions that many readers may not know. If an article is written in a highly technical manner
, but the material permits a more understandable explanation, then editors are strongly recommended to rewrite it.

Article development and content protocols

Articles make up the bulk of Wikipedia's

conflict of interest

A brochure in PDF form by the Wikimedia Foundation about how articles evolve, elements of good quality articles, and signs of poor quality articles.

The quality of Wikipedia articles varies widely; many are very good, but some lack depth and clarity, contain bias or are out of date. In general, high-quality articles have the following elements: a

neutral content, and are based upon verifiable information found in reliable sources

Wikipedia:Featured content represents the best of what Wikipedia has to offer. These are the articles, pictures, and other contributions that showcase the polished result of the collaborative efforts that drive Wikipedia. All "featured" content undergoes a thorough review process to ensure that it meets the highest standards summarized at featured article standards, and can serve as an example of our end goals. A "featured article" or "list" is indicated by the symbol () in the top right corner of a page. "Good articles" are those that are considered to be of fairly high quality, having undergone a similar but less rigorous review process to meet the good article criteria. The symbol () in the top right corner of a page indicates "good article" status.

Some of Wikipedia's most important topics are listed at

featured article criteria, which provide models for ideal content and structure. An important way you can help is by creating requested articles

How to edit

Editing tutorial for Wikipedia using classic wiki markup. (3:07 min)

Editing most Wikipedia pages is relatively simple. Wikipedia uses two methods of editing: classic editing through

section-edit link – if these links are missing, click the Edit tab and remove the code __NOEDITSECTION__). This will take you to a new page with a text box containing the editable text of the page you were viewing. In this box, you can type in the text that you want to add, using wiki markup to format the text and add other elements like images and tables. You should then press the Show preview button to review your contributions for any errors. When you have finished editing, you should write a short edit summary in the small field below the edit box describing your changes before you press the Publish changes button. This will help others to understand the intention of your edit. To avoid accidentally leaving edit summaries blank, you can select "Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary" on the Editing tab of your personal preferences

The VisualEditor option is intended as a user-friendly,

VisualEditor user guide
for more information. Anonymous editors get the classic editor by default, but can switch.

  • Two editing environments: wikitext and VisualEditor
  • Text in a large rectangle below two toolbars and next to a scrollbar.
    Edit box showing the
    wiki markup
    . You can change the formatting and contents of the page by changing what is written in this box.
  • Screenshot showing the same article in VisualEditor. Unlike the wiki markup display, VisualEditor will show the text being edited almost as if it were already published.

Some pages are protected from direct editing, at differing levels of restriction. The three chief types, in order from most to least common, are:

  • Semi-protected pages, which cannot be edited directly by unregistered users (IP addresses), as well as accounts that are not autoconfirmed (accounts that are at least four days old and have made at least ten edits to Wikipedia), or that are not confirmed. This is normal for pages which would otherwise be vandalized particularly frequently.
  • Extended confirmed-protected pages, also known as 30/500 protection, which only allows direct edits by editors with the extended confirmed user access level, granted automatically to registered users with at least 30 days tenure and 500 edits. Articles about major, contentious events are likely to get this protection level for a short period.
  • Fully-protected pages, which can only be edited directly by administrators. It is very unusual for an article to need this level of protection, but you can see it on key internal pages like the citation system.

When you are subject to any of these three levels of protection, you will see a View source tab instead of an Edit tab. You can still seek changes to these pages by submitting an "edit request" – a user with the ability to edit the protected page will respond to your request. You can submit a request by clicking on the View source tab on that page and using the "Submit an edit request" link at the bottom right. See Help:Protection for more information.

Documenting sources

Guideline pages: Wikipedia:Citing sources and Wikipedia:References dos and don'ts
Help:Introduction to referencing (VisualEditor)
How to pages: Help:Footnotes and Help:Find sources
A screencast that walks through the essentials needed in citing your sources. (2:01 min)

This is an encyclopedia, so remember that it's a necessity to include

copy and paste text you find anywhere, except for short quotations, marked as such with quote marks and carefully cited to the source the quote was taken from. New articles and statements added to existing articles may be deleted by others if unreferenced or referenced poorly or if they are copyright violations

Generally, sources are added directly after the facts they support at the end of the sentence and after any punctuation. Wikipedia permits editors to use any citation system that allows the reader to understand where the information came from, and strongly encourages use of

parenthetical references

Inline citations are most commonly placed by inserting a reference between <ref> ... </ref> tags, directly in the text of an article. After publishing changes, it will display in the article as a footnote (e.g.[1] [2]), and the source you keyed in will appear on the page in a collated, numbered list corresponding to the footnote numbers in the text, wherever a {{Reflist}} template or <references /> tag is present, usually in a section titled "References" or "Notes". If you are creating a new page or adding references to a page that didn't previously have any, don't forget to add a references section with this display markup.

A screencast that walks through how to use the various features of RefTools. (5:03 min)

There are a number of tools available to help with citation placement and formatting, some of which are internal tools and scripts, while others are available from external sites. For an example of the former, RefToolbar is a JavaScript toolbar displayed above the edit box that provides the ability to automatically fill out various citation templates and insert them in the text already formatting inside <ref> ... </ref> tags. For an example of the latter, the Citer converts a digital object identifier (DOI) or Google Books address (URL) into a filled-out {{cite journal}} or {{cite book}} template ready to be pasted into an article. See Help:Citation tools for many others.

At the moment, there are over 520,842 articles that have statements that need citations. The tool Citation Hunt makes referencing those statements easier by suggesting random articles which you can work on.

Markup, formatting, and layout

Guideline pages: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Layout and Wikipedia:Styletips
How to pages:

Complicated articles may be best modeled on the layout of an existing article of appropriate structure and topic.

Wiki markup is the syntax and keywords used by the MediaWiki software to format a page. Wiki markup is used extensively throughout Wikipedia for such things as hyperlinks, tables and columns, footnotes, inline citation, special characters and so on. An "edit toolbar" (as pictured below) is provided just above the edit box, which will allow logged in users (by selecting the option in personal preferences) to automatically place and format various aspects of wiki code. Many HTML tags can be used in wiki markup. You can check your HTML by using markup validation

Article creation and notability

A screencast demonstrating how to create a Wikipedia article manually. (7:50 min )


inclusion of topics.


so that you know how to properly format the article's content before creation.

Renaming and page deletion

appears when you move your mouse cursor over the small drop-down menu, shown here.

Wikipedia pages can be renamed by moving the page to a new title. This is done by clicking on the Move tab at the top of the page (you need to be registered and an

moved over a redirect. In such cases, and to list potentially controversial moves for discussion, please see Wikipedia:Requested moves
for more information.

While almost anyone can edit and move articles, to keep things manageable, only

currently nominated for deletion or is already deleted. For the reasons why and the options available for retrieving data from deleted articles, see why was the page I created deleted? If the page is in your own user space
(for example, starts with "User:YourName/" or "User talk:YourName/"), then you can request immediate deletion of the page at any time. Simply edit the page while logged in and put the template {{db-u1}} at the top of the page. An administrator will see that you added the template to a page in your user or user talk namespace and will delete it in most cases.

Images, sounds, and videos

Overview: Wikipedia:Image dos and don'ts
How to pages:
Wikipedia:Picture tutorial
Help:Introduction to images (VisualEditor)
See also: Help:Visual file markup
A screencast that walks through how to upload files to Wikimedia Commons and add them to Wikipedia articles. (3:00 min)
A Wikimedia Foundation brochure in PDF form that introduces newcomers to Wikimedia Commons and how they can contribute to it.

Images, sounds, and videos enhance articles greatly. A file that is already hosted on Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Commons can be inserted with the basic code "[[File:FILENAME|thumb|DESCRIPTION]]". ("Image:" can be substituted for "File:" with no change in effect; the choice between the two is purely a matter of editorial preference.) Using "thumb" generates a thumbnail of an image (the most common placement option), which is typically sized differently from the original image. Several options can affect a thumbnail's placement and size, and there are other methods for placing images not in a thumbnail format, such as in a frame, table or "infobox", which this summary page does not delve into.


standards for a claim of fair use in a particular article. Please ensure that the copyright status of any file you upload has been specified and we are allowed to use it on Wikipedia

The Wikimedia Commons'

TIFF formats are recognized (other image formats may be as well). For audio, use MIDI, or Ogg with FLAC, Speex, or Vorbis codecs. For video, use Ogg with the Theora
video codec.

Wikipedia has a

Graphics Lab, which aims to improve graphical content already stored on Wikimedia Commons and English Wikipedia. There is also Wikipedia:Requested pictures – a collection of wanted images. High-quality images may be submitted for consideration as featured pictures if they meet the featured picture criteria. To help with sounds, go to Wikipedia:Requested recordings and see if you can fulfill any of the requests while trying to meet the featured sound criteria. There is also spoken Wikipedia project
, which aims to produce recordings of Wikipedia articles being read aloud.

Lists, tables, and templates

Guideline page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lists
How to pages:
Introduction to tables and Help:Template

Lists are essential to the organization and presentation of content on Wikipedia. Lists in articles and

are a specific type of stand-alone lists designed to help a reader learn about a subject quickly, by showing what topics it includes, and how those topics are related to each other.

HTML table
markup, so a knowledge of HTML table code helps in understanding pipe code.

A basic overview of how templates work (8:00 min)

, where the wikitext of the target page contains a reference to the template, using the {{Template name}} syntax.

To help improve Wikipedia's lists, first find one that interests you at

Portal:Contents/Outlines and then help it match the featured list criteria. Ideas for creating a list may be explored at Wikipedia:Requested lists. See Wikipedia:Lists article alerts for details of ongoing tasks and talks about lists. To help with templates see Wikipedia:Template standardisation

Collaboration groups

A short video about people like you who edit Wikipedia. (1:26 min)

Canadian articles to improve

Maintenance tasks, news, and discussions


resolving disputes on Wikipedia. For a listing of ongoing discussions, see the Wikipedia:Dashboard

Helpful editorial maintenance tasks include reviewing new pages, creating requested articles, responding to edit requests and assisting with translation requests. Other maintenance tasks include fixing unreferenced statements, fixing original research, fixing vandalism, welcoming newcomers, link recovery, categorization, fixing spelling and grammar errors, and numerous behind the scenes tasks like moving free images to Wikimedia Commons and helping others. See Wikipedia:Maintenance for maintenance and related collaboration resources, and the Task Center for a newcomer-friendly list of tasks.

Editing aids

In addition to the previously mentioned editing aids and

CSS snippets that can be enabled by checking an option in your preferences. Many of the "Wikipedia Tools" are hosted on external sites and perform a variety of tasks such as reFill, that edits references by adding basic information to bare URLs in citations. "Wikipedia User scripts" is a collection of JavaScript tools that, after installation in a user's common.js file, allow users to change Wikipedia's interface beyond the options available in preferences. "Wikipedia Bots" are automated or semi-automated programs that perform repetitive and/or mundane tasks; they require approval before they may operate

Help resources and interactive assistance


help directory. Or you can use the search box at Help:contents (accessed at any time by clicking "Help" displayed on the left side of all pages). As mentioned above there is also a copy of a comprehensive published book, at Wikipedia: The Missing Manual

Don't worry if you do get stuck, witness disruptive editing or are involved in a dispute; there are volunteers available to assist you. There are a number of help forums and services which allow users to ask questions, seek assistance, ask for administrative intervention and similar matters. For general matters related to using and editing Wikipedia, forums include the

for a listing of services and assistance that can be requested on Wikipedia.

See also

  • A primer for newcomers
Editing related
Community related
Other ways to help
Directories and indexes
  • Directory
Information and resources by the Wikimedia Foundation
  • The Bookshelf - A vast collection of high-quality, freely licensed, user-generated informational material about Wikipedia.