Tutorial: Fundamentals of editing

This week marks the first part of the Signpost tutorial series. The aim of this series is to help you use Wikipedia better: by introducing you to the features of the wiki software, the Wikipedia community and its policies and other helpful tips from experienced editors. As the name suggests, each week, we aim to provide you with a short article in a practical, tutorial format. This week, we begin with the fundamentals of editing: things that every editor should know. Please enjoy it, and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions here.

Level: Beginner

This week, we'll talk about the basics of editing Wikipedia. You've all read Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that you can edit, but what about contributing? Thankfully, it's actually quite simple!

The basics

Try this:
  1. Open up a new browser window or tab, and visit your favourite article.
  2. Click on the "Edit" tab at the top of the page and the source mark-up of the page will be displayed in a text box. You'll see that the text of the article is all there, plus some special commands to add such things as formatting and links.
  3. Click the back button on your browser, or the Cancel link below the text box to close the editing view.

Every page on Wikipedia, whether it is an article, a discussion page or a project page, is produced by editing the mark-up presented on the edit tab of the page. The most basic unit of mark-up is the paragraph block, and you separate the text in the page into paragraphs by separating each paragraph with a blank line like this:

I am the first paragraph.

I am the second paragraph, because I am separated from the first paragraph by a blank line.
This text is still part of the second paragraph, because there is no blank line in between.

It's important to remember that you need to press Enter twice after each paragraph otherwise your text will be in one big paragraph!

Try this:
  1. Navigate your browser to the Sandbox or a subpage of your user page, such as by clicking here. You should never do experiments in actual articles.
  2. Click the "Edit" tab at the top of the page.
  3. Type some text in paragraphs into the text box.
  4. Click the "Save page" button below the text box.

After you have clicked the save button, you will be taken to the actual rendered view of the mark-up that you have just typed.

If you are just writing an article in stages, and you are not prepared to release it to the world just yet, it is a good idea to write your article in a subpage of your user page as shown just now, and move it to the final location later. See Wikipedia:Subpage for more information.


Now, what we have looks a little boring. Let's jazz it up with some formatting. To render some text in italics, put two single quotes (not one double quote) around the text like this: ''this is text in italics'', which comes out looking like this is text in italics. For bold, '''use three single quotes''', which comes out as use three single quotes. For both italics and bold, some simple arithmetic will tell you that you need five single quotes, '''''like this''''', which comes out as like this.

Try this:
  1. Click the "Edit" tab at the top of the page that you were editing in the previous step.
  2. Add some bold and italics to the page.
  3. Add an edit summary to describe briefly what you have just done. Edit summaries are recommended, so that people can work out what you just did easily; see Help:Edit summary for more information.
  4. Check the "This is a minor edit" box. When doing only small or cosmetic changes to articles, the minor edit flag helps other editors who are following changes in that article. See Help:Minor edit for more information.


Structuring your articles using sections and subsections is very important, especially for longer articles. To insert a section heading, type the section name on a new line surrounded by two equal signs like this: ==My heading==. In articles, this is a top-level heading. For a subheading, use three equal signs like this: ===My subheading===. Additional equal signs indicate additional depths in the section hierarchy.

Try this:
  1. Go to an article that has multiple sections and subheadings, and click the "Edit" tab.
  2. Look at how the sections in the wiki mark-up compare with the rendered version.
  3. Go back to the article view, and click on an "edit" link next to a section heading. Notice that you are taken to the edit view for just that section.


Wikipedia is a series of linked articles, so let's create some links! To create a simple link, just surround the text you want to link with two square brackets like this: [[Foobar]]. This creates a link to the article called "Foobar" with the link text rendered as "Foobar" like this: Foobar. Links often appear in the middle of sentences, but you don't have to worry about making the first letter upper case. If you want to change the link text, use the pipe notation like this: [[Foobar|this is some other text]]. This still links to "Foobar", but the link text has now changed like this: this is some other text.

Save time with shortcuts. For example, [[encyclopedia]]s renders as encyclopedias while linking to encyclopedia, and [[clean]]ing renders as cleaning while linking to clean.


There are two types of lists, numbered and bullet lists:

#This is a numbered list
#Another entry in your numbered list
#Note how the hash symbol is used


*This is a bullet list
*Another entry in your bullet list
*Note how the asterisk symbol is used

To nest lists, you just stack up the symbols like this:

*My groceries:
*My subjects:

This is rendered as:

Try this:
  1. Create some links and lists in the sandbox that you were using before.
  2. Try using the colon (:) instead of an asterisk or a hash. What does it do?

Additional activities

Here are some additional activities that you can try:

Further reading

For a more in-depth introduction to editing, check out the following pages:

Also this week:
  • From the editor
  • 2007 in review
  • Wikimania 2009
  • Roll 'em back, move 'em out
  • Apple leak?
  • WikiWorld
  • News and notes
  • In the news
  • Tutorial
  • Features and admins
  • Technology report
  • Arbitration report

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    Arees Ahmad
    أحمد عريس
    Enjoying free time with friends
    Personal details
    Born (1996-04-07) 7 April 1996 (age 28)
    Mailsi, Punjab, Pakistan
    left(Khalliq ur Rehmad) Center(Arees Ahmad) Right(Muneeb Idrees)

    Arees Ahmad Citizen of Pakistan (born 07 april 1996), better known as Arees Ahmad, is a Student

    Arees was born to a Muslim family in Mailsi and educated at Vista College of Science, Govt Model boys high school mailsi and later at the iUSE School of engineering and management sciences rawalpindi (Affiliated with UET taxilla).Now he is working on his Final Year Project.


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