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Editing and Contributing to Wikipedia for Edit-a-thons

Tips and tricks for beginning Wikipedians, especially those participating in the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and other events.


This guide is designed to introduce new Wikipedians to the basics of contributing to one of the largest open educational resources in the world. It provides a brief overview of editing existing entries and creating new entries.

This very basic introduction to editing can be supplemented with this helpful pdf brochure from Wikipedia.

All of the content below is sourced from the Wikipedia help documentation and Adeline Koh and Roopika Risam's Rewriting Wikipedia Project, especially their guide to How to Create Wikipedia Entries that Will Stick.

For more on editing, including links to video tutorials, visit Wikipedia at the University of Michigan or the Art+Feminism tutorials.

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

Five Pillars of Wikipedia

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
  • Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
  • Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, and distribute
  • Editors should treat each other with respect and civility
  • Wikipedia has no firm rules

On Notability in Wikipedia


"If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list.

  • 'Significant coverage' addresses the topic directly and in detail, so that no original research is needed to extract the content. Significant coverage is more than a trivial mention but it need not be the main topic of the source material.[1]
  • 'Reliable' means sources need editorial integrity to allow verifiable evaluation of notability, per the reliable source guideline. Sources may encompass published works in all forms and media, and in any language. Availability of secondary sources covering the subject is a good test for notability.
  • 'Sources' should be secondary sources, as those provide the most objective evidence of notability. There is no fixed number of sources required since sources vary in quality and depth of coverage, but multiple sources are generally expected. Sources do not have to be available online and do not have to be in English. Multiple publications from the same author or organization are usually regarded as a single source for the purposes of establishing notability.
  • 'Independent of the subject' excludes works produced by the article's subject or someone affiliated with it. For example, advertising, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject's website are not considered independent.
  • 'Presumed' means that significant coverage in reliable sources creates an assumption, not a guarantee, that a subject should be included. A more in-depth discussion might conclude that the topic actually should not have a stand-alone article—perhaps because it violates what Wikipedia is not, particularly the rule that Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information.

If a topic does not meet these criteria but still has some verifiable facts, it might be useful to discuss it within another article."

Create an Account

  • Create an Account. You do not need to register a username to edit, but registration is strongly encouraged.
  • Sandbox: Once you're logged into your account, you have a sandbox area, accessible through a link in the upper right hand corner of the page, where you can practice editing and draft changes. Make use of the Sandbox as a new user and then copy your changes into live entries. You can link people to your Sandbox, but it will not be searchable on Wikipedia.

Edit Source vs Edit

Wikipedia uses two methods of editing: classic editing through wiki markup (wikitext) and through a newer VisualEditor (VE). If you're just getting started with editing, we recommend using the VisualEditor as a user-friendly tool. 

Enable classic Edit Source tab and VisualEditor tab:

Login > Preferences > Editing > Pulldown menu: Show me both editor tabs > Save preferences

Use the "Edit" tab on entries and in your sandbox to use the VisualEditor. Use "Edit Source" to access the wiki markup.

Editing Talk pages still requires use of the classic editing through wiki markup and it's good to familiarize yourself with the basics as a new editor.

Basic Editing of Existing Entries

If editing using Wikipedia source editing (i.e., code) -- [[ ]]
Link to other existing Wikipedia pages.
  • To add links, use 2 brackets on each side of the words you want to link to an entry.  
    • For example: [[Cornell University]] automatically creates a link to the entry on Cornell. Be sure to doublecheck these links.
  • If you want to link to an entry from a word other than the title of the entry, use this format: [[title of entry | words in your text]].
    • For example, if I want to say "the university" and have it link to the Cornell University entry: [[Cornell University | the university]]
Link to external sites
  • For example: [ Breaking News] will link the words "Breaking News" to CNN's website. 

Basic formatting:

  • To create a section, use = on each side of the title.  Different numbers of = affect weight/size of header in hierarchy.
    • If an article has at least 4 headings, a Table of Contents will be automatically generated.
  • To create a bulleted list, use * in front of each item.
  • To create a numbered list, use # in front of each item. Numbers will be automatically generated.

Saving and Edit Summary

  • As you save a page after making edits, be sure to fill in the Edit Summary field to indicate the changes you've made. This provides a description of your edits in the Edit History. 
  • Break multiple edits down into smaller tasks and save after each set of edits. This makes it more difficult for your edits to be undone by other editors who can click "Undo" in the Edit History. 

Adding References to Existing Entries

  • In the Visual Editor: Hit "Cite" and use information about the citation to create a reference. References will automatically number. Add a References section using the code below, with the curly brackets indicating where the auto-generated list should appear.
  • In Edit Source: To add a reference, put your cursor in place and then hit the Cite button in the toolbar.  A pop-up window will appear where you can enter your citation information.  References will automatically number. Add a References section using the code below, with the curly brackets indicating where the auto-generated list should appear.


==Reference test==

This is the text that you are going to verify with a reference. <ref>Reference details go here</ref>




Choosing Sources & Linking to Library Collections

"While primary source materials are not appropriate sources for Wikipedia, including references to archival collections in an article can be an excellent way to lead interested researchers to rich collections as further resources. However, care should be used when linking to archival collection descriptions or finding aids—if the editor is affiliated with the holding institution they should only include links to collections which would provide the best information about a topic. The editor should take care to include links to other important collections located at other institutions. Links to archival collections can be included in the 'External links' section of an article, and if there are enough links to archival collections, it might be appropriate to call attention to this group of links by adding a subsection titled 'Links to archival collections'"

Creating a New Entry

Conflicts of Interest

Ideas for Editing

Ways to begin

  • The Community portal includes lists of editing tasks you can work on including adding images, fixing links, and more.
  • Template messages\Cleanup: These messages are used to notify other editors that an entry could use some work.

Like to write?

Like to do research?

Art+Feminism Lists


Tracking Changes

  • Watchlists: "Watching pages allows any logged-in user to keep a list of 'watched' pages and to generate a list of recent changes made to those pages (and their associated talk pages). In this way you can keep track of and react to what's happening to pages you have created or are otherwise interested in"
  • Follow Twitter accounts that track anonymous edits by IP addresses:
    • @congress-edits tweets anonymous Wikipedia edits that are made from IP addresses in the US Congress. 
    • @valleyedits tweetsanonymous Wikipedia edits from Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, and Wikimedia Foundation IP addresses.