Wikipedia:Essays in a nutshell/Article writing

The following are summaries of essays written by users on Wikipedia. This list is incomplete. If you have an essay, or know of an essay that's not included, feel free to add it to the list. Wikipedia also has an introduction for aspiring contributors that provides information and resources on the basics needed to comprehend, comment on, and edit to Wikipedia.


Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
Advanced article editing There are techniques that can make the editing of Wikipedia articles faster and more convenient. WP:EDITFAST Low
Amnesia test If you can't write an article after leaving all your prior knowledge about the subject behind, it fails the amnesia test, and regardless of how many external links you can dig up that relate to the subject, those links don't satisfy notability guidelines. WP:AMNESIA, WP:FORGET Low
An article is the sum of its parts The impact of any individual contribution should be considered in regards to the tone and perspective of the article as a whole. WP:PIECEMEAL, WP:PIECE Unranked
Avoid mission statements Mission statements rarely tell us much and should generally not be transcribed in full in Wikipedia articles. WP:MISSION, WP:SLOGAN Low
Avoid prelimit of articles as if excluding many of 54 cards Don't exclude details from articles if the complexity of the subject demands it. WP:54CARDS Unranked
Beef up that first revision The articles for deletion and speedy deletion processes would be greatly better off if editors put out solid, substantive drafts as the first mainspace revision of an article rather than just a few lines and the promise that an article will grow in the future. WP:BEEF Low
Cherrypicking Do not cherrypick. When selecting information from a source, include contradictory and significant qualifying information from the same source. WP:CHERRYPICKING
Contributing to Wikipedia The main page that provides information, links, videos and other resources on the basics needed to comprehend, comment on, and contribute to Wikipedia. WP:HOW
Dictionaries as sources Dictionaries and glossaries present special challenges and limitations. WP:DICTS
Don't overload your watchlist! A watchlist becomes harder to navigate the longer it is. Only watch articles that need watching. WP:OVERLOAD Unranked
Don't teach the controversy (That doesn't mean what you think it means.) Instead, neutrally document the conflict. WP:DTTC
Edit count Edit counters are a useful tool, but remember that it's the quality of edits that counts, not the quantity. WP:EC, WP:EDITCOUNT Low
Editing on mobile devices Editing on Wikipedia can be done on mobile devices, but beware of the challenges. WP:DEVICES Unranked
Editors are not mindreaders Put yourself in the shoes of other editors. How can they distinguish the incomplete, unreferenced article you've just created but plan to improve from one that will never be improved? WP:MINDREADER Low
Endorsements In light of BLP, commercial endorsements usually should not be reported in the present tense. Other care also should be applied. WP:ENDORSEMENT
Example cruft Writing an encyclopedic entry about a subject will involve generalizations. Avoid the temptation to engage in original research by finding every example of a phenomenon, or every exception to a phenomenon. WP:GENERALIZE, WP:EXAMPLES, WP:EXCEPTION, WP:EXAMPLEFARM Unranked
Featured articles may have problems Featured articles are not necessarily to be emulated; focus on our policies and guidelines WP:ARTICLEPROBLEM Low
Minors and persons judged incompetent In light of BLP, editing about minors and persons legally judged incompetent should be especially protective of their rights. WP:MINORS
Give an article a chance Don't be too hasty in nominating newly-created articles for deletion. Remember that some people don't have as much free time to edit as others and that we shouldn't bite the newbies. WP:CHANCE Low
Not editing because of Wikipedia restriction If your planned article or editing would conflict with Wikipedia's standards, it's happened before. No website can be everything for everyone. Examples follow. WP:NOTEDITING
Nothing is in stone Wikipedia is always bound to change WP:STONE Low
For publicists publicizing a client's work Publicists may want tips on legitimately reporting clients' achievements and have their articles stay in Wikipedia, not deleted. WP:PUBLICITY
Robotic editing Robotic editing is the manual performance of the same or similar edit to multiple, perhaps numerous pages. Mid
There is a deadline If the preservation or survivability of the knowledge is at stake, contribute it to Wikipedia before it's too late. WP:TIAD Mid
There is no deadline Wikipedia is a work in progress. Don't rush to edit, it's not a competition. WP:TIND, WP:NORUSH, WP:DEADLINE Mid
Vague introductions Explain the subject of the article concisely in the lead. The lead should summarize the contents of the article. WP:VAI Mid
Why Johnny can't wiki-read Techniques to improve the readability of articles. WP:JOHNNY Unranked
Wikipedia is a volunteer service The editors on Wikipedia are mainly volunteers. Editors can contribute as much as they want, and however long they desire. WP:VOLUNTEER Low
Wikipedia is a work in progress Wikipedia is constantly being improved and expanded, and it will never be finished. WP:WIP, WP:WNF, WP:NOTDONE, WP:NOTFINISHED, WP:WORKINPROGRESS Mid
Wikipedia is not being written in an organized fashion Wikipedia grows organically, thus the quality of pages is varied. WP:ORGANIZE Low
Write the article first Editors are encouraged to write the article on a given subject before adding a link to the article on list pages, disambiguation pages, or templates. WP:WTAF Low
Writing better articles A guide on layout and style, and how to make an article clear, precise and relevant to the reader. WP:BETTER Mid

Formatting and style


Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
98 percent table width anomaly Tables in class wikitable or infobox, wider than 98%, trigger bottom scroll bars. Use margin-right:0 or infobox margin-left:0 to avoid the scrollbar and allow full width. WP:98WIDE Low
Advanced footnote formatting Remote footnotes can be added for pronunciations or examples. Footnotes can be indented, line-split and shortened by deferring details into References or External links. Due to a WP quirk, the 1st footnote on a page might not indent properly. Beware websites violating copyrights. Low
Advanced table formatting Techniques to improve the display or editing of wikitables in Wikipedia WP:ADTABLE Low
Advanced template coding Techniques to improve the display or editing of templates in Wikipedia. WP:ADTEMPLATE Low
Advanced text formatting Techniques to control or adjust the alignment of text on a page. WP:TYPESET Low
Autosizing images Techniques to auto-size, or scale, any image ("thumb" or "frameless"). WP:Autosizing, WP:Scaling, WP:AUTOSIZE, WP:SCALE Low
Avoiding text gaps Text gaps may appear on certain browsers, but not on others. Be careful to avoid accidentally creating them. WP:TEXTGAP Unranked
Avoiding Wikipedia quirks There are many quirks on Wikipedia, but they have workarounds. WP:QUIRK Low
Bare URLs Simply copying and pasting the URL of an online reference is not helpful in the event of linkrot. It is preferable to use proper citation templates when citing sources. WP:BURL, WP:BURLS Unranked
Don't draw misleading graphs Graphs should accurately represent the context of the data. Low
Don't leave giant breaks between sections Avoid whitespace and fix it if spotted. WP:GIANTBREAKS Low
Emerson If you quote "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" at someone, odds are you are making a fool of yourself, since it has nothing to do with writing-style consistency, but political inflexibility. Plus you're just being an uncivil WP:JERK on purpose. WP:HOBGOBLIN
Graphs and charts How to create and use graphs and charts on Wikipedia. Unranked
Overlink crisis Avoid overlinking Wikipedia pages, especially in navboxes or infoboxes. WP:LINKCRISIS Low
Common-style fallacy Wikipedia has its own set of policies and guidelines for article content and naming (which are distinct from each other). Facts on a subject are drawn from reliable sources, but no particular subset of them (e.g. news publishers) dictates how Wikipedia must write. Style is a matter of Wikipedia community consensus, based on general-audience style guides, not mimicry of any particular genre (or trademark). WP:COMMONSTYLE, WP:CSF Unranked
Specialized-style fallacy Wikipedia has its own set of guidelines for article layout and naming. Facts on a subject should be drawn from reliable sources, but how content is styled is a matter for the Wikipedia community and with everyone in mind, not just for specialists who usually write for academic journals or other single-field publications and their limited audiences. WP:SPECIALSTYLE, WP:SSF Unranked
Walled garden Articles should have outgoing and incoming links to the wider encyclopedia. Don't create a group of articles that exclusively link to each other. WP:WG, WP:WALL Low

Stubs and short articles

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
An unfinished house is a real problem An unfinished article is not a harmless thing. As such you should make it accurate and readable before saving. WP:REALPROBLEM Low
Don't demolish the house while it's still being built An article too short to provide more than rudimentary information about a subject should be marked as a stub and edited, and expanded, rather than simply deleted. WP:INSPECTOR, WP:DEMOLISH, WP:DONOTDEMOLISH Low
Don't hope the house will build itself A little planning and a little effort is all that is needed to prevent an article from being deleted. WP:BUILDER Low
Make stubs Why make a red link, when you can make a stub? WP:MAKESTUBS Low
One sentence does not an article make One sentence "articles" and "essays" should be deleted as not worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. WP:1S, WP:2S, WP:1 SENTENCE, WP:2 SENTENCES Low
Put a little effort into it When creating a new article, even if it is a stub, try to put in at least a little bit more than just the absolute minimum. WP:PUTEFFORT, WP:LITTLEEFFORT Low

Use of templates

Essay In a nutshell Shortcuts Impact
A navbox on every page Navbox templates can be useful as a tool for navigation. WP:NBFILL, WP:ANOEP Low
Alternatives to the "Expand" template Avoid using {{expand}} templates. There are alternatives. WP:ALTEXPAND, WP:EXPANDALTS Unranked
Avoid template creep Don't overuse templates. Keep it simple, stupid! WP:ATC, WP:TCREEP Low
Clarify the cleanup Use a specific cleanup template other than {{cleanup}}. WP:CTC, WP:CCLEANUP Low
Navigation template A navigation template is a template that links between multiple articles belonging to the same topic. There are two types of navigation templates, navigation boxes, or navboxes, and sidebars. WP:NAV High
Not everything needs a navbox Navbox templates can be useful as a tool for navigation, but use them sparingly. WP:NENAN Low
Responsible tagging If you identify problems in an article but don't have the knowledge or time to fix them yourself, please take care to only add the most relevant and specific tags, and leave an explanation on the talk page so that others can understand what the problem was and determine if they can do anything to fix it. WP:RESPTAG Mid
Tag bombing Adding multiple tags without explaining the reason is disruptive. WP:TAGBOMB Low
Tagging pages for problems It is important to clearly and concisely identify problems with Wikipedia pages to allow other editors to fix them. WP:TAGGING Low
Templates are lazy We have templates. They're great. Don't use them when you don't need to. WP:LAZY Low
Too many boxes Be Free. Think outside the Box. WP:NOBOX, WP:UNBOX Unranked