This guide presents the typical layout of Wikipedia articles, which includes the sections an article usually has, ordering of sections, and formatting styles for various elements of an article. For advice on the use of wiki markup, see Help:Editing; and for guidance on writing style, see Manual of Style.
- 1 Order of article elements
- 2 Body sections
- 3 Template:AnchorStandard appendices and footers
- 4 Formatting
- 5 See also
- 6 Footnotes
Order of article elements
A simple article should have at least a lead section and references. As editors add complexity where required, the elements (such as sections and templates) that are used typically appear in the following order, although they would not Template:Em appear in the same article at the same time:
- Before the lead section
- Bottom matter
- Succession boxes and geography boxes
- Other navigation templates (footer navboxes) (navbars above Template:Tl)
- Geographical coordinates (if not in Infobox) or Template:Tl
- Authority control templates (taxonbar above Authority control)
- Template:Tl, Template:Tl and Template:Tl (where appropriate for article status)
- Stub template
Articles longer than a stub are generally divided into sections, and sections over a certain length are generally divided into paragraphs; these divisions enhance the readability of the article. The names and orders of section headings are often determined by the relevant WikiProject, although articles should still follow good organizational and writing principles regarding sections and paragraphs.
Headings and sections
Headings introduce sections and subsections, clarify articles by breaking up text, organize content, and populate the table of contents. Very short or very long sections and subsections in an article look cluttered and inhibit the flow of the prose. Short paragraphs and single sentences generally do not warrant their own subheading.
Headings follow a six-level hierarchy, starting at 1 and ending at 6. The level of the heading is defined by the number of equal signs on either side of the title. Heading 1 (
=Heading 1=) is automatically generated as the title of the article, and is never appropriate within the body of articles. Sections start at the second level (
==Heading 2==), with subsections at the third level (
===Heading 3===), and additional levels of subsections at the fourth level (
====Heading 4====), fifth level, and sixth level. Sections should be consecutive, such that they do not skip levels from sections to sub-subsections; the exact methodology is part of the Accessibility guideline. Between sections, there should be a Template:Em blank line; multiple blank lines in the edit window create too much white space in the article. There is no need to include a blank line between a heading and sub-heading.
Names and orders for section headings
Wikipedia has no general standards or guidelines for what section headings are expected in the bodies of articles or what order they should take, because the diversity of presentation in various Wikipedia subjects is too great. The usual practice is to name and order sections based on the precedent of some article which seems similar. There was no early standard proposed, and there is no general outline to follow. Contributors are advised to follow their instincts in proposing an order for sections in the body then seek community consensus in establishing a final order.
The order of sections in the body of a Wikipedia article may be recommended by a relevant WikiProject, or may not exist at all for some topics. Some WikiProjects have developed their own topical style advice pages which include section naming and ordering recommendations. Here are some examples from Category:WikiProject style advice: Template:Div col
- WikiProject Albums
- WikiProject Aviation
- WikiProject Books
- WikiProject Books (Non-fiction)
- WikiProject Cities
- WikiProject Composers
- WikiProject Conservatism
- WikiProject Film
- WikiProject Military History
- WikiProject Musical Theatre
- WikiProject Musicians
- WikiProject Novels
- WikiProject Pharmacology
- WikiProject Professional wrestling
- WikiProject Rivers
- WikiProject Scouting
- WikiProject Ships
- (please add others)
In other cases, community-wide guidelines provide suggested orders:
- Medicine, for articles on treatments, procedures, medical products, fields of medicine, and other concepts
If a section is named inappropriately you may also use the Template:Tl template.
Section templates and summary style
When a section is a summary of another article that provides a full exposition of the section, a link to that article should appear immediately under the section heading. You can use the Template:Tlx template to generate a "Main article" link, in Wikipedia's "hatnote" style.
If one or more articles provide further information or additional details (rather than a full exposition, see above), references to such articles may be placed immediately after the section heading for that section, provided this does not duplicate a wikilink in the text. These additional references should be grouped along with the Template:Tnull template (if there is one), or at the foot of the section that introduces the material for which these templates provide additional information. You can use one of the following templates to generate these links:
- Template:TlxTemplate:Snd this generates a "Further information" link
- Template:TlxTemplate:Snd this generates a "See also" link
Sections usually consist of paragraphs of running prose. Between paragraphs—as between sections—there should be only a Template:Em blank line. First lines are Template:Em indented. Bullet points should not be used in the lead of an article, and should not be used in the body unless for breaking up a mass of text, particularly if the topic requires significant effort to comprehend. However, bulleted lists are typical in the reference and further-reading sections towards the end of the article. Bullet points are usually not separated by blank lines, as that causes an accessibility issue Template:Crossref.
The number of single-sentence paragraphs should be minimized, since they can inhibit the flow of the text; by the same token, paragraphs that exceed a certain length become hard to read. Short paragraphs and single sentences generally do not warrant their own subheading; in such circumstances, it may be preferable to use bullet points instead.
When appendix sections are used, they should appear at the bottom of an article, with
==level 2 headings==, followed by the various footers. When it is useful to sub-divide these sections (for example, to separate a list of magazine articles from a list of books), this should be done using level 3 headings (
===Books===) instead of definition list headings (
;Books), as explained in the accessibility guidelines.
Template:AnchorWorks or publications
Contents: A bulleted list, usually ordered chronologically, of the works created by the subject of the article.
Title: Many different titles are used, depending on the subject matter. "Works" is preferred when the list includes items that are not written publications (e.g. music, films, paintings, choreography, or architectural designs), or if multiple types of works are included. "Bibliography", "Discography", or "Filmography" are occasionally used where appropriate; however, "Bibliography" is discouraged because it is not clear whether it is limited to the works of the subject of the article. "Works" or "Publications" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.
"See also" section
Contents: A bulleted list of internal links to related Wikipedia articles. Consider using Template:Tlx or Template:Tlx if the list is lengthy. The list should be sorted either logically, chronologically, or at least alphabetically. The links in the "See also" section might be only indirectly related to the topic of the article because one purpose of "See also" links is to enable readers to explore tangentially related topics.
Editors should provide a brief annotation when a link's relevance is not immediately apparent, when the meaning of the term may not be generally known, or when the term is ambiguous. For example:
Whether a link belongs in the "See also" section is ultimately a matter of editorial judgment and common sense. The links in the "See also" section should be relevant, should reflect the links that would be present in a comprehensive article on the topic, and should be limited to a reasonable number. It is also not mandatory, as many high-quality and comprehensive articles do not have a "See also" section, although some featured articles like 1740 Batavia massacre and Mary, Queen of Scots include this section.
Template:AnchorThe "See also" section should Template:Em link to pages that do not exist (red links), nor to disambiguation pages (unless used for further disambiguation in a disambiguation page). As a general rule, the "See also" section should Template:Em repeat links that appear in the article's body or its navigation boxes.
The Manual of Style for medicine-related articles advises against such a section.
Title: The most common title for this section is "See also".
Notes and referencesTemplate:Anchor
Contents: This section, or series of sections, may contain any or all of the following:
- Explanatory footnotes that give information which is too detailed or awkward to be in the body of the article,
- Citation footnotes (either short citations or full citations) that connect specific material in the article with specific sources,
- Full citations to sources, if short citations are used in the footnotes
- General references (full bibliographic citations to sources that were consulted in writing the article but that are not explicitly connected to any specific material in the article)
If there are both citation footnotes and explanatory footnotes, then they may be combined in a single section, or separated using the grouped footnotes function. General references and other full citations may similarly be either combined or separated (e.g. "References" and "General references"). There may therefore be one, two, three or four sections in all.
It is most common for only citation footnotes to be used, and therefore it is most common for only one section to be needed. Usually, if the sections are separated, then explanatory footnotes are listed first, short citations or other footnoted citations are next, and any full citations or general references are listed last.
Title: Editors may use any section title that they choose. The most frequent choice is "References"; other articles use "Notes", "Footnotes", or "Works cited" (in diminishing order of popularity) for this material.
Several alternate titles ("Sources", "Citations", "Bibliography") may also be used, although each is questionable in some contexts: "Sources" may be confused with source code in computer-related articles, product purchase locations, river origins, journalism sourcing, etc.; "Citations" may be confused with official awards or a summons to court; "Bibliography" may be confused with the complete list of printed works by the subject of a biography ("Works" or "Publications").
If multiple sections are wanted, then some possibilities include:
- For a list of explanatory footnotes or shortened citation footnotes: "Notes", "Endnotes", or "Footnotes"
- For a list of full citations or general references: "References" or "Works cited"
With the exception of "Bibliography", the heading should be plural even if it lists only a single item.
Contents: An optional bulleted list, usually alphabetized, of a reasonable number of publications that would help interested readers learn more about the article subject. Editors may include brief annotations. Publications listed in further reading are cited in the same citation style used by the rest of the article. The Further reading section should not duplicate the content of the External links section, and should normally not duplicate the content of the References section, unless the References section is too long for a reader to use as part of a general reading list. This section is not intended as a repository for general references or full citations that were used to create the article content. Any links to external websites included under "Further reading" are subject to the guidelines described at Wikipedia:External links.
Contents: A bulleted list of recommended relevant websites, each accompanied by a short description. These hyperlinks should not appear in the article's body text, nor should links used as references normally be duplicated in this section. "External links" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item. This section may be replaced by a "Further reading" section.
Links to sister projects
Links to Wikimedia sister projects and Template:Tlx should generally appear in "External links", not under "See also". If the article has no "External links" section, then place sister links at the top of the last section in the article. Two exceptions: Wiktionary and Wikisource links may be linked inline (e.g. to an unusual word or the text of a document being discussed).
Template:Commonscat More precisely, box-type templates such as Template:Tlx shown at right have to be put at the beginning of the Template:Em of the article (which is not necessarily the "External links" section) so that boxes will appear next to, rather than below, the list items. Do Template:Em make a section whose sole content is box-type templates.
If box-type templates are not good, either because they result in a long sequence of right-aligned boxes hanging off the bottom of the article, or because there are no external links except sister project ones, then consider using "inline" templates, such as Template:Tlx in the "External links" section, so that links to sister projects appear as list items, like this:
Contents: Navigation templates and footer navboxes, such as succession boxes and geography boxes (for example, Template:Tlx). Most navboxes do not appear in printed versions of Wikipedia articles.
Images should ideally be spread evenly within the article, and relevant to the sections they are located in. All images should also have an explanatory caption. An image that would otherwise overwhelm the available text space on a 800×600 window should be shrunk or formatted as a panorama. It is a good idea to try to maintain visual coherence by aligning the sizes of images and templates on a given page.
When placing images, be careful not to stack too many of them within the lead, or within a single section; if the images in a section spill over into the next section at 1024×768 screen resolution, that may mean that the section is too short or there are too many images in that section. If an article has many images—so many, in fact, that they lengthen the page beyond the length of the text itself—you can use a gallery. Another solution might be to create a page or category combining all of them at Wikimedia Commons and use a relevant template (Template:Tl, Template:Tl, Template:Tl or Template:Tl) to link to it instead, so that further images are readily found and available when the article is expanded. Please see Template:Section link for further information on the use of galleries.
Where a smaller or larger image is appropriate, use Template:Para—for example, Template:Para displays an image 30% larger than the default, and Template:Para displays it 40% smaller. Lead images should usually be no larger than Template:Para.
Avoid referring to images as being to the left, right, above, or below, because image placement varies with platform (especially mobile platforms) and screen size, and is meaningless to people using screen readers; instead, use captions to identify images.
Horizontal rules are a series of hyphens (
----) resulting in a straight line. Their use in Wikipedia articles is Template:Em. Rules were once employed to separate multiple meanings of a single article's name, but this task is now accomplished through disambiguation pages to separate articles.
Horizontal rules can be used to provide separation inside certain templates (for example, Template:Tl derivatives), within discussions on talk pages, or when needed in some other formats. They should never appear in regular article prose.
Other project pages
- Wikipedia:Article titles
- Wikipedia:Disinfoboxes (essay)
- Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines – Shows how to use headings on talk pages
- This sequence has been in place since at least December 2003 (when "See also" was called "Related topics"). See, for example, Wikipedia:Perennial proposals § Changes to standard appendices. The original rationale for this ordering is that, with the exception of "Works", sections which contain material outside Wikipedia (including "Further reading" and "External links") should come after sections that contain Wikipedia material (including "See also") to help keep the distinction clear. The sections containing notes and references often contain both kinds of material and, consequently, appear after the "See also" section (if any) and before the "Further reading" section (if any). Whatever the validity of the original rationale, there is now the additional factor that readers have come to expect the appendices to appear in this order.
- There are several reasons why this section should appear as the last appendix section. So many articles have the "External links" section at the end that many people expect that. Some "External links" and "References" (or "Footnotes", etc.) sections are quite long, and when the name of the section is not visible on the screen, it could cause problems if someone meant to delete an external link, and deleted a reference citation instead. Keeping the "External links" last is also helpful to editors who patrol external links.
- Rationale for placing navboxes at the end of the article.
- While categories are entered on the editing page ahead of stub templates, they appear on the visual page in a separate box after the stub templates. One of the reasons this happens is that every stub template generates a stub category, and those stub categories appear after the "main" categories. Another is that certain bots and scripts are set up to expect the categories, stubs and interlanguage links to appear in that order, and will reposition them if they don't. Therefore, any manual attempt to change the order is futile unless the bots and scripts are also altered.
- For example, skipping heading levels, such as jumping from
===Heading 3===in the middle, violates Wikipedia:Accessibility as it reduces usability for readers on screen readers who use heading levels to navigate pages.
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- Rationale for discouraging the use of "Bibliography."
- For further information, see Wikipedia:External links § External links section.
- The community has rejected past proposals to do away with this "rule" or to add text reminding editors that, as a general rule, it has exceptions. See, for example, this RfC.
- One reason this guide does not standardize section headings for citations and explanatory notes is that Wikipedia draws editors from many disciplines (history, English, science, etc.), each with its own note and reference section naming convention (or conventions). For more, see Wikipedia:Perennial proposals § Changes to standard appendices, § Establish a house citation style and Template:Cnote2/example.
- The rationale for not printing navigation boxes is that these templates contain wikilinks that are of no use to print readers. There are two problems with this rationale: First, other wikilink content does print; for example See also and succession boxes. Second, some navigation boxes contain useful information regarding the relationship of the article to the subjects of related articles.