User:CS2012/Books/Collaborative E-book creation using Wikipedia/Starting an article

This chapter explains how to create an article on Wikipedia and provides a guide for some things you should know when creating an article.

Articles may only be created by registered users. If you are not a registered user, you may go online to either Wikipedia:Why create an account?|register now or ask for your article to be created at Wikipedia:Articles for creation|Articles for Creation.

Consider using the Wikipedia:Article wizard|Article Wizard to help you create articles - it is not required but will help you write a better article.

If you require a visual aid, there is a variety of tutorial videos available at Commons:Category:Instructional videos on using Wikipedia, including How to create a Wikipedia article.

How to create a page


Wikipedia already has a lot of articles. Before creating an article, you should search to check that there is no suitable article that already exists. If an article on the topic you want to create is there, but you think people are likely to look for it under some different name or spelling, learn how to add a redirect with that name; adding needed redirects is a good way to help Wikipedia too.

Consider adding your information to existing articles that might include information about the subject of the article you propose. For example, if you want to write an article about a band member, you might search for the band and then add information to that broader article about that band member. This is the best thing to do if the subject of the proposed article has only limited depth.

If no suitable articles already exist or the subject has enough depth for an article of its own then you need to start a new article.

In the search box near the top right of a page, type the title of the new article, then click Go. If the Search page reports "You may create the page" followed by the article name in red, then you can click the red article name to start editing the article.

The very first thing you should write in a new article is a list of the source(s) for the information in it. For now, just enter them like this (and they will automatically turn into links):


Later, you'll learn how to format them to appear as footnotes.

When you are done, press "Show preview" to take a look at how the page will appear. Try to fix any formatting errors, then press "Save page". Your article is now part of Wikipedia and may be edited by anyone.


  1. Try editing existing articles to get a feel for writing and for using the mark-up language in use at Wikipedia. Also, try reading some of our better articles, either those listed as featured articles or good articles.
  2. Consider creating the article on your user page first. If you have a user id, (which you must have if you are considering creating a new article), you also have your own area to start working on a new article; you can get it in shape there, take your time, and only move it into the "live" Wikipedia once it is ready for prime time. (Note: the Article Wizard has an option to create these kind of draft pages.)
  3. Search Wikipedia first to make sure that an article does not already exist on the subject, perhaps under a different title. If you find an existing article on your subject, it is best to redirect the name you were thinking of onto the existing article.
  4. Gather references both to use as source(s) of your information and also to demonstrate notability of your article's subject matter. References to blogs, personal websites MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, message boards, and the like don't count—we need reliable sources. Extra care should be taken to make sure that articles on living persons have sources -- articles about living people without sources may be deleted.
  5. Please do not create pages about yourself or your friends, pages that advertise, personal essays or other articles you would not find in an encyclopedia.
  6. Be careful about the following: copying things, controversial material, extremely short articles, and local-interest articles.

Gathering references


Gather sources to the information for your article. To be worth including in the encyclopedia a subject must be sufficiently notable and that notability must be verifiable through references to reliable sources.

These sources should be reliable; that is, they should be sources that exercise some form of editorial control. Print sources (and web-based versions of those sources) tend to be the most reliable, though many web-only sources are also reliable. Some examples include (but are not limited to): books published by major publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, websites of any of the above, and other websites that meet the same basic requirements as any print-based source.

In general, sources with NO editorial control are not generally reliable. These include (but are also not limited to): books published by vanity presses, self-published zines, blogs, web forums, usenet discussions, BBSes, fan sites, and the like. Basically, if anyone at all can post information without anyone else checking that information, it is probably not reliable.

To put it simply, if there are reliable sources with enough information to write about a subject, then that subject is notable and those sources can verify the information in the Wikipedia article. If you cannot find reliable sources (such as newspapers, journals, or books) that provide information for an article, then the subject is not notable or verifiable and almost certainly will be deleted. So your first job is to find references.

Once you have references for your article, you can learn to place the references into the article by reading Wikipedia:Citing sources. But do not worry too much about formatting them properly. It would be great if you do that, but the main thing is to get references into the article even if they are not well formatted.

Things to avoid

Articles about yourself, your friends, your website, a band you're in, your teacher, a word you made up, or a story you wrote
If you are worthy of inclusion in the encyclopedia, let someone else add an article for you. Putting your friends in an encyclopedia may seem like a nice surprise or an amusing joke, but articles like this are likely to be removed. In this process, feelings may be hurt, which can be avoided by a little forethought on your part. So, just do not do it, please. The article might remain if you have enough humility to make it neutral and you really are notable, but even then it's best to submit a draft for approval and consensus of the community instead of just posting it up as unconscious biases may still exist of which you may not be aware.
Non-notable topics
People frequently add pages to Wikipedia without considering whether the topic is really notable enough to go into an encyclopedia. Because Wikipedia does not have the space limitations of paper-based encyclopedias, our notability policies and guidelines allow a wide range of articles – however, they do not allow every topic to be included. A particularly common special case of this is pages about people, companies or groups of people that do not assert the notability or importance of their subject, so we have decided that such pages may be speedily deleted under our WP:SPEEDY policy. This can offend – so please consider whether your chosen topic is notable enough for Wikipedia, and assert (or preferably show!) the notability or importance of your article's subject if you decide it is notable enough. Wikipedia is not a directory of everything in existence.
Please do not try to promote your product or business. Please do not insert external links to your commercial website unless a neutral party would judge that the link truly belongs in the article; we do have articles about products like Kleenex or Sharpies, or notable businesses such as McDonald's, but if you are writing about a product or business be sure you write from a neutral point of view, that you have no conflict of interest, and that you are able to find references in reliable sources that are independent from the subject you are writing about.
Personal essays or original research
Wikipedia surveys existing human knowledge; it is not a place to publish new work. Do not write articles that present your own original theories, opinions, or insights, even if you can support them by reference to accepted work. A common mistake is to present a novel synthesis of ideas in an article. Remember, just because both Fact A and Fact B are true does NOT mean that A caused B, or vice-versa. If that is true, then reliable sources will report that connection, and you should cite those sources.
A single sentence or only a website link
Articles need to have real content of their own.

And be careful about...

Copying things. Do not violate copyrights
To be safe, do not quote more than a couple of sentences of text from anywhere, and document any references you do use. You can copy material that you are sure is in the public domain, but even for public domain material you should still document your source. Also note that most Web pages are not in the public domain and most song lyrics are not either. In fact, most things written since January 1, 1978 in the United States are automatically under copyright even if they have no copyright notice or © symbol. If you think what you are contributing is in the public domain, say where you got it, either in the article or on the discussion page, and on the discussion page give the reason why you think it is in the public domain (e.g. "It was published in 1895...") If you think you are making "fair use" of copyrighted material, please put a note on the discussion page saying why you think so. For more information: Copyrights (including instructions for verifying permission to use previously published text) and our non-free content guidelines for text.
Good research and citing your sources
Articles written out of thin air are better than nothing, but they are hard to verify, which is an important part of building a trusted reference work. Please research with the best sources available and cite them properly. Doing this, along with not copying large amounts of the text, will help avoid any possibility of plagiarism.
Advocacy and controversial material
Please do not write articles that advocate one particular viewpoint on politics, religion, or anything else. Understand what we mean by a neutral point of view before tackling this sort of topic.
Extremely short articles that are just definitions
Dictionary definitions belong on Wiktionary. Try to write a good short paragraph that says something about the subject. We welcome good short articles, called "stubs", that can serve as launching pads from which others can take off. If you do not have enough material to write a good stub, you probably should not create the article. At the end of a stub, you should include a "stub template" like this: {{stub}}. (Other Wikipedians will appreciate it if you use a more specific stub template, like {{art-stub}}. See the list of stub types for a list of all specific stub templates.) Stubs help track articles that need expansion.
Local-interest articles
These are articles about places like schools, or streets that are of interest to a relatively small number of people such as alumni or people who live nearby. There is no consensus about such articles, but some will challenge them if they include nothing that shows how the place is special and different from tens of thousands of similar places. Photographs add interest. Try to give local-interest articles local colour. Third-party references are very useful to prove that the subject you are writing about is notable.

While an article is being constructed


If you know that your article will require multiple edits and/or a significant amount of time to properly list references and/or make presentable, it is recommended that you place the template {{newpage}} on top of the page to signify to other editors that it's a work in progress. Articles tagged with the new page template are still eligible for speedy deletion.

Another option if you plan to take time to construct a page is to start creating the new article in a subpage of your user page. This allows you to take as long as you need to complete a presentable article. When you feel it is good enough to not be deleted, you can then move it to the main article space.

And then what?


Now that you have created the page, there are still several things you can do.

Keep making improvements


Wikipedia is not finished. Generally, an article is nowhere near being completed the moment it is created. There is a long way to go. In fact, it may take you several edits just to get it started.

If you have so much interest in the article you just created, you may learn much more about it in the future, and therefore, have more to add. This may be later today, tomorrow, or several months from now. Anytime, go ahead.

Improve formatting


To format your article correctly (and expand it, and possibly even make it featured!), see the following links:

Also, make sure there are incoming links to the new article from other Wikipedia articles (click "What links here" in the toolbox) and that the new article is included in at least one appropriate category (see help:category). Otherwise it will be difficult for readers to find the article.

Others can freely contribute to the article when it has been saved. The creator does not have special rights to control the later content. See Wikipedia:Ownership of articles.

Additionally, before you get frustrated or offended about the way others modify or remove your contributions, see: Wikipedia:Don't be ashamed.

See also


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