Team:Purdue/A crash-course in Wiki editing


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The formatting "language" used to edit and add content to a Wiki is designed to be accessible to all skill levels. While maintaining proper style and adding content in a logical way is encouraged, all contributions are appreciated and can be adjusted as need be. However, there are two facts you must consider when editing a page: One, everything you submit is stored permanently. Don't put anything private or embarrassing online. Two, nothing you submit is displayed permanently. Don't be concerned about proper use of templates, or consistent header divisions, or grammar. Anyone on our team can evaluate and fix your work. The only way our Wiki can be successful is if you contribute.

All that said, you may want to put together an attractive page on your own. This guide should help you set up the basics. Feel free to add your own tips, and questions can always be posted on the discussion page.


But I don't know how to program!

You don't need to know how to program. You don't even need to know HTML. If you can handle Microsoft Word, you can edit a Wiki. That said, there are some higher-level topics that involve things like templates, HTML, and content-embedding that will challenge the average user. Work at the level you are comfortable.

Creating and editing pages

At the top of every page should be a few options. "Page" directs you to the page you are currently viewing. "Discussion is a special page that is associated with every normal page; this is a good place to discuss problems, justify edits, or suggest new content without getting your hands dirty. "Edit" is where you can manipulate the content of the page and then submit your changes. "History" will show you every edit made to the page, sorted by time and annotated with the user that changed the page.

After making your edits, you can include a summary of why you changed the page or what you added. You can also indicate whether it is a minor edit, such as a grammar or spelling fix. It's recommended that you preview your page before submitting it. In addition to editing a whole page, you will also see an "edit" link to the right of any major heading, like the one above the previous paragraph.

Creating a new page is slightly different. You can actually link to a page that doesn't yet exist. Clicking on that link will send you straight to the edit page. Searching for the page will also open an edit window for the page (assuming it does not yet exist). Otherwise, the process is the same as editing a current page. Always include "Team:Purdue/" before any pages you wish to create. See below on how to link to these pages.


Bold and italics

Regular text is entered the same as any word processor. If you want to add special effects, such as bold or italics, you will need to either use the buttons on the top of editing box, or type out the appropriate formatting characters. For bold text, you bracket the text with three single quotation marks '''like this'''. Similarly, italics take two single quotation marks ''like this''. Note that double quotation marks are safe to use and will not change the formatting of the page.

Preventing format changes

You may be wondering how I was able prevent the Wiki software from formating the text above. You can do this by including the <nowiki> and </nowiki> tags. If you are confused at how this works, just click the edit button and look at the raw input. You probably won't ever need to use this, but it's good to know since special cases can come up.

Wikifying a page

The most important part of a wiki is connecting existing pages with relevant links. These "internal links" are created with {{Team:Purdue/link|this template}}, like I've used to link to this Sample page. Notice that the words you place in the template will be the name of the page, even if the page does not exist. If you want to create an internal link, but the text isn't exactly the same as the page you want to link to, you can write the
[[name of the page you want to link to followed by the pipe character | and then the actual text you want to display]]. I've done this here to link to the sample page mentioned before. This is a confusing method of linking to a page, so use it sparingly.

If there is a topic on a page that seems like it deserves its own page, go ahead and "wikify" it. The link will appear red to indicate that the page is empty and needs to be created. This is a great way to inspire others to add content.

The template is specifically for internal links that have the same text as the name of the page you are trying to link to. Otherwise, you must use the other method and specify "Team:Purdue/" before the page name.

Linking to an outside page

There's a lot of interesting content out there on the internet, but you don't want to commit an act of plagiarism. Providing an outside link will allow others to visit these pages without jeopardizing your credibility. This is done by using single brackets containing
[ followed by any text you want to link to that page]. You can omit the text following the link for a more standard link like [1]. These links are automatically condensed into citation-like numbering.


Most pages will discuss a few different topics. You can create a high-level header by ==placing the text between double "equals" signs==. Triple "equals" signs will create a sub-header, and quadruple "equals" signs will make a sub-sub header. If your page has enough divisions, a table of contents will automatically be generated.

Lists and indentations

Lists are very easy and intuitive to create. An unordered list like

  • this list
    • with this secondary bullet point
  • and another primary bullet point

is made by starting each line with an asterisk ("*"). More asterisks mean higher levels of indentation. You can also use "#" to create a numbered list:

  1. The first element
  2. The second element
    1. A sub-element, using "#" twice
    2. Another sub-element
  3. The third element

Indentations are added in a similar way. Use a colon (":") to

offset the text by any number of indentations. You can type out a long line (blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah) and the indentation will be maintained.
In the same fashion as lists, more colons causes more indentation; you can think of them as "hidden" bullets.

Advanced topics

Eventually I'd like to put some details on using and creating templates, embedding images and videos, and other special topics that really make a Wiki impressive. Until then, check out these resources:

Don't be afraid to experiment and explore.