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An article with a table of contents block and an image near the start, then several sections
Sample article layout (click on image for larger view)

This guide presents the typical layout of Wikipedia articles, including 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; for guidance on writing style, see Manual of Style.

Order of article elements

A simple article should have at least a lead section and references. The following list includes additional standardized sections in an article. A complete article may not have all, or even most, of these elements.

  1. Before the lead section
    1. Short description[1]
    2. Hatnotes[2]
    3. Deletion / protection tags (CSD, PROD, AFD, PP notices)
    4. Maintenance / dispute tags
    5. English variety and date style[3]
    6. Infoboxes
    7. Language maintenance templates
    8. Images
    9. Navigation header templates (sidebar templates)
  2. Body
    1. Lead section (also called the introduction)
    2. Table of contents
    3. Content
  3. Appendices[4]
    1. Works or publications (for biographies only)
    2. See also
    3. Notes and references (this can be two sections in some citation systems)
    4. Further reading
    5. External links[5]
  4. End matter
    1. Succession boxes and geography boxes
    2. Other navigation footer templates (navboxes)[6] (navbars above {{Portal bar}})
    3. Authority control templates (taxonbar above Authority control)
    4. Geographical coordinates (if not in Infobox) or {{coord missing}}
    5. {{Featured list}}, {{Featured article}} and {{Good article}} (where appropriate for article status)
    6. Defaultsort
    7. Categories[7]
    8. Stub templates

Body sections

The same article, with the central left highlighted: it contains just text in sections.
Body sections appear after the lead and table of contents (click on image for larger view).

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 sections and subsections clutter an article with headings 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.[8] Between sections, there should be a single 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. When changing or removing a heading, consider adding an anchor template with the original heading name to provide for incoming external links and wikilinks (preferably using {{subst:anchor}} rather than using {{anchor}} directly—see MOS:RENAMESECTION).

Names and orders for section headings

Because of the diversity of subjects it covers, Wikipedia has no general standard or guideline regarding the names or order of section headings within the body of an article. The usual practice is to name and order sections based on the precedent of similar articles. Contributors should follow the consensus model to establish an order.

If a section is named inappropriately you may also use the {{Rename section}} 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 {{Main}} 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 {{Main}} 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:

  • {{Further}} – this generates a "Further information" link
  • {{See also}} – this generates a "See also" link

For example, to generate a "See also" link to the article on Wikipedia:How to edit a page, type {{See also|Wikipedia:How to edit a page}}, which will generate:

Paragraphs

Sections usually consist of paragraphs of running prose. Between paragraphs—as between sections—there should be only a single blank line. First lines are not 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, further-reading, and external links sections towards the end of the article. Bullet points are usually not separated by blank lines, as that causes an accessibility issue (see MOS:LISTGAP).

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.

Standard appendices and footers

Headings

When appendix sections are used, they should appear at the bottom of an article, with ==level 2 headings==,[9] 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.

Works 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. "Publications", "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.[10] "Works" or "Publications" should be plural, even if it lists only a single item.[11]

"See also" section

Contents: A bulleted list of internal links to related Wikipedia articles. Consider using {{Columns-list}} or {{This guide presents the typical layout of Wikipedia articles, including 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; for guidance on writing style, see Manual of Style.