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Wikispecies is a free species directory closely related to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It is being written collaboratively by its readers. The following articles contain guidance and information about reading, authoring, and participating towards this effort on this site.

This page covers the basic wiki editing markup. If you are already familiar with basic wiki markup you can go directly to: Help:General Wikispecies.


Would you like to contribute to Wikispecies? Here we give the adapted tutorial of Wikipedia, as we would like to show you how you can edit webpages of Wikispecies.

Wikispecies is a collaboratively edited species directory to which you can contribute. This series of pages will give you the basic skills and knowledge you'll need to start helping us build this project.

Each page will discuss a useful feature of the wiki software, a piece of style and content guidance, information about the Wikispecies community, or important Wikispecies policies and conventions.

Keep in mind that this is a tutorial, not a definitive policy page or an extensive manual. If you want more details, throughout the tutorial there are links to Wikipedia pages with more details.

There will also be links to spaces where you can practice what you're learning. Take advantage of the chance to try things out and play around. Nobody will get upset if you screw up an experiment in these practice areas, so play around and see what you can do.

Note: The location of links mentioned in the tutorial assume you are using the default page layout. If you are logged in as a registered user, and have changed your default preferences, they may be in other locations.

Editing pages

We'll start with the most basic wiki feature of all: Edit. Except for very few protected pages, every wiki page has a link at the top that says "edit". This link lets you do exactly what it says—edit the page you're looking at. Sites such as these where anyone can edit anything are known as wikis.

Try it! In a new window, open Wikispecies' Sandbox, and then click the "edit this page" link. You'll see the source code for that page. Write something pithy or amusing, or just say hello. Then save it and see what you've done.

Show preview

An important feature to start using now is "Show preview", which allows you to see what the page will look like after your edit, even before you save. Try making an edit in the sandbox, then clicking the show preview button. We all make mistakes, and this lets you catch them immediately. If you make a habit of using Show Preview before saving, you'll save yourself and other editors a lot of trouble. It also lets you try out format changes without actually changing the article until you're satisfied.

This is especially important if you think you may be making other edits on the page. It is a good idea to just Save once, to keep the page history uncluttered. Saving less often is also a way of avoiding edit conflicts, which occur when two editors try to change a page at the same time. However, when you change large amounts of text you should consider doing this in successive steps (e.g. one paragraph at a time) so that others can follow your edits more easily.

Minor edits

If you are logged in as registered user, you can mark an edit as "Minor edit" by checking the appropriate box before you save. This is used to show others that your edit is not something substantive. There's no strict guideline on when to do this, but certainly spelling corrections and minor format changes like adding a space or a wikilink are minor edits. In other words, changing the presentation is generally minor, but changing the content is not. When in doubt, don't mark the box.

Edit summary

Before you hit "Save", it is considered to be good practice to enter a very brief summary of your change(s) in the summary box between the edit window and the Save and Preview buttons. It can be quite terse; for example if you just enter "typo", people will know you made a minor spelling or punctuation correction, or some other small change.

Font styles and headings

Bold and italics

When you are writing text, it requires different functions than in a normal word processor.

The wiki can accept some HTML tags, but most people use the built-in wiki markup language, which is designed for ease of editing. The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing is done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes:

  • ''italics'' is rendered as italics. (2 apostrophes)
  • '''bold''' is rendered as bold. (3 apostrophes)
  • '''''bolded italics''''' is rendered as bolded italics. (2 + 3 = 5 apostrophes)

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are an easy way to improve the organization of an article. If you can see two or more distinct topics being discussed, you can break up your article by inserting a heading for each section.

Headings can be created like this:

  • ==Top level heading== (2 equals signs)
  • ===Subheading=== (3 equals signs)
  • ====Another level down==== (4 equals signs)

If an article has at least three headings, a table of contents will be automatically generated. Try creating a headline in Wikispecies' Sandbox. It will be automatically added to the table of contents for the page.

One of the things that makes Wikispecies in combination with Wikipedia useful and addictive is extensive crosslisting by internal links. These easily-created links allow users to access information related to the article they're reading.

The easiest way to learn when to link is to look at Wikispecies articles and imitate what they do. If you're trying to decide whether to make a link or not, think "If I were to read this, would following this link be useful to me?"

When you want to make a link to another Wikispecies page (called a wiki link) you have to put it in double square brackets, like this:

[[Article X]]

For example, if you want to make a link to, say, the Wikispecies:Contributing to Wikispecies page, it would be:

[[Wikispecies:Contributing to Wikispecies]]

Also remember that in Wikispecies, the links are created automatically, so if you put double square brackets around a word, it becomes a link, and because of that you have to be careful about disambiguation.

If you want the link to the article to show text other than the article title, you can add an alternative name by adding after the pipe "|" divider (SHIFT + BACKSLASH on most keyboards).

For example, if you wanted to make a link to the above example, but wanted it to say "my text" you would write it as such:

To view the article, [[Article X|my text]]...

It would appear as:

To view the article, my text...

but would link to "Article X".

Alternative endings

When you want to use the plural of an article title (or add any other suffix) for your link, you can add the extra letters directly outside the double square brackets.

For example, you would write:

Marine mammals such as [[dolphin]]s...
Intercontinental [[ship]]ping...

It would appear as linked references.

Wikispecies is one of several projects of the WikiMedia Foundation. Wikipedia is for prose articles about subjects considered encyclopedic (along with some topics that would typically be found in an almanac).

Any article that simply defines a word, or short phrase, as you would find in a typical dictionary, and that can't be expanded into an encyclopedic entry, should be contributed to Wikipedia's sister project, Wiktionary. There is also a common machine-readable database the projects can access in order to retrieve data from there called Wikidata and a project collecting freely licensed pictures called Commons.

For a list of all related projects, see the Complete list of Wikimedia projects. The most common links will be listed in the Template help.

Instead of the whole URL, you can use a wiki link similar to a regular Wikispecies link but with a special prefix. For example,

[[wiktionary:house]] or [[wikt:house]]

will link to the Wiktionary definition of the word "house". In your article it will appear as:

wiktionary:house or wikt:house

you can hide the "wiktionary:" part by adding a "pipe" (vertical bar) character:


as explained above, so that the result is:


The other projects have similar shortcuts:

  • The Meta-Wiki may be linked using "meta:" or "m:"
  • Wikibooks may be linked using "wikibooks:" or "b:"
  • Wikisource may be linked using "wikisource:" or "s:"
  • Wikiquote may be linked using "wikiquote:" or "q:"
  • Wikiversity may be linked using "wikiversity:" or "v:"

In special cases interlanguage links to the different language editions of Wikipedia can be added using the language abbreviation, for example "en:" or "nl:" for links to the English and Dutch Wikipedias, respectively. It can also be done by putting "w:" before a link, which will result in a link to the English Wikipedia. However please note that manually adding links to any Wikipedia is generally not recommended, since such links will be automatically added and served by Wikidata anyway. (Interwiki links added by Wikidata will not be visible in the actual code of a page, but will still be available in the lefthand-side submenu labelled "In Wikipedia". Since there is no point in having duplicate links on a page, manually added Wikipedia-links are likely to be removed.)

If you want to link to a site outside of the Wikimedia projects, it should almost always go under the "External links" heading at the end of an article.

The easiest way to make a link is to simply type in the full URL for the page you want to link to. If you want to make a link to Google, all you need to do is type:

The wiki will automatically treat this text as a link (as has been done with the URL above) and will display the raw web address, including the "http://" part. In practice, you won't see this format much, as raw URLs are ugly and often give no clue what the site actually is.

To make the link display something other than the URL, use one square bracket at each end. If you want to make a link to Google, type:


This will display the link as a number in brackets, like this: [1]. This format is mostly used for citing sources within an article. It looks like a footnote, so it's best to only use it as such (for example, following a direct quote or a statement which requires a source). Avoid this usage: "According to [2], the last full moon of the second millennium occurred on December 11, 2000."

If you want the link to appear with text that you specify, add an alternative title after the address separated by a space (not a pipe). So if you want the link to appear as Google search engine, just type:

[ Google search engine]

Note: Using certain characters, such as a pipe(|) in the URL of the link will cause the link to fail; however, HTTP provides the ability to specify any character in a URL as a hexadecimal equivalent to its ASCII representation, so you can, for instance, write %7C instead of the pipe character.

When placed under the "External links" heading, the links should be listed in bullet-point format:

==External links==
*[https://example.example/ Website]
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