Help:Wiki editing tips

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This page documents Wiki editing tips and questions.

If you discover something about editing the Wiki that you think might be useful to others, jot it down here. Maybe it's already documented somewhere else; so what? If you didn't find it, maybe it's too hard to find, and we should make it easier.

If you're wondering about how to do something, or why something is done a certain way, add it to the Questions section. If you find the answer, document it. Maybe someone else will have the same question.

Another benefit: adding your tip or question here gives you more practice editing a Wiki page!


Verify ISBN

Including ISBN numbers in book references enables readers to find the book at online bookstores like Amazon. An ISBN number appears as a link in the Wiki article book reference. Verify ISBN numbers by clicking on them in the References section of the Wiki article. This brings up the Wiki Book sources page, which will warn you if the ISBN is not valid. To verify that the ISBN links to a book that can be bought, click on the one of the online bookstore links (for example, Amazon).

Some books may have a special ISBN for ordering. Using that ISBN in the reference is more useful since someone can use it to find the book online and order it.

Format references (citations)

To quickly format a citation, especially of a type you haven't done before, edit a Wikipedia article, for example, Referencing for beginners, select Cite from the toolbar, pick the appropriate template, fill it in, click preview, then click "show parsed preview" (you can't copy/paste the source preview because we don't support the cite templates), copy/paste the parsed preview into your article, do the additional required formatting (for example, add italics for title), then enclose in ref tags.

It doesn't matter what Wikipedia page you "edit", since you will not be saving your changes. Wikipedia Sandbox is the standard Wikipedia page used for experimenting with editing, but for some reason the editing toolbar sometimes does not include Cite when editing Sandbox.

Incidentally, the Wikipedia Referencing for beginners article is a good resource for learning about referencing. However, since the Bogleheads Wiki does not support use of the cite templates, and the Wiki editor toolbar does not include the Cite tool, the parts of the article referencing them are not directly relevant for Bogleheads Wiki editing.



  • Why use second-level headings for main sections in a Wiki article instead of first-level headings?
    • Answer: MediaWiki (the wiki software) has reserved the first level header for the page title. The Table of Contents uses the second level header as the highest level in the page. From Wikipedia Help:Section: "Please do not use only one equals sign on a side (=Heading=). This would cause a section heading to be as large as the page's name (title)."

How to?

Create math formulas

See Math formulas in the wiki.

Determine what templates are available

  • Wikipedia provides many templates. The Bogleheads wiki has a subset of these. How do we know what templates are available?

Templates are located in the Templates Category which contains the Navigation Templates sub-category. Template messages, which contains {{UnderConstruction}} and {{Expand}}, is a page in the Templates Category. Refer to the right sidebar menu.

  • Since templates are simply pages with a title starting with "Template:", searching on "Template:" should return a list of all templates. Correct?

Correct, but the search box only returns the first few, it can't scroll through the entire list. The templates in Template messages were recently modified to be in the Templates Category. Search in Templates Category and the sub-category Navigation Templates to find everything.

Edit special pages

  • How does one edit a special page? I would like to add AbeBooks to the Books sources special page.
    • Answer: Special pages are used to perform functions or show information. They're not intended to be edited directly. In this case, the Books sources list is modified under Bogleheads:Book sources. Be sure that the URL can follow the format shown in the page. AbeBooks has been added.
  • How would one know the the answer to the above question without being told the answer? How do we learn more about special pages and how they work?
    • Answer: Anything related to operation of the wiki software can be found at MediaWiki. There is considerable documentation available, such as how to navigate, or how to edit a page. Although this is helpful, it is intended as a general overview and does not go to the level of detail described here. Wikipedia is better from that perspective. For specific answers, it's better to use google and include "MediaWiki" as part of the search term.

For example, mediawiki project:book sources - Google Search, will find an old Talk page which contains [[{{SITENAME}}:Booksources]]. That's how the book sources page was found. Entering "Bogleheads" in the search box will not show this page. However, entering "Project:" will return with "Bogleheads:" and show the pages used for site information. This is how the software works - it's not obvious and can be very obscure at times.

Quickly create wiki references

  • What is one quick and easy way to create a wiki reference?

If you are using Google Chrome, you can install the Create Link extension. This extension allows you to copy the current page's URL to the clipboard in a number of formats.

Adding the following configuration allows you to quickly create wiki references that use {{cite web}} for formatting:

<ref>{{cite web| url=%url%| title=%title%| publisher=???| accessdate=??? ??, 2021}}</ref>

To use this, visit the page you wish to reference in another browser tab and then create a link using the extension and this configuration option. You can then return to your wiki editing tab and paste the reference you created from the clipboard. You need to complete (or remove) the publisher and accessdate entries manually. Alternatively, if you replace these unknowns in the configuration with %input%, the extension will prompt you for values with a dialog each time you use it.