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This Introduction to Editing is a basic tutorial on editing and contributing to Palo Alto Wiki. It discusses important topics and conventions.

Jump to: Editing · Formatting · Internal Links · External Links · Talk Pages · Things to Keep in Mind · Final Words

Other resources: Help Main Page · Sandbox · Cheatsheet · More on editing


At the top of nearly every page, you will find a link that says "edit this page". By clicking it, you can make any changes to that article.

One important feature to use is the "Show preview" button. It allows you to see what the page will look like after your edit, but before you save. By doing this, you can catch your mistakes before you make them. Make sure you save your edits after previewing them.

The "Edit summary" gives you the opportunity to explain any changes you have made. It's considered good etiquette to enter a short explanation, e.g. "Fixed typo." If you are logged in, you can also indicate that you've made a minor edit by checking the appropriate box ("This is a minor edit").


Palo Alto Wiki uses text codes, known as wiki markup, to create elements on a page. It is desgined for ease of editing.

Bold and italics

Bolding and italicizing are done by surround a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ('):

You type: ''italic''
You get: italic

You type: '''bold'''
You get: bold

You type: '''''bold italic'''''
You get: bold italic

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are an easy way to organize an article. Headings can be created like this:

== Heading == : Level 2 Heading
=== Heading === : Level 3 Heading
==== Heading ==== : Level 4 Heading
===== Heading ===== : Level 5 Heading

If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents will automatically appear.


HTML code can be used for advanced formatting, but knowledge of HTML is not necessary to use Palo Alto Wiki.


It is a Palo Alto Wiki convention to mark in bold the names of an article's subject when they are first metioned. For instance, an article on the May Fete Parade might begin:

The May Fete Parade is held annually in Palo Alto.

Another convention is to italicize book, movie, album, and computer/video game titles. If the first mention of the subject of an article is a book or movie title, then bold italics are used. For example, an article on Palo Alto: The First 100 Years might begin:

Palo Alto: The First 100 Years was a special project of the Palo Alto Weekly, an official sponsor of Palo Alto Centennial 1994.

Scientific articles, chapters of a book, songs, or television episodes are usually mentioned "in quotes." If the first mention of the subject of an article is one of these things, it is "emboldened and quoted". For example, an article on the song "Diamonds and Rust" might begin:

"Diamonds & Rust" was written and performed by Joan Baez in 1975.

Internal Links

Linking articles together (cross-referencing) is important because it allows users to easily access information related to the article they are reading.

When to link

You should link anytime you think it would be helpful to a reader. Looking at a few articles for examples may be helpful. Usually you only need to link the first occurrence of a word/term in the article.

How to link

To link to another Palo Alto Wiki page, you put it in double square brackets:

[[Sandbox]] : Sandbox

If you want display text of the link to have a different title, you can add a pipe "|" divider (SHIFT + BACKSLASH) followed by the alternative title:

[[Palo Alto Wiki:Sandbox|Sandbox]] : Sandbox

You can also link to a specific part of a page:

[[Help:Editing#How to link|How to link]] : How to link

Make sure your links point to the correct article!

For more on links, go here.

External Links

You can also link to sites that are external to Palo Alto Wiki. All external links should be listed together under an "External links" heading at the end of the article. Avoid creating an external link when you can accomplish the same thing with an internal link to a Palo Alto Wiki article.

To create an external link, simply enclose the site in single square brackets. It's usually a good idea to provide a description right after the site address. The description will be displayed as the title of the site:

[ Palo Alto Wiki] : Palo Alto Wiki

Under the "External links" heading, links should be listed in bullet-point format:

== External links ==
* [ Palo Alto Wiki]

Other ways to link

There are two other ways to create an external link.

You could enclose a Web site address in single square brackets with no description. This produces the link as a number in brackets:

[] : [1]

This format is usually used when citing sources. It looks like a footnote, so it's best to use it as such. Avoid this usage: "According to [2], the last full moon of the second millennium occurred on December 11, 1999." Do this instead: "The last full moon of the second millennium occurred on December 11, 1999. [3]

You could also type out the link. The wiki will treate this as a link and dsiplay the raw web address. This method should be avoided as they are often ugly and give no description of the site:

For more on links, go here.

Talk Pages

Talk pages allow users to discuss articles and other issues with one another.

Simply put post a note in an article's talk page if you have a question, concern or comment. This is done by clicking the "discussion" tab at the top of the page. Don't worry if the link shows up in red. You can create the talk page if it doesn't exist.

New comments should go at the bottom of the talk page. If, however, you are responding to someone else's question or comment, put yours below theirs. It is best to indent your comment by typing a colon (:) at the beginning of a line. This helps organize the talk page.

Signing comments

Sign your comments by typing three tildes (~~~) to post just your username or four tildes (~~~~) to post your username and a time stamp. Five tildes (~~~~~) will leave only the time stamp. When you save the page, your signature will automatically appear. You do not have to sign your comments if you do not want to. However, both the username and time stamp make responding to comments and following discussions much easier.

If you don't have an account, your computer's external IP address will appear instead.

User talk pages

All users - including those without accounts - have a user talk page on which others can leave messages. Every user account and IP address is given its own talk page.

If someone has left a message, you will see a notification saying "You have new messages" linking you to your talk page.

There are two ways to reply. One is to post a message on the user talk page of the person you're replying to. The other is to put your reply on your own talk page underneath the original message. Both are commonly used, but replying on your own talk page runs the risk of your reply not being seen.


Indenting improves the organization of a talk page. It is convention to indent your reply one level deeper than the person to whom you are replying.

There are several ways to indent.

Plain indentations

The simplest way is to place a colon (:) at the beginning of the line. The more colons you type, the further indented the text will be. A new line (pressing Enter or Return) marks the end of the indented paragraph.

You type:
This is aligned all the way to the left.
: This is indented slightly.
:: This is indented more.

You get:
This is aligned all the way to the left.

This is indented slightly.
This is indented more.

Bullet points

Bullets are usually used for lists. To insert a bullet, use an asterik (*). The more the asteriks, the more the indentation.

You type:
*First item
*Second item
*Third item

You get:

  • First item
  • Second item
    • Sub-item
  • Third item

Numbered items

Numbered lists are created by using the number sign (#). Again, the more #'s you use, the more indentation you'll get.

You type:
# First item
# Second item
## Sub-item
# Third item

You get:

  1. First item
  2. Second item
    1. Sub-item
  3. Third item

Example discussion

Here is an example of a well formatted discussion:

Hi. I have a question about this article. I'm pretty sure purple elephants only live in New York! JayRandumWikiUser 02:49, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Well, last time I was in New York, the elephants I saw were green. — try2BEEhelpful 17:28, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I think you should find a source for your claims. Living × Skepticism 20:53, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Okay, these elephant journals agree with me:
  • Elephants Monthly
  • Elephants World
— try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I live in Australia, where the elephants look like kangaroos! The people below agree with my statement: -DontGdayMateMe 17:28, 14 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  1. ElefantLuvr 01:22, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  2. AisleVoteOnAnything 05:41, 15 Dec 2003 (UTC)
  3. alittlebehindthetimes 18:39, 27 Jan 2004 (UTC)
You guys take green elephants to seriously. i like spiders more .:!Ninja!:. 18:54, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Note that if you include a list, it is necessary to add colons before each item:

:::Okay, these elphant journals agree with me:
:::* ''Elephants Monthly''
:::* ''Elephants World''

Signing your message off is done like this:

Write ~~~ for just a name (try2BEEhelpful).
Write ~~~~ for a name and date (try2BEEhelpful 19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)).
Write ~~~~~ for just the date (19:09, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)).

Keep in Mind

Citing sources

You should cite sources for information you contribute. All sources should be listed in a section with the heading "References". Web sites or books that were not used as sources but may be of interest to a reader of an article, they should be listed and linked to in an "External Links" section (for Web sites) or "Further reading" section (for books).


Do not submit copyrighted material without permission. Please write articles in your own words. All information on the Internet is copyrighted unless specifically stated otherwise.

If you are uploading an image, make sure you have permission to use it. Cite any licenses, copyrights, or sources.


Users are expected to behave in a generally civil manner.

The most important thing to remember is that you should always assume good faith on the part of other editors. Don't assume someone is acting out of spite or malice. If something upsets you, leave a polite message on the relevant article's talk page or on the user's talk page. Avoiding a misunderstanding will save you some embarrassment.

Renaming articles

If an article is mis-named, please do not copy and paste the contents of the old article into a new one. This will separate previous contributions from their edit history (which is important for copyright reasons). You should instead move the page to the new name. If it's your first time moving a page, please read the warnings on the move page carefully, as there are a number of issues to consider. Move a page by clicking on the "move" tab at the top of the page.

Final Words

You're done! You now have all the important tools for contributing to Wikipedia. You can experiment with what you know by going to the Sandbox.

A "cheatsheet" with all the basic editing commands is also available for your use.

If you'd like to learn more on editing, read on.

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