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Wikipedia:How to write a great article

Suppose you want to write a first-rate or even perfect Wikipedia article which deserves to be listed on brilliant prose. Here's how.

Once you have decided on a topic, use Wikipedia's search engine to find out what related material we already have. That way, you get a feel for the environment and will later be able to create good links to other relevant articles.

You may think that you know enough about your topic, but chances are that others know more. Do a search on Wikipedias in other languages, on Everything2, look at the first couple of hits from a Google search, and read the relevant articles from an encyclopedia such as http://www.encyclopedia.com (free) or http://www.eb.com (free in most libraries). Don't shy away from visiting a good academic library to have a look at the standard references.

If you are creating a brand new article (see how to start a page), there are a couple of naming conventions that you should follow.

Start your article with a concise paragraph defining the topic at hand and mentioning the most important points. The reader should be able to get a good overview by only reading this first paragraph.

Then start the article proper. See our editing help for the format we use to produce links, emphasize text, lists, headlines etc. Make sure to link to other relevant Wikipedia articles. You cannot simply cut-and-paste from one of the external resources mentioned above. See wikipedia:Copyrights for the details.

It's often a good idea to separate the major sections of your articles with section headlines. For many topics, a history section is very appropriate, outlining how thinking about the concept evolved over time.

If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the Neutral point of view.

Try to get your spelling right. Wikipedia does not yet contain a spell checker, but you can write and spell-check your article first in a word processor or text editor (which is a lot more comfortable than the Wikipedia text-box anyway) and then paste it into said text-box.

At the end, you may want to list some references you used and external links about the topic (unless of course your article is the best coverage of the topic on the internet, which is always the goal).

Top it all off with a nice relevant image or graphic. See Wikipedia:Graphics tutorials for practical help on drawing diagrams and modifying images. Tons of copyright-free images are listed at our public domain image list. Please do not link to images on other servers; instead use the upload feature.

One way to get a good article is to bounce it back and forth between several Wikipedians. Use the Talk pages to refine the topic, ask there for confirmations, note there your doubts: it is usually interesting to discover that, perhaps from the other side of the planet, after a while, some other contributors can check other sources, or propose different interpretations. The composition of a commonly agreed interpretation is the most important ingredient of a serious Wikipedia article.

Keep the article in an encyclopedic style: add etymology or provenance (when available), look for analogies and eventual comparisons to propose. Be objective: avoid personal comments (or turn them into general statements, but only when they coincide), don't use personal forms (I found that...).



All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

 
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