The Absolute Beginners Guide

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The best way to learn about editing a wiki is to look at the construction of existing pages.

Assuming that you are logged-in to the wiki, you will see:

  • At the top of most pages, and beside some of the headers, an 'Edit' link and and 'Edit source' link.
  • If you click on the 'Edit' link the current page will be re-opened in the VisualEditor, a WYSIWYG editor for mediawiki.
  • If you click on the 'Edit source' link you will be taken to a wikitext editing window, which shows the wiki source-code for the page (or section of page).

Using the Visual Editor

The visual editor makes it easy to type in and format text, as you literally see what you get as you edit it. If you are adding a large block of text from another source, it may be easiest to paste the text in a wikitext editor window (so that it is saved without formatting, then reopen the page in Visual editor to reformat it.

To quit the VisualEditor without making any changes to the page, select the 'Read' tab at the top of the page.

Using the Wikitext Editor

  • You will see that the edit window contains mostly plain text (the words on the page) with a few symbols such as quote marks, square brackets and vertical bars in the places where links or special formatting are applied.
  • If you click the show preview button at the bottom of the editing page, you can see the rendered content with the source code in a box below it.

I encourage you to look at the source code of an existing page, you can't break anything unless you hit the save button, and even then most changes can be reverted if necessary (using the tools on the Recent Changes page.

The most useful wikitext formatting symbols

There is a really good summary at the mediawiki site

Adding a new page

Go to the page (or one of the pages where you want your new page to be linked from, open the edit window, and type in your new page name where you want the link to appear, but surround the new page name with double square brackets [[ ]] . Then select preview, chack that the link (and any surrounding text) look OK and select Save.

Now, on the saved page, you should see your new link. Click on it, and you will be taken to the edit window for your new page.

  • It is usually best to start out by typing or pasting all of your new text into the edit window, without worrying about formatting or pictures. Preview and save this, if nothing else it will set a base version of the page which you can revert to if the formatting goes horribly wrong.
  • Then edit the page again and add plenty of headings and subheadings to give the page some stucture and lead the reader to the interesting bits
  • Then add some formatting, bold, underline, italics or colour where necessary.
  • Then add some pictures if you have them.

Uploading and displaying a picture

In the panel to the left of most wiki pages you will see an "Upload file" link. If you click that link you will find a form that allows you to upload files using your browser. Near the top of that page is a link to a list of uploaded files, where you can browse to find your image and its name if necessary.

Uploaded files have a size limit of 2MB, but the image pixel size is unrestricted.

The picture is displayed by adding a code like: [[File:Brake Hose new.JPG|right|180px]]
Brake Hose new.JPG
  • The File:xxxxx.jpg is the name of the uploaded file
  • The |right is an instruction of where to put the picture on the line
  • The |123px is an instruction to scale the image so that it fits nicely in the displayed page. Note that images inserted like this are clickable, and clicking will take you to the full size image.
  • You can also add a link like |link=Citroen Xantia [[file:Actpair1.jpg|120px|link=Citroen Xantia]] which would take you to the wiki page with that name when the image is clicked.

Was that enough to be going on with?

Now that that you have some tools to work with, go to the sandbox, edit the existing content there, add a few pages until you feell comfortable.