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While we can teach you some, one of the best ways to learn how to edit the wiki is to open the edit dialog on a page (such as this one), and look at the code. Clicking the "Show preview" button will let you see what code translates to what type of text. Also, for practice with wiki syntax, try stuff out in the sandbox.



To create a header, surround the text with equals signs. There are five levels of headers, denoted by the number of equals signs. For example, the largest headers have two equals signs on each side, while the smallest have six.
This is how you type the headers:
==Header Level 1==
===Header Level 2===
====Header Level 3====
=====Header Level 4=====
======Header Level 5======


There are two methods of making lists. You can use HTML if you wish, but MediaWiki makes it more convenient by allowing us to use asterisks to denote list items and their level. Note that in order for MediaWiki to catch asterisks, they have to be the first things on a new line, *no spaces*. This is because it would be a terrible design flaw for every asterisk to be turned into a bullet, and very few text parsers would be able to figure out exactly what you want in every circumstance.

*List item
**Sub-list item
    translates to    
  • List item
    • Sub-list item


MediaWiki (to a degree) ignores whitespace, and treats it all like it's one space. One helpful formatting tool is the tabbing ability, which is very much like the lists, but it doesn't use bullets. So the same rules apply, but you use colons (:), rather than asterisks.

One colon.
Two colons.


You may wish, in the course of your Wikery, to emphasize text in one manner or another. While holding the shift key is an option, it's generally seen as shouting and, if not used sparingly, becomes rather unsightly to read. MediaWiki, however, does provide two nice features: bold and italics. To make text italic, surround it with two single quotes on either side. For bold, use three single quotes.


In standard articles, it is common practice to bold the first instance of the page's title in the article text. Anything else is up to the discretion of the writers.


Earlier it was mentioned that MediaWiki ignores whitespace. This is not entirely true, but is also not immediately obvious how it handles things. Here are some rules that it follows:

  • Multiple spaces are translated into one space.
  • One newline is considered no different from a space (presumably for the sake of making the code behind the pages easier to deal with without undue worrying about whitespace).
  • Two newlines signify a new paragraph, and MediaWiki will start the new paragraph on a new line, with a 1.5 line spacing between paragraphs.
  • Colons (and asterisks) may be on adjacent lines, and not be condensed into one. For an example, see the lists section of this page.

The <nowiki> Tag[edit]

Sometimes, say when writing an editing help page, MediaWiki's formatting can get in the way of what you're trying to convey. For this, there is the <nowiki> tag. Anything between <nowiki> and </nowiki> is considered plain text, and even HTML within it is ignored (though whitespace rules still apply). So if you find yourself writing, and the wiki misinterprets what you mean, you can tell it to shut up and sit down with the <nowiki>.


Sometimes, you need to separate sections, and a 1.5 line break just isn't doing it for you. We have to ways to create horizontal lines (or horizontal rules). First, there is the ---- method. Any number of hyphens greater than three will result in a horizontal rule. The html tag <hr> is also available, though indisputably uglier to look at when coding.


Links are at the heart of a wiki. By linking between related subjects, readers find themselves reading things they wouldn't have found, or even thought to look for, otherwise.

Internal links[edit]

Internal links let you move around within the wiki with ease. MediaWiki makes it easy to link to something else within the wiki by surrounding the link with double-square brackets ([[text]]). For example [[ALF]] will link us to the ALF article.

Now sometimes you will find that you're using a different form of a word than there is an article for, or perhaps you're making more subtle comments with your links. In either case, you're not going to be linking to an article named with the words you're using. For this, we use the bar (or pipe) (|) after the article title, but before the link text. Thus, I can type [[MASMC|Academy]] if I want Academy to link to the MASMC page.

A neat side effect of having headers in our pages is that we're now able to link directly to those headers. If you're familiar with HTML, we'll be using the same symbol: the pound sign (#). In order to link to a header, you type the name of the page you want, the pound sign, and then the text of the header. For example [[Help:Editing#Internal Links|Internal Links]] will return you to the Internal Links header above. That's the long way. If you're linking to a header on the same page, you can drop the article name, and use [[#Internal Links|Internal Links]].

External links[edit]

You may run across situations in which you'd like to link to something outside the wiki. Unfortunately for those of you who expected an easy transition from HTML, this one's a bit of a killer: you can't use the <a> tag. Fortunately, the MediaWiki way is comfortingly easy.

If you type a URL, it will link automagically, which is rather handy as there aren't many times you'll be typing URL's and thinking "No, I really don't think this should be a link." In those situations, see the <nowiki> tag section. Thus, I simply type the URL, and you're sent off to

External links use single brackets, rather than double. If you type the URL with brackets around it, it shows up as a number, which makes it very useful for unintrusive referrence citations. Thus, [] tells you where I found out that orgasms can cause sneezes[1].

You can also have a link with words by adding a space and the text you want to appear within the link after the URL. So if I wanted to link to The Best Page in the Universe, I would just type [ The Best Page in the Universe].

Email links[edit]

On your user page, you may want to create an email link. These take the same form as external links, but must be preceded by mailto:. So I can simply type mailto:name@domain.tld and you'll be able to email me simply by clicking mailto:name@domain.tld.

Now that's not particularly beautiful, so you can replace text just as you did with standard links: [mailto:name@domain.tld email me]. So now I can have you email me without adding unnecessary ugly to my sentence.


MediaWiki provides some handy ways of making conversations easier in the wiki, besides the organization techniques seen above. Andy has also added a rather neat bit of code that allows for comments in areas that would otherwise get cluttered if commented.

Discussion Pages[edit]

Every page in the wiki, except for the special pages, has a discussion page associated with it. In the standard skin, the "discussion tab" is right next to the "article" tab (in the case of this page, "help" tag). This is where it is acceptable to raise arguments and questions, whereas underneath the article or section thereof would simply be ugly and detract from the article.

In order to best utilize the discussion pages, there are a couple formatting rules one should follow:

  • Headers: If a discussion page hosts more than one thread of conversation, for the sake of readability, add headers to the page.
  • Tabbing: The level of tabbing (number of tabs) you use indicates which post you are responding to. For instance, if you're posting in the third level (three colons at the beginning of your post), you are responding the the most recent second level post. Rather, it will be read as such, so it is helpful if you follow this convention. The first post of a thread does not require any tabs.
  • Signatures: By convention, we sign our posts in discussions. This is discussed further shortly.


Using tildes, it is very easy to sign your name. While you shouldn't do this in articles, in the discussion pages it is appropriate to leave your name, and sometimes a timestamp. In order to just leave your name, you can type three tildes (~~~), and it will leave whatever name you have set in your preferences, linking to your user page. Four tildes gives your name and a timestamp. Five leaves just a timestamp.


  • Three
  • Four
    • Chrax 03:12, 28 Dec 2004 (EST)
  • Five
    • 03:12, 28 Dec 2004 (EST)


Images can now be uploaded to the server using the Upload File link on the left navbar. As images take up more space and use more bandwidth than plain text, there are a few rules that you should follow:

  • Resize your image so that it's about the size you'll want to display it at.
  • This feature should be used sparingly, because pictures do not make an article, they merely contribute to it.
  • Use an appropriate image format for the image you wish to use:
    • JPG for photos
    • PNG for diagrams, maps, and line art
    • GIF for animation
  • Please do not use animations. They are rarely good, and most often both annoying and distracting.

External Images[edit]

External images are extremely simple to display. Simply insert the url, and the Wiki will perform its magic. It would be silly to demonstrate here, but feel free to try this out in the sandbox.

Internal Images[edit]

Internal images are those that you have uploaded. You do not need their path, only their name. There are several ways to display an image.

The simplest and least elegant way is to use a wiki image tag
This will display the image without any modifications to its size.

Most often, you will probably use a thumbnail. The wiki software will resize the image and display it in a small frame.
The description will be placed in the frame underneath the thumbnail. This can be left blank, but the pipe (|) must remain.

If you have a relatively small image, or feel that the image should be shown full size, you can put it in a frame.
Again, the description is placed underneath the image, and is optional.

Text Replacement[edit]

MediaWiki allows us to insert markers into our articles indicating that some other data should replace the marker. This is useful in much the same way that variables are useful in a programming language. Some are subject to change, and we want the article to change with them. Others we'd rather only change in one place.

MediaWiki Variables[edit]

MediaWiki provides a rather large set of variables to help us type less. In fact, most of them are useless, so we won't go over them here, but you can see them at Wikipedia:Help:Variable. Here is a list of potentially useful ones:


These are admittedly not going to be a commonly used syntax, but I figured we ought to be aware of them. To the old-school programmers out there, these are like C macros, and as such are the first things replaced. To everybody else, the upshot of this is that these can be used in links and templates. For instance, I can link to a page for today's date (which is probably empty) with the code "[[{{CURRENTMONTHNAME}} {{CURRENTDAY}}, {{CURRENTYEAR}}]], and it will display April 20, 2024.


Templates are a means of inserting pre-formatted text into an article. They exist often for the purpose of giving information to be distinguished from the contents of the article, and they are usually decidedly temporary in nature. Like variables, templates are also replaced before the link interpretation, meaning templates can contain links, including categories. This makes them especially useful for grouping.

To edit a template, precede the template name with 'Template:', and access it like any other page. To invoke a template, surround its name (less the 'Template:') with double curly braces. For instance, the stub template is invoked with {{stub}}.



A category is a system of organization for articles with a common trait. Examples include Classes, Professors and Wings. When a page contains a category tag, a footer is added to the bottom of that page with a link to the general category page. Clicking on this link will give a short description and a list of all pages in the category.

To add a page to a category, just put a category tag somewhere in the article. The syntax is [[Category:Categoryname]]. If your page is the first one to use the category, you'll need to go to the category page and add a short description. Without this, the list won't be generated.

More information on categories is available at the Wikipedia page.