Help Your first article

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Writing an article

Newcomer tip: You might want to build up your skills doing smaller tasks first at Wikipedia:Task Center.

Welcome to Wikipedia! Before starting a new article...

  • Please review Wikipedia's notability requirements. In short, the topic of an article must have already been the subject of publication in reliable, secondary, entirely independent sources that treat the topic in substantive detail. They might be books, newspapers, magazines, peer-reviewed scholarly journals and similarly high-quality websites.
  • Information on Wikipedia must be verifiable; if no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, then it should not have an article.
  • Please search Wikipedia first to make sure that an article does not already exist on the subject.

Generally, an article should closely follow Wikipedia policies and guidelines, especially:

An Article Wizard is available to help you create an article through the Articles for Creation process, where it will be reviewed and considered for publication:

Article wizard

Please consider looking at our introductory tutorial or reviewing contributing to Wikipedia to learn the basics about editing. Working on existing articles is a good way to learn our protocols and style conventions; see the Task Center for articles that need your assistance and tasks you can help out with.

The basics

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written by volunteers to help people gain useful knowledge. Our encyclopedia is pretty comprehensive, but that does not mean we would cover every single topic that exists. Wikipedia is not a social media, a place for promotion or advocacy, nor a place to announce new unpublished theories. Information from websites, blogs, forum posts, social media, wikis, including Wikipedia, and self-published sources are generally not suitable for Wikipedia.

Our job is to summarize high-quality and published sources from other places, in the form of Wikipedia articles. That really is all we do! Do make sure that anything you write on Wikipedia is based only on such sources.

Many of the notable topics have already been written by people in the past, and the fact of the matter is, most new articles nowadays are written about fairly obscure subjects. That can make distinguishing topics that are suitable or not suitable on Wikipedia very difficult, and are often flashpoints for contentious disputes. No amount of editing can overcome a lack of notability of a topic. More than 200 articles are deleted from the English Wikipedia every day; most are deleted for this very reason. We don't want you to waste all of your effort just for it to be marked for deletion!

Avoid making an article that you have a conflict of interest in, meaning that you have a close connection to the subject as an employee, family member, friend, etc. or your financial and other relationships. This is a very strict policy on Wikipedia. In practice, articles created out of a conflict of interest are usually rejected or deleted on sight. (Further information: Help:Your first article § Are you closely connected to the article topic?)

If you want to succeed at this endeavor, you should gain ample experience beforehand and get a feel for what would be a 'suitable' topic to write on Wikipedia. Because the stakes are lower, this is a perfect opportunity to hone your editing skills! Take a tour through the tutorial, ask around at the Teahouse, or read Wikipedia:Article development. Don't be disappointed if you couldn't find a new topic to write for Wikipedia; plenty of distinguished contributors here have only edited existing articles; you could be the one to turn a rubbish article into a great one.

Before creating an article, try to make sure there is not already an article on the same topic. If you don't find a match, perhaps try using a slightly different or broader search term: (Tip: If you want to write an article about a band member, you might search for the band and then add information about your subject as a section within that broader article.)


Gathering references and establishing notability

Before beginning to write any of your first article, gather sources for the information you will be writing about. You will use references to establish notability and to cite particular facts. References used to establish notability must meet additional criteria beyond reliability. References used for specific facts need not meet these additional criteria.

To be suitable for inclusion in an encyclopedia, a subject must have significant coverage in multiple reliable, independent sources. All information in encyclopedia articles must be verifiable through citations.

As noted, the sources you use must be reliable: they must be sources that exercise some form of editorial control and have some reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. Print sources (and web-based versions of those sources) tend to be the most reliable. Examples include: books published by major publishing houses, newspapers, magazines, peer-reviewed scholarly journals, websites of any of the above, and other websites that meet the same requirements as a reputable print-based source.

In general, sources with no editorial control are not reliable. These include (but are not limited to) books published by vanity presses, blogs, web forums, Reddit discussions, personal social media, fan sites, and other similar venues. If anyone at all can post information without anyone else checking that information, it is probably not reliable. Similarly, an opinion column in an otherwise reputable newspaper cannot help establish notability.

Many web sources feature user-generated content. This anyone can sign up and create content. All wikis are like this, including Wikipedia. Also IMDb, Goodreads, YouTube, LinkedIn, and social media such as Twitter and Instagram. Except for a few specific exceptions, these sources cannot be used.

A good resource for determining the quality of a source is WP:RSP. This does not list things like books, or extremely reputable sources which are never questioned, like the Associated Press. It does list many sources that have been debated frequently. If your source is listed on that page as "generally unreliable" or "deprecated", you should not use it in your article.

Sources used to establish notability must additionally be independent: they must not be connected to the subject. A company's own website cannot help establish notability. An interview with someone cannot help establish notability, as these can be bought. A press release repackaged as a news item (churnalism) cannot help either, and is sometimes more difficult to spot. Articles in Forbes magazine whose author is listed as a "Forbes contributor" are the equivalent of an opinion column, usually paid for by a business or individual with the intent of self-promotion.

Sources used to establish notability must additionally demonstrate significant coverage: they must discuss your subject for a while, at least multiple paragraphs. A mention in one or two sentences, or the appearance of your subject in a table or list is not enough to help establish notability.

Sources that are not independent of the subject or do not demonstrate significant coverage can still be used in your article to support factual claims, but do not count towards notability. Sources that are not reliable should not be used at all.

If there are reliable independent sources (such as newspapers, journals, or books) with extensive information published over an extended period about a subject, then that subject is notable. You must cite such sources as part of the process of creating a Wikipedia article as evidence of notability for evaluation by other editors. If you cannot find such reliable sources that provide extensive information about your proposed subject, then the subject is not notable or verifiable and almost certainly will be declined or deleted.

If none of your sources are reliable and independent while providing significant coverage, it doesn't matter how many you have. No amount of these is enough to establish notability. Adding many inadequate sources will not help your article get approved, and will delay review as reviewers struggle to check them all.

So your first job is to go find sources to cite. There are many places to find reliable sources, including your local library, but if internet-based sources are to be used, start with books and news archive searches rather than a web search.

Once you have references for your article, you can learn to place the references into the article by reading Help:Referencing for beginners and Wikipedia:Citing sources. If you are using the Visual Editor, it can automatically generate citations for you if you tap the quotation mark icon and feed it a link to a webpage. Please double check these, as they sometimes contain errors or lack important information, such as author and publication date. You can toggle between the Visual and Source editors by tapping the pencil / eyeball icon in the upper right corner of the editing area.

Things to avoid

Articles about yourself, your family or friends, your website, a band you're in, your teacher, etc.
If you or someone or something you are personally involved with is suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia, let someone else add that article. You will have to ignore all your own knowledge and all your own feelings in order to create an article that is appropriately sourced and neutral.
Advertising and promotion
Do not try to promote your product or business. Do not post external links to your commercial website. We do have articles about notable products and businesses, but if you are writing about a product or business, be sure you write from a neutral point of view, that you have no conflict of interest, and that you are able to find references in reliable sources that are independent from the subject you are writing about. For a business or similar organization, make sure it meets the specific notability guidelines for businesses and read the FAQ for non-profits and for-profit businesses. An article will be considered promotional if it describes its subject in wholly positive terms, or uses excessive puffery, even if it is not an overt advertisement. Keep in mind that if you or your business or a product or friend you care about has a Wikipedia article, you will not be able to control its contents. Negative material may appear there if it is appropriate to add from an encyclopedic perspective. An article about yourself is not necessarily a good thing. Please don't write an article about yourself. Focus your brand building on platforms where you control the messaging, and when you eventually qualify for an encyclopedia article, someone else will write one.
Attacks on a person or organization
Material that violates our biographies of living persons policy or is intended to threaten, defame, or harass its subject or another entity is not permitted. Unsourced negative information, especially in articles about living people, is quickly removed, and attack pages may be deleted immediately.
Personal essays or original research
Wikipedia surveys existing human knowledge; it is not a place to publish new work. Do not write articles that present your own original theories, opinions, or insights, even if you can support them by reference to accepted work. A common mistake is to present a novel synthesis of ideas in an article.
Non-notable topics
People frequently add pages to Wikipedia without considering whether the topic is really "notable" enough to go into an encyclopedia. Wikipedia includes articles on many topics, but not every topic. A particularly common special case of this is articles about people, companies, or groups of people that do not establish notability through significant coverage in reliable, independent sources. "Notability" is not the same as popularity, success, or fame. There are many successful entrepreneurs, wealthy businesses, well-known scholars, bestselling books, and popular media personalities with no encyclopedia article. Wikipedia is not a directory of everything in existence.
Things from the future
A film that has not been released yet, a sports season that has yet to begin, or a book that has not yet been published are all examples of topics that may be suitable for an encyclopedia article in the future, but not yet. Wikipedia cannot see the future.
A single sentence or website link
Articles need to have real content of their own. Short articles – called stubs – are welcome, but the article content should be at least several sentences. A good rule of thumb is if you cannot find ten separate facts about your topic in your sources, there might not be enough information for a standalone article.

And be careful about...

Copyright

As a general rule, do not copy-paste text from other websites. (There are a few limited exceptions, and a few words as part of a properly cited and clearly attributed quotation is OK.)

Wikipedia:Copy-paste

Copying things. Do not violate copyrights!
Never copy-paste text into a Wikipedia article unless it is a relatively short quotation, placed in quotation marks, and cited using an inline citation. Even material that you are sure is in the public domain must be attributed to the source, or the result, while not a copyright violation, is plagiarism. For more information, see Wikipedia:Copyrights (which includes instructions for verifying permission to copy previously published text) and our non-free content guidelines for text. Material that violates copyright will be deleted very quickly, and you will lose all your progress and have to start over. Superficial modification of material, such as minor rewording, is insufficient to avoid plagiarism and copyright violations. See Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing.
Good sources

1. have a reputation for reliability: they are reliable sources
2. are independent of the subject
3. are verifiable by other editors

Good research and citing your sources
Please research with the best sources available and cite them properly. Summarize what they say in your own words to avoid any possibility of plagiarism. Do not use AI programs like ChatGPT to compose text or to verify information. These are not reliable, and can make things up.
Add citations as you write
Adding a citation to each important statement as you write the article is much easier and quicker than the opposite, where you write the article and then try to find sources to verify the information you added. This is called writing articles backward.
Articles or statements about living persons
As with all topics, articles written about living persons must be referenced so that they can be verified. This requirement is enforced far more rigorously for any statements about a living (or recently deceased) person, and reviewers are supposed to remove immediately any unreferenced material before discussing. Add your references as you write the article to avoid this immediate removal.
Advocacy and controversial material
Please do not write articles that advocate one particular viewpoint on politics, religion, or anything else. Understand what we mean by a neutral point of view before tackling this sort of topic.
Assuming your subject is notable because of similar articles
Wikipedia's quality control has increased over time. There are old articles that were created when standards were lower that would no longer be considered acceptable today. The existence of these articles does not mean we should approve more articles that do not meet current standards. Instead, the old, unsuitable articles should be improved or removed. Also, there are many Wikipedias in other languages, and the English Wikipedia has the strictest standards for inclusion. If your subject has an article in a different language Wikipedia, that is not a guarantee of inclusion in the English Wikipedia. The only sure criterion for inclusion is significant coverage in reliable, independent sources. These sources do not need to be in English.
Articles that contain different definitions of the topic
Articles are primarily about what something is, not any term(s). If the article is just about a word or phrase and especially if there are very different ways that a term is used, it usually belongs in Wiktionary. Instead, try to write a good short first paragraph that defines one subject as well as some more material to go with it.
Local-interest articles
These are articles about places such as schools or streets that are of interest to a relatively small number of people such as alumni or people who live nearby. There is no consensus about such articles, but some will challenge them if they include nothing that shows how the place is special and different from tens of thousands of similar places. Photographs add interest. Try to give local-interest articles local colour. Third-party sources are the only way to prove that the subject you are writing about is notable.
Breaking news events
While Wikipedia accepts articles about notable recent events, articles about breaking news events with no enduring notability are not appropriate for our project.

Are you closely connected to the article topic?

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but there are special guidelines for editors who are paid or sponsored. These guidelines are intended to prevent biased articles and maintain the public's trust that content in Wikipedia is impartial and has been added in good faith.

The official guideline is that editors should be volunteers. That means Wikipedia discourages editing articles about individuals, companies, organizations, products/services, or political causes that pay you directly or indirectly. This includes in-house PR departments and marketing departments, other company employees, public relations firms and publicists, social-media consultants, and online reputation management consultants. However, Wikipedia recognizes the large volume of good-faith contributions by people who have some affiliation to the articles they work on.

Here are some ground rules. Note that this is not necessarily a full list, so use common sense when applying these rules. If you break these rules or game the system, your edits are likely to be reverted, and the article(s) and your other edits may get extra scrutiny from other Wikipedia editors. Your account may also be blocked.

Things to avoid Things to be careful about Great ways to contribute
  • Don't add promotional language
  • Don't remove negative or critical text from an article
  • Don't make a "group" account for multiple people to share
  • Don't neglect to disclose your affiliation on the article's talk page
  • Maintain a neutral, objective tone in any content you add or edit
  • Cite independent, reliable sources (e.g., a major media article) for any new statements you add – even if you are confident a statement is true (e.g., it is about your work); make a statement only if it has been already published in a reliable source.
  • Make minor edits/corrections to articles (e.g., typos, fixing links, adding references to reliable sources)
  • If you are biased, suggest new article text or edits on the article talk page (not on the main article page).
  • Disclose your relationship to the client/topic.
  • Edit using personal accounts.
  • Recruit help: Seek out a sponsor (volunteer editor) who has worked on similar articles, or submit ideas for article topics via Requested articles.

Note that this only covers conflicts of interest. Editors are encouraged to write on topics related to their expertise: e.g., a NASA engineer might write about Jupiter, or an English professor might write about Mark Twain. Also, Wikipedians-in-residence or other interns who are paid, hosted or otherwise sponsored by a scientific or cultural institution can upload content and write articles in partnership with curators, indirectly providing positive branding for their hosts.

Create your draft

It's always a good idea to draft your article before adding it to the main article space, and it's required for very new contributors. The article wizard will guide you through the steps of creating a draft.

Prior to drafting your article, it's a good idea to look at several existing Wikipedia articles on subjects similar to yours to see how such articles are formatted. The quality of our existing articles varies, so try to pick good ones. Many Wikipedia articles have been assessed for quality, which can be checked on the article's talk page. If an article has been assessed as B-class, or as a Good Article or Featured Article, it is safe to use as an organizational template for your article. You can also consult Wikipedia's Manual of Style to see how articles are supposed to be structured.

Gather your sources, summarizing what they say in your own words, adding citations as you go. Clearly establish your subject's notability. Disclose any applicable conflict of interest. Adhere to a neutral point of view and write in an encyclopedic tone.

Article wizard

When you feel that the article is ready, you can submit it for review by an experienced editor. If there isn't already a "Submit for review" button on the draft, you can add {{subst:submit}} to the top of the draft to submit it. A reviewer will then look at your draft and move it to the main article space or give you feedback on how to improve it. You can always edit the page, even while waiting for a review. This may take a long time. There may be additional delay if your sources are not written in English. Non-English sources are fine, but many of us cannot read them to verify the statements in your article. Please have patience. We are all volunteers.

Autoconfirmed users can publish their drafts to mainspace as Wikipedia articles via a pagemove, as explained in Wikipedia:Drafts#Publishing a draft.

And then what?

Now that you have created the page, there are still several things you can do:

Keep making improvements

Wikipedia is not finished. Generally, an article is nowhere near being completed the moment it is created. There is a long way to go. In fact, it may take you several edits just to get it started.

If you have so much interest in the article you just created, you may learn more about it in the future, and accordingly, have more to add. This may be later today, tomorrow, or several months from now. Any time – go ahead.

Improve formatting

To format your article correctly (and expand it, and possibly even make it featured!), see

Others can freely contribute to the article when it has been saved. The creator does not have special rights to control the later content. See Wikipedia:Ownership of articles.

Also, to avoid getting frustrated or offended about the way others modify or remove your contributions, see Wikipedia:Don't be ashamed.

Avoid orphans

An orphaned article is an article that has few or no other articles linking to it. The main problem with an orphan is that it'll be unknown to others, and it may get fewer readers if it is not de-orphaned. Make sure there are incoming links to the new article from other Wikipedia articles (click "What links here" in the toolbox) and that the new article is included in at least one appropriate category (see Help:Category). Otherwise, it will be difficult for readers to find the article.

Most new articles are orphans from the moment they are created, but you can work to change that. This will involve editing one or more other articles. Try searching Wikipedia for other pages referring to the subject of your article, then turn those references into links by adding double brackets to either side: "[[" and "]]". If another article has a word or phrase that has the same meaning as your new article that is not expressed using the exact same words as the title, you can link that word or phrase as follows: [[Title of your new article|word or phrase found in other article]]. In certain cases, you could create that word or phrase as a redirect to your new article.

One of the first things you want to do after creating a new article is to provide links to it so it will not be an orphan. You can do that right away, or, if you find that exhausting, you can wait a while, provided that you keep the task in mind.

See Wikipedia:Drawing attention to new pages to learn how to get others to see your new articles.

Add to a disambiguation page

If the term is ambiguous (meaning there are multiple pages using that or a similar title), see if there is a disambiguation page for articles bearing that title. If so, add a link to your article to that page.

Still need help?

Read a traditional encyclopedia

Read good or featured articles on Wikipedia to get the layout, style, tone, and other elements of encyclopedic content. Traditional paper encyclopedias like the World Book are also good influences. Encyclopedia Britannica is a good example of an online general purpose encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Iranica is a specialist online encyclopedia, but also a good example. It is suggested that if you plan to write articles for an encyclopedia, you have some background knowledge in formal writing as well as about the topic at hand. A composition class in your high school or college is recommended before you start writing encyclopedia articles.