Help:How to edit a page

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To start editing, click the Edit tab at the top right of a Wiktionary entry (but, obviously, not until you’ve finished reading this).

The software that powers Wiktionary is designed to make editing as easy as possible, but there are going to be a few strange things. That’s because you can create far more than only plain text.


The single quote (or apostrophe) character ' has the following special uses for formatting text:

  • Italic text is generated by typing two single quotes before and after the characters you want italicised, like this: ''Italic text''.
  • Bold text is generated by typing three single quotes before and after the characters you want bolded: '''Bold text'''.
  • You can of course combine the two to get bold italic text by using five single quotes: '''''bold italic text'''''.
    Or, as is used in our example sentences, you can have an italic sentence with bold italic words in it:
    ... an ''italic sentence with '''bold italic words''' in it''.
  • A single quote by itself has no special effect, so you can make words containing apostrophes italicised or bold too:
    Typing my ''dog's'' ball gives you my dog's ball.
    Typing my '''dog's''' ball gives you my dog's ball.
    For possessives ending with an apostrophe:
    For my grandparents' house, type my ''grandparents''' house.
    For my grandparents' house, type my '''grandparents'''' house.
    For my grandparents' house, type my '''''grandparents'''''' house.
  • The double quote " character has no special effect and can be used "normally" around or within italics and/or bold text:
    He said, "now you too can type some "bold" words or some "italic" words."
    He said, "now ''you'' too '''''can''''' type '''some "bold" words''' or ''some "italic" words''."
  • We don’t use underlining because it makes text look like links.

Basic lines

Looking at a dictionary entry, you can see that a lot of lines are different. For example, definitions are numbered, translations have a bullet point, example sentences are indented ...

  • Numbered lines are made by # Starting the line with a # sign
    1. Starting the line with a # sign
    2. They should be used only for definitions
  • Bullet pointed lines are created for lines * Starting with a * sign
    • Starting with a * sign
    • They are used for any kind of list, in particular in translations.
  • Indented lines are those : Starting with a : sign
    Starting with a : sign
    These are used for example sentences in conjunction with # in the definitions section, and in discussions
  • It is possible to combine these, to create lists within lists – as I have done here, by putting two characters together.
    1. #An example definition
      #:With an example sentence.

Linking is one of the main benefits of a wiki like this. Links enable one-click navigation among related pages.

Although we haven’t used many on this page, you will often see blue text around, or occasionally red text. These are both links: the blue indicates that an entry exists (though not necessarily in the right language), the red that the entry does not exist yet and may need creating.

Words in lists always get linked, otherwise there is little point in having the list. Deciding when to use links in prose requires a bit of judgment; more detailed guidance may be found at Wiktionary:Links.

  1. The use of an unusual word in a definition should be linked.
  2. As should any technical terms that the context requires.

Here are some basics of how to make links. Although basic links are simple, linking effectively can be much neater, so a quick whiz through how to link:

  • A general link is created by typing double square brackets around the term, [[thusly]], which is rendered thusly.
    Links in Wiktionary are case sensitive so [[Thusly]] doesn’t work: Thusly.
  • Links should point to the main form of a word, and not its plurals or past tenses. In many cases this is easy:
    To get wanted to link to “want” you type [[want]]ed
  • In cases where a term won’t fit nicely like that, you have to tell it exactly what “target” page you want by using the “pipe” symbol | between the target and the term, like this: [[target page|text to link from]]
    For example, if the text word you want to link from is the plural “fora”, the target entry is the singular “forum”, so you type [[forum|fora]], and it displays fora, but clicking it will take you to “forum”.
    For idioms like “help yourself” Wiktionary uses the neutral pronoun “one” so [[help oneself|help yourself]].
  • A link can be made to a section of a page using the hash symbol #. This can be effective to link to specific sections in large pages:
    To link to the “Writing definitions” section in “Help:FAQ”, type [[Help:FAQ#Writing definitions]], giving Help:FAQ#Writing definitions.
    To link to a particular etymology’s part of speech (POS) section of an entry, like the 2nd etymology noun for the word “gloss”, put a number after the POS, like this: [[gloss#Noun 2]], which gives you gloss#Noun 2. (Be aware though that even if the entry for the “target” term is well-settled, the number and/or order of etymologies, POS and definitions may change, and your link may end up pointing to a different one! See Help talk:How to edit a page § Linking to a particular definition.)
  • Always check before saving the page that links you create or edit take you where you intend them to. After clicking the “Show preview” button, use the link to open a new browser tab or new window (so you don’t lose your editing session!) and check the resulting page is what you (and other users) would want.


As you will see, on every entry there are numerous headings of different sizes, these are generated by typing ==Heading==. The more equals signs are included, the smaller the heading will be. Wiktionary has very strict guidelines about the use of headings, which I would advise you to read through, when you have the time. But, as an introduction


which yields:


Special characters

You might also want to add characters you can’t type because they aren’t on your keyboard. You will almost certainly find any character you need in the box below the “Save page” button in editing mode. Just select the set of characters you need and have your pick. For a complete list of Unicode characters, look here:


One often encounters cryptic abbreviations enclosed by double curly brackets in the code. These are templates and automatically substitute text into the code. So if you need the same piece of code on many pages, creating a template might be a good idea. The string {{xyz}} will cause the page to be displayed as if the content of the page [[Template:xyz]] had been in its place. An example is Template:rfc which indicates that a page has been marked for clean-up on Wiktionary:Requests for cleanup. See Wiktionary:Index to templates.


If you are involved in a discussion, be it on a talk page or on a page such as Wiktionary:Requests for deletion, it is considered good manners to sign your (user) name at the end of your post. Signing is most easily done by typing four tildes (~~~~), which will automatically be converted into your username (linked to your user page) and a UTC time stamp.

But of course you never sign the actual dictionary entries as they are considered the collaborative work of many editors like you.

See also