How to Write a Wikipedia Article

What you need to know about writing for Wikipedia

Computer screen showing a Wikipedia page

Corbis / Getty Images

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the largest and most popular websites in the world, offering accurate and up-to-date information on almost any topic imaginable. Wikipedia articles often rank on the first page of Google for a diverse variety of search queries.

The information on Wikipedia is all crowdsourced, meaning anyone can contribute by editing, updating, or writing articles. If you're interested in writing an article for Wikipedia, here's how to get started and what you need to know.

Print encyclopedias could take a year or longer to generate updated entries and new editions. Wikipedia deals with information rapidly, with new and updated entries submitted almost in real-time.

How to Create a Wikipedia Article

Creating and submitting a Wikipedia article is a multi-step process, not something you can just dive into. Here's what's involved.

Create a Wikipedia Account

The first step is to create a free Wikipedia account.

  1. Go to Wikipedia.org, and select your language.

    Wikipedia language selection page
  2. Select Create Account from the top right corner.

    Wikipedia home page
  3. Fill in the requested information, including a username, password, and email address, and then select Create Your Account.

    creating a Wikipedia account.
  4. Your account has been created and you can now get started participating in the Wikipedia community.

Start With Editing Articles

When you first create a Wikipedia account, you start with only the ability to make edits to existing articles. Begin by making small edits to articles on subjects you're very familiar with, and then build up to more extensive updates.

Here's an example of how to edit an article.

If you're not sure where to find an article to edit, select Community Portal under Help on the left-hand menu. This brings up a page with articles that need spelling and grammar fixes and other minor editing.

  1. Go to the page of an article you want to edit.

    Wikipedia page in need of editing.

    Many articles will indicate at the top that the article has issues that need fixing.

  2. Select the Edit button from the top menu. You can now make edits on the screen.

  3. When you're done with your edits, select Publish Changes on the top right of the page.

  4. In the box that pops up, summarize what you've changed. If edits were minor, check the This is a minor edit box.

    Save Changes to a Wikipedia article edit
  5. Select Publish Changes. Your edit has been published.

Writing and Submitting an Article

After a few days of editing articles, you'll gain the power to create articles. To have any shot at having your article accepted, closely follow Wikipedia's guidelines on contributing and writing your first article. It may be a free online encyclopedia, but Wikipedia's senior editors are focused on quality and won't hesitate to reject an article that doesn't meet their standards.

Here's an overview of the general process of writing and submitting an article to Wikipedia.

Go through the Wikipedia tutorial before writing and submitting an article.

  1. Search Wikipedia for the topic on which you want to write your article. It's important to make sure there's not already an article on the subject.

    If the article already exists, feel free to make any constructive edits to improve it.

  2. Make sure your subject meets Wikipedia's standards of being notable. A well-written article on a subject that isn't deemed notable will be rejected.

    To determine if your subject matter is notable, try to find at least three independent sources that discuss the topic in depth. For advice about your subject's notability, ask questions at the Wikipedia Teahouse.

  3. If you're ready to start writing, go to Wikipedia's Article Wizard and select Next.

    Wikipedia's Article Wizard
  4. Read through the information on referencing and notability, and then select Next.

    Referencing and Notability information on Wikipedia's Article Wizard
  5. Read through the information on common mistakes writers make. Select I'm not connected to the subject to continue.

    Wikipedia Common Mistakes page in its Article Wizard

    Wikipedia doesn't want writers promoting their own interests or articles that are paid endorsements for someone's product, service, or brand. It's very important that you don't have a personal connection to the subject you want to write about.

  6. You're now able to create a draft. Enter your draft name and select Create a New Article Draft.

    Draft creation page in Wikipedia's Article Wizard
  7. The Editor Page for your draft opens and you can begin your draft article.

    Draft page for creating new article in Wikipedia
  8. Enter your article's content in the blank area on the top. Use the Wikipedia Cheatsheet to properly format your article.

  9. List your references in the bulleted area provided or cite them using inline citations

    If you need help at any point, visit Wikipedia's live chat.

  10. When you're finished writing your article, select Publish page.

  11. Your draft is now saved in a public drafting area. You can continue to work on it. Other editors can work on it, as well.

  12. When your draft is polished and you feel it's ready to become a Wikipedia article, request a review by selecting Edit and adding {{subst:submit}} to the beginning of your draft.

  13. Check back to see if your article has been accepted.

Understand that others can freely add to and change the article. You don't control the content.

If Your Article Is Rejected

If your article is rejected, don't despair. It's quite common for an article to be rejected by Wikipedia at first. The volunteer editors will give plenty of feedback on what needs to happen to get the article improved and where to go for help. You'll have the option to keep editing and resubmit the article at a later date.

rejected Wikipedia article

Wikipedia Wants You to Succeed

Writing an article for Wikipedia is a process, and there are tons of help features provided to guide and teach you along with way. Resources include information on writing better articles, uploading images, live chat, and more Wikipedia help.

The volunteer editors want you to succeed and become a valued contributor, so don't take the feedback personally. Keep trying. When your article is accepted you'll know it's a high-quality, valued resource.