Wikipedia:School and university projects/Instructions for students

Hello, students!

This page is a quick guide to working on Wikipedia for people here as part of school and university projects.

Hopefully, if you're here with an organized project, you'll know what you're intended to do - whether that be creating a new article on a personal topic, or editing a specific one. However, Wikipedia is an open project - feel free to try other things, as well.

Getting started

A lot of helpful information is at the Editing FAQ and Contributing FAQ. If you want to just dive in, however - click the "edit" tab at the top of the page you want to edit, change the text in the text-box that appears, fill in the "edit summary" section to explain what you've done, and press save - that's it! We recommend that if you want to try this out without changing anything "public", you use the Sandbox.

We encourage you to register a username; this makes it easier to communicate with you, and (surprisingly) can even protect your privacy. If you want to create articles, please remember that only registered users can create articles.

Writing new articles

The hardest part of creating a new article is finding an interesting topic; so many obvious things have been written about already. We have some resources that may be useful to you here:

  • Wikipedia:Requested articles contains a list of individual articles that people have requested, broken down by category; look through until you find something interesting.
  • Wikipedia:Requested article translations contains a list of articles that the English wikipedia may not have, but that other languages do - if you speak a foreign language, you might want to consider writing one of these. (Alternately, of course, you could write an article in that language in the first place - have a look at
  • Wikipedia:Most wanted articles lists the articles which have the most "missing links" - ie, articles which don't exist, but which many other pages link to. Writing one of these would certainly be helpful to the project.
  • Wikipedia:WikiProject Missing encyclopedic articles is an attempt to find topics which are covered in other encyclopedias, but not in Wikipedia; again, these are usually highly desirable articles. Please do not copy text directly from other encyclopedias - this is forbidden by copyright laws.

Alternately, there are many very short articles in Wikipedia that are considered merely "stubs" of full articles and do not yet have substantial content. If a stub article exists for a topic you want to write about, check with your project coordinator to see whether expanding the stub into a full article is an acceptable alternative to starting a new article from scratch. See Wikipedia:Stub for more information about stubs in general, Wikipedia:Most wanted stubs for a list of stub articles most likely to be in need of expansion, or Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types for links to complete lists of existing stub articles sorted by topic.

If none of these interest you, or if you already have something to write about, then you'll want to check your desired topic doesn't already exist in Wikipedia. One way to do this is by searching Wikipedia; another is by using one of the third-party search tools.

When you've checked the article doesn't exist already - try using different ways of phrasing the name, and perhaps have a look at our naming conventions - you need to check if it's "notable". This is a very hard thing to define, but basically - is the topic something you would expect to see in an encyclopedia? Is it something that someone a thousand miles away might be interested to read five years from now?

Articles which aren't felt to be of use to the project as a whole may be deleted, often in a matter of hours, so it's in your own interest to make sure the topic is worthwhile.

  • Wikipedia is not... is a page intended to explain some of the types of entries that aren't welcomed; it may be worth glancing over it.

It's often a good idea to write about something you're studying - having to synthesise and rewrite information like this is an exceptionally good form of revision, helping both you and us. Especially in the arts, we have a lot of missing articles. If you study history, we have huge numbers of historical figures needing articles; if you study law, we can always use more articles on individual pieces of legislation or on major court cases. However, be wary of being too detailed - if an article makes no sense to someone who hasn't studied the subject, it may be thought to be nonsense and deleted.

Any questions?

If you have any questions, we have extensive help pages, and people will try to answer any editing questions left at the Help desk.

There are also several users who'd be willing to help if you get stuck with something; leave a message on their talk pages, which are edited just like a normal page, linked below -

User:Dpbsmith (talk page)
User:Shimgray (talk page)
User:Smoddy (talk page)
User:TheoClarke (talk page)
User:Piotrus (talk page)
User:Redlock (talk page)
User:Greeves (talk page)
User:Arknascar44 (talk page)
User:Phoebe (talk page)
User:AstroHurricane001 (talk page)
bobrayner (talk page)

See also