User:Almafeta/Newbie's formatting guide

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The Newbie's formatting guide is the friendly guide where I, Almafeta, will show you by instruction and by example how to make a good article for WikiFur. It's not just a wikicode guide -- it's a style guide, too! First, any article should start with a good introductory paragraph -- like this one -- that lets someone who is busy get an idea of what the subject of the article is about. The first time you mention the topic, put it in bold by putting <b> immediately before and </b> immediately after the text; this makes it stand out a little more, and is generally-accepted WikiFormatting.


[edit] Tables of Contents

You'll see a table of contents immediately above this section. You don't need to add any special code to add them; they add themselves in after the first paragraph and above the first section heading whenever an article has more than three sections.

If you need to, however, you can force the table of contents to show up somehwere else, or not show up at all. By putting __TOC__ (two underscores before and after) somewhere in the page, the table of contents will show up where TOC specifies; by putting __NOTOC__ in anywhere in the page, you turn it off.

Generally, it is not a good idea to use these two codes in artciles, unless it's in your own user page; it can be disconcerting, and some people even see it as rude.

[edit] Sections

Sections are divisions of larger pages. Sections are good for a number of reasons; they divide an article up into manageable sections, they act as 'shortcuts' if there are a number of sections in an article, and if someone only needs to edit one section, you can click on the edit link for that section, giving editors a lot less hassle.

To start a section, begin with ==, put the title of the section after, and close with a second ==. MediaWiki will make it a level 2 header and insert the horizontal rule and the edit link automatically for you.

[edit] Subsections

If needed, you can also create a subsection. Subsections have smaller headers, sometimes without horizontal rules, and with their own independent edit links; they show up as headers of different levels in outline format in the table o contents.

The only subsections most articles will need are level two, level three, and level four. (The level one section is the article heading!) Level two headings have two equal signs before and after; level three heading signs have three equal signs before and after; and level four headings have four equal signs before and after.

If you only have one paragraph in the subsection, and one paragraph in the containing section, you don't want to create a subsection unless you have other subsections. If you only have one subsection in a larger section, you generally don't want to create a subsection, unless you are marking off a related by independent topic in that subject -- like I'm doing here.

[edit] Lists and indents

There are times in an article when putting everything in a paragraph isn't clear, but a table (see below) is too much. It's time for a list.

Basic bulleted lists are a number of lines, beginning with an asterisk (* -- it looks like a bullet), without any blank lines between them. A bulleted list will look like this:

  • Fox
  • Skunk
  • Wolf

In the above example, I had three lines beginning with an asterisk, with the text of that entry immediately after the asterisk.

To create a numbered list, use a pound sign (# -- the international symbol for numbers) instead of *. MediaWiki will do the numbering for you. For example:

  1. Fox
  2. Skunk
  3. Wolf

An important thing to note with numbered lists is that you can't put blank lines after enteries, something that you can sometimes get away with with bulleted lists. If you insert a blank line in between numbered lines, MediaWiki will read it as three seperate lists, and you'll get something that looks like this:

  1. Fox
  1. Skunk
  1. Wolf

Finally, you might want to indent lines. Just like bulleted lists and numbered lists, you insert something (in this case, a colon) as the first character of a line and put it immediately after. This is most often used in articles with quotes:

"This is where a good furry-relevant quote will go as soon as I find one." - Almafeta

If you need to, you can indent lines multiple times; this is usually used for minor clarifications: This is done by repeating the symbol twice. For example, by starting lines with **, I can get a list like this:

  • Fox
    • Arctic fox
    • Fennec
    • Gray fox
    • Red fox
  • Skunk
    • Spotted skunk
    • Striped skunk
  • Wolf
    • Dire wolf
    • Timber wolf

It's even possible to mix and match symbols. For example, by starting lines with *#, I can number the subentries in the above list:

  • Fox
    1. Arctic fox
    2. Fennec
    3. Gray fox
    4. Red fox
  • Skunk
    1. Spotted skunk
    2. Striped skunk
  • Wolf
    1. Dire wolf
    2. Timber wolf

And if you do the reverse (using # with #* for sub-entries), the system keeps the numbering of entries in order, as long as you keep the list together without a blank line in there:

  1. Fox
    • Arctic fox
    • Fennec
    • Gray fox
    • Red fox
  2. Skunk
    • Spotted skunk
    • Striped skunk
  3. Wolf
    • Dire wolf
    • Timber wolf

[edit] Formatting text

Now that you have some order to your page, you'll want to make your text look nice.

Formatting text in wikis is generally done with HTML code. Wikicode verions of some of these commands exist, but not for all, and wikicode both takes longer to render (the server must translate the wikicode to HTML before passing it onto the receiver) and is harder to edit (you can't tell where wikicode formats begin and end, except by scanning through the entire article and counting to see if that particular set is even or odd).

Each HTML code contains a semantic link to its significance:

  • <b> and </b> make text bold.
  • <i> and </i> make text italicized.
  • <s> and </s> make text struck through. (This is generally only used when copying something verbatim.)
  • <tt> and </tt> make text seem typewritten. (Almost exclusively used on user pages; be warned that some browsers assume that <tt> turns word wrapping off.)
  • <u> and </u> make text underlined. (This is rarely used, except in certain citation styles, or for empasis when bold is inappropriate and italics.)

In addition, some articles might want to make use of text color. However, unless REALLY relevant, this is frowned upon as it hurts the eyes. To do this, open with <font color=X>, and close with </font>. For X, you can either use a plain name (such as red, green, or blue) or a hexcode for a specific color (by putting the hex code in quotes for X: "#858571").

Note that each HTML formatting must be 'opened' before the formatted text, and 'closed' after. While this is handy for editors later on, because it makes clear where certain formatting begins and where certain formatting ends, it can also be problematic if you, say, forget to close a tag you open. (In fact, I did that very thing thrice while creating this page...) Make use of that "show preview" button!

Finally, there is one special code: <nowiki> Use this whenever you need to use something

[edit] HTML and MediaWiki

As an aside to HTML formatting: in general, most HTML works on Mediawiki, except for self-opening links and the <img> tag (this is to prevent the use of WikiFur as a spam site.)

However, if you use HTML, someone else may come along and replace it with wikicode; this is because some browsers (such as Firefox) can't handle the full HTML ruleset. Don't take offense; just go with it.

[edit] Links

You will often have to link to other pages -- that's part of the point of putting an encyclopedic site online, as opposed to on paper. There are two types of links, each of which are formed differently and have different style guides: Internal links, and external links.

[edit] Internal links

Internal links begin with [[ and end with ]]. For example: Fursuit is formed with [[Fursuit]]. If you put letters immediately after the link, they are considered part of the link text, but not part of the article text; for example, [[Fursuit]]ers will show up as Fursuiters. Finally, if you insert a pipe in the link, the text before the pipe will be the linked article, and the text after the pipe will be the link text: for example, [[Fursuit|animal costumes]] will look like [[Fursuit|animal costumes]].

Generally, you want internal links to be in line with text, whenver you can; if you cannot think of a clean-reading way to incorporate them into the text, however, you should put it in a level-two "See also" heading above your external links section.

You can also link to categories; just insert a : before the name of the category page. For example, [[:Category:Skunk characters]] will take you to Category:Skunk characters.

You only need to link to a particular page once; if you are talking about chakats in a certain comic book, you don't need to link to the word chakat every time the word chakat shows up just because a link to chakat is possible -- that's just silly.

[edit] External links

External links work differently. External links begin with [ and end with ]; the first character after the opening bracket is considered the start of the URL, the first space character is considered to be the seperator, and the rest of the text in brackets is the link text. If the external URL you are trying to link to has a space in it (it's bad form but it does occasionally happen), you will need to use the HTML code for links: <a href="Full URL goes here, quotes optional">link text</a>

External links generally should go in a level two "External links" section at the very end of the article. (Links to Wikipedia are considered external links; their editorial standards are similar but different, and presenting them as internal links is misleading.)

[edit] Images

Pictures: They illustrate things!

Images are useful. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words; a good picture can save a lot of time, and make a subject more memorable. You can see the WikiFur logo to the right, as an example of an image being properly used to open a section.

The general format for an image is [[Image:filename|numberpx|thumb|right|description]]. The parts of this code are:

  • Image:filename: This is where the image is located. If you don't know where it is, you can browse Category:Images for a while until you find it.
  • |numberpx: Optional. This parameter lets you specify the width of the image, in pixels.
  • |thumb: Technically optional, but required if you're using a description, so de facto required.. This borders the image in a frame, with an image signifying that it is a MediaWiki-generated 'thumbnail' of a larger image.
  • |right: Almost mandatory, this. There are only a few circumstances where you will put an image on the left (Star Fox) is an excellent example of when an image on the left is a good idea.
  • |desc: Any text that is not understood as a command is assumed to be the description for the image. Without the |thumb parameter, however, there is no space for the text to go, and any description will be lost. You can include internal or external links in the description of the image.

As an example of all this code, to generage the image to the right, the following code was used: [[Image:Wikifurmel-s-1.png|thumb|right|100px|[[WikiFur]]!]]

You should not put the image code on the same line that has text; although the image will show up correctly, that will place an unusual first-line indent on the article. Instead, put the image on the line immediately above the paragraph you want it to go to the right of.

Whenever possible, you want an image to be in the opening paragraph of an article; it helps illustrate it best. However, in some articles with extremely long tables of contents (such as Babyfur), the image goes immediately before the table of contents to help reduce the impact of 'white space.'

When placing images in an article, the 'show preview' button is invaluable. Change the font size around, resize the window, et multiple cetera -- try to find ways to make your page's image formatting mess up.

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