Suppose you want to create a good, or even
Once you have decided on an
Additional research is usually necessary to write a great article. A great article has to be verifiable and
There are several ways to find and retrieve articles online, without having to leave home. Google Scholar is an excellent source for finding sometimes-free online peer-reviewed articles; note that the free articles' entries are quickly identifiable for having a "View as HTML" link in the result page. For a host of free, searchable newspapers, see
Many libraries have agreements with database providers under which library users with current library cards can connect free to the databases from their home computers—that is, the users do not need to be physically present in the library. Check with your local public or academic library to find out to which databases it subscribes, and whether they have a mechanism in place for remote access. Some high-end databases (like InfoTrac and
Examples of comprehensive general interest databases that may be available through your local library are:
Academic libraries often subscribe to special interest databases with in-depth coverage, of which there are far too many to list here.
If you are doing in-depth research on a complex or controversial subject, you should obtain relevant books in addition to articles. If the subject is of historical interest, you may have to visit a library to obtain articles that were published before 1980, since few online databases contain such old articles.
To find books or periodicals stored as bound volumes, the best place to start is with the catalog of your local public library. If you have searched the catalogs of several local libraries without success, try searching library "union" catalogs. With one search in a union catalog, it is possible to determine which books are available on a subject in an entire county, state, province, or country. The largest union catalog is OCLC
Only by citing the best sources in a field can a Wikipedia article be taken seriously by its critics. For more on this issue, see
Start your article with a concise lead section or introduction defining the topic and mentioning the most important points. The reader should be able to get a good overview by only reading the lead, which should be between one and four paragraphs long, depending on the length of the article. See
Remember that, although you will be familiar with the subject you are writing about, readers of Wikipedia may not be, so it is important to establish the context of your article's subject early on. For instance, if you are writing an article about a sports event you should mention the sport and, if relevant, any national details: rather than
The Red Cup was a domestic league competition that ran between 1994 and 1996
it would be more helpful to write
The Red Cup was a domestic rugby league competition in New Caledonia that ran between 1994 and 1996
Again, rather than
Bobby the Salmon is a goalkeeper who joined the club in 2006
Bobby the Salmon is a
It is often a good idea to separate the major sections of your articles with section headlines. For many topics, a history section is very appropriate, outlining how thinking about the concept evolved over time.
If different people have different opinions about your topic, characterize that debate from the
Try to get your spelling right. Wikipedia does not yet contain a spell checker, but you can write and spell-check your article first in a word processor or text editor (which is a lot more comfortable than the Wikipedia text-box anyway) and then paste it into said text-box. Another option is an extension (such as ieSpell for Internet Explorer or SpellBound for Mozilla and old versions of Firefox – Firefox 2 and up feature built-in spell checking) that can be installed on your web browser and used as a spell checker in text boxes.
Keep the article in an encyclopedic style: add
Try to avoid using
At the end, you should list the references you used and the best available external links about the topic. These references are what will allow Wikipedia to be the most trusted, reliable resource it can be.
Finish the article with a good relevant image or graphic. See
One way to get a good article is to bounce it back and forth between several
It may also be useful to look up your subject in one of the foreign-language Wikipedias, such as the German or French editions. While the English-language Wikipedia is the biggest one in terms of the total number of articles it contains, you may find that other Wikipedias sometimes contain more in-depth articles, especially if the subject is of local importance. Even if your foreign language skills are not particularly developed, you may still glean important information from those articles, like birth dates, statistics, bibliographies, or the names of persons that are linked on the page. If you have incorporated the additional information, please also make the appropriate
Do not neglect the External links and References sections. The most useful and accurate material that you have found with your Internet research might make good links for a reader, too. In addition, sometimes a standard work is mentioned repeatedly in connection with your topic. Mention it, with its author and publication date. Even better, obtain a copy and use it to check the material in the article.
In addition, remember to create links to your article from related articles and subjects. This includes any
You are encouraged to ask for feedback about the quality of an article at any time. Ask your fellow editors for their opinions, list outstanding issues, and areas to improve on article talk pages, get other editors involved. Networking to identify like-minded Wikipedians is one of the most important (and enjoyable) aspects of the project. It is best to have a reasonably well-developed article before you do this so that those giving feedback have something substantial to analyze.