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VisualEditor gives you the ability to edit without needing to learn simple wikitext markup, as is required by the default wikitext editor (also known as Source Editor). Unlike that editing tool, VisualEditor displays the text being edited almost as if it were already published. This guide gives illustrated, step-by-step instructions on the editor's features.
Be aware that VisualEditor is still in development and thus has known limitations and bugs, and this guide may occasionally lag behind the release of new updates. For larger pages, VisualEditor can be slower than using wikitext with Source Editor and is not available for discussion pages. While VisualEditor remains in development, you should review your changes to ensure that the edits are those you intended.
We welcome your problem sightings, comments and suggestions on the Feedback page. (Please note: In late 2017 all Save changes and Save page buttons were renamed Publish changes or Publish page. Every edit – even to drafts – is now saved in this way, and this should not be confused with putting drafts into the main part of Wikipedia. That is a separate process.)
VisualEditor is available on the following types of pages (namespaces):
- Article ("mainspace")
- File (but not with files, or other pages, at Wikimedia Commons)
- Wikipedia namespace
VisualEditor is not available for use on discussion (talk) pages. Source editor must be used there instead.
First step: enabling VE
If you are registered on Wikipedia, you can opt to make VisualEditor available for editing, by changing your preferences. You'll need a VisualEditor-supported browser; most are. In your preferences you need to go to the "Editing" tab and in the "Editor" section find the "Editing mode". Here you can choose to have both the visual and the source editor displayed or only the one you prefer.
If you are not registered, you can still use VisualEditor by adding
?veaction=edit to the end of a Wikipedia page URL. (Registered editors who have not enabled VisualEditor in their preferences – that is, the box for "Temporarily disable the visual editor while it is in beta" option is checked – can do the same.)
|To edit a page using VisualEditor, click on the "Edit" tab at the top of the page.
It can take a few seconds for the page to open for editing, and longer if the page is very large.
Clicking on the "Edit source" tab will open the classic wikitext source editor.
|You can also open VisualEditor by clicking on the "edit" link on each section. Protected pages do not have this link.|
Getting started: the VisualEditor toolbar
|The VisualEditor toolbar appears at the top of the screen when you begin editing. It includes some familiar icons:|
|Undo and Redo the changes you have made.|
|Headings pull-down menu: allows you to change how the paragraph is formatted. To change the style of a paragraph, put your cursor in the paragraph and select an item in this menu (you don't have to highlight any text). Section titles are formatted "Heading", and subsections are "Sub-heading 1", "Sub-heading 2", and so on. The normal format for text is "Paragraph".|
Formatting: Clicking the "A" opens a menu.
If you have not selected any text, then when you click the "A" to open the menu, and then select an item, that formatting will apply to the text that you start typing, from wherever your cursor is located.
|Linking tool: The chain icon is the linking tool. Clicking on it (usually after selecting some text) opens the link dialog.|
|Cite button: The "Cite" button is used to add inline citations (also called "footnotes" or "references"). The Automatic tab service tries to fill out citation templates automatically. Templates can also be manual added from the Manual tab.
Instructions for configuring the local citation templates in the Manual tab are available at VisualEditor/Citation tool. Instructions for configuring the citation templates used by Automatic tab are available at Citoid/Enabling Citoid on your wiki.
|Lists and indentation: The first two items allow you to format text as either a "Bullet list" or a "Numbered list". The last two items allow you to decrease or increase the indentation level of list items.|
|Insert: The "Insert" menu may be different on some projects. Below is a list of all options that may appear.
Note: To remove any inserted image or template, simply select the item and press 'Delete' on your keyboard. To remove a Table, select the item and click the red 'delete' button that appears on screen.
|Special character insertion: The "Special character" (Ω) icon on the "Insert" menu, when clicked, displays a dialog showing many special characters. By clicking on a specific character, you place it into the text. These special characters include some standard symbols, accents, and mathematical symbols. (This list may be customized locally. See VisualEditor/Special characters for instructions.)|
|The Switch editor button (slanted pencil icon) is to the left of the Publish changes button. It lets you switch from VisualEditor to the classic 'Source Editor' and vice versa without losing the work you've done.
The Page options menu (hamburger icon) is further left of the Publish changes button. On this menu there are options to adjust page settings, such as whether the page is a redirect, or how it is indexed; to add, edit, or delete categories; and to see, using the "Language" item, the list of articles on the same subject that are in other languages. It also includes a Find/Replace tool that supports plain text searches as well as regular expression searches with capture groups that can be recalled using backreferences such as $1, $2, etc.
|When you're done editing, click the blue Publish changes button in the toolbar. If you have not made any changes, the button will be disabled (grayed out). To cancel all your editing changes, just close your browser window or press Esc on your keyboard.|
|Pressing the blue "Publish changes" button opens a dialog. You can then enter a brief summary of your actions, mark your edit as minor, or add the page to your Watchlist. The box for the summary is the equivalent of the Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes) field in the wikitext editor.
You can also review your changes using the "Review your changes" button to be sure they will work as intended before saving your changes. This is similar to the "Show changes" button in the Source editor.
The "Resume editing" button returns you to the page you were editing. You can save and publish all of your changes later.
|Links can be added through the "Link" icon (links in a chain) in the toolbar, or by using the shortcut Ctrl+K on PC (or ⌘ Command+K on a Mac).
If you select (highlight) text and then press the "Link" button, that text will be used in creating the link. For a link that involves just one word, you can either select that word or just put the cursor anywhere within it.
|When you use either the button or the shortcut, a dialog will open in which you may type the link.
VisualEditor will try to help with internal links by looking for likely matches.
|Once you have entered or selected the link, you complete the linking process by pressing ↵ Enter or by pressing the "Done" button. Your link will immediately appear on the VisualEditor page but, as with other changes to the page, it will not be saved until you 'Publish' the entire page.|
|To link to a web page on another website, the process is similar: Choose the "External site" tab, and enter a URL in the box.|
|External links without labels look like this: . You can add these by placing your cursor to the right of the text to which the link is related. Open the link tool by clicking on the button or pressing the shortcut keys. Type the URL in the box, and click the "Done" button to insert the link.|
|To change or remove an existing link, click within the text for that link. A dialog will appear, for editing. (You can also get to the dialog with the Ctrl+K keyboard shortcut.)
Click "Edit" to change where the link goes. You can also remove the link altogether by pressing the red chain icon with a line through it. You can open the link's target in another window by clicking on the displayed target. (You might want do this to check if an external link is valid.)
Editing an existing reference
|To edit an existing reference, click on it where it appears in the text (usually as a bracketed number). You will see either a "Reference" icon (bookmark) or an icon (and name) for the template that was used to create this reference. Clicking on this icon will open a dialog where you can edit the reference.|
|If what appears is the "Reference" icon, clicking on it opens the Reference dialog, where you can edit the reference's contents.
Many wikis use templates to format references automatically. If a template is used in your reference, then all the text in the template will be highlighted when you click on the reference information.
If a template was used and you've clicked on information in that template, then the Template icon (puzzle piece) will appear. Click on that to edit the content of the template, in the template mini-editor dialog.
|If, instead of the "Reference" icon (bookmark), what appears when you click on a reference is an icon for a standard template for citations, clicking on that icon will take you directly to the template mini-editor dialog.|
|If you open a reference and it only contains a link, you may see any option to "Convert" the reference. This will attempt to use the Automatic feature to replace the simple reference with a fully formatted reference.|
|Inside the template mini-editor, you can add or remove types of information or change current content. Only fields (template parameters) that are used (have content) should be shown, initially. To add fields, click on "⧼visualeditor-dialog-transclusion-add-param⧽", which is at the very bottom of the mini-editor.|
|Click on "Apply changes" when you're done.|
Re-using an existing reference
|If the page already contains a citation that applies to the text you want to source, then you can choose to re-use the existing citation.
To re-use an existing reference, place your cursor in the body of the text where you want to add a new reference (number) for that citation. Click on the "Cite" button, and then click on the "Re-use" tab from the "Add a citation" dialog.
You can also just copy-and-paste the reference number.
In the "Re-use" dialog, look at the list for the reference you want to reuse, and select it. If there are many references, you can use the search box (labeled "Search within current citations") to list only those references that include certain text.
Adding a new reference
|To add a citation using the "Cite" button, place your cursor where you want to add it in the text. Then on the "Add a citation" dialog, select the appropriate tab.|
Using Automatic tab
|The Citoid service takes a URL , DOI , ISBNs, PMIDs, QID, and full text search, and returns a pre-filled, pre-formatted bibliographic citation. After creating it, you will be able to change or add information to the citation, in the same way that you edit any other pre-existing citation in VisualEditor. Later, editors will be able to improve precision and reduce the need for manual corrections by contributing to the Citoid service's definitions for each website.|
|With Citoid in VisualEditor, you click the 'book with bookmark' icon (next to the 'Links' icon) in the main toolbar, paste in the URL or DOI of a reliable source, and click 'Lookup'.|
|Citoid looks up the source and returns available citation details as result. Click the green "Insert" button to accept its results and add them to the article.
After inserting the citation, you can change it. Select the reference, and click the "Edit" button in the context menu to make changes.
Using standard cite templates
|The Manual tab offers quick access to the most-used citation templates. Extra citation templates can be added by following the directions at VisualEditor/Citation tool.|
|Clicking on a template icon such as "Cite book" will take you into the template mini-editor for that template. Important information fields may be marked with an asterisk. While the most common fields will be shown, not all of them are required.|
|To add additional parameters, scroll down in the template mini-editor and click on the "⧼visualeditor-dialog-transclusion-add-param⧽" option.
Click on "Insert" when you're done.
Using the "Basic" citation
|Shown here is what you will see if you select the "Reference" item. In the Reference editor, you can add your citation, including formatting.
You can make the reference belong to a given group, although this is almost always left blank. (This option is used to display groups of references with the "References list" tool; if you need more information, see WP:REFGROUP.)
|In the Reference dialog, if you want to include a template in your new reference, click the Template icon (puzzle piece) in the "Insert" toolbar menu within the Reference editor.|
|Then, look for the template you want to use, add it and edit it as you would any other template. (See the Editing templates section, below, if you need more information about templates.)
After you're done editing your new template, click on "Apply changes" to return to the Reference editor, and "Apply changes" again to return to the page you're editing.
|If there isn't already a list of references on the page (for example, if you're adding the first reference for the page), you need to specify where the list of references, and their text, will be displayed to the reader.
Place the cursor where you want to display references (usually at the bottom of the page), open the "Insert" menu and click the "References list" icon (three books).
|If you are using different groups of references (which is unusual), you can click "Edit" and specify a group, to display only those references that belong to that group.|
Editing images and other media files
|To add a new image (or another type of media file) to the page, click the "Images and media" icon (a picture of mountains) in the "Insert" menu. The image will be added wherever your cursor is.|
|Clicking the "Images and media" icon opens a dialog that automatically searches Wikimedia Commons and your local wiki for media files related to the title of the page you're editing.
You can change the search by changing the text in the dialog's search box.
To choose a file, click on its thumbnail image.
This places the image onto the page you are editing.
|After the image you selected is inserted into the page, another dialog will open. This dialog allows you to add and edit the caption of the image. The caption can contain formatting and links.|
|The media dialog also allows you to add alternative text captions, to help users who use screen readers, or who have disabled image display.|
|You can also set various parameters for the image in the "Advanced settings" window. These include the alignment, the type, and size of the image.|
|When you're done, click "Apply changes" to close the dialog and return to editing the page.|
|For an existing image, you can add or edit a caption or other settings by clicking on the image, then clicking on the "Images and media" icon that appears below the picture.
You can resize an existing image by clicking on it, then moving the resize icon (the two-headed arrow on one or both bottom corners).
You can also drag and drop an image to a place higher or lower on the page.
Editing media galleries
|To edit an existing gallery in VisualEditor, click that gallery. Then, near the bottom of the gallery, click the gallery icon (a set of photos). This brings up the gallery editor, with the full list of images included in the gallery.|
|The gallery editor has two tabs, one to add images and their captions, the other controls display options.
The order of images can be rearranged by dragging the images on the left, and can be added using the "Add new image" button at the bottom of the list. The options tab allows size and layout to be edited. The default display options are preferred in most cases.
When you click the "Done" button, you will exit the gallery editor. You should then see your changes, with the gallery as it will now appear to readers.
Remember that exiting the gallery editor does not save your changes. As with other changes made using VisualEditor, you must 'Publish' the entire page in order to save your work and make it viewable online.
|To add a new template to a page, place your cursor where you want the template to be inserted, and click on the "Template" icon (a puzzle piece) in the "Insert" menu.|
|Start typing the name of the template you want to insert. When you see it on the list, click on its name. Then click "Add template".|
|You can also edit a template that is already on the page. When you click on the template to select it, it turns blue, and a box appears with a "Template" icon (a puzzle piece). Then click on the "Edit" link.|
|Some templates are not visible to someone reading a page. In VisualEditor, such hidden templates are shown as puzzle icons, such as Anchor.|
|When you select the icon, the context menu is displayed, and you can edit the template.|
|When you add a new template or open an existing one, VisualEditor opens the "⧼visualeditor-dialog-transclusion-title⧽" dialog. What you see depends upon whether there is TemplateData for that template.|
|The template shown here has no TemplateData set up for it. The dialog shows a link to documentation for the template. You can read the documentation to figure out if the template has any parameters (fields), and what goes in each field. Use numbers as the name for each nameless parameter. The first un-named parameter is named
|If a template has been updated to contain TemplateData information, then the dialog will show a list of all available individual (named) parameters in the left sidebar|
|For an existing template, you can edit the parameters shown in the dialog, and you can add and remove parameters from the main dialog by checking and unchecking its checkbox in the sidebar. To add an undocumented parameter, press Ctrl+⇧ Shift+D on your keyboard. The input field will appear at the very bottom of the dialog.|
|When a template embeds other templates, these sub-templates will appear inside the parameters that display them. They can be edited or removed inside the parameter field.
New sub-templates are added by following the steps for adding a parameter. You may need to check the template documentation to make sure that the sub-template is supported. Nested templates can currently be edited as wikitext only, without the facility offered by VisualEditor (see phab:T52182).
|When you have finished editing a template, click "Apply changes" to close the dialog and return to editing the main page.|
|When a template must be substituted, type
Autocompletion doesn't work with
Then, click the green "Add template" button.
Add any parameters as usual and click "Insert".
|You will see the template expand on the page after you click "Apply changes".|
|You can use VisualEditor to create lists, or to change the format of an existing list. There are two types of lists: unordered (bullet) and ordered (numbered).
To start a new list, just click on one of the two menu items shown here. Or, if you already have typed the list (on separate lines), select (highlight) the list you have typed, then click on one of the menu items.
|Shown here are examples of the two types of lists: unordered (bullet) and ordered (numbered).|
|If you want to change the indentation level of part of an existing list, select the part of the list that you want to change.|
|Then use the menu, or press the Tab key. (The Tab key increases indentation; use the shift key plus the Tab key to decrease indentation)|
|Here is the result of increased indentation.|
|You can even mix ordered (numbered) and unordered (bullet) lists, if the list items have different indentations.|
|You can use VisualEditor to insert and change tables.
You can even import a table by dragging a comma-separated value (.csv) file from your computer into the main editing window.
|When you click on "Table", in the "Insert" menu, VisualEditor inserts as a default a blank four-by-four table.
Now the "Table" menu is available. From that menu, you can add a caption to the top of the table.
|To select a cell, click it once.|
|To edit the contents of the cell (for example, to add content or to correct a spelling error), double click in the cell. Or you can select the cell and then press Return.
To end your editing of a cell, just click elsewhere.
|You can add or delete a column or a row.|
|You can merge cells: Select them, then from the Table menu, click on "Merge cells".|
|If you merge cells, only the text in one cell is kept; any text in the other cells is deleted when you merge the cells. If you decide that you wanted some or all of the text that was deleted, use the Undo button, move or copy the text you want, then merge the cells again.|
|You can also split cells that were previously merged. All the content that was in the merged cell will remain in the first cell when you do the split. You can then cut and paste text to other cells, if you want.|
|To edit categories, on the "Page options" menu, click the "Categories" item. If the tool is not visible, first search for three horizontal lines. That's where it is.|
|Clicking on "Categories" opens a dialog that lists existing categories and allows you to add new ones, and to delete existing categories.
You also have the option of setting or changing the general (default) sorting key, which determines where the page appears when listed with other pages in the same category.
For example, the default sorting key for the article "George Washington" is "Washington, George". In the category "Presidents of the United States", the article is listed under the letter "W", not the letter "G".
|To add a category for a page, type the name of the category into the field "Add a category". As you type, VisualEditor will search for possible matching, existing categories. You can either select an existing category, or you can add a category that doesn't yet have its own category page. (Until that category page is created, your new category will show as a red link after you publish all your editing changes.)|
|To remove an existing category, click on it and click on the "Remove" icon (trash can) in the dialog that opens.
Clicking on a category also allows you to specify a sorting key for that specific category. Such a sorting key overrides the default sorting key.
|Click "Apply changes" when you're done editing categories to return to the page editor.|
Editing page settings
|To edit a page's settings, click to open the "Page options" menu, in the toolbar, and select the "Page settings" button.|
|The "Page settings" button opens a dialog that shows several options.|
|You can make a page a redirect to another page by checking the "Redirect this page to" checkbox, and then typing the name of the page to which you want to send the reader who tries to go to the page that you're editing.
At the bottom is the option to prevent page renames from updating this redirect. This is very rarely used.
|You can change whether the page shows a Table of Contents by selecting one of these three buttons. The default option is "If needed", which shows a Table of Contents if there are three or more headings.|
|You can make a page not show edit links next to each section header by checking this checkbox.|
|Click "Apply changes" when you're done editing the Page options to return to the page editor.|
Editing mathematical formulae
|To add a new mathematical formula to the page, place your cursor where you want it to be inserted, and click on the "Math formula" icon ("Σ") in the "Insert" menu on the toolbar.|
|A window will open in which you can type the formula, using LaTeX syntax. VisualEditor will update the formula as you type it, so you can see how it will look as you make changes. Once you are happy with the formula, click the "Done" button.|
|To edit an existing mathematical formula on the page, click on it and then click on the "Σ" icon that appears. This will open up the formula window, where you make changes.|
|Mathematical formulae can be placed inline or centered as a block.|
Editing poems and other special items
|Some items, such as association lists, poems, and musical scores, are not yet fully supported by VisualEditor.|
|In most cases, the existing items can be edited, but new ones cannot be inserted in VisualEditor.|
|You cannot add an automatic datestamp to a page in VisualEditor.
Until they are fully supported, you can copy an existing one from another page, or edit the source wikitext directly.
Moving a page with VisualEditor is functionally the same as moving it with the source editor; see Help:How to move a page for an introduction to moving pages, or Wikipedia:Moving a page for more detailed instructions.
Many editors are used to entering wikitext directly, especially bold, italics and wikilinks. Keyboard shortcuts allow to quickly insert similar formatting without having to use toolbar items. Here are the common general shortcuts in VisualEditor:
|PC shortcut||Action||Mac shortcut|
|Ctrl+K||Insert link||⌘ Cmd+K|