Help:Edit summary

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This is a copy of the master help page at Meta. Do not edit this copy.
Edits will be lost in the next update from the master page. See below for more information.

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An edit summary should strive to answer the question, "Why did you make this edit?". Providing an edit summary, even if the edit is minor, makes Wikipedia work better by quickly explaining to other users what your change was about.

When editing an article, there is a small field labeled "Summary" under the main edit-box. It looks like this:

Image:Edit Summary-2.png

It is highly recommended that one fill in the edit summary field, as it makes it easier for you and your fellow contributors to understand what has changed, and is helpful when going through the history of the page.



The edit summary box can hold one line of 200 characters. If you attempt to type or paste more than this only the first 200 characters will be displayed - the rest will be disregarded. Also, for example attempting to add 10 new characters (at the end or in between) to a summary already containing 195 characters will result in the first 5 new characters being inserted and the second 5 being disregarded.

When pressing "preview", also a preview of the edit summary is obtained; thus e.g. links can be checked.


Always fill in the summary field. This is considered an important guideline. Even a short summary is better than no summary. An edit summary is even more important if you delete any text; otherwise, people may question your motives for the edit. Also, mentioning one change but not another one can be misleading to someone who finds the other one more important; add "and misc." to cover the other change(s).

Accurate summaries help people decide whether it is worthwhile for them to check a change. We've found that summaries often pique the interest of contributors with expertise in the area. This may not be as necessary for "minor changes", but "fixed spelling" would be nice even then.

In the case of a small addition to an article, it is highly recommended to copy the full text of this addition to the summary field, giving a maximum of information with a minimum of effort. Put ft in front, as an abbreviation of "full text" (see the Abbreviations section for other abbreviations). This way, readers of the summary will be unlikely to check the page itself as they already know the extent of the edit. These kinds of edits allow users to check Recent changes, Page history and User contributions (see below) very efficiently - this also reduces the load on the servers.

If the addition is more than 200 characters, so it does not fit fully in the edit summary box, you should write a short summary of the changes you have introduced into the article. For an addition of, say, 400 characters you can also save time by simply copying that into the summary field. The excess will fall off, and the first 200 characters will usually be acceptable as a crude "summary".

Unfortunately you can copy only one line of text from the edit box into the edit summary box. The contents of further lines can be pasted at the end of the line. Thus, for example, a bulleted "see also" list is cumbersome to put in the edit summary box. One possible workaround for a new list is putting the list on one line, separated by the asterisks for the bullets, copying it to the edit summary box, and then, in the main edit box, putting the new lines before the asterisks.

In addition to a summary of the change itself, the summary field may also contain an explanation of the change; note that if the reason for it is more likely to be reverted, especially in the case that some text is deleted. To give a longer explanation, use the Talk page and put in the edit summary "see Talk".

After saving the page, the summary can not be edited--another reason to avoid spelling errors.

In the case of important omissions or errors in the edit summary, you can make a dummy edit just to put the correction in the edit summary.

Places where the edit summary appears

The edit summary appears in black italics in the following places:

* Use the enhanced watchlist to see all recent changes in the watched pages, not just the last change in each page.


See Edit summary legend for a list of commonly used abbreviations in edit summaries.


The Wikimedia search function can not search edit summaries, and they are not indexed by external search engines.

File upload summary

When uploading an image one can supply an upload summary. This serves multiple purposes:

  • as second part of the automatically created edit summary of the upload log (the first part giving the file name)
  • as text in the entry of the image history
  • in the case that the file name of the image is new:
    • as edit summary for the creation of the image page
    • as wikitext for the editable part of the image page, which includes the following possibilities:
      • briefly describe the image
      • provide internal or external links
      • call templates
      • specify one or more categories the image is in

The capacity of the upload summary is one line of 250 characters; in the upload log the last part may fall off, because this can contain 255 characters, including "uploaded "filename"".

Note that there is no preview function to check the code for the links, template calls and category tags, but of course, if needed one can edit the image page after uploading, to correct errors and also to extend the text.

See also Help:Image page.

Section editing

When applying the section editing feature the section title is automatically inserted as initial version or first part of the edit summary. Put more details after this text. In the case that you provide a long summary yourself you can delete the section title in order to stay within the limit of 200 characters. The automatic text appears by default in grey, with the manually typed text being black. If you create a new section before or after an existing section by clicking a section "edit" link, please delete the automatic edit summary to avoid confusion.

For edits made before May 2004, the automatic part of the summary is surrounded by "=" signs.

Multiple sections in edit summary

From Dec 2004, the section title that forms the automatic part of the edit summary is preceded by a right arrow which links to the section. For this purpose the section title appears within the marks /* and */ in the edit summary box. This code can be manually inserted, and by using the /* and */ syntax, it is possible to include links to multiple sections. This may be useful when editing a section which contains many sub-sections (to list changes made to each section), or when editing an existing section and also adding a new (sub-)section after it.

For example, the edit summary:

/* Foo */ test /* Bar */ test

Is rendered as:

Foo test Bar test

"Post a comment" feature

When starting a new thread on a Talk page, the "Post a comment" feature can be used. Click the plus sign next to the Edit link. A box labelled "Subject/headline" appears before the main editing box. Text typed here becomes both a new heading and the edit summary.

Automatic summaries

If the summary is left blank in a few circumstances, an edit summary is automatically generated when the change is saved (as opposed to the automatic edit summary in section editing, which is given when editing starts and can be supplemented by the user).

Page Text
MediaWiki:Autoredircomment [[WP:AES|←]]Redirected page to [[$1]]
MediaWiki:Autosumm-blank [[WP:AES|←]]Blanked the page
MediaWiki:Autosumm-replace [[WP:AES|←]]Replaced page with '$1'

Rendering of wikitext; URLs

Text in edit summaries renders internal links, including piped links, and interwiki links, even when enclosed within <nowiki> and </nowiki>. Therefore, copying wikitext in the edit summary box may be preferable to copying text from the preview, except when one wants to save space.

Other wikitext coding is not interpreted.

When copying an external link from the preview into the edit summary box then, depending on the operating system, the "printable version" is copied, i.e. how it is normally rendered, and in addition, between parentheses, the URL; hence the same information as in the wikitext, but in a different format, as well as a possible sequential number.


Wikipedia-specific help

Use of edit summaries in disputes

Proper use of edit summaries is critical to resolving content disputes. Edit summaries should accurately and succinctly summarize the nature of the edit, especially if it could be controversial. If the edit involves reverting previous changes, it should be marked as a revert ("rv") in the edit summary. Avoid using edit summaries to carry on debates or negotiation over the content or to express opinions of the other users involved. Instead, place such comments, if required on the talk page. This keeps discussions and debates away from the article page itself.

This page is a copy of the master help page at Meta (for general help information all Wikimedia projects can use), with two Wikipedia-specific templates inserted. To update the main text, edit the master help page for all projects at m:Help:Edit summary. For Wikipedia-specific issues, use Template:Ph:Edit summary (the extra text at the bottom of this page) or Template:Phh:Edit summary for a Wikipedia-specific lead (text appears at the top of this page). You are welcome to copy the exact wikitext from the master page at Meta and paste it into this page at any time. To view this page in other languages see the master page at Meta.

Help:Edit summary

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