Help:Page history

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All editable pages on Wikipedia have an associated page history, which lists all changes made to the page in reverse-chronological order. This may also be referred to as the revision history or edit history.


Quick Tutorial

  • To view a specific version, click a date.
  • To compare an old version with the current version, click cur.
  • To compare a version with its predecessor, click last.
  • To compare two specific versions, tick the right-column radio button of the newer version and the left-column radio button of the older version, and then click the "Compare selected versions" button.
  • Minor edits are denoted as m (Note: this means that the edit is a minor one in the opinion of the editor!).

Detailed tutorial

The page history consists of links to older saved versions of the wikitext for an article page, as well as a record of the date and time (in UTC) of every saved edit, the username or IP address of the user who made the change, and their edit summary (if any). Access this page history by clicking the "history" tab at the top of the page.

Using page history

Below is an example of a page history using the default skin:
Image:Screenshot page history.png
Edits are shown from newest to oldest. Each edit takes up one line which shows; time & date, the contributor's name or IP and the edit summary, as well as other diagnostic information. Lets have a look at some of the functions of this page:

  1. The page name stays the same, but the "history" tab is highlighted.
  2. These links take you to the users most recent edits (Latest), oldest edits (Earliest) or the next or previous page of edits (Next n / Previous n). Note that the black text in brackets will become links, when applicable.
  3. The blue numbers list the number of edits displayed on a page - 20, 50, 100, 250 or 500. A higher number increases the length of a page but reduces the number of pages The number you select replaces n in the links to the previous or next pages e.g. (Next 100 / Previous 100).
  4. (cur) takes you to a diff page, showing the difference between that edit and the current version. The current revision appears below the changes, so you can see how the page is now rendered.
  5. (last) takes you to a diff page showing the changes between that edit and the previous version. The most recent version (the one on the same line as the "last" you clicked on) appears below the changes, so you can see how the page was rendered.
  6. The two columns of radio buttons can be used to select any two versions on the page. Lets say you want to compare the versions corresponding to numbers 10 & 11 on the image. First, click the left radio button next to number 11. The right column of buttons will then fill as far as number 11. Then click the right button next to number 10. Finally click Compare selected versions. This takes you to a diff page showing the changes between the two versions. The most recent version (in this case number 10) appears below the changes, so you can see how the page was rendered.
  7. This gives the time and date of the edit, expressed in local time according to the preference setting
  8. The username or IP of the contributor appears here. Names in red refer to userpages which have not yet been created (see Wikipedia:Red link and Help:Logging in).
  9. This is the edit summary. It is the text the user wrote in the edit summary box (below the edit box).
  10. This edit summary begins with an arrow link and grey text. This means the user has only edited a section of the page (named in the grey text). This text is automatically added when you edit a section. A standard edit summary can be added by the user. This appears in black text.
  11. m stands for minor edit (small corrections to a page). These help you understand the type of changes that have been made.

If the "move page" feature has been used in the past to change a page's name, the entire edit history of the article, before and after the move, is shown. The old title becomes a redirect and loses its edit history. After merging two pages, typically one becomes a redirect. In this case the revision history of the redirect is kept.

Edits made to deleted pages are not kept in contributor's User Contributions pages. However, the revision history is kept and can be retrieved by an administrator, who can also undelete the page (see w:Wikipedia:Viewing and restoring deleted pages by sysops).

Reverting a page

If your new pages edits aren't to your liking, don't panic; you can 'revert' the page to any previous version.

Composite pages (transclusion)

A section of a page may be an included separate page (via a method known as transclusion), see composite pages. A separate edit history is provided for the section, and this transcluded page must be watched separately. See m:Help:A simple composite example.

Image history

An "image" (in the broad sense of an uploaded file) can be edited, or, more generally, be replaced by a different image, by uploading a new image file with the same name. Again all versions are kept. The page history listing forms part of the image description page, which appears when clicking on the image. The image history consists of this and the old versions themselves.

Linking to a specific version of a page

It is occasionally useful to link to a specific version of an article (a snapshot of it). For example, one might have done a review of a Wikipedia article and want to indicate which particular version was reviewed.

If the version is not the current version, one can use the page history to view the old version of the page. The URL of this old version is suitable for use to permanently reference this version, and can usually be obtained from the browser's location bar.

See also URLs of old versions of pages.

The history of the wikitext should not be confused with the history of the rendered page:

  • If a page contains a time-based variable, its rendered content varies with time; for example, {{CURRENTTIME}} gives the time of viewing the page; if at some stage the tag {{subst:CURRENTTIME}} has been placed, it has been replaced in the wikitext by the time of saving that revision; there is no variable for the time of saving the particular revision.
    • In particular, templates and images will vary if they are referred to with an expression containing a variable depending on time
  • The current versions of templates and images are used - it is not possible to specify a particular revision, unless old versions are given different names. Note that also templates used within these templates may have been revised.

For a true permalink, upload the rendered page as HTML file (if enabled by the system) and link to the URL, e.g. (see also the image page w:en:Image:Wikitest.html; by the way, this page was not uploaded because of templates or images, but because of added functionality using JavaScript, not allowed in wikitext).

The HTML contains the contents of the templates, so the page is not affected by a change or deletion of a template. It further contains URL-references to images; it is not affected by an image revision, but it is by a deletion.

To produce a wikitext version not depending on templates use "subst:", if necessary recursively.

See also Help:Downloading pages.


Special:Export produces an XML-file, without the MediaWiki user interface, with the wikitext of the current and optionally all old versions of one or more specified pages, with date, time, user name, and edit summary. How it is displayed, e.g. with or without XML tags, and with or without applying new lines, depends on the browser. Some browsers show "+" and "-" links to view or hide selected parts. Alternatively the XML-source can be viewed using the "view source" feature of the browser, or after saving the XML file locally, with a program of choice.

The feature also allows searching for a text in all versions of one or more specified pages. See also XML export.


Archiving texts in separate pages is superior to using the page history as archive: texts in archive pages can be found by search engines. Page histories can only be searched after applying Special:Export. Also, archive pages can be organized and titled afterwards in a suitable way, while e.g. edit summaries can not be supplied afterwards. However, an index of old versions of a page, with links to them, could be prepared.


Wikipedia-specific help

Page histories are linked to from Recent Changes, Related Changes and from every article. The page history of deleted pages is not available to non-administrators. However, the revision history is kept for some time and can be retrieved by a sysop, who can also undelete the page. The histories of uploaded files are also kept. The image history listing forms part of the image description page, along with the old versions. Images cannot be undeleted.

Archiving talk pages in separate pages is superior to using the page history as archive as they can then be searched and organized.

The policy of keeping the page history did not exist in the beginning of Wikipedia's existence, so the page history of that time is lost.

See also: Wikipedia:Usemod article histories.

Copyright status

Wikipedia does not give legal advice.

The Wikimedia Foundation wishes to make users of historical versions of articles aware that some of the history may be problematic and not neccesarily reliable.

Title 17 United States Code § 108 archive notice: page histories should be considered not-for-profit archival material. Although all contributions are supposed to be compatible with the GFDL, it is possible that a user has inserted something which is a violation of copyright, in which case the user had no right to release it as GFDL. In these cases, Wikipedia does not have a general policy of always deleting all copyright problems from the history, particularly if the edit is made to an existing article rather than a new one, although such material will be removed from the current version of a page. In the event of a DMCA takedown notice, the Wikimedia Foundation may remove violating versions from the page history. In other cases, the version may be kept to allow proper tracking of authors and demonstrate compliance with all legal requirements. You are being given notice under Title 17 that you are responsible for complying with copyright laws in regards to archival material, and that not all versions in a page history are necessarily available under the GFDL.

As noted at the end of each history revision, in the text at MediaWiki:history copyright, the page histories may contain material that is subject to copyright limitations. While we attempt to remove such material from the current version (see copyright problems) it is kept in the history for research and author attribution purposes. As Wikimedia is a not-for-profit company, this is believed to be fair use.

See also Wikipedia talk:Copyright violations on history pages for further discussion of this point.

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:Page history. For Wikipedia-specific issues, use Template:Ph:Page history (the extra text at the bottom of this page) or Template:Phh:Page history 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.

de:Hilfe:Versionen ja:Wikipedia:履歴 ko:위키백과:문서역사 pl:Wikipedia:Historia strony sl:Wikipedija:Zgodovina strani zh:Help:頁面歷史

Help:Page history

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