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A page can be divided into sections, using the section header syntax.


Creation and numbering of sections

Sections are created by creating their headers, as below:




Please do not use only one equals sign on a side (=text here=); this causes a title the size of the page name, which is taken care of automatically.

With the preference setting Auto-number headings sections are numbered.

Table of contents (TOC)

For each page with more than three headings, a table of contents (TOC) is automatically generated from the section headings, unless:

  • (for a user) preferences are set to turn it off
  • (for an article) in the edit box the magic word __NOTOC__ is added

With __FORCETOC__ or __TOC__ in the wikitext a TOC is added even if the page has fewer than four headings.

With __FORCETOC__ the TOC is put before the first section header. With __TOC__, it is put at the position of this code. This allows any positioning, also e.g. on the right, and in a table cell, and it also allows multiple occurrence, e.g. in every section (demonstrated on m:Help talk:Section; however, this seems only useful if the sections are long, so that the TOCs take up only a small part of the total space.).

Thus there may be some introductory text before the TOC, known as the "lead". Although usually a header after the TOC is preferable, __TOC__ can be used to avoid being forced to insert a meaningless header just to position the TOC correctly, i.e., not too low.

Preferences can be set to number the sections automatically.

In a page calling a template with sections, the sections in the template are numbered according to their position in the rendered page, e.g. if the template tag is in the third section, then the first section of the template is numbered four. Any text in the template before its first section shows up as part of the section with the template tag, and any text after the tag before a new header shows up as part of the last section of the template. This may be done deliberately, but can usually better be avoided (see also below).

Using __NOTOC__ it's possible to disable the normal Table of Contents. Section links as explained below allow to create compact ToCs, e.g. alphabetical [[#A|A]] [[#B|B]] etc.

The Table of contents can be forced onto a floating table on the right hand of the screen with the code below


Section linking

In the HTML code for each section there is an anchor element HTML element "a" with both "name" and "id" attributes holding the section title. This enables linking directly to sections. These section anchors are automatically used by MediaWiki when it generates a Table of Contents for the page, but you can also use them to manually link directly to one section within a page.

The html code generated at the beginning of this section, for example, is:

<p><a name="Section_linking" id="Section_linking"></a></p>
<h2>Section linking</h2>

A link to this section (Section Linking) looks like this:
[[Help:Section#Section_linking|Section Linking]]

To link to a section in the same page you can use [[#id|link_label]], and to link to a section in another page [[page_name#id|link_label]].

To create an anchor target without a section header, you can use a span, for example:
<span id="anchor_name"></span>, however this won't work with some very old browsers.

An underscore and number are appended to duplicate section names. E.g. for three sections named "Example", the names (for section linking) will be "Example", "Example_2" and "Example_3".

Note that using the date formatting feature in section headers complicates section linking.

An internal link in a section header does not give complications:

For linking to an arbitrary position in a page see linking to a page.

Section linking and redirects

A link that specifies a section of a redirect page corresponds to a link to that section of the target of the redirect.

A redirect to a section of a page goes to the top of the page. One can use it anyway as a clarification, and at least it works when clicking on the link from the redirect page.

A complication is that, unlike renaming a page, renaming a section does not create some kind of redirect. Also there is no separate what links here feature for sections, pages linking to the section are included in the list of pages linking to the page. Possible workarounds:

  • put an anchor and link to that
  • put a comment in the wikitext at the start of a section listing pages that link to the section
  • make the section a separate page/template and either transclude it into, or just link to it from, its parent page; instead of linking to the section one can then link to the separate page.

Section links

You can use section linking to link to a section within the same page (using [[#section name|displayed text]], and if another section with the same name exists a _(sequential number) is appended as in [[#section name_2|displayed text]]), or to a section within another page (using [[page name#section name|displayed text]]).

For example to link the table of contents entry: [[#test|test]]

Type: ===test=== where you want the user to jump to.

When a user presses "test" in the table of contents, they will automatically jump to the ===test=== entry below in the text.

If a (sub)section has a blank space as header, it results in a link in the TOC that does not work. For a similar effect see NS:0.

Section editing

Sections can be separately edited ("section editing feature") by right clicking on the section header and/or special edit links, depending on the preferences set, and by a url like

(Note that here section numbers are used, not section titles; subsections have a single number, e.g. section 2.1 may be numbered 3, section 3 is then numbered 4, etc.)

This is convenient if the edit does not involve other sections and one needs not have the text of other sections at hand during the edit (or if one needs it, open the section edit link in a new window, or during section editing, open "Cancel" in a window). Section editing alleviates some problems of large pages.

"__NOEDITSECTION__" anywhere on the page will remove the edit links. It will not disable section editing itself, right clicking on the section header and the url still work.

Inserting a section can be done by editing either the section before or after it, merging with the previous section by deleting the header.

Adding a section at the end can also be done with a URL like . On talk pages a link is provided for this. The section header is the same as the edit summary, and typed only once.


The preview in section editing does not always show the same as the corresponding part of the full page, e.g. if on the full page an image in the previous section intrudes into the section concerned.

The edit page shows the list of templates used on the whole page, i.e. also the templates used in other sections.


Subsections are included in the part of the page that is edited. Whether there is automatic section numbering is determined by the number of sections concerned, i.e. one plus the number of sub- and subsub-sections, etc. Section numbering is relative to the part that is edited, so on the relative top level there is always just number 1, relative subsections all have numbers starting with 1: 1.1., 1.2, etc.; e.g., when editing section 3.2, section 3.2.4 is numbered 1.4. However, the header format is according to the absolute level.

Editing before the first Section

There is no link for editing the part before the first heading, except by the work-around of right-clicking on the page header; but the URL works, for example for this page:

A less cumbersome way to obtain this link is to use any section edit link of the page, and change the number of the section to zero. Javascript can also create this URL, see w:en:Wikipedia:WikiProject User scripts/Scripts/Edit Top.

See also Help:Section editing demo.

Editing a page with large sections

If a page has very large sections, or is very large and has no division into sections, and one's browser or connection does not allow editing of such a large section, then one can still:

  • append a section by specifying a large section number (too large does not matter); however, one has to start with a blank line before the new section header
  • append content to the last section by not starting with a blank line; however, with the limitations of one's browser or connection, one cannot revert this, or edit one's new text.

If one can view the wikitext of a large section, one can divide the page into smaller sections by step by step appending one, and finally deleting the original content (this can be done one large section at a time). Thus temporarily there is partial duplication of the content, so it is useful to put an explanation in the edit summary.

Providing for a separate edit history for a section

Without changing the appearance of a page, a section of it can be an included separate page, see composite pages. This way a separate edit history is provided for the section. Also this allows watching it separately.

Editing sections of included templates

This section appears both in Help:Section and in Help:Template.

The editing facilities can also be applied to a section of an included template. This section, Help:Editing sections of included templates, is an example.

For the purpose of section editing the extent of a section is governed by the headers in the calling page itself. It may consist of a part before the template tag, the template tag, and a part after the template tag, even if the template has sections.

It tends to be confusing if the extent of sections according to the system is different from what the rendered page suggests. To avoid this:

  • if a template has headers, do not put any text before the first header
  • in the calling page, start a new section after a template that itself has sections

It may be convenient, where suitable, to start a template with a section header, even if normally the contents of the template would not need a division into sections, and thus the template is only one section. The edit facilities for editing sections can then be used for editing the template from a page that includes it, without specially putting an edit link. This template is an example, it does not need a division into sections, but has a header at the top.

The __NOEDITSECTION__ tag in any template affects both that template, the pages it's included on, and any other templates included on the same page.

"See also" line or section

If a page consists of sections and a "see also" refers to the whole page, then make it a separate section. This is to avoid it becoming part of the prior section, to make it visible in the TOC, and to make it easily accessible through the TOC.

Alternatively, a "see also" line is sometimes put at the beginning.

A "see also" belonging to just one section can be put in that section: within a paragraph, as a separate paragraph, or as a subsection.

Sections vs. separate pages vs. transclusion

Advantages of separate pages:

  • what links here feature
  • separate edit histories
  • automatic redirect on renaming
  • redirect to a section is not possible
  • loading a small page is faster than loading a large page
  • can separately be put in categories
  • with Semantic MediaWiki: have separate annotations

Advantages of one large page with sections:

  • loading one large page is faster and more convenient than loading several small ones
  • searching within one large page (the page itself or the wikitext) with a local search function is faster and in some respects better than searching several pages (for which one has to search the whole project); also the TOC provides for convenient navigation.
  • enforces the cohesion of a concept that while having several definitions needs independent editing.

An alternative is composing a page of other pages using the template feature (creating a compound document by transclusion). This allows easy searching within the combined rendered page, but not in the combined wikitext. Titles have to be provided.

Subdivisions in general

  • Sections of a page are adjacent, and the end of the last section coincides with the end of the page, i.e., all the text within the page is in a section other than a possible part before the first section.
  • The same applies at lower levels, i.e. in sections and subsections.
  • In a list in a section, each list item is a kind of subsection; however, lists need not be adjacent, i.e., between lists there may be content at the section level, after which the list items of the following list are content which is down again to list item level.
  • In HTML, a list item may contain several sublists, not necessarily adjacent; thus there may be parts of the list not only before the first sublist, but also between sublists, and after the last one; however, in wiki-syntax-lists, sublists follow the same rules as sections (see the first item in this list): the only possible part of the list not in sublists is before the first sublist.

See also continuing a list item after a sub-item and m:Template:List demo (talk, backlinks, edit).

Limiting subsection levels shown in TOC

If you would like to have a heading not show up in the generated Table of Contents at the top of the page, you can use HTML to make the header... or at least that worked in older versions!

<h2>stuff that better not be included</h2>

<nowiki><h2>stuff that better not be included</h2> </nowiki>

This won't show up...

<big><b>This won't show up... </b></big>

<H4>yikes this would be included in toc... h4... </H4>

====this would of course be included in toc header 4 example ====

Sections for demo above

Demo a

This section is linked to from #Section linking.

Demo http://a

This section is linked to from #Section linking.

See also


Wikipedia-specific help

See Wikipedia:Guide to layout for information about using sections to structure articles.

Compact TOC

Several kinds of compact TOC can be found at Wikipedia:Template messages/Compact table of contents. Also note that a normal compact TOC will not work on a Category page; see the same page's section on how to make a compact TOC on a Category page.

Floating the TOC

The TOC can, in some instances, be floated either right or left using {{TOCright}} or {{TOCleft}}. Before changing the default TOC to a floated TOC, consider the following guidelines:

  • A floating TOC should be used when it is beneficial to the layout of the article, or when the default TOC gets in the way of other elements.
  • If an article will be adversely affected by the change, don't float the TOC.
  • If floating the TOC, the TOC should be placed after the lead section for consistency. Users of screen readers do not expect any text between the TOC and the first heading, and having no text above the TOC is confusing. See wikipedia:accessibility #Article structure
  • When floating a TOC, check whether the page layout will be harmed if the TOC is hidden by the user.
  • The TOC should not be longer than necessary, whether it is floated or not.
  • The default TOC is placed before the first headline, but after any introductory text (unless changed by the page's editors). If the introductory summary is long enough that a typical user has to scroll down to see the top of the TOC, you may float the TOC so it appears closer to the top of the article. However, the floating TOC should in most cases follow at least the first paragraph of article text.
  • Floating a wide TOC will produce a narrow column of readable text for users with low resolutions. If the TOC's width exceeds 30% of the user's visible screen (about twice the size of the Wikipedia navigation bar to the left), then it is not suitable for floating. (Percentages assume a typical user setup.) If text is trapped between a floating TOC and an image, floating can be cancelled at a certain text point, see Forcing a break.
  • If the TOC is placed in the general vicinity of other floated images or boxes, it can be floated as long as the flowing text column does not become narrower than 30% of the average user's visible screen width.
  • If the TOC is going to be placed in a long list page, it should be floated.
  • A left-floated TOC may affect bulleted or numbered lists. Where it does, float the TOC to the right, or do not float it.

The {{TOCright}} template was proposed for deletion in early July 2005, but there was no consensus on the matter. The archive of the discussion and voting regarding this may be seen at Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/TOCright. The Manual of Style discussion can be found here.

Section stubs

A stub section is a proposed section for the article, but not filled. In the empty section you have to include {{section-stub}} or {{Sectstub}}.

An example: in the Wikipedia copper article, the copper band section stub (empty). In this way, the copper band page could redirect to the copper article.

See section stub page.

See also WP:NOT

Please note that Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information, so see also sections should only include links directly pertaining to the topic of an article and not large general pieces of information loosely connected (or not at all connected) to the subject.

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


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