Start by visting Wikipedia's homepage. Use Wikipedia’s search box to look for articles until you find one you know something about and then start reading it through until you find either an error or an omission. We have chosen an article about our old school, which refers to the school song as ‘now forgotten’. Not by us it isn’t, so we are going to add some of the lyrics to the entry. To start, go to the top of the page and click Edit.
This opens the Wikipedia editing screen for this article. Because we are intending to add just a few lines of text rather than attempting complicated layout changes, we don’t have to worry about any of the fancy stuff. Scroll down to the editing window and then drag the scroll bar within that to find the part of the text you want to edit. We want to add some words from the song between two existing paragraphs. So first we will click in the space between them and press Enter to add a carriage return.
Next we have typed in the words to the chorus of the school song just as if we were using a word processor, pressing Enter to put in a carriage return after each line – including one at the end to ensure there is a gap between the last line and the next paragraph. If carriage returns aren’t added like this, the new text will run on from the previous paragraph in a continuous line. For now, don’t click Save page. Instead, click the Show preview button next to it.
Wikipedia reloads the article, with your changes in place. However, notice the text in red near the top that says ‘Remember that this is only a preview; your changes have not yet been saved!’. Scroll down and have a look at the text you added. Here we have highlighted the four lines we added in the previous step, but as you can see, although they are separated from the preceding and following paragraphs, they just run on as if they were a single sentence. We are going to have to use a bit of formatting to sort that out.
Wikipedia can help out here. Scroll back up to the top of the page and right-click on Help in the menu on the left and choose Open in New Tab (different browsers may use different wording here). When the Help page loads, scroll down and select Editing Wikipedia; at the next page scroll down again to the Editing section and click the ‘Extended wiki markup details’ link. Read through the list of different formatting commands and examples listed here: there are several that may suit our purposes, but the obvious one is under the ‘Retaining newlines and spaces’ heading – Poem.
Flip back to the other tab and scroll down to the Wikipedia editing window – remember, this is still a preview. Here we have clicked on the line above the chorus and typed and then clicked on the line below it and typed. This is a code that tells Wikipedia to display our text as a poem. The first command inside the angled brackets turns the formatting on and the second one (with the ‘/’) turns it off. These codes won’t be displayed by Wikipedia – they are just read and interpreted for formatting and layout. Click the Show preview to view the changes.
Now when we scroll down the preview page to see what the revised entry will look like, we can see that the text has been reformatted in a more suitable style, thanks to the use of the code – we have highlighted it here, so it can be seen more clearly. However, there are a couple of things that still aren’t right. First, we need to insert another couple of carriage returns before and after the chorus to make it stand out from the rest of the text. Second – and perhaps more important – we need to change the previous paragraph to remove the reference to ‘now forgotten’.
Scroll down to the editing window again and insert the carriage returns, top and bottom to open up some space. Next, we need to have a read-through of the surrounding text. Why? Because context is important when you are making amendments to a Wikipedia article to ensure that it continues to make sense and reads properly. Here we need to remove the ‘now forgotten’ from the preceding paragraph and then insert a new sentence to introduce the lines from the chorus. Click Show preview again.
Scroll down the preview page again to view the changes. One of the great aspects of Wikipedia is that it is constantly evolving, with new content being added all the time. To see how this article has been changed we can scroll down to the bottom of the editing window and this time click the Show changes button. Wikipedia displays the latest revision (ie the currently published one) on the left and our changes on the right. Little plus (‘+’) signs indicate new additions, while red text shows what has been deleted.
If you are happy with everything you have done, scroll down the Show changes screen until you get the bottom of the editing window again and this time click the Save page button. After a moment Wikipedia will add your changes to the article entry and publish them to the internet. From now on (unless someone else decides to edit your edit), your contribution to this particular Wikipedia article will remain for the world to see.