Formatting a Wikipedia article is different from writing in a standard word processor or in Wikipedia's opt-in, alternative editing environment, VisualEditor. Instead of a strict WYSIWYG approach ("What You See Is What You Get"), Wikipedia uses text codes called wiki tags to create particular elements of the page (e.g. headings). This markup language is known as wikitext (or wiki-markup) and is designed for ease of editing. See the cheatsheet for a quick reference list of wikitext codes. Complicated articles may be best modeled on the layout of an existing article of appropriate structure and topic.
Bold and italics
The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing are done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ('):
On Wikipedia, the names of an article's subject are written in bold when they are first mentioned in the article. For example, the article Elizabeth II begins:
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states, known as the Commonwealth realms, and their territories and dependencies, and head of the 53-member Commonwealth of Nations. ...
Italics may be used for the names of books, movies, albums, and computer or video game titles. If the first mention of the subject of an article is also a book or movie title, then bold italic is used.
Headings and subheadings
Headings and subheadings are a way to organize an article. If an article discusses several topics and dedicates more than a couple of paragraphs to each, you can make the article more readable by inserting a heading for each topic — that is, creating a section for each topic.
You can also create sections within sections (i.e., subsections) by using subheadings:
This is a subheading
You create headings surrounding the heading text with several '=' wiki tags. The more '=' symbols in the wiki tag, the more nested the heading is:
== Elizabeth II hats ==
Elizabeth II hats
=== Straw hats ===
If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents is automatically generated. Try creating a heading in this page's sandbox. It will be added automatically to the table of contents for the page, assuming three others already exist.
Wikitext contains all the features required to follow Wikipedia's formatting conventions. However, its formatting capabilities are limited. If you want to have more control of the formatting, such as using colors, text and paragraph styles, and page layout you can use HTML. HTML is the language used to format web pages in the Internet. It is more powerful than wikitext, but it's also more complex and harder to use.
The Wikipedia editor has two toolbars with buttons that help with the use of wiki tags. For instance, if you want to type a text in bold, instead of manually typing the ''' tags, you can just press the Bold button and then type the text in bold directly.