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The edit summary is a summary of changes made to an article. Editors can use an edit summary to keep track of an article's evolution.
When editing an article, there is a small field labeled Summary under the main edit-box. It looks like this:
Please make liberal use of the edit summary to summarize changes made to the article. This helps editors track the change made to particular articles.
The text in the edit summary box will appear in white italics on the Recent changes page, in the page revision history (see below), and on the Help:Diff page. Use it to summarize the changes you have made to a particular article. You can be as brief or elaborate as you like as long as you're accurate.
In the case of a small addition to an article it is sometimes helpful to copy the full text of this addition to the summary field. Use "ft" (full text) to indicate copying.
If the addition is more complex, you should write a short summary of your changes. A few spelling corrections can be marked with "spelling," grammatical fixes with "grammar," or slight rewording with "reworded." Try to keep the content of the summary before the verb. An example would be, "
Fixed spelling errors" versus "Spelling errors fixed." This allows quicker edit browsing. See the Abbreviations and conventions section below on commonly used shorthand for edit summaries.
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 an edit is not clear, it is more likely to be reverted, especially in the case that some text is deleted. To give longer explanation, use the Talk page and put in the edit summary "see Talk". Since links display properly in the revision history, feel free to link to the talk page as well.
After saving the page, the summary can not be edited, so be sure you've said what you need to before you hit "Save page."
Although not imperative, always try to fill the summary field. Even a short summary is better than no summary. An edit summary is even more important if you delete any text, otherwise people may think you're being sneaky. To force yourself to leave an edit summary, you can go to your user preferences under the Editing tab and check the box marked "Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary." Also, mentioning a change but not another one can be misleading to someone who finds the other one more important; add "and misc." to cover the other changes.
In addition to the distinction major/minor change, 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 wikians with an 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 important omissions or errors in the edit summary, you can make a dummy edit just to put the correction in the edit summary.
The capacity is one line of 200 characters with horizontal scrolling. Keep your summaries succinct. Feel free to use abbreviations or symbols where necessary. If needed, link to the talk page for more details.
If you check the box "This is a minor edit," the edit summary will appear with a small bolded "m" before the text. Users can decide to automatically filter out minor edits, so be sure only to mark trivial edits as minor. It is suggested to always mark edits to your user page as minor, since most editors will not be tracking edits on your user page, and a plethora of userpage edits can quickly fill up the Recent changes list.
Section title as automatic edit summary
When applying the section editing feature, the section title is automatically inserted in the first part of the edit summary. It will appear surrounded by /* */ in plain text. However, on the history page and elsewhere, the section title will appear as gray text with an arrow linking to the section, enabling viewers to jump to that particular section immediately. Put more details on your edit after this text.
When inserting a section by using the section edit feature, delete the automatic edit summary to avoid confusion. Better still is to manually write out your new section in the summary. Example:
/*Section title as automatic edit summary*/ written
Abbreviations and conventions
- Main article: Help:Edit summary legend
Editors come across many of the same problems with a page over and over. Use abbreviations in your edit summary to make things easier for yourself. Use
gr for grammar,
sp for spelling, or
punc for punctuation. If reverting vandalism,
vandal is helpful as well as
revert or simply
When referring to a section, use quote marks. Example:
/*Abbreviations and conventions*/ moved below "Section title as automatic edit summary"
When posting on a talk page or the Village pump, it's sometimes useful to mark your response simply with
+. If you like, you can also summarize your response, but people will assume you're responding to something if you're editing a talk page.
Do not feel required to use perfect grammar or punctuation in your edit summary (although you're certainly welcome to). Summaries can be terse as long as they are accurate.
"Post a comment" feature
When starting a new thread on a Talk page, optionally the "Post a comment" feature can be used. This is theat the top of the page next to edit. The edit summary is automatically the same as the new section header.
Places where the edit summary appears
The edit summary appears on the Diff page, as well as in the following lists:
- Lists of edits that the system can produce (containing some or all of their edit metadata):
- all edits from a given time and/or up to a given number: Recent changes
- for a given page: Page history
- by a given user: User contributions
- Lists of pages that have been changed, from a selection of pages:
- from a user's list of watched pages, from a given amount of time ago: Watchlist (logged-in users only)
- from the pages linked from a given page, from a given amount of time ago and/or up to a given number: Related changes
- These show the edit summary of the last edit. Since one is typically interested in all recent changes in these articles, with all edit summaries, these features are used in conjunction with the page histories of the articles shown.
- List of new pages: shows the edit summary of the creation.
The Wikimedia search function can not search edit summaries, and they are not indexed by external search engines.
Image upload summary
When uploading an image one can supply an upload summary. It serves as edit summary for the creation of new image pages and as an entry in the upload log for updated images.
Rendering of wikitext, URLs
Text in edit summaries renders internal links, including piped links and interwiki links even when enclosed within <nowiki> and </nowiki>. Use this to link to the talk page or other articles relevant to the edit.
Other wikitext coding (bold, italics, tables, etc.) is not interpreted.