Formatting Rules

Wiki pages are not written in HTML. Standard HTML-style tags, like angle brackets (<>) will show up exactly as you type them, instead of changing the text formatting. Instead, Wiki pages are written using a special type of markup called Wiki-code. There are a number of reasons for this decision; among them:

There are several major types of formatting you can apply using Wiki-code. The first and simplest of these is text-level formatting. This is how you change the style of your text, by adding italics or bold, or linking to other pages. The second type of formatting is paragraph-level formatting. This allows you to change how a single paragraph appears on the Wiki page. The third type is list formatting, which is used to create bulleted lists (like the one at the top of this page) or numbered lists. The fourth and final type of Wiki-code formatting is positional formatting, which gives you some control over where content is placed on the page.

The rest of this page will describe how to use the different types of formatting. There will be examples shown for each type of Wiki-code; in addition, you can click the Edit this page link on the bottom of the screen to see how Wiki-code was used in creating this page. From the top, then:

Text-level Formatting

Text-level formatting can occur anywhere on a Wiki page; however, it is always restricted to its own paragraph. Pressing return on the Edit page will end any text-level formatting you started in that paragraph.


You may add italics to your text by surrounding it with double-apostrophes. This does not mean double-quotes, it means you must press the apostrophe key twice for both beginning and end of italics. For example:

This text is in ''italics''

will show up as

This text is in italics

This is also the only type of Wiki-code that may be used in the title of a page.


Bold works like italics, only with three apostrophes instead of two. Example:

This is '''bold''' text

renders as

This is bold text

External links

You may put a link to a page anywhere on the web by enclosing the link address in square brackets. Please note that the link will show up in its entirety; there is no way to make a link that displays text other than its URL. Examples:


Internal links

You may link to another Wiki page by enclosing its page name in curly braces. A Wiki page's name is, very simply, the part of the URL that isn't the server name. For instance, this page's name is “formattingrules". However, page names are insensitive to case, spaces, and punctuation (with the exception of hyphens, underscores, and slashes), so you could also use this page's full title, “Formatting Rules", as its name. Examples of internal links:

{Wiki introduction}
{Broken link}

Note that the second link is to a page that does not exist; because of this, the link appears differently. This is, in fact, the way to create new pages. Simply link to a page that does not exist, click the link, and start editing the page. To delete a page from the Wiki, just edit it and delete all the text in the edit box. All of the links to that page will then change back to the “broken link” style.

There are special ways to write internal links on the Wiki; for more details, see Wiki Linking Rules.

Paragraph-level Formatting

Paragraph-level formatting deals with deciding how to display a single block of text-- a paragraph.

Paragraphs and broken paragraphs

Every piece of text written on the Wiki except for text that is in a list is part of a paragraph. Headings, such as the one above reading “Paragraphs and broken paragraphs", are simply very short, bold-face paragraphs. To split paragraphs, simply press return twice. The Wiki will recognize the paragraph break as long as there is at least one blank line separating the two paragraphs.

Just like that. However, it is possible to split paragraph lines
like this
by hitting return only once on the Edit page. By doing this, you force a line break at a certain point, but the paragraph continues over each of the line breaks. The distinction between a paragraph break and a forced line break is important when dealing with paragraph-level formatting.

Text-style indentation

To indent a paragraph in the style of standard printed text, press space three times at the beginning of the paragraph. You can use more spaces if it feels comfortable to you, but you must have at least three. The first line of text will be indented (always by a constant amount, it does not depend on how many spaces you use), and the rest of the lines will wrap to the left margin. As mentioned in the previous section,
line breaks
are still considered part of the same paragraph, and so they will be wrapped to the left margin as well.

Block indentation

To indent an entire paragraph from the left margin, type three greater-than signs (>>>) at the beginning of a line. This can be combined with text-style indentation by following the three greater-thans with three spaces, and you can increase the level of block indentation by adding further groups of three greater-thans. Discounting any text-style indentation, all lines of the paragraph will be indented the same amount from the left margin. Of course, since they are part of the same paragraph,
line breaks
also wrap to the same point, although you may optionally repeat the >>> notation to make your Wiki-code look cleaner. Note that if you're looking to indent a great deal of text, you might want to look at Block indentation under Positional Formatting, below.

Centered paragraph

You can center a paragraph onscreen by typing three vertical-bars (|||) at the beginning of a line (this is the symbol above the backslash \ on your keyboard). You can theoretically combine this with text-style indentation, though the results might look a bit odd. You can also combine this with block indentation by typing first the indentation notation, followed by the centering notation, like so: (>>>|||) As expected,
line breaks
are considered part of the paragraph, and once again, you may or may not repeat the ||| notation as suits your whim. And again, to center many paragraphs, look under Positional Formatting below.

List Formatting

You can create lists using Wiki-code. These can be bulleted or numbered lists, and they can have multiple levels. You can even include line breaks in list elements. Read on...

Bulleted lists

To create a bulleted list, simply start a line with “* " (that's asterisk-space). The rest of the text on the line will become your bullet point. To make another bullet, start the next line with “* " as well. If you want to have multiple levels of bulleting, you can put more than one asterisk before the space. For example:

* A point
* Another point
** A sub-point

Will show up as

  • A point
  • Another point
    • A sub-point

Numbered lists

To create a numbered list, the process is the same as for bulleted lists except that you use the # symbol (the hash mark) instead of *.

# First point
# Second point
## Second point, first sub-item

Appears as

  1. First point
  2. Second point
    1. Second point, first sub-item

Mixed lists and line breaks

To create a list which is a combination of bulleted and numbered lists, you can simply stack the * and # symbols however you like, and the list will appear in that layout. However, if you want to include a line break inside a list element without breaking the list or starting a new list element, then you must begin the new line with = instead of * or #, and there must be as many = symbols as there were bullet or numbering levels in the list. Here is an example of a mixed list with line breaks:

* One point
* Another point
*# First sub-point
*#* First sub-point's note
*# Second sub-point
== with a line break
= And back to the first level of indenting

Shows up as

  • One point
  • Another point
    1. First sub-point
      • First sub-point's note
    2. Second sub-point
    3. with a line break
  • And back to the first level of indenting

Positional Formatting

Positional formatting allows you to control the formatting of large blocks of Wiki text at once. It can be useful for visually dividing a Wiki page up into sections. Positional formatting elements take the form of lines with only a few certain characters on them.

Horizontal lines

You may create horizontal lines (<HR> tags) to separate text by putting one, two, or three hyphens on a line by themselves. With different numbers of hyphens, you may create lines of different widths, as follows:

A line of

A line of

A line of

Block indenting

To indent an entire block of Wiki-code, type a single line with three greater-than signs (>>>). This is identical to the paragraph-level block indent notation, except that these must appear on a line by themselves. As with paragraph-level block indentation, you can combine several levels of indent onto one line. This is the only way to indent lists, as you cannot use paragraph-level formatting with lists. To cancel the block indenting, type a line with three less-than signs (<<<) for each level of indenting to be cancelled. View the Wiki-code for this page to see several examples of block indenting.

Block centering

To center an entire block of Wiki-code, type three vertical-bars (|||) on a line. This can be combined on a line with block indenting, although it must be at the end of the line. Note that any change in block indenting will automatically cancel block centering; however, to cancel block centering without affecting the indent level, simply type another single line with three vertical-bars.

Well, now that you know how Wiki pages work, maybe you'd like to try some of these techniques out in the Wiki Sandbox. Or, you could go ahead and learn Wiki Etiquette to figure out what you should and shouldn't do when editing Wiki pages.

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