Editing Basics

From CellBiology

Need to write a wiki project page but you don't know where to start?

Firstly, you have to be a current student to have an account, be able to log in on that account and edit this wiki. Once logged in you will also have your own page on this wiki, accessed by clicking your login name at the top of the screen.

If you are not a student and would like to contribute Cell Biology content to this wiki, please contact e-mail me

To edit any wiki page, click the little 'edit' tab at the top of the page. (You should see in a row: article, discussion, edit, history, move, watch.) Edit the content, then scroll down to click the Save button. Before clicking on 'Save', be sure to give a brief reason for your changes in the Summary box. This helps others to quickly tell what has been changed and allows Cell Biology Wiki admin to track changes more easily.

We're going to concentrate on this third factor for now, as your own page is an excellent place to play around with coding and get you used to it. Here, all the factors that come into editing a page can come into play, from emboldening or italicising text to creating headers and also adding in links to other pages (otherwise how would we get to see your works?). So let's get started!

If you would prefer, print out this linked One page Wiki Reference Card and use it when editing your project page. This was also a handout in the first laboratory.


Creating headers is a very simple way of separating your page into different sections. If you're like me, you'll want your own page to have a section for your individual project, comments on the Cell Biology course, and any other information you would like to appear on your own page. Separating each of these sections into headed sections gives three fine advantages:

  1. Each section can be found easily
  2. Each section becomes editable separately by clicking on the 'Edit' link at the right-hand side of the header, so you can edit each part of the page without worrying about messing-up the other parts (the page as a whole can still be edited with the 'Edit' tab at the top of the page, however).
  3. You get a nice 'Contents' list at the top of your page.

So how do we set up a header? It's simple, really. Headers have to be added on a line all to themselves, so if you're doing your project, a header called 'Project Title' would be on one line and the project introduction on the following lines. Headers are formatted by having two equals signs followed by a space, then the text you want in the header, then a space, then two equals signs. Sub headers can be added to pages by adding more equals signs around the header and these will also be displayed in the contents list a the top of your page. The difference between headers and sub-headers is that headers get an edit button and sub-headers don't, so you'd have to edit those from inside the initial header, or by editing the page as a whole.

So, for headers and sub-headers, we have the following coding:

== Example Header ==
=== Example Sub-Header ===
==== Example Sub-Sub-Header ===
and so on.


Paragraphs can be indented by placing a colon (':') at the start of a paragraph. To indent a paragraph twice, use two colons, and so forth.


Emphasis can be placed on words and phrases by putting a certain number of apostrophes (') around the word or phrase to be emphasised. The amount of apostrophes determines the particular emphasis placed on the word/phrase. You'll need the same amount of apostrophes at the start as at the end, or the emphasis won't work.

  • Italics require two apostrophes
  • Bold text requires three apostrophes

Putting single apostrophes around something will simply display that something with apostrophes around it.


Links work in two ways on MediaWiki, depending on whether you're linking to another page on the Wiki or another page on the Internet. We'll cover both types of link here.

Wiki Links

These are links only to other pages on the same Wiki, not other Wikis on the Internet. Basically, using this method of linking, anyone can add a link to anywhere else on T-Vox.

Wiki Links are coded using double square brackets ('[[') and the contents of the brackets will be the page name being linked to, so a link to a page called 'Example' would be created by putting 'Example' between double square brackets. If you want to link to 'Example' but call the link 'An Example', you'd do this by putting 'Example | An Example' between square brackets. The pipe ('|') indicated to MediaWiki that the bit on the left is the Wiki Link and the bit on the right is the text to be displayed on the page.

So we have:

[[Example]] links to another page on the Wiki that is called Example.
[[Example | An Example]] does the same but calls the link 'An Example'.

Internet Links

For when you absolutely, positively, have to link to somewhere else on the Internet, you'll only need one set of brackets. Internet Links function in a similar way to Wiki Links but are differentiated on MediaWiki sites by using only one bracket at the start and end and not requiring a pipe. So, a link to UNSW Cell Biology can be made by entering a bracket, the url, a space, the text to be displayed as a link and then another bracket:

[http://cellbiology.med.unsw.edu.au UNSW Cell Biology] links to http://cellbiology.med.unsw.edu.au with the link text 'UNSW Cell Biology'.

It's worth noting at this point that Internet links must begin with http:// or MediaWiki will throw a fit and try to link to a page on the Wiki instead. Internet links can also be used to create e-mail links, by using the mailto tag instead of http: so a link to example@someplace.com with a link as 'e-mail me!' would be created by entering:

[mailto:example@someplace.com e-mail me!]


There are two main forms of list on a MediaWiki: numbered and unordered. Both work in exactly the same way and are simply designated with a hash (#) or asterisk (*) at the start of each line. Hashes provide numbered lists, asterisks provide unordered lists. They look like this:

This bit of text would be displayed as a standard paragraph on the page.
# This is the first line of a numbered list
# This is the second line of a numbered list
And this text is displayed as a standard paragraph, below the list.

The above text, when put into a MediaWiki page, would display as follows:

This bit of text would be displayed as a standard paragraph on the page.

  1. This is the first line of a numbered list
  2. This is the second line of a numbered list

And this text is displayed as a standard paragraph, below the list.

That's all there is to lists.


Cell Biology Wiki supports the ability to include images in its wiki pages. You should use images to allow pages to avoid complex, confusing descriptions or to show something simply when it would take a long time to describe in text. Your group project must contain at least one student drawn image. Remember that this site can be seen by anyone with an internet connection (including children).

Inserting an Image

Remember all student image files uploaded must be renamed to start with a z.

To insert an image into a page on Cell Biology Wiki use the [[Image:zfilename]] command, where zfilename is the name of the file as it exists on the wiki; e.g. [[Image:zexample.png]] to link to an image called zexample.png. You can also add caption text, set the image as a thumbnail (smaller version) and set its alignment on the page using the extended image code: [[Image:zfilename|thumb|alignment|caption]]. The pipes ('|') are used to separate each piece of information in the code in the same way as they do in links.

A thumbnail for the B35 Cells test image, with caption.

Adding 'thumb' sets the image as a thumbnail (smaller version) of the full image and allows a caption to be added to the image. Adding a caption will display text below the image. Please use captions as a synopsis of the image so screen readers and text-only browsers don't loose out. Remember: captions will not display unless the image link contains the 'thumb' command. Clicking on the image will take you to a full-size version of the image.

The alignment option can take the form of 'left', 'right' and 'center' to determine the image's position on the screen. If using 'center', please be aware that it only works with the American English spelling.

Uploading an Image

The easiest way to upload an image to the wiki is to use the Upload file option (located under the 'toolbox' header, below the search bar) on the main menu. This will take you to a page that allows you to select a file to upload from your system, set the filename to be used for it on the wiki and also to add a description of the file that people will see if they browse to it.

  • Remember the image can be renamed at this point before uploading and the name should be describe what the image is showing, and the new name must begin with a z.
  • Avoid non-descriptive names (zfig1.jpg, zimage1.jpg, ect.). If someone else has already uploaded an image with the same name you have selected, the previously uploaded image will also appear at the bottom of the upload screen.
    • Do not simply replace the pre-existing file, unless it is your own, as it may well be an entirely different image used for another student or group project.
    • Rename the file you intend to upload.

Once uploaded, the file will become accessible for use in pages on Cell Biology Wiki. Please ensure that any files uploaded to Cell Biology Wiki are files you can actually use; i.e., you own the copyright or the file is in the public domain/released under GNU/etc.

For More Information

This page is designed to cover the basics of coding for any other site running on MediaWiki. If everything you really, really want to do isn't covered here you can always have a look at the MediaWiki Handbook, which explains all the codes you can use, but doesn't do it in quite as conversational a manner.


Remember: your pages are yours; do with them what you want and display them in a manner that suits the article that you're writing. Enjoy coding; it can be fun!

Text on this page modified from Editing MediaWiki For Beginners.