This page refers to copy-editing an existing WikiHowTo page. Copy-editing deals with correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and extends to rephrasing for improvements in tone, style and voice. The term copy-editing comes from organisations that deal with printed media; it is loosely applied here. The author and the copy editor are often the same person on WikiHowTo pages.
When you copy-edit a page, you are helping the author and WikiHowTo to express ideas in the most clear and accurate way possible. You are also improving the credibility of the project and its articles. Copy-editing mistakes, blatant or trivial, simply look bad and should be corrected as soon as possible.
Discussion and talk pages are much less formal and generally should not be copy-edited. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a comment, make it. Resist the temptation to modify someone's talk or discussion page entry in the name of grammar or style.
If you see any mistakes, please correct them (even if they are very minor typos). This greatly helps with making WikiHowTo look as professional as possible.
Note that the English form of WikiHowTo has no preference for American, British, or other forms of English so long as usage is consistent for the whole page. Check the rest of the page before assuming that flavour, colour, metre, or defence (or, on the other hand, flavor, color, meter, or defense) is a mistake. Note that the endings "-ize" and "-ization" are acceptable in both British and American English. The suffix -ise is more common in Commonwealth usage than -ize, but both spellings are correct. The use of -ize/-ise should remain consistent within a page.
- American and British English differences — see Spelling.
- Use The American·British–British·American Dictionary for English Speaking People or your own favorite/favourite reference.
- Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English
Correct grammar is as valuable as correct spelling. Feel free to correct grammatical errors and clarify confusing wording. If you can phrase a sentence better, rephrase it! Just make sure the article in question retains its original meaning (unless that is wrong as well).
- For example
Phillip likes fishing better than to sail.
Should be freely changed to:
Phillip likes fishing better than sailing.
Commonly required copy-edits
See also sections: These should be of the long form if relevant to the majority of the article, and of the short form if relevant only to a specific section. An example. (See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style#"See also" and "Related topics" sections.)
Words which are mentioned rather than used should be italicized. For example: "The term style can refer to the layout and context of an article."
Headings should generally be nouns (History) and not prepositional phrases (About the history of...), and have only a single capital letter (apart from proper nouns, etc.).
Headings should be in sentence case. For example: Differences in defining art.
Titles of works (art, literature, etc.) should be italicized rather than placed in quotes. For example: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Shortened word forms (don't, can't, etc.) should be corrected where not in quotations.
Constructions such as "London, England" call for a comma or other appropriate punctuation at the end. Similarly, the year is also set off with punctuation, as in "June 10, 1993", when dates are written in the American style of writing the day between the month and the year.
External links generally belong at the end of an article under a heading titled External links or External link. References are an exception and should match the link in the reference section; these are then handled automatically.
When you make a copy-edit, be sure to leave a note in the Summary field detailing what changes you made. Summary notes for copy-edits should be short and concise and mention that the edit in question is a correction or enhancement. Spelling and grammar corrections generally count as minor edits; stylistic corrections generally do not.
Example summary notes:
copy-edit: Corrected minor typo
copy-edit: Reworded introductory paragraph for clarity
copy-edit: Reworked history section for more encyclopedic style
Reworked awful English, corrected author's bad language skills (see Etiquette section below)
Reworked pitiful excuse for English. Is the author retarded or something? My five-year-old child can spell better than that!'
Your summary note should be concise and roughly detail the change (the history and differences will show detailed information if needed.)
For common summary-note abbreviations, see Wikipedia:Edit summary legend.
If you are taking the trouble to copy-edit a page, please remember that the original author took the trouble to write a new page for Wikipedia and that however good or bad it is, the article is probably a valuable contribution. Your summary note should be concise and polite.
If you are the author of a page that has been copy-edited, please try not to take corrections personally. This can be especially hard with stylistic differences. Copy-editors are usually trying to make the article better, which reflects well on the original author as well as the copy-editor.
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