Writing Wikipedia Pages for Notable Women in Computing

Thanks for the help from CRA-W and Anita Borg Institute


Guidelines for Creating and Editing Wikipedia pages

This page gives details on how to create and edit a simple Wikipedia page.


    It is tricky to create a new Wikipedia page. We will first create the Wikipedia page in a temporary file, and then create the actual Wikipedia page and cut and paste the file into the page.

    NOTE: The next several steps show you what to put in a file. Creating the actual page on Wikipedia is tricky! When you have the file typed and are ready to create the page in Wikipedia, BE SURE TO READ one of the last steps at the bottom of this page entitled "FINALLY CREATE THE NEW PAGE".


    The easiest way to create a new page is to start by copying this template page I started so you can just edit and fill in the missing pieces.


    Use any simple text editor you want, later we will actually create the page and cut and paste this into the page. The first few times we used a simple text editor and did not use the Wikipedia sandbox. For later pages, we did start using the Wikipedia sandbox. With the user sandbox, you can save your work and preview it, but it is not posted on the web until you actually create a page. Again, we did not create the page through our sandbox but describe near the bottom of the page an easy way to actually create the page.

    Note that you will have to replace many of the fields in this template file.

    Remember, you can look to see how any Wikipedia page is done by clicking the edit file. I find it helpful to look at an existing page while I am writing someone's new page. Here is the Wikipedia page for Margaret Martonosi as of August 11, 2013 in three formats. First here is the actual text that you see when you edit the page:

    Martonosi Wikipedia page in edit mode from August 11, 2013

    Second here is a copy of the Wikipedia page that existed on August 11, 2013. Note that this is a copy of the Wikipedia page from that date. If you click on any links on this page they to to links on a current Wikipedia page.

    Copy of Martonosi Wikipedia page from August 11, 2013

    Third here is what Martonosi's page looked like on that date as a .pdf.

    Martonosi Wikipedia page from August 11, 2013 (.pdf format)


    Wikipedia wants only facts, not opinions. The facts should be backed up by a reliable reference such as a book or publication, or a link to a reliable web page. Below we show how to enter references.

    Don't plagerize existing information. If a person has written a nice biography about themselves on their web page. DO NOT cut and paste the information and put it on the Wikipedia page you are writing. It will get flagged with warnings of plagerism.
    You can link to their web page and rewrite the information in your own words, but stick to writing mostly the facts you can back up. For example if they mention they got an award, look for a press release or article about them receiving the award and link to that.


    When a word, place or person already has a Wikipedia page, then put that word(s) exactly the same way with uppercase and lower case letters with square brackets around them twice to put a link to their Wikipedia page. For example, suppose you want to type "Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, she obtained her B.S. in computer science from Duke University in 1998" on a Wikipedia page and you observe that there are already Wikipedia pages for "Raleigh", "North Carolina", "B.S." "computer science" and "Duke University". Then we would write this as:
        Born in [[Raleigh]], [[North Carolina]],  she obtained her
        [[B.S.]] in [[computer science]] from [[Duke University]] in 1998.
    Note: If you put a word or phrase in double square brackets and it shows up in red, then it does not have a Wikipedia page or you spelled it wrong.


    To create a new heading, such as for Awards, you put == (that is 2 ='s) before and after it starting on a new line. Then Wikipedia will process that to make the table of contents and headers for the page. This is shown in the code on the left and then it will look like the picture in the middle, and it will automatically be added into the table of contents for the page, as shown in the figure as number 3 on the right.

    Type in page How appears on page How appears in index

    Here is the top of the page for a simple layout for a Wikipedia biography.

    The "Contents" box representing the table of contents is made automatically by finding lines that start with two equal signs and end with two equal signs, such as

    == Biography ==

    This actual line in the file for Biography will be the header for the Biography section, but it is also automatically added to the content box, shown in the box on the left above as "1. Biography"

    Note if you want a subheading, then use three ='s. For example:

    == Biography ==
    [Biography start here.]
    === Early Years ===
    [describe early years here.]

    "Early Years" will appear as a sub-heading to "Biography".


    The box on the right above is a nice way to highlight certain information about the person. This data is stored in a box that is called an "infobox scientist."

    Here is the code for a general infobox scientist. This code goes first on the Wikipedia page and generates the box on the right of the page. You can leave a field blank if you don't have an entry for it. There are other fields you can include, you may see one on another Wikipedia biography. You can always click on edit to see how that field is done. If you do not have a picture, then leave the image field blank, though you can leave the image_size field filled out even when there is not a picture.

    {{ Infobox scientist
    | name              = Firstname Lastname
    | image             = nameOfPicture.jpeg
    | image_size        = 200px
    | caption           = Firstname Middlename Lastname
    | birth_date        = {{Birth date|YYYY|MM|DD}}  
    | birth_place       = [[City]], [[State]], [[United States|US]]  
    | death_date        = 
    | death_place       = 
    | nationality       = American
    | fields            = [[Computer Science]]
    | workplaces        = [[Name Of University]] <br> [[Name of Second University]]
    | alma_mater        = [[Name of University]] <br> [[Name of Second University]]
    | doctoral_advisor  = [[Firstname Lastname]]
    | doctoral_students = [[Firstname Lastname]] 
    | known_for         = [[programming languages or other area]]
    | website           = {{URL|http://www.university.edu/~login}} 
    | awards            = [[ACM Fellow]] (YYYY)<br> IEEE Fellow (YYYY)  

    Pictures included on a Wikipedia page must be in Wikimedia Commons. You can search here for a picture of the person whose page you are creating. If there is no picture there, you can contact the person and ask them to put a picture of themselves in Wikimedia Commons (this is best, they have to create an account and can then upload it and say they own it), or to give you a picture of them with permission for you to put the picture in. Pictures in Wikimedia Commons are public pictures that are free for others to use. You cannot put in a professional photograph unless you have permission or bought the rights for the photo.

    Once the picture is in Wikimedia Commons, then you can just link to it.


    For this we put a link to their professional homepage if they have one, or to a personal web page if they have one.


    Near the end of the article, include a header for references (surrounding the word References by double equals), followed by "reflist" in double curly braces.
    To cite a reference use the "ref" tag around the reference identifying several parts of the reference and it will automatically be listed and numbered in the reference section, and a number to the reference will be inserted where you located the reference. The easiest way to do a reference is to just surround the URL with the ref tag
    which looks like as reference 2 on a page:
    However this may flag the page with the message bare URLs, so it is preferred that you give more detail with references and follow a consistent style on a page. Here are some examples on more detailed references on a Wikipedia page Here is the text in the page with the reference added
    In 1959 he joined the Department of Chemistry at [[Duke University]] as an
    assistant professor and rose to the rank of full professor for his teaching
    {{cite web
      |title=James Bonk obituary 
      |publisher=The Herald-Sun 
    Which will appear in the text with reference number 5 as :
    And appear in the list of references on his page as the 5th reference.
    Here is an example of another reference from that list, reference number 9:
    <ref> {{cite web
      |author= Greg Pessin
      |title=Bonk; The Chronicle 
      |publisher=Duke University
    Here is an another example from the list, reference number 12:
    <ref>{{cite web
      |author= Duke University
      |title=Duke University | Trinity College of Arts & Sciences : Teaching Awards Archive 
    Here is a template to cut and paste for a web reference:
    <ref> {{cite web 
    Here is a template to cut and paste for a journal/conference article (doi is optional)
    <ref> {{cite journal
      |doi = 
      |author = 
      |year =
      |title =
      |journal =
      |volume =
      |pages = 
    Here is a template to cut and paste for a MEDICAL journal article, this includes pmid and pmc if you know them, otherwise leave them out:
    <ref> {{cite journal
      |author = 
      |year =
      |title =
      |journal =
      |volume =
      |pages = 
      |pmid =
      |issue =
      |pmc =
    Here is a template for a book, ISBN is optional, but a good idea to put:
    <ref> {{cite book
      |author =
      |title = 
      |year = 
      |publisher =
      |location =
      |ISBN =

    If you want to list a reference twice, perhaps as a reference when describing the research and then also as a best paper under awards, then use the name tag.

    The first time you reference it include name = SOMETHING as part of the ref tag, where SOMETHING is a unique word on the page for your references.

    <ref  name=SOMETHING >   [rest of reference here] </ref>

    Then the second time just put the ending ref tag with name, you don't need the other fields again, such as:

    <ref name=SOMETHING />

    Wikipedia has a page with more detail on references


    The very last thing to put on the page is to assign the person to categories so they will show up in lists of award winners and other lists of people that have something in common.

    Here is a sample of some categories.
    [[Category:Women computer scientists]]
    [[Category:Princeton University faculty]]
    [[Category:Fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery|ACM]]
    [[Category:Fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers|IEEE]]
    [[Category:Living people]]
    [[Category:Women in technology]]
    This would be displayed as:
    To see where some of these go, here are the links for some of them

    At the bottom of the page you fill in information on the person in the persondata fields. These fields are not displayed on the Wikipedia page.

    Here is an example template of the persondate information to fill out:
    | NAME              = Lastname, Firstname Middlename
    | SHORT DESCRIPTION = American computer scientist
    | DATE OF BIRTH     = August 11, 1952
    | PLACE OF BIRTH    = [[Boston, Massachusetts]], [[United States]]
    | DATE OF DEATH     =
    | PLACE OF DEATH    =
    {{DEFAULTSORT:Lastname, Firstname}}


    The easiest way to create a new page is to search for the person's name in Wikipedia. If they do not have a page then a message appears that says the page does not exist and asks if you want to create it. For example, I searched for "Firstname Lastname" and got this message:

    Click on the person's name and the page will be created. Then cut and paste your text from your file or user sandbox into this new page.

    NOTE: Make sure you type the person's name correctly and decide if you want to use their middle initial, middle name or no middle name. What name are they best known by? The name you search on is going to be the title of their Wikipedia page.

    Cut and paste the Wikipedia file you have written. Then click "preview" to see what the page looks like. You may have to fix the format if some lines don't wrap around correctly. You may need to edit something that doesn't look right.

    If you are using the user sandbox, then just cut all the text from the sandbox, except the first two lines which are part of the user sandbox, and paste into the new page.

    When you are happy with the page , then click "save" and the page you wrote is now on Wikipedia. You should be able to search for the page on Wikipedia, but not from a browser yet, not until a few days.


    For more information on general editing, check out the the Wikipedia Tutorial.

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© August 11, 2013 Susan H. Rodger, last updated June 23, 2014