Help:VisualEditor/User guide

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PD Note: When you edit this page, you agree to release your contribution under the CC0. See Public Domain Help Pages for more info.
If you would like to try VisualEditor without editing an article, here is a page where you can freely do so.
You don't need an account to use it.

Opening VisualEditor

To edit a page using VisualEditor, click on the "Edit" tab at the top of the page.

It can take a few seconds for the page to open for editing, and longer if the page is very long.

Clicking on the "Edit source" tab will open the classic wikitext source editor.

VisualEditor - Edit tab.png

You can also open VisualEditor by clicking on the "edit" link on each section.
VisualEditor - Section edit links.png

Getting started: the VisualEditor toolbar

The VisualEditor toolbar
The VisualEditor toolbar appears at the top of the screen when you begin editing through VisualEditor. It includes some familiar icons:

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Undo-redo.png
Undo and Redo the changes you've made.

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Headers.png
Headings pull-down menu: allows you to change the header level of text. The standard section headings are "Heading".

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Formatting.png
Formatting: Clicking the "A" opens a submenu.
  • The "Bold" icon (B) bolds the selected text.
  • The "Italic" icon (I) italicizes the selected text.
  • The "Subscript" icon (S2) causes the selected text to appear smaller than surrounding text and slightly below the line.
  • The "Superscript" icon (S2) causes the selected text to appear smaller than surrounding text and slightly above the line.
  • The "Strikethrough" icon (S) adds a solid bar through the selected text.
  • The "Computer code" icon (a set of curly brackets: {}) changes the font display in the selected text to a monospaced font, to set it apart from surrounding text.
  • The "Underline" icon (U) adds a solid line beneath the selected text.
  • The last icon ("Clear formatting") removes whatever formatting is currently applied to selected text.

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Linking.png
Linking tool: The chain is the linking tool.

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Lists and indentation.png
Lists & indentation: The first two icons allow you to make numbered or bullet lists, respectively. The last two allow you to increase or decrease the indentation level of content.

VisualEditor insert menu 16 February 2014.png
Insert: The "Insert" pulldown on the VisualEditor toolbar leads to several additional optional actions, including adding references and transcluding templates. The "Insert" pulldown may be different on some projects. Below is a list of all options that may appear.
  • The "Media" icon (a picture of mountains) opens the media dialog.
  • The "Gallery" icon (a set of photos) allows you to ínsert a gallery to the page.
  • The "References list" icon (three books) opens a dialog to display references.
  • The "template" icon (a puzzle piece) allows you to edit templates.
  • The "formula" icon (Σ) allows you to enter the formula inserter. (See below.)
  • The "hieroglyphics" icon (an ankh) allows you to enter the hieroglyphics inserter. (See below.)
  • The "Language" icon (The letter A in the Latin alphabet and Japanese kana (あ)) switches language and directionality. (See below.)
  • The "Special character" icon (Ω) allows you to insert some special characters. (See below.)

VisualEditor - Toolbar - SpecialCharacters.png
Special character insertion: The "Special character" icon allows you to pull up a subwindow with a number of special characters that you can place into the text. These include some standard symbols, accents and mathematical symbols.

VisualEditor - More Settings.png
The Page options is next to the buttons that allow you to Cancel or save your changes. Under Page options are currently options to adjust page settings like whether it is a redirect, or how it is indexed, editing categories and listing language links using the "Language" (The letter A in the Latin alphabet and Japanese kana (あ)). You can also switch one-way from VisualEditor to the classic wikitext source editor.

Saving changes

When you're done editing click the green "Save page" button in the toolbar. The green button can't be clicked if no changes were made.
VisualEditor - More Settings.png

Pressing the green "Save page" button opens a small dialog into which you can enter a brief summary of your actions, mark your edit as minor, and choose to watch future edits to the page.

The number indicates how much space is left in your edit summary. You can also review your changes to be sure they work as intended before saving your changes.

New VE save dialog.jpg

Editing links

VisualEditor - Toolbar - Linking.png
Links can be added through the "Link" icon (links in a chain) in the toolbar, or by using the shortcut  Ctrl+K (or  Command+K on a Mac).

If you select text or place your cursor on a word, pressing the "Link" button will insert a link on that text.

VisualEditor - Link editing inline 2.png
Whether you use the button or the shortcut, a dialog will open in which you may type the link. VisualEditor will try to assist with internal links (links to other pages of Wikipedia) by looking for likely matches as you begin to type.

Once you have entered or selected the link, you can press  Enter, click outside of the box, or press the close icon (<). Your link will appear on the VisualEditor page, but it will not be saved until you save the page.

VisualEditor - External link.png
To link to a web page outside of Wikipedia, the process is the same; just enter the link in the field and it will be added as "external link".

VisualEditor - Link editing inline.png
To change or remove an existing link, click in the link in the text, then press the "Link" icon that appears near it. You can also click the same icon in the toolbar or use the  Ctrl+K keyboard shortcut while on it.

You can then edit the link's target, or remove it altogether by pressing the "Remove" icon (trash can) in the top-right corner of the dialog.

Editing images and other media files

To add a new image (or another type of media file) to the page, click the "Media" icon (a picture of mountains) in the "Insert" pulldown menu. The image will be added wherever your cursor is.
VisualEditor - Media editing 1.png

Clicking the "Media" icon opens a dialog that automatically searches Wikimedia Commons for media files related to the page you're editing.

You can look for other media files by changing the text in the dialog's search box.

Click on a thumbnail to choose a file.

VisualEditor - Media editing 2.png

Once inserted, the image is selected (it appears blue). You can resize it using the handles at its corners, and drag and drop it to its desired location.

Click on the "Media" icon that appears on the picture, or the one in the toolbar, to add a caption.

VisualEditor - Media editing 3.png

The media dialog allows you to add (and edit) a caption, which can contain formatting and links.
VisualEditor - Media editing 6.png

The media dialog also allows you to add alternative text captions, which help users who use screen readers, or who have disabled image display.
Media editing 7.png

You can also set various paramaters for the image in the "Advanced settings" window. These include its alignment, its type, and its size.
VisualEditor - Media editing 8.png

When you're done, click "Apply changes" to close the dialog and return to the page editor.
VisualEditor - Apply changes.png

Editing and inserting galleries

To add a new gallery, click the "Gallery" icon (a set of photos).
VisualEditor - Gallery1.png

This will open the gallery inserter, which is currently a simple box that works similarly to wikitext markup. To add images to your gallery, you will need to include the file name, followed by a bar (|) and the caption you would like for the image. Each image in the gallery should have its own line. Once you have added all the images you would like in your gallery, click the left arrow (<) to exit the inserter. You should see your gallery as it will appear. Please note that your gallery will not save until you save the page.
VisualEditor - Gallery3.png

To edit an existing gallery in VisualEditor, click on the gallery to cause the icon to appear in the upper right corner. Clicking on the icon will bring up the gallery inserter box with the full list of images included in the gallery. You can edit this list to remove, add or rearrange images or to alter captions. Unfortunately, you cannot currently see the changes you have made until you click the left arrow (<) to exit the inserter. Once you have finished modifying the gallery, be sure to save the entire page - exiting the gallery inserter will not save your changes.
VisualEditor - Gallery2.png

Editing references

Editing an existing reference

VisualEditor - Editing references 1.png
To edit an existing reference, click on it in the text, and click on the "Reference" icon (bookmark) that appears near it, or the one in the toolbar.

VisualEditor - Editing references 6.png
Clicking on the "Reference" icon opens a dialog that includes a mini-editor, where you can edit the reference's text.

You can format it as you would in the rest of the page, for example to add italics or links.

VisualEditor - Editing references 3.png
Many wikis use templates to format references according to a specific standard. You will notice this if you edit an existing reference whose content turns blue when you select it.

Click on the Template icon (puzzle piece) to edit the content of the template.

VisualEditor - Editing references 5.png
Clicking the Template icon (puzzle piece) allows you to edit the template's individual parameters.

VisualEditor - Apply changes.png
Click on "Apply changes" when you're done, and you'll go back to the reference editor.

If there is nothing more to edit, click on "Apply changes" again to return to the page.

Reusing an existing reference

VisualEditor references more.png
If the page already contains references, you can choose to reuse an existing citation, if it applies to the text you want to source.

To reuse an existing reference, place your cursor where you want to add it in the text, and click on the "Reference" icon (bookmark) from the "Insert" menu.

VisualEditor - Editing references 21.png
In the reference editor, click on the button that says "Use an existing reference", in the bottom left corner of the window.

VisualEditor - Editing references 18.png
If there are many references, you can use the search bar (labeled "What do you want to reference?") to only display references that match a given text.

Look for the reference you want to reuse in the list, and select it.

Adding a new reference

VisualEditor references more.png
To add a new reference, place your cursor where you want to add it in the text, and click on the "Reference" icon (bookmark) in the "Insert" pulldown on the toolbar.

VisualEditor - Editing references 20.png
In the reference editor, you can add, edit and format your citation.

You can make the reference belong to a given group; this is used to display groups of references with the "References list" tool.

VisualEditor reference toolbar transclusion.png
If you're adding a new reference and you want to include a template in it, click the Template icon (puzzle piece) in the pulldown "Insert" toolbar of the reference editor.

VisualEditor - Editing references 9.png
Then, look for the template you want to use, add it and edit it as you would an existing one.

Click on "Apply changes" to return to the reference editor, and "Apply changes" again to return to the page.

VisualEditor - Editing references 10.png
If there isn't already a list of references on the page (for example, if you're adding the first reference of the page), you need to add it in order for the text of your reference to be displayed.

Place the cursor where you want to display references (usually at the bottom of the page), and click the "References list" icon (three books) to add it.

VisualEditor - Editing references 11.png
To simply add a references list, click "Apply changes" on the dialog.

If you created groups of references, you can specify a group in this dialog, to selectively display references that belong to it.

Editing templates

To add a new template to the page, place your cursor where you want the template to be inserted, and click on the "Template" icon (puzzle piece) in the "Insert" pulldown menu on the toolbar.
VisualEditor Insert transclusion.png

Enter the name of the template you want to insert, and click "Add template".
VisualEditor - Template editing 4.png

You can also edit templates that are already on the page by selecting them (they turn blue), and clicking on the "Template" icon (puzzle piece) that appears, or the one in the toolbar.
VisualEditor - Template editing 1.png

Adding a new template or opening an existing one opens the "Transclusion" dialog, with a list of individual parameters and their values (if the template has already been updated to contain TemplateData information; otherwise, a link to the documentation will be available in the dialog).

You can add parameters or edit those already listed.

VisualEditor - Template editing 2.png

To change a parameter's value, select the parameter in the list, and edit its value in the adjacent window.
VisualEditor - Template editing 3.png

When a template embeds other templates, these sub-templates will appear inside the parameters that display them. They can be edited or removed inside the parameter field.

New sub-templates are added by following the steps of adding a parameter. You may need to check the template documentation to make sure that the sub-template is supported.

VisualEditor - Template editing 5.png

When you're done, click "Apply changes" to close the dialog and return to the page editor.
VisualEditor - Apply changes.png

Substituting templates

When a template must be substituted, type subst: (colon included) before the template's name.

Autocompletion doesn't work with subst:; if you need the autocompletion, add subst: only after finding the template you're looking for.

Then, click the green "Add template" button.

VisualEditor - Template editing 7.png

Add any parameters as usual and "Apply changes".
VisualEditor - Template editing 6.png

You will see the template expand on the page after you click "Apply changes". When you're ready save the page.
VisualEditor - Template editing 8.png

Editing categories

VisualEditor Categories.png
The "Page options" pulldown menu opens access to the "Categories" button.

VisualEditor - Category editing 1.png
The "Categories" button opens a dialog that lists existing categories and allows you to add new ones.

There is an option to configure the sorting key used to list the page on the categories' pages.

VisualEditor - Category editing 3.png
To add a new category, enter its name in the field "Add a category". You can either create a new category, or select an existing one.

VisualEditor - Category editing 2.png
To remove an existing category, click on it and click on the "Remove" icon (trash can) in the dialog that opens.

You can also specify there the sorting key for a specific category. This overrides the general sorting key.

VisualEditor - Apply changes.png
Click "Apply changes" when you're done editing categories to return to the page editor.

Editing page settings

VisualEditor - Page Settings menu.png
To edit a page's settings, click to open the "Page options" pulldown menu in the toolbar and select the "Page settings" button.

VisualEditor - Page Settings1.png
The "Page settings" button opens a pane that shows various options related to the page.

VisualEditor - Page Settings Redirects.png
You can make a page a redirect to another page by checking the "Redirect this page to" checkbox, and then selecting in the box below the page to which you want this page to point.

At the bottom is the option to prevent page renames updating this redirect, which is very rarely used.

VisualEditor - Page Settings Edit Links.png
You can make a page not show edit links next to each section header by checking this checkbox.

VisualEditor - Page Settings TOC.png
You can change whether the page shows a Table of Contents by selecting one of these three buttons. By default, pages will show a Table of Contents if there are three or more headings, which is what "If needed" will do.

VisualEditor - Apply changes.png
Click "Apply changes" when you're done editing the Page options to return to the page editor.

Editing mathematical formulae

The formula editor is still under development, so on some wikis you may need to opt-in to the formula editor to use it. To do this, click on "Beta" in your personal tools in the top right of any wiki page, check the box next to "VisualEditor formulae editing", and press "Save" at the bottom of the page.

To add a new mathematical formula to the page, place your cursor where you want it to be inserted, and click on the "Formula" icon ("Σ") in the "Insert" pulldown menu on the toolbar.

A window will open in which you can type the formula, using LaTeX syntax. VisualEditor will update the formula as you type it, so you can see how it will look as you make changes. Once you are happy with the formula, just click out of the window.

To edit an existing mathematical formula on the page, click on it and then click on the "Σ" icon in the menu that pops up. This will open up the window, and let you make changes.

Editing poems and other special items

Some items, such as poems and musical scores aren't yet supported by VisualEditor. Until they are, you will need to edit the source wikitext directly if you want to alter or add these.

Keyboard shortcuts

Many editors are used to entering wikitext directly, especially bold, italics and wikilinks. Keyboard shortcuts allow to quickly insert similar formatting without having to click the toolbar buttons. Common general shortcuts, and ones used by other editors, function in VisualEditor:

PC shortcut Action Mac shortcut

 Ctrl+B Bold  Cmd+B

 Ctrl+I Italics  Cmd+I

 Ctrl+K Insert link  Cmd+K

 Ctrl+X Cut  Cmd+X

 Ctrl+C Copy  Cmd+C

 Ctrl+V Paste  Cmd+V

 Ctrl+Z Undo  Cmd+Z
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