How to Format a wikiHow Article

At wikiHow, we try to have all of our pages follow a consistent format for easier readability. Not all instructions lend themselves to this format, but most do. So, when you're editing pages, try to keep the following guidelines in mind, and also refer to our Writer's Guide for some more information on the wikiHow writing style.


  1. 1
    Start each step on a new line and with a #. Do not insert extra line feeds or this will cause the auto numbering to reset and start over with another Step 1.
  2. 2
    Limit each step to one main action. Identify the step with a short sentence (which will automatically be in bold) and then describe it in more detail. Ideally, the reader should be able to skim over those initial bolded sentences and get a sense of the overall method before reading for more detail.
  3. 3
    Start each step with a verb, with few exceptions. You can use verbs that are concrete/physical (such as "Cut," "Draw," "Screw in," etc), or you can use verbs that are abstract/non-physical (such as "Consider," "Be aware," "Understand," "Avoid," "Limit," etc).
    • Avoid transitional or introductory wording. Start with a clear action verb—an activity for the person following the instructions to perform. Avoid starting with, "First," "Then," "Also," or similar introductory words.
    • Conditional phrases are sometimes acceptable. For example: "If the top turns brown, remove it from the oven immediately." However, starting with a verb is still preferred: "Remove it from the oven immediately if the top turns brown."
  4. 4
    Break up very long steps. You can divide them into separate steps, or into sub-steps. Try to keep each step and sub-step substantial, though, rather than very brief (2-3 sentences is often ideal, but it varies depending on the topic and sentence length).
    • Keep in mind that if the sub-steps get so numerous or long that the reader may forget which step they're on, subsections may be more appropriate (described in the next step).
    • Make bullets on sub-steps with #*.
  5. 5
    Use subsections to list multiple methods on one page or to break down a very long process into parts.
    • To make subheadings, use the Advanced Editor and label the subheadings as: === Subheading Title ===
    • If you find that each subsection might require its own set of tips and warnings, that's a sign that the article might need splitting.
    • Note: Even if there are many subsections, always make sure there is a Steps section heading, or else the title will not say "How to" at the beginning, and other things will start to go wrong with the page. The == Steps == title is important for the engineering/layout of the article.
  6. 6
    Decide whether the subsections should be formatted as "Part" or "Method." Use "Method" when reading only one section allows the reader to accomplish the goal; use "Part" when reading all the sections is necessary to accomplish the goal.
    • If each subsection describes a different method, put the magic word __METHODS__ at the very bottom of the article, and the header directly below the title will automatically read as methods.
    • If each subsection describes a different part, put the magic word __PARTS__, and the header directly below the title will automatically read as parts.
    • Note: Sometimes it will be difficult to decide on "Part" or "Method." For nuanced articles where it is difficult to tell which section header to choose, use your best judgment.
  7. 7
    Ensure images are accurate and well-placed. Most image placement will be done automatically by the software; all images that are large enough will be centered and enlarged above each step. An exception applies for small, portrait-oriented images, which can be aligned to the right of the step.
  8. 8
    Use the standard labels and the standard order for your sections. This is the order in the Guided Editor, but sometimes sections do get mixed up if they've been edited in the Advanced Editor. If you see sections that are out of order or that have an improper heading, feel free to straighten them! The preferred order is as follows:

Start with the introduction. This should be 2-5 sentences which draw the reader into the article proper. This section gets no heading—just start writing.
== Ingredients ==
* First ingredient
* Second ingredient
* Etc.
== Steps ==
# Start each step or substep (bullet point) on a new line. Do not insert extra line feeds.
# Start each step using "#". Write out what to do.
#* Start a bullet point, where needed, using "#*".
# Begin the next step. Write out what to do.
# Keep going until you're done.
== Video ==
[Video is embedded here.]
== Tips ==
*Tip one goes here.
* Tip two etc.
== Warnings ==
* Here's my warning
== Things You'll Need ==
* First physical item needed
* Second physical item needed
== Related wikiHows ==
* [[Contribute to wikiHow|How to Contribute to wikiHow]]
== Sources and Citations ==
* http://here'
{{reflist}} [if <ref> tags are used in the article]

__PARTS__ or __METHODS__ [Use these codes to affect how the section headers display (Part 1 or Method 1)].


  • Click here or go to the Format Greenhouse for articles in need of formatting.
  • Use advanced wiki syntax formatting to help you with formatting and layout as necessary.
  • See the Writer's Guide for more information about wikiHow writing.
  • Consolidate the ingredients. The ingredients list goes before the steps. If there are several recipes in the article, try to keep them all together with bullets (*) and sub-bullets (**) like this:
    • For Recipe 1
      • ingredient A
      • ingredient B
      • ingredient C
    • For Recipe 2
      • ingredient A
      • ingredient B
  • Make sure the Things You'll Need are all real objects. A good rule of thumb is that if it's not something you can buy at a store or find in your cabinets or closet, it probably shouldn't be on this list.

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