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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual by John Broughton

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Chapter 13. Article Sections and Tables of Contents

Wikipedia has two features to make readers’ lives easier—sections and tables of contents. Without these, most Wikipedia articles would be a mass of text, unbroken except for images and infoboxes. Getting a quick overview could cause eyestrain as well as mouse cramp.

A well-done table of contents is a godsend. It appears high on the page, giving readers a quick overview of the article, as well as a quick route to an interesting part of the article. Best of all, Wikipedia’s software generates the table of contents automatically from the section headings (page 11). If you get those right, then the TOC is going to be in good shape.

This chapter starts out showing you how to effectively use sections in an article. From there, you can tweak the automatic table of contents to make it even better.

Getting Sections Right

Much like magazine and newspaper feature articles, Wikipedia articles have three different kinds of sections.

  • Lead. The lead section introduces the article’s topic. Like the introductory paragraph of a newspaper article or a term paper, it tells readers exactly what they’ll learn in the rest of the article.

  • Body sections. Even relatively short articles are easier to read when the main body is broken up into sections, one for each subtopic. Sections are so important that you learned to create them in Chapter 1 (???).

  • Bottom. Since Wikipedia articles should always be based on research from reliable sources, most articles have sections ...

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