Localization guidelines (Bookshelf)/Editing Wikipedia

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For newcomers, figuring out how to edit Wikipedia can be challenging. Many new contributors like to have something to hold on to: printed guidance. That's the purpose of the Editing Wikipedia guide, which is primarily designed for use in outreach programs where newcomers are introduced to Wikipedia: workshops, non-Wikimedia conferences, edit-a-thons, education programs, and the like. The initial version is written in English and targeted for editing English Wikipedia, but it is designed to be localizable for other specific languages, geographies, and use cases.

The challenges of designing and publishing a guide that will work worldwide in multiple languages are enormous. What works for one group in one place is completely different for another group elsewhere. All we can do is try, keeping in mind the vision: to freely share in the sum of all knowledge. On the whole, the content is written to be applicable to most Wikipedias, even where the rules, expectations, and wiki configuration differ from English Wikipedia — but if you are localizing it, you should go over everything carefully and make whatever changes are appropriate for your language version. The brochure includes a page devoted specifically to things newcomers should know about English Wikipedia; this entire page should be re-written to cover the specifics of your language, and whatever is most important for newcomers on that Wikipedia to know.

The illustrations and examples of Wikipedia articles focus primarily on the theme of "encyclopedias", with screenshots of the article Encyclopedia and of a stub article on a specific historical encyclopedia (Penny Cyclopaedia, with the example username that of an historical encyclopedist (Ephraim Chambers). These theme is likely to work well in many languages (with language-appropriate examples), although the theme can also be changed completely. Except for the example prose on writing in proper encyclopedic style, most of the text is not specific to this "encyclopedias" theme.

The booklet features 18 Wikipedians who express how and why contributing to Wikipedia is important to them. It also explains how to navigate Wikipedia, important principles and rules, and of course how to edit Wikipedia using VisualEditor and wiki markup. The featured Wikipedians' portraits — and their testimonials about why they edit — come from the "Thank You All" 2012 annual fundraiser campaign. Any or all of these can be replaced with editors who work on your local Wikipedia.

Editing Wikipedia is part of a suite of general guides for newcomers, all published with a common design style in a format that can be adapted as needed to work in your location; the others are Illustrating Wikipedia: A guide to contributing content to Wikimedia Commons, and Evaluating Wikipedia: Tracing the evolution and evaluating the quality of articles. The physical dimensions for print are for the standard B5 paper size: approximately 7 x 10 inches (14 x 10 inches flat); 177 x 255 mm (354 x 255 flat). To modify it to A4 format, you can print the PDF at 116% . Additional details about the files, work process and ways you can localize the guide are given below.

Tighe Flanagan and Anna Koval can provide help and advice for localization, and please let them know if you are creating a localized version even if you don't need any help.

Getting software and source files[edit]

The first edition of Editing Wikipedia was composed on an iMac using InDesign, the desktop publishing software from Adobe Systems. It was exported as a high-resolution PDF and printed on an HP Indigo digital press. To encourage localization, we are sharing the InDesign source files, and their equivalents constructed in Scribus.

InDesign source files

If you have access to InDesign software, from version 3.0 and up, you can open the .IDML file and go from there. If you have access to InDesign CS 6.0 or higher you can use the .INDD file. The associated assets you will need are placed in folders called Document Fonts and Links.

Scribus source files

Scribus is desktop publishing software, which is very different from word processing software. At minimum, we recommend that you consult the "Get Started with Scribus" wiki manual. Scribus is available on Windows, OS X and Linux systems (among others). You will need version 1.4 or higher to use the source files.

Using the source files[edit]

Working with InDesign[edit]

Type fonts

You will need to install the fonts into your system for the design file to view properly. There are five font families used in the guide: Arial, Courier, News Gothic, Plantin, and Whitney Index. Each font plays its part in the document. The choice of fonts is one of the most visually significant choices that a typographic designer must make. This is the logic supporting these choices:

  • Plantin is a classic serif font that is used to deliver the narrative thread of the guide.
  • News Gothic is the modern sans serif font used for titles, captions and instructions. It's the workhorse.
  • Arial and Courier are used to represent on-screen content.
  • Whitney Index is a unique font that allows you to easily place a letter inside a circle or square (see pg 11 for example).

Bear in mind that the attached fonts do not include glyphs for languages outside of the Latin-1 group, so if you plan to translate the brochures to any non-Western European language, you will have to replace the typefaces - or buy full versions of the fonts from commercial typesetters. There are common alternatives to these font families although these will significantly impact the visual results.

Plantin -> serif font family -> Times
News Gothic -> sans serif font family -> Helvetica
Image links

Links are what images are called by InDesign. (Their logic: when an image is placed in an image box it is then linked to its location on your computer.) These images have been saved in CMYK format in either JPG and TIF formats. Both formats in CMYK are acceptable when printing the guide. TIF are more stable, JPG take less space.

InDesign is a page-based design environment that presents content in frames. It offers an array of tools and windows which control color, type, character styles, layers, and much more. Scribus emulates much of the functionality of InDesign.

After opening the InDesign file, you will be able to use the Type Tool to highlight and edit all text directly. You may wish to draft your copy in a text file and then copy and paste it into the text frame. Either way, it will inherit the font style associated with the frame. You can modify the font, styles and sizes as needed using the Character window (cmd-T).

Many frames have recurring typographic styles. To save time, many standard settings are configured in the Character Styles window. Changing any specification there will change every instance in the document, so be very careful. It is however a great way to change, for instance, all titles from 18 point to 16 point.

InDesign has highly precise typographic options. You can adjust tracking and letter kerning by 1/1000 of an "em". Many refined typographic details are present in the design file. See what you can find as you go along.

If you plan to insert new images, create a single Links folder and put everything there. Use an image editing tool like Photoshop or GIMP to adjust color, format, and resolution. You can update the links using the Links window or by selecting the image frame and using cmd-D to import the image.

TIP: Depending on your workflow, other people may need to view and contribute to your work on the guide. That's when then comments feature of PDFs can be really useful. And it's always a good idea to "Save As..." before starting your work. That way you have a back-up if something ever goes wrong.

Working with Scribus[edit]

Wikimedia Foundation hired a contractor to convert the final InDesign file into Scribus format. The Scribus source zip file contains a "src" directory with the InDesign files and assets, as well as a "scribus_output" directory that includes all the images, fonts and other assets used by Scribus. To edit the Scribus document, open the file "editing_WP_20140120-11.sla" within the scribus_source directory. (That file is also present in the parent "Scribus" directory, but you must use the one in the same directory as the assets.)

The Scribus version was created with Scribus 1.4.3, and Scribus version 1.4 or greater is required to use it.

Text translation and localization[edit]

The text is available for on-wiki translation at Welcome to Wikipedia (Bookshelf)/2013 edition/text. All localizable files (such as screenshots) are included as well. The message documentation includes advice for localizing specific parts of the brochure.

Option 1) Complete the translation and localization on-wiki. You may upload localized screenshots and other media, and add the filenames as translations where appropriate. Then replace the text and images in the source file with the translated versions.

Option 2) Make all translations within the source files, using InDesign or Scribus.

In Scribus: Make any translation "in-line" using the Scribus "story editor" built into the software. Please note that the text layer must be active in order for text frames to be editable (Windows|Layers).[1] Scribus doesn't have in-built proofreading tools, so be careful and make sure to re-read your text for typos and spelling errors.[2]
Scribus's "story editor": When inserting back the translated text into Scribus, you will often have to adjust the font, style and colour to match the original. You can do that after selecting the text through the three highlighted drop-downs of Scribus's text editor.

It might be useful to keep a copy of the original English file close-by so you can check the original formatting options as copy-pasting into the text editor can often mess up the style setting and in-paragraph bolding and colouring are lost altogether.

Option 1 makes it easy to collaborate on the translation and localization, although it adds work in moving the final text into the source file. Option 2 is simpler if a single person is handling all aspects of localization, as it size limitations can easily be taken into account during the translation/localization process.

Fitting the copy[edit]

In many cases, the length of the copy will change once translated and localized. Fitting the copy should follow the following techniques in order.

Option 1) Simply adjust text areas and other elements to make the text fit well. In most cases, there is some leeway in this brochure for changing the amount of text. The one main exception is the wiki markup layout on page 11, which is a very tight fit. (Note that Scribus has an in-built hyphenation feature (look for Extras --> Hyphenate text on the menu bar) with hyphenation rules borrowed from TeX and Openoffice.org.)

Option 2) Edit the copy to fit. Make sure the final copy covers everything it needs to, and make sure it still makes sense to newcomers without much background knowledge about Wikipedia.

Option 3) Change the point size. (You should probably change it no more than one point for text sizes and up to 4 pts. for headlines and larger type). (In Scribus, if you attempt this option you may want reduce the point size for the particular style that is being used (Edit-->Styles). This will reduce this type consistently throughout the document.)


Always start with the highest resolution files possible to get the best results. The more data present in the image, the better it should reproduce. The native file format of photographs and screenshots made from computer monitors is RGB (red, green, blue). If you intend to have guides printed on offset or digital presses, they will need to be converted to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) using an image editing program such as Photoshop or GIMP. You may also refine the image color and set its resolution at the time, for example to 300 dpi, the standard print resolution of offset and digital presses. Images with a resolution below 100 dpi generally do not print well.

For reference, see commons:Category:Editing Wikipedia brochure assets.


For best results in print, you should use take care to create high resolution screenshots. If you have a system with a very high resolution screen, that is the best option; increase the zoom in your browser until the desired portion of the page takes up as much of the screen as possible. If you do not have a high-enough resolution screen, one time-consuming but effective alternative is to make zoomed in screenshots of overlapping portions of a page and stitch them together into a larger image.

The webpages shown in the guide can be replaced with ones that reflect your language version of Wikipedia. These screenshots are visual aids to help explain navigation, participation, and editing. The specific Wikipedia pages you may wish to change include:

  • pp 4–5 "encyclopedia"
  • pp 6–7 "community"
  • pp 11 custom images showing wiki markup
  • pg 13 "editing Penny Cyclopaedia"
TIP: The screenshot for pp 4–5 was modified in InDesign to focus attention on the navigation frame. To do this, a semi-transparent layer was placed over the content area of the Wikipedia page. This can also be done when you do the image processing using GIMP or Photoshop.

Wiki markup illustration[edit]

The illustration of wiki markup on page 11 can be probably be recreated in a number of different ways. The original was made as follows:

  • Source text from "Encyclopedia" was put into a text editor (gedit) and cut down to just the sections that need to be illustrated, with some cleanup to make the examples as clear as possible and reduce the clutter a bit.
  • With a very large font monospaced font (Droid Sans Mono Bold, 24pt), screenshots were made of each block of text.
  • For each block of text, the screenshots were edited (using GIMP) to
    • apply a Gaussian blur to everything except the 'in-focus' markup examples
    • apply lightening to everything except the 'in-focus' markup examples
    • apply darkening to only the 'in-focus' markup examples


Changing the faces in the brochure is a fairly simple way to make it resonate with your linguistic community. Start with the best people images you can get, ones with eye contact, natural facial expression and good color. Candid and informal portraits work best. Daylight can provide the best light but not direct sunlight which casts harsh shadows across the face. Avoid using "official" images like passport photos.

TIP: When sizing the portraits on the page, make the face the focus of attention. Try to make each face about the same size in the image box. When placing faces in a row of image boxes, try aligning the eyes across the set. Even if the images are taken in very different situations, this helps unify the group. See pp 6–7 for examples of this treatment.

Making final versions[edit]

For print[edit]

When planning a printed version, be aware that your choice of printing/output device will determine how you prepare the design files. If you are working with a local printer, ask them how they want the files to be prepared. As a rule, offset and digital presses get best results by printing CMYK. Whenever possible, get a proof or test print before ordering the main print run. That way you can see and make adjustments to your design files to get best color and print quality.

The first edition of the guide was printed to these specifications:

  • 4-color process printing (CMYK) on HP Indigo digital press
  • files delivered as PDF with images at 300dpi
  • 20 pages including cover, 7 x 10 inches finished size
  • 14 x 10 inches flat plus bleed (standard B5 paper)
  • bleeds on pages 2, 3, 7, 16
  • printed on white 100# text stock (Finch Fine Book)
  • scored, folded and saddlestitched

Most local printers will accept a PDF of your design file. InDesign users can export the the PDF to match the settings preferred by the printer. It's possible the printer has a widget with these settings that you can import into InDesign.

In the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, you can check that Compression settings are adequate (between 200 and 300 dpi). In the Marks and Bleeds dialog, be sure that Crop Marks are selected and a dimensions for the Bleed are entered. This will provide the printer with guides when printing, binding and trimming the finished booklets.

TIP: When you have completed your work in InDesign and are ready to "ship your files" you have a choice. You can "Export..." as PDF or you can "Package..." your work, which will gather all the active fonts, links and design files into a folder. Great for archiving your work! The printer may ask for the PDF and the package as a backup in the event of any problems.

About printers and paper[edit]

  • If you have a printed copy of Editing Wikipedia be sure to show it to the printer so they can quickly evaluate the project. It may help to meet several printers to discuss what you will give them, how it can be printed, production details like format, paper, quantity, timing and, of course, the cost.
  • Always check with the printer before you start preparing any files. Each printer has their preferred way of doing things. The printer may ask for the assets and help do the design implementation for you.
  • This and the other guides in the series have been printed on white uncoated paper. You can jot down notes in pencil or ink on uncoated paper more easily than on glossy coated paper. However you may find that glossy paper is slightly cheaper. The metric equivalent to the 100# book uncoated paper used in the first edition would be 148 gsm (grams per square meter).
  • The Wikimedia Foundation encourages everyone to make ethical choices when ordering printing. Ask about paper from sustainable sources that contains recycled content (or better yet, post-consumer recycled fiber). Ask the printer what steps they are taking to minimize their environmental impact.

For screens[edit]

By default, Scribus will output files with color profiles suitable for viewing on screens. (The InDesign source may produce colors that do not appear as intended when viewed on screens instead of printed through a CYMK process.)

When exporting a PDF, selecting 150 dpi, lossy (JPEG) compression, and High compression quality will yield a reasonably small file size (about 4 MB for the English version) that will be sufficient quality for use on most screens. Using 300 dpi will result in crisper images, and a larger file size (over 10 MB).


  1. To access the story editor right click on a text frame and select "Edit text"; the keyboard shortcut for this command is CTRL+T on Windows.
  2. Probably the easiest way to spellcheck the document is to export all text from it into a separate text file and run that through a spell checker and correct the spotted errors in Scribus.