Help:Section

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A page can be divided into sections, using the section header syntax.

Creation of sections

Sections are created by creating their headers, see en:Wikipedia:Section#Creation of sections

Table of contents (TOC)

For each page with more than three headings, a table of contents (TOC) is automatically generated from the section headings, unless:

  • (for a user) preferences are set to turn it off
  • (for an article) in the edit box the code __NOTOC__ is added

With __FORCETOC__ or __TOC__ in the wikitext a TOC is added even if the page has less than four headings.

The TOC is put before the first section header, or in the case of __TOC__, at the position of this code. Thus there may be some introductory text before it, known as the "lead". Although usually a header after the TOC is preferable, __TOC__ can be used to avoid being forced to insert a meaningless header just to position the TOC correctly, i.e., not too low.

Preferences can be set to number the sections automatically.

Sections in a template do not appear in the TOC of the referring page. The automatic section numbering restarts with 1 at the beginning of a template, and continues with the section numbering of the referring page itself after the template.

Compact TOC

Where you have a large number of very short headings (such as letters of the alphabet) you can get a very long table of contents. An alternative is a compact TOC, which you can achieve by inserting the following text:

{{compactTOC}}

which looks like this:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

You can do similar things with years or decades e.g.

1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - 1940s - 1950s - 1960s - 1970s - 1980s - 1990s - 2000s

Both of the above make use of section linking, see below.

Section linking

The top of each section has in the HTML code a HTML element "a" with both a "name" and an "id" attribute with the section name. If there are more (sub)sections with the same name then an underscore and a sequential number are appended starting from the second one, e.g. for three sections "Example", the names are consecutively "Example", "Example_2" and "Example_3".

This enables linking to the sections from the lines of the TOC, other places on the page, other webpages, bookmarks, etc.

From within the same page you can use [[ #id | link_label ]], and from another page [[ page_name#id | link_label ]].

A redirect to a section of a page goes to the top of the page. One can use it anyway as a clarification, and at least it works when clicking on the link from the redirect page.

A link that specifies a section of a redirect page corresponds to a link to that section of the target of the redirect.

A complication is that, unlike renaming a page, renaming a section does not create some kind of redirect. Also there is no separate what links here feature for sections, pages linking to the section are included in the list of pages linking to the page. Possible workarounds:

  • put an anchor and link to that
  • put a comment in the wikitext at the start of a section listing pages that link to the section
  • more drastically, make the section a separate page

Section editing

Sections can be separately edited ("section editing feature") by right clicking on the section header or on special edit links, depending on the preferences set. This is convenient if the edit does not involve other sections and one needs not have the text of other sections at hand during the edit (or if one needs it, open the section edit link in a new window, or during section editing, open "Cancel" in a window). Section editing alleviates some problems of large pages.

Inserting a section can be done by editing either the section before or after it, merging with the previous section by deleting the header.

"__NOEDITSECTION__" disables section editing.

Currently there is no link for editing the part before the first heading, but the URL works, e.g. for this page:

http://meta.wikimedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Help:Section&action=edit&section=0

It can be obtained conveniently by using an edit link and changing the number of the section to zero.

As if one could edit sections in an embedded template, edit links are present and right clicking on section titles leads to an edit page, but both lead to the wrong section: the one in the page itself with the same number. If this section does not exist, one gets an empty edit box and the result is added at the end of the last section of the referring page.

See also Help:Edit summary#Section title as automatic edit summary, Help:Section editing demo.

Preview

Preview during section editing does not work properly with regard to multiple inclusion of the same template in a page: the limit of five is applied to the section only, not to the whole page.

Opening a link in a header in a new window

When right click editing is enabled, you cannot right click a link in a header to open it in a new window, etc. However most browsers have an alternative way of doing that (Mozilla: middle click, ctrl+left click, type ahead find, TAB navigation; IE: shift+left click).

Horizontal dividing line

A horizontal dividing line as a division demarcation is not taken into account in the section numbering and TOC. Therefore it should not be used for dividing a page in sets of sections.

"See also" line or section

If a page consists of sections and a "see also" refers to the whole page, then make it a separate section. This is to avoid it becoming part of the prior section, to make it visible in the TOC, and to make it easily accessible through the TOC.

Alternatively, a "see also" line is sometimes put at the beginning.

A "see also" belonging to just one section can be put in that section: within a paragraph, as a separate paragraph, or as a subsection.

Text in a large font that should not begin a section

When using text in a large font that should not begin a section, e.g. to show a font, use something like

<b><font style="font-size:120%"> Example text </font></b>

giving

Example text

Blank space as header

If a (sub)section has a blank space as header, it results in a link in the TOC that does not work.

Sections vs. separate pages

Advantages of separate pages:

  • what links here feature
  • automatic redirect on renaming
  • redirect to a section is not possible
  • loading a small page is faster than loading a large page
  • the same template can not be included more than five times in the same page.

Advantages of one large page with sections:

  • loading one large page is faster and more convenient than loading several small ones
  • searching within one large page (the page itself or the wikitext) with a local search function is faster and in some respects better than searching several pages (for which one has to search the whole project); also the TOC provides for convenient navigation.

Another alternative is composing a page of other pages using the template feature. This allows easy searching within the combined rendered page, but not in the combined wikitext. Titles have to be provided, and links to the composing pages for easy access. A disadvantage is that the TOC does not show sections of composing pages. Edit section links do not work properly.

See also

Help contents

Reading: Go | Search | URL | Namespace | Page name | Section | Link | Backlinks | Piped link | Interwiki link | Redirect | Variable | Category
Tracking changes: Recent | (enhanced) | Related | Watching pages | Page history | Diff | User contributions | Edit summary
Logging in and preferences: Logging in | Preferences | User style
Editing: Overview | New page | Images/files | Image description page | Special characters | Formula | Table | EasyTimeline | Template | Renaming (moving) a page | Automatic conversion of wikitext | Talk page | Testing