Help:Edit summary

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An edit summary is a brief explanation of an edit to a Wikipedia page. When you edit a page, there is a small text entry field labeled Edit summary located under the main edit box and above the Publish changes button:

Edit summary (Briefly describe your changes)

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By publishing changes, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL. You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license.

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It is good practice to fill in the edit summary field, or add to it in the case of section editing, as this helps others to understand the intention of your edit. Edit summaries are displayed in lists of changes (such as page histories and watchlists), and at the top of diff pages.

Always provide an edit summary

It is considered good practice to provide a summary for every edit, especially when reverting (undoing) the actions of other editors or deleting existing text; otherwise, people may question your motives for the edit. Accurate summaries help other contributors decide whether they want to review an edit, and to understand the change should they choose to review it.

Edits that do not have an edit summary are more likely to be reverted incorrectly, because it may not be obvious what the purpose of the edit was. Editors should not revert an otherwise good edit because of a missing or confusing edit summary; good editors may simply have forgotten, or a confusing edit summary may have been the result of an autofill mishap. (If the edit summary itself violates privacy or other policies, see the Fixing section below.) However, realistically, when a major edit (e.g., addition or deletion of a substantial amount of article text, or a substantial rewrite) doesn't have an edit summary, some busy editors might not assume good faith and revert the change without evaluating it properly. Providing an edit summary helps prevent that kind of error.

Summaries are less important for minor changes (which means generally unchallengeable changes, such as spelling or grammar corrections), but a brief note like "fixed spelling" is helpful even then.

To avoid accidentally leaving edit summaries blank, registered editors can select "Prompt me when entering a blank edit summary" on the Editing tab of the user preferences.

How to write an edit summary

  • Summarize. Summarize the change, even if only briefly; even a short summary is better than no summary.
  • Explain. Give reasons for the change, if you think other editors may be unclear as to why you made it. Citing the Wikipedia policies or guidelines that you feel justified the change may be incorporated into your explanation.
  • Abbreviations. Abbreviations should be used with care. They can be confusing for new contributors. For an explanation of some commonly used abbreviations, see this edit summary legend.
  • Expand on important information. Readers who see only the summary might not get the entire picture. Prevent misunderstanding: If an edit requires more explanation than will fit in the summary box, post a comment to the article's talk page to give more information, and include "see talk" or "see discussion page" in the edit summary.
  • Talk pages. When editing talk pages, consider reflecting the gist of your comment in the edit summary; this allows users to check Recent changes, Page history and User contributions (see below) very efficiently.

What to avoid in edit summaries

  • Avoid misleading summaries. Mentioning one change but not another one can be misleading to someone who finds the other one more important. You could add something like "and misc." to cover the other changes.
  • Avoid vagueness. While edit summaries can be terse, they should still be specific. Providing an edit summary similar to "I made some changes" is functionally equivalent to not providing a summary at all.
  • Avoid long summaries. Edit summaries are not for explaining every detail, writing essays about "the truth" or long-winded arguments with fellow editors. For discussions, you should use the talk page.
  • Avoid inappropriate summaries. You should explain your edits, but without being overly critical or harsh when editing or reverting others' work. This may be perceived as uncivil, and cause resentment or conflict. Explain what you changed, citing the relevant policies, guidelines or principles of good writing, but do not target others in a way that may come across as a personal attack.
  • Avoid incivility. Snide comments, personal remarks about editors, and other aggressive edit summaries are explicit edit-summary "don'ts" of the Wikipedia Civility policy.

Use of edit summaries in disputes

Proper use of edit summaries is critical to resolving content disputes. Edit summaries should accurately and succinctly summarize the nature of the edit, especially if it could be controversial. If the edit involves reverting previous changes, it should be marked as a revert ("rv") in the edit summary.

Avoid using edit summaries to carry on debates or negotiation over the content or to express opinions of the other users involved. This creates an atmosphere where the only way to carry on discussion is to revert other editors! If you notice this happening, start a section on the talk page and place your comments there. This keeps discussions and debates away from the article page itself. For example:

reverted edits by User:Example, see talk for rationale


After you publish the page, you cannot change the edit summary, so be careful with it, particularly if you are in a heated content dispute – do not write things you will regret.

If you make an important omission or error in an edit summary, you can correct this by making a dummy edit (a change in the page with no visible effects), and adding further information in the dummy edit's summary.

In the extreme case of an edit summary containing certain kinds of harmful content, the summary can be deleted on request. They may be removed from public view by administrators using revision deletion; such edit summaries remain visible to administrators. In even more limited circumstances the entire edit may be oversighted, leaving it and its edit summary visible only to the handful of users with the Oversight permission.

Edit summary properties and features

  • Limited to 500 characters. The edit summary box can hold one line of approximately 500 characters. If you attempt to type or paste more, only the first 500 will be displayed – the rest will be discarded. For example, attempting to add 10 new characters (at the end or in between) to a summary already containing 495 characters may result in the first 5 new characters being inserted and the final 5 being disregarded.
  • Show preview. The "Show preview" button also provides a preview of the edit summary to facilitate checking links.
  • Can't be changed after saving. After you publish the page, you cannot change the edit summary (see bugs 10105 and 13937).
  • Doesn't appear in searches. The built-in search function cannot search edit summaries, and they are not indexed by external search engines.
  • Wikilinks always rendered; other wikitext coding ignored. Edit summaries render internal links, including piped links, and interwiki links, even when enclosed within <nowiki>...</nowiki> tags. Therefore, copying wikitext in the edit summary box may be preferable to copying text from the preview, except when one wants to save space. Other wikitext coding is not interpreted. Although URLs do not produce clickable links, a wikilink with Special:Diff/ can make clickable diffs, and Special:PermaLink/ can make permanent links. ~~~~ has no effect, so do not sign edit summaries.
  • You can mention a user in your edit summary and they will receive a notification.

Places where the edit summary appears

The edit summary appears in black italics in the following places:

This page was last updated at 2021-03-18 20:21, update this pageView original page

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