Help:Quick guide to editing

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Editing Help
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Editing guide
Textual standards
Visual standards
Glossary of terms
Edit review process

This page gives you the basics of editing and formatting an article. For more advanced style guidelines, see our visual style guide and textual style guide.


Bold and italics

The most commonly used wiki tags are bold and italics. Bolding and italicizing are done by surrounding a word or phrase with multiple apostrophes ( ' ):

  • If you type ''2 for italics'', you will see this: 2 for italics
  • If you type '''3 for bold''', you will see this: 3 for bold
  • If you type '''''5 for bold italic''''', you will see this: 5 for bold italic

On Ballotpedia, the first mention of an article's subject is written in bold. For example, the article on Supreme Court of the United States begins:

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest...

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are an easy way to improve the organization of an article. If you can see two or more distinct topics being discussed, you can break up the article by inserting a heading for each section. If an article has at least four headings, a table of contents will be added automatically. Headings are created like this:






Indenting improves the readability of a discussion. Each reply should be one level deeper than the first statement.

Plain indentations

The simplest way of indenting is to place a colon (:) at the beginning of a line. The more colons, the more indentation. A new line (pressing Enter or Return) ends the indented paragraph.

This is aligned all the way to the left.
: This is indented slightly.
:: This is indented more.
This is aligned all the way to the left.
This is indented slightly.
This is indented more.

Bullet points

You can also indent using bullets for lists. To insert a bullet, use an asterisk (*). Similar to indentation, more asterisks means more indentation.

* First list item
* Second list item
** Sub-list item under second
* Third list item
  • First list item
  • Second list item
    • Sub-list item under second
  • Third list item

Numbered items

You can also create numbered lists using the number sign (#). Again, you can affect the indent of the number by the number of # symbols you use.

# First item
# Second item
## Sub-item under second item
# Third item
  1. First item
  2. Second item
    1. Sub-item under second item
  3. Third item


Links are important, but too many links can be distracting. Therefore, only link the first occurrence of a word. A red link goes to a page that doesn't exist yet. When you find a red link, you can start the article with something as simple as a single sentence. Short articles such as these are called stubs; we can return and add information to stubs later.

Internal links

Internal links, also known as wiki-links, are links that allow you to link to other pages within Ballotpedia (for example, the Main Page). You can link internally by placing double brackets around the name of the article on Ballotpedia you want to link to from the page you are currently editing, in this fashion: [[Page name]]. Be sure to use the exact title of the other Ballotpedia article you are linking to, including the exact capitalization of that article; otherwise, your link will not work.

For more information on linking, see Help:Links

Interwiki links

You can place links on a Ballotpedia article to articles on Ballotpedia's sister project, Judgepedia. This is known as "interwiki linking." Interwiki links are nearly indistinguishable from internal links, though they are a very slightly lighter shade of blue. There are two primary methods of interwiki linking.

  • Method 1: You can link to Judgepedia using the standard wiki link style ( [[ ]] ) as long as you place "Judgepedia:" before the exact name of the Judgepedia page you are linking to. In the edit view, that would look like this: [[Judgepedia:Indiana Supreme Court|State Supreme Court of Indiana]], while in the saved view, it would appear as follows: State Supreme Court of Indiana.
  • Method 2: Using the {{JP}} template, you can link to any JP article using the exact page name after a pipe: {{JP|Indiana Supreme Court}}, which will look like this in the saved page: Indiana Supreme Court. If you want the link to appear as something other than the exact page name, you can add an additional pipe after the page name, then your desired text. In the edit view, that would look like this: {{JP|Indiana Supreme Court|State Supreme Court of Indiana}}, and the saved view would appear as follows: State Supreme Court of Indiana.

It is worthwhile to note that you could also link to Judgepedia using the external linking style. However, if done this way, an arrow will appear, telling our readers that they will be traveling to an external source if they follow the link. It is preferable to use one of the methods above for linking to Judgepedia, because though our readers would be leaving Ballotpedia if they followed the link, they would still be within content created and managed by the Lucy Burns Institute, the sponsor of both websites.

A full list of sites that may be linked to with interwiki links can be seen at Special:Interwiki.

External links

External links are links that take the reader from Ballotpedia to an external website. You will often find external links in the footnotes of an article, in the "References" or "External links" sections. You may sometimes see external links as in-line links within the main text of an article. When you insert an external link, an arrow will appear in the saved version of the page after the link. That arrow exists so that you and other readers can tell the difference between an internal and external link.

To create an external link, surround a URL with single brackets ( [ ] ), insert a space, and then type the word or words you want to show up on the saved page. For example, a link to Google would look like this in the edit view: [ Google], and like this is the saved view: Google.

Please note that wiki code does work within the brackets of the link, so you can format your linked text just as you would format the other text on the page. For example, [ ''Indianapolis Star'', "Gov. Pence OKs bonuses for state employees," December 20, 2013], will show up like this on the saved page: Indianapolis Star, "Gov. Pence OKs bonuses for state employees," December 20, 2013.

For more information on linking, see Help:Links


We place articles in categories with others in a related topic. Just type [[Category:]] at the bottom of the page and put the name of the category between the colon and the brackets. For example: [[Category:State ballot measures]]

Every article should have a category, and it's very important to use the correct categories so others can easily find your work. The best way to find the proper categories is to look at articles on similar subjects and check which categories they use.

See also