Help:Quick guide to editing

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On Ballotpedia, the word "editing" typically refers more to the technical aspects of how to do things (like make a word bold or start a new page) rather than to editing as in the sentence, "She edits her magazine with great flair". Editing articles on Ballotpedia is very easy--but like many things, spending a few minutes concentrating on learning the basics makes for a much more rewarding experience. Once you've learned these basic editing skills, it becomes like driving--you do it all automatically without having to concentrate or think about the editing aspects.

Editing How-To, the quick and dirty version

Use the buttons at the top of the editing screen! If that's too easy for you, use the tips below.

Bold, italics, paragraphs, sections

  • To start a new paragraph, simply hit "enter" twice (that is, skip down two lines).
  • To make text bold, put three single quotation marks around the text: '''bold'''
  • To italicize text, use two single quotes: ''italicized text''
  • To link to another page, surround the text to be linked with left and right double brackets: [[link]]
  • To make a link that points to an article that is different from the text of the link, you use a "pipe," like this: [[ballot|democracy]] looks like it will go to a page called democracy but actually goes to a page called ballot.
  • To start a new section in an article, surround the section title on both sides by two equals signs (flush left): == My New Section ==
  • To start a new subsection, surround the section title on both sides by three equals signs (flush left): === My New Sub-Section ===
  • To make a bulleted list, precede a list item with * and make sure it's flush left: * My bullet point
  • To make a numbered list, do the same but with #, like this: # My numbered point

See also

How-To create links

Internal Links

You can link to other pages within Ballotpedia (for example, the Main Page) by placing double brackets around the name: ([[ ]]). Be sure to copy the page name exactly--it is case sensitive.

If you don't know where square brackets are on your keyboard, look at the two keys to the immediate right of the "P" key. That's where the square bracket keys can be found on most modern keyboards.

Tip: If you would like your text to appear different than the title of a Ballotpedia page just add a |symbol (which is under the backspace button on most computers).

  • For example:[[Alaska|the great state]]

External Links

To link to a webpage outside of Ballotpedia, you can just type out the URL:

or you can make it look nicer by attaching the URL to a linkable word. To do that, surround the URL with single brackets ([ ]), use a space, and type the word(s) you want to show as the link: Google Search

Don't worry about the little arrow that will pop up after your external links--that's just to differentiate them from internal links.

Basic formatting commands

To use italics, surround the text with double apostrophes.

For bold text, use triple apostrophes.

If you want to super emphasize what you are writing, surround the text with five apostrophes.

If you are already comfortable with <tags>, those will work as well.

Italic, Bold, Boldly italicized!

In wiki form: <i>Italic</i>, <b>Bold</b>, <i><b>Boldly italicized!</b></i>

You can strike out deleted text, or underline an important point.

In wiki form: You can <strike>strike out deleted text</strike>, or <u>underline an important point</u>.

To divide your page, you can use a horizontal line by using <tags>:

or by typing horizontal dashes:

A new line will not start a new paragraph, however, leaving a blank line will.

(Click "edit" and look at this section to get a better idea of what that means.)

To put text in a box like this, simply put a space at the beginning of the line.

Creating bullet points and numbered lists

  • bullets are created by using asterisks (*)
    • by doubling
      • or tripling the asterisks up you can deepen your lists

You can also itemize with numbered lists:

  1. numbered lists are created by using the pound (#) sign
  2. at the beginning of each line

Creating article sections and subsections

Wiki pages can be subdivided into sections by using headers. To create a header, put double equal signs (==) around the section title. To create a sub-section, use three equal signs (===), and so on.

Once there are four section headers in an article, Ballotpedia will automatically create a Table of Contents for you at the top of the page. Helpful, huh?


Many articles include references to scholarly articles and books and reports, in the course of a passage of prose. The way to cite on Ballotpedia might as well be the way to cite in scholarly articles: with footnotes.

And it is very easy to do. After the passage needing a reference, add this language (without the extra line breaks within the tags, included here only for formatting purposes):

lsqIY4Moic&sig=lrtppVyjbakW5v_Ky97pEkq6ZIc#PPP1,M1 Democracy and 
Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference]'', Geoffrey 
Brennan and Loren Lomasky, Cambridge University Press, 1995</ref>

and then, at the bottom of the page, add this:

<references />

In this way, a discussion will look like this:

It appears that voters do, for the most part, vote their conscience, 

as philosopher Lomasky, and economists Brennan[1] and Caplan[2], have demonstrated.

Anything else?

Is there an editing question you would like to see addressed here? Click on the "discussion" tab at the top of the page, and let us know. Or add it yourself! That is the fun of wikis after all :)

Acknowledgment: the content of this help page in Ballotpedia has been adapted from Wikipedia.

Note (example)

  1. Democracy and Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference, Geoffrey Brennan and Loren Lomasky, Cambridge University Press, 1995
  2. The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, Bryan Caplan, Princeton University Press, 2007