Wikipedia:Summary style

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Article in summary style
World War II

World War II was the most extensive and costly armed conflict in the history of the world ...

1 Causes

The war reparations demanded of Germany after World War I ...

2 Prelude to War

Resentment of the victorious powers' treatment of the Weimar Republic in the aftermath of World War I...

3 European Theatre

The German Wehrmacht invaded Poland on September 1 ...

4 The Pacific War

The Japanese had already invaded China before World War II started in Europe ...

Wikipedia articles tend to grow in a way which lends itself to the natural creation of new articles. The text of any article consists of a sequence of related but distinct subtopics. When there is enough text in a given subtopic to merit its own article, that text can be summarized from the present article and a link provided to the more detailed article.

The length of a given Wikipedia article tends to grow as people add information to it. This cannot go on forever: very long articles would cause problems. So we must move information out of articles periodically. In general, information should not be removed from Wikipedia: that would defeat the purpose of the contributions. So we must create new articles to hold the excised information.


[edit] Size

Articles over a certain size may not cover their topic in a way that's able to be read and easy to find. Opinions vary as to what counts as an ideal length; judging the appropriate size depends on the topic and whether it easily lends itself to being split up.

[edit] Basic technique

Longer articles are split into sections, each several good-sized paragraphs long. Subsectioning can increase this amount. Ideally many of those sections will eventually provide summaries of separate articles on the subtopic covered in that section (a Main article or similar link would be below the section title—see {{Main}}, {{Details}},...) Each article on a subtopic is an encyclopedic article in its own right and contains its own lead section, which will be quite similar to the summary in its 'parent' article.

[edit] References

Each article on Wikipedia must be able to stand alone as a self-contained unit. The Verifiability policy requires that all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged be attributed to a reliable, published source in the form of an inline citation. This applies whether in a parent article or in a summary-style sub-article.

[edit] Other specifics

[edit] Avoiding unnecessary splits


Editors are cautioned not to immediately split articles if the new article would meet neither the general notability criterion nor the specific notability criteria for their topic. Instead, editors are encouraged to work on further developing the main article first, locating coverage that applies both to the main topic and the subtopic. Through this process, it may become evident that subtopics or groups of subtopics can demonstrate their own notability, and thus can be split off into their own article. If information can be trimmed, merged, or removed, these steps should be undertaken first before the new article is created.

[edit] Always mention in the edit summary when splitting

Whenever you break up a page, please note the split (including the page names between double square brackets) in the edit summary. Add {{Main}} to the top of the section that is being split out, to indicate where the main article for that section is.

[edit] Avoidance of POV forks

See also Wikipedia:Content forking

In applying summary style to articles, care must be taken to avoid a POV fork (that is, a split which results in the original article and/or the spin-off violating NPOV), and/or a difference in approach between the summary and the spin-off, etc. See: Wikipedia:Content forking, Article spinouts - "Summary style" articles.

Where an article is long, and has lots of subtopics with their own articles, try to balance parts of the main page. Do not put overdue weight into one part of an article at the cost of other parts. In shorter articles, if one subtopic has much more text than another subtopic, that may be an indication that that subtopic should have its own page, with only a summary presented on the main page.

[edit] Keeping summary articles and detailed articles synchronised

Sometimes editors will add details to a summary section without adding those facts to the more detailed article. To keep articles synchronized, editors should first add any new material to the appropriate places in the detailed article, and if appropriate, summarize the material in the summary section. In other cases, the detailed article may grow considerably in scope, and the summary section will need to be re-written to do it justice. These problems may be tagged with {{Sync}}.

[edit] Naming conventions for subarticles

Subarticles (not to be confused with subpages) of a "Summary style" article are one of a few instances where an exception to the common names principle for article naming is sometimes acceptable, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions#Subsidiary articles.

[edit] Subarticle navigation

Unless all subarticles of a "Summary style" article are truly compliant to the common names principle, it is a good idea to provide a navigational template to connect the subarticles among themselves, and with the "Summary style" main article.

Example of such navigational template, used on subarticles of the "Isaac Newton" article: {{IsaacNewtonSegments}}

[edit] Further reading/external links

"Summary style" is a good way to give more structure to a long bibliography or list of external links. For example, the "World War II" summary-style article portrayed above could have a "Further reading" or External links section that treats the history of World War II as a whole, while a sub-article on the Pacific War has "Further reading" containing works that deal with World War II in the Pacific region.

[edit] Lead section

For planned paper Wikipedia 1.0, one recommendation is that the paper version of articles will be the lead section of the web version. Summary style and news style can help make a concise intro that works stand-alone.

[edit] Rationale

This style of organizing articles is somewhat related to news style except it focuses on topics instead of articles. The idea is to summarize and distribute information across related articles in a way that can serve readers who want varying amounts of detail. Thus giving readers the ability to zoom to the level of detail they need and not exhausting those who need a primer on a whole topic.

This is more helpful to the reader than a very long article that just keeps growing, eventually reaching book-length. Summary style is accomplished by not overwhelming the reader with too much text up front by summarizing main points and going into more detail on particular points (sub-topics) in separate articles. What constitutes 'too long' is largely based on the topic, but generally 30KB of prose is the starting point where articles may be considered too long. Articles that go above this have a burden of proof that extra text is needed to efficiently cover its topic and that the extra reading time is justified.

Sections that are less important for understanding the topic will tend to be lower in the article (this is news style applied to sections). Often this is difficult to do for articles on history or that are otherwise chronologically based unless there is some type of analysis section. Organizing in this way is important due to the fact that many readers will not finish reading the article.

[edit] Levels of desired details


Wikipedia is not divided into a macropædia, micropædia, and concise versions as is the Encyclopædia Britannica — we must serve all three user types in the same encyclopedia. Summary style is based on the premise that information about a topic should not all be contained in a single article since different readers have different needs;

The parent article should have general summary information and the more detailed summaries of each subtopic should be in daughter articles and in articles on specific subjects. This can be thought of as layering inverted pyramids where the reader is shown the tip of a pyramid (the lead section) for a topic and within that article any section may have a {{main|<subpage name>}} or similar link to a full article on the topic summarized in that section (see Yosemite National Park#History and History of the Yosemite area for an example using two featured articles). The summary in a section at the parent article will often be at least twice as long as the lead section in the daughter article. The daughter article in turn can also serve as a parent article for its specific part of the topic. And so on until a topic is very thoroughly covered. Thus by navigational choices several different types of readers get the amount of detail they want.

[edit] See also

[edit] Templates

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