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Provide context for the reader

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"WP:PCR" redirects here. For the pending changes reviewer user rights, see Wikipedia:Reviewing pending changes.
"WP:AUDIENCE" redirects here. For guideline on notability of companies with regards to reach of sources, see Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies)#Audience.
For context and linking, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking .
For articles without context, see [[::Category:Wikipedia articles needing context]] .
For article context notice, see Template:Context. For inline template for a general context problem, see Template:Context inline.

Wikipedia is an international encyclopedia. People who read Wikipedia have different backgrounds, education and opinions. Make your article accessible and understandable for as many readers as possible. Assume readers are reading the article to learn. It is possible that the reader knows nothing about the subject, so the article needs to explain the subject fully.

Avoid using jargon whenever possible. Consider the reader. An article entitled "Use of chromatic scales in early Baroque music" is likely to be read by musicians, and technical details and terms are appropriate, linking to articles explaining the technical terms. On the other hand, an article entitled "Baroque music" is likely to be read by laypersons who want a brief and plainly written overview, with links to available detailed information. When jargon is used in an article, a brief explanation should be given within the article. Aim for a balance between comprehensibility and detail so that readers can gain information from the article.

Evaluating context

Here are some thought experiments to help you test whether you are setting enough context:

  • Does the article make sense if the reader gets to it as a random page? (Special:Random)
  • Imagine yourself as a layperson in another English-speaking country. Can you figure out what the article is about?
  • Can people tell what the article is about if the first page is printed out and passed around?
  • Would a reader want to follow some of the links? Do sentences still make sense if they can't?

Build the web

Remember that every Wikipedia article is tightly connected to a network of other topics. Establishing such connections via wikilink is a good way to establish context. Because Wikipedia is not a long, ordered sequence of carefully categorized articles like a paper encyclopedia, but a collection of randomly accessible, highly interlinked ones, each article should contain links to more general subjects that serve to categorize the article. When creating links, do not go overboard, and be careful to make your links relevant. It is not necessary to link the same term twelve times (although if it appears in the lead, then near the end, it might be a good idea to link it twice).

Avoid making your articles orphans. When you write a new article, make sure that one or more other pages link to it, to lessen the chances that your article will be orphaned through someone else's refactoring. Otherwise, when it falls off the bottom of the Recent Changes page, it will disappear into the Mariana Trench. There should always be an unbroken chain of links leading from the Main Page to every article in Wikipedia; following the path you would expect to use to find your article may give you some hints as to which articles should link to your article.

State the obvious

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"WP:OBVIOUS" redirects here. For the essay about over-citing obvious things, see Wikipedia:You don't need to cite that the sky is blue.

State facts that may be obvious to you, but are not necessarily obvious to the reader. Usually, such a statement will be in the first sentence or two of the article. For example, consider this sentence:


Here no mention is made of the Ford Thunderbird's fundamental nature: it is an automobile. It assumes that the reader already knows this—an assumption that may not be correct, especially if the reader is not familiar with Ford or Chevrolet. Perhaps instead:


However, there is no need to go overboard. There is no need to explain a common word like "car". Repetition is usually unnecessary, for example:


conveys enough information (although it is not a good first sentence). However, the following is not only verbose but redundant: