Wiki Text Formatting Rules

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When you click on Edit this Page in the navigation area at the bottom of any Wiki Web page you are brought into a text editor for editing the page contents. The text you type into this editor must conform to the following Wiki Text Formatting Rules.

It is important to understand that the edit text format is intended to be as simple as possible. It is not meant to be WYSIWYG. It is meant to be easy to understand and quick to use so that form does not take precedence over contents.


Most text that you type is just word wrapped and appears as you enter it. A number of simple formatting options are available:

 Blank lines create new paragraphs.
 _text_ gives italics.
 *text* gives bold.
 --- or more dashes inserts a horizontal separator.

You can create indented paragraphs and list using multiples of 3 spaces or the TAB key as follows. Note that in some browsers Ctrl-I can be used in place of a TAB.

 <3 spaces>* gives a list item.
 <6 spaces>* gives an indented list.
 <3 spaces>9 (or any number) gives a numbered list item.
   For a numbered list, for list items after the first, the
   numbers go will go in sequence independently of the number
   you specify.

Note that when you save a page, TAB characters are automatically converted to multiple spaces.

HTML tags

In addition to all this you should find that most HTML tags will work as expected. However, you are not encouraged to make your pages too pretty. Remember, it is the content that matters and the text for your page must remain easy for others to edit.

For text to be recognized as an HTML tag, there should be no whitespace between the < or </ and the tag name. Also, the closing > should appear on the same line. To be recognized as an HTML tag, the tag name should be all lower case or all upper case; mixed-case tags are displayed literally. (Lower case is best since that conforms to the latest W3C standards; upper case is supported due to common usage.)

Internal Links

You can create an internal link to another page in this web simply by typing a Wiki Name. If the linked page does not yet exist then it will be displayed followed by a question-mark button. Click on the question mark to define and edit the new page. (In Spinner Wiki, the question mark looks like this: .)

Links to other Wiki discussion boards

It is possible to create inter-Wiki links that link to a page in another Wiki server elsewhere on the web. You can use the following form to do this: %foo:bar%. This will link to the page called bar in the web called foo. (If both of the names are WikiNamesNew Page, the percent signs are optional.)

This feature uses inter-WikiWeb links as discussed at MeatBallInter Wiki Links, i.e. the links are controlled by a configuration file intermap.txt within the server. Links to unknown Wikis just show up as UnknownWiki:InterWikiLink, i.e. no link. For a list of Wikis recognized on this site, see Inter Wiki Links.

In Dolphin Wiki Web, the same notation was used for links from one Wiki to another, but only for Wikis running on the same server. With Spinner Wiki, if you want to host multiple Wikis on the same server, you would just create more than one copy of the CGI scripts, and set up entries in intermap.txt to support the links.

External Links

There are a variety of way to create external links.

 http://   is linked automagically.
 https://  is linked automagically.
 news://   is linked automagically.
 ftp://    is linked automagically.
 gopher:// is linked automagically.
 mailto:   is linked automagically.

Links to .jpg, .jpeg and .gif files are treated as images to be displayed within the page itself. However you can use External Link References to avoid this behavior.

External Link References

Sometimes it is useful to be able to link to external pages without the full URL appearing inline in the text. To do this you can create a numerical reference by placing [nn] as a place marker for the link. Then, somewhere else in the document (usually at the bottom), define the link using [nn: some full URL]. For example:

You may like to visit the ESRI Canada[1] site.

You can see how this is defined by editing the text of this page.

Changed Escape Sequences in Spinner Wiki

In addition to the conventions used in Dolphin Wiki Web, Spinner Wiki has the following changes:

  • The behavior with <PRE> sections is slightly different: <PRE> and </PRE> each have to be on a line by themselves for any special behavior to occur.

  • < and > can be prefixed with a backslash (\) to avoid having to type &lt; and &gt; in your text. This works even within a PRE section, although no other special formatting is applied to PRE blocks. However, this escape is not done within a "tilde" literal line. (On a "~" line, of course, < will appear as a less than sign etc. because the whole line is escaped.)

  • If a line ends in a ~ (tilde), a line-break is forced at this point. Note, this occurs only if ~ is the very last character on the line. If you want a ~ to appear at the end of a line, make sure to follow it with a space.

  • A line beginning with ~ (tilde) is drawn in fixed-font and has special characters escaped. This text is displayed literally, as close as I could manage to how it appears in the edit page. A line containing only a ~ forces a line-break. I think this will be good for posting snippets of source-code. Like most other special behavior, tilde escapes are disabled inside PRE blocks.

  • {{{ and }}} can be used to begin / end literal fragments. These are processed much the same as lines prefixed by "~", except that they can also be inline. If the {{{ and }}} appear on the same line, the code appears inline. The {{{ can also appear on a line by itself to begin a multi-line code block. (The multi-line code block ends when we reach a line containing only }}}.) This is the recommended way to represent source code in Spinner Wiki.
    The special meaning of {{{ and }}} can be escaped by prefixing the braces with a backslash (\).

  • If a line begins and ends with ====, or ===, or ==, that line will appear as a header. Three ='s give a normal header, two give a sub-header, and four ='s give a major header. (This was added as an alternative to typing HTML <H2>...</H2> tags in the text.) The opening equal signs need to start in the first column of the line. The closing equal signs need to end in the last column. In addition, do be recognised as a header, the opening and closing === signs have to be separated from the header text by whitespace. (Look at the source of this page by hitting "Edit this Page"; you'll see what we mean.)

  • Tables: To define a table, simply bracket the text for the table cells in [[ and ]]. The text must be separated from the brackets by whitespace. Each table row must begin at the start of a line and end at the end of a line. The table ends when the next line doesn't look like a table row. To make a cell which spans more than one column in the table, just mosh together the brackets like so: [[[[ two columns ]]]]. To center the data within the cell, immediately follow the opening bracket (e.g. [[) with an = sign.

    Header Two columns
    cell split 1 split 2
    You can put whole paragraphs into
    table cells if you want.  There is
    no need to define the entire table
    row on one line.
    Most Wiki formatting works inside of tables.
    * However, lists do not.
    * And neither do most <b>HTML</b> tags.
    missing cell at right ->

    Additional notes:
    • If a table line ends with [[, that means the next lines contain data for that cell, until we get to a line beginning with ]]. Then the same row continues, and so on until we get to a line ending in ]].
    • Most HTML tags are disabled inside of tables. However, most Wiki formatting rules still work (but not lists; this would be messy).

  • Use of HTML tags is discouraged on Spinner Wiki. The end-of-line ~ and beginning-and-end === replace the two common uses for HTML in Dolphin Wiki Web. Also, the {{{ }}} blocks and beginning-of-line ~ seem to work better for code snippets than <PRE> does. At some point we may cause HTML tags to be disabled by default. (They are already disabled within tables, since this doesn't break any existing pages.)

Related pages: Wiki Beginners Topics
This page last edited on 4 March 2003 at 21:43 GMT