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Like all pages on the World Wide Web, the pages delivered by Wikimedia's servers have URLs to identify them. These are the addresses that appear in your browser's address bar when you view a page. Wikipedia editors also have the ability to create hyperlinks to chosen URLs, pointing to pages either within Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, or elsewhere on the Web.

Linking to URLs

When editing a page, hyperlinks to other pages within Wikipedia (or other Wikimedia projects) are normally made as wikilinks or interwikilinks, using the [[...]] syntax described at Help:Link. However if you want to link to an outside website, or to certain specially generated Wikimedia pages (such as a past version of an article), it is necessary to provide the full URL. This is done using external link syntax.

There are three forms of external link syntax:

  • If the URL is simply included in the wikitext, without square brackets, then it appears as written, and a hyperlink is created: produces
  • If the URL is placed in square brackets, then a hyperlink is created with a serial number as its label: [] gives [1]
  • If the URL is placed in square brackets followed by a space and some text, then that text is used as the label for the hyperlink: [ Wikimedia] gives Wikimedia

Making a link to elsewhere on the same server as the wiki can be simplified by using {{SERVER}}. Example: [{{SERVER}}/relative/url].

To suppress the external link icon, place the external link between <span class="plainlinks">...</span> tags.

Fixing links with unsupported characters

  • The URL must start with a supported URI scheme. http:// and https:// are always supported. gopher://, irc://, ircs://, ftp://, news://, nntp://, worldwind://, telnet://, svn://, git://, mms:// and mailto: will create a link and an icon but require an agent registered in the browser.
  • URLs containing certain characters will display and link incorrectly unless those characters are percent-encoded. For example, a space must be replaced by %20 (this can be done using the PATH option of the {{urlencode:}} parser function).
sp " ' , ; < > ? [ ] { | }
%20 %22 %27 %2C %3B %3C %3E %3F %5B %5D %7B %7C %7D
Single apostrophes do not need to be encoded; but unencoded multiples will be parsed as italic or bold markup
  • Titles containing certain characters will display and link incorrectly unless those characters are encoded with HTML character references.
newline [ ] |
space &#91; &#93; &#124;
  • Even though PHP's urlencode() automatically percent-encodes them, these characters do not get URL-encoded by wfUrlencode(). The ":" symbol is a partial exception - it is not encoded anywhere except for IIS 7.0.
; @ $ ! * ( ) , / ~ :
%3B %40 %24 %21 %2A %28 %29 %2C %2F %7E %3A

Dropping http: and https:

If you make an external style link using square brackets [...] from a Wikimedia page to other Wikimedia page, including Wikipedia of course, it's better to drop the protocol http: or https:, so that the URL begins with //..., e.g. //

Otherwise, readers are forced to use the specified connection method. If you don't specify the protocol, readers can continue to use the protocol to read that page.

The URL returned by {{SERVER}} magic word begins with //.

  • Example: [// no protocol]
  • Result: no protocol (Read this page both with http and https.)
  • Example: [{{SERVER}}/w/index.php?title=Help:URL no protocol]
  • Result: no protocol (Read this page both with http and https.)

URLs of Wikipedia pages

English Wikipedia's URLs begin That address on its own is redirected to the Main Page.

  • The main form of a URL to a Wikipedia page: (used in wikilinks, recommended when a URL has to be given)
  • An alternative form: (allows more options by appending parameters to the URL, not indexed by search engines)

The page name may include a namespace prefix (such as "Help:" in this page). With some special pages it may also include a parameter, as in (but for most special page parameters, see below).

Other URLs associated with a page are constructed by adding a query string. The string can be added to either of the above forms (as in ), but in this case the system defaults to the second form, i.e. it extends the index.php query string "title=Page_name".

Extended URLs are used:

  • To go to a redirect page without following the redirect:
  • To go to the edit page (or view the source of a protected page): Other parameters can be added, such as section=5 or section=new to edit or add a page section. There are also parameters for preloading text into the edit box of a new page, as used by the inputbox extension (see mw:Extension:InputBox).
  • To access the edit history of a page: (or further parameters can be added, as in, which displays edits 91–95).
  • To link to a particular version of a page: (where oldid is the revision number), or use Template:Oldid. A permanent link to the present version of the page can be accessed by clicking "Permanent link" under "tools" on the left side of the page. The version ID is unique across all pages; the title parameter here has no effect, and can be omitted. Special:PermanentLink/1374279 is a wikilink to a page version.
  • To link to a diff between two versions of a page:, where diff is the ID of the version to appear on the right. Set diff=0 to compare the current version; set diff=0 and oldid=0 to compare the two most recent versions. Again the title parameter has no real effect (you can in fact compare versions of two different pages). Special:Diff/1374279 is a wikilink to a diff (documentation).
  • To watch or unwatch a page: (or action=unwatch).
  • To purge a page from the server cache (to have it rendered with the latest template versions etc.): (this is not the same as purging your browser cache).
  • To perform certain other defined actions, replacing purge in the above example with view, delete, revert, rollback, unprotect, info, markpatrolled, validate, render, deletetrackback (most of these are available only to administrators).
  • To obtain the raw wikitext of a page without downloading the full HTML:
  • To view a category listing starting from a specified point:
  • To specify parameters for a special page, as in: (in this case the "from" parameter is a timestamp, format yyyymmddhhmmss, UTC time, but many other types of parameter are possible, depending on the page).
  • To display a page in a particular skin: Wikipedia's skins as of 2014 are cologneblue, modern, monobook, vector. Registered users can set their skin at Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-rendering.
  • To display a page with a particular interface language: (de is the language code for German). Registered users can set their language at Special:Preferences.
  • To display a page with a particular banner from a page linked at meta:Special:CentralNotice:
  • The below withJS and withCSS rely on the English Wikipedia having code from mw:Snippets/Load JS and CSS by URL in MediaWiki:Common.js. Other wikis may not have this feature. Registered users can load pages at Special:Gadgets by enabling the corresponding gadget at Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-gadgets.
  • To display a page with a script loaded from the MediaWiki namespace: (loads MediaWiki:Gadget-UTCLiveClock.js).
  • To display a page with a stylesheet loaded from the MediaWiki namespace: (loads MediaWiki:Gadget-JustifyParagraphs.css).
  • To display a page formatted for mobile devices, add .m after en

If constructing URLs for Wikipedia pages, remember to convert spaces into underscores, and to percent-code special characters where necessary, as described in the previous section. (For how to do this in template code, see Templates and programming below.)

Various kinds of error message may appear if an invalid URL, or one to which you do not have access, is submitted. In other cases the URL may redirect to a valid one (for example, page titles are converted to their canonical form as they are when they appear in wikilinks).

Shorter URL

An unofficial redirect site mentioned at User:Tl-lomas/ offers two types of shorter URL.

The first form is not controlled by the Wikimedia Foundation, so it could stop working or change purpose at any time.

The second form also works like TinyURL to make a long page name into a short code. It uses pageid, which remains accurate even if the page name is moved. Pageid has up to 8 digits, shown by clicking "Page information" under "tools" on the left side of the page.

URLs on other Wikimedia projects

Other projects use similar URLs to those of English Wikipedia, except that the domain names vary: (Meta), (French Wikipedia), (German Wiktionary), etc.

Note that leads to an international Wikipedia portal page, but other URLs beginning with that prefix redirect to English Wikipedia.

Other projects may also use different strings in place of "/w/" and "/wiki/" in URLs. For details, see the URL help page on Meta.

Templates and programming

For use in templates, correct URLs can be constructed using certain magic words and parser functions such as fullurl, urlencode and others. Details of these can be found at mw:Help:Magic words.

Most programmatic interaction with Wikipedia can be performed most efficiently using the API, for which URLs beginning are used. For details, see mw:API.

See also

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