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Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines

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This serves as a guide to the policies and guidelines that are generally accepted and considered important — even essential — by the project's founders and community. These help us to work towards our goal: Developing free, open content textbooks, manuals, and other texts. It is important to note that at least some of these policies are still evolving as Wikibooks grows and develops.

Definition of terms

Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it has been suggested by a user and is still undergoing discussion as to whether it should be made official or rejected. Proposed policies and guidelines may either become official or rejected, depending on the eventual outcome of the discussion.
This word, or the terms required or shall, means that the definition is an absolute requirement of the policy or guideline.
This word, or the adjective recommended, means that there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular guideline, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it is currently in effect, and enforced by other contributors. A policy is a set of rules that must be followed. A guideline is a set of rules that should be followed.
Referring to a policy or guideline, this means that it has been superseded by a new guideline or policy. The new version should be used, and the old version is only kept for historical reasons.
Referring to a policy or guideline proposal, this means that it has been rejected by the community for a variety of different reasons. It, along with the proposal discussion, is kept to remind people of the reasons for the rejection and to prevent it from being reproposed for reasons rejected in previous discussion.


Formulating policies and guidelines

Wikibooks policies and guidelines are formulated for the most part by habit and consensus. This takes place in discussions on talk pages, the Reading Room and the Textbook-l email list. Once a ground for consensus exists on a topic that Wikibooks would benefit to have as an official guideline or policy, a document is created and discussed in specifics.

To propose a new policy or guideline document, add a new entry to the Proposals section below. The page should be in the Wikibooks namespace. Create the new page, add the {{draft}} template and write up the proposal.

So long as the policy is proposed, other users and members may change the text of the proposal to reflect the state of the discussion and compromises about the proposal. After proposed policy has been reviewed and discussed by other users and work on it is considered finished, it may be accepted by community consensus. For specifics about what consensus means, and how it is achieved, see the decision making guidelines

Even a page which is already an official policy or guideline can be modified to keep it in line with consensus or to make it more coherent. Policies and guidelines are generally open to being edited by any established user, but controversial changes are likely to be reverted. Anyone who thinks there is a problem with an existing policy or guideline is welcome to discuss it.

Enforcing policies

You are a Wikibooks editor. Wikibooks lacks an editor-in-chief or a central, top-down mechanism whereby the day-to-day progress on this instructional resource is monitored and approved. Instead, active participants monitor recent changes and make copyedits and corrections to the content and format problems they see. The participants are both writers and editors.


All Wikimedia projects share a set of core founding principles, see Wikimedia Founding Principles.

Official Wikibooks policies are identified with the {{policy}} template at the top of the page. The template includes the page in Category:Wikibooks policies. See the category for current official policies as the following list may be out of date.

Don't infringe on copyrights

Wikibooks is a collection of free content books licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Submitting work without the copyright holder's permission threatens our objective to build a truly free resource that anyone can redistribute, and could lead to legal liability for the project. See Wikibooks copyrights for more information.

Wikibooks is an instructional resource

The site should primarily be used for developing textbooks, textbook-like books, and supporting book-based instructional materials (for example, annotated texts such as on the Works of Shakespeare with aids for reading and study, or extensive book summaries). In particular, discussions on talk pages should be directed at improving modules. For more information on Wikibooks as an instructional resource, see:

Wikibooks content

Respect other contributors

Contributors to Wikibooks come from many different countries and cultures, and have widely different views. By treating others with respect we are able to cooperate effectively in building an instructional resource. For some guidelines, see Etiquette.



Official Wikibooks guidelines are identified with the {{guideline}} template at the top of the page. This will include the page in Category:Wikibooks guidelines. See the category for current official policies as the following list may be out of date.

Some of the guidelines listed below aren't official (yet) but have a fairly general acceptance.

General guidelines

Editing guidelines

  • Sign your posts on talk pages (but not your contributions to actual book content).
  • Fill in an edit summary before saving your changes.
  • Preview your edits before you save.
  • Avoid using bots.

Content guidelines

  • Explain jargon.
  • Integrate changes, instead of just appending your thoughts at the end of a page
  • Define and describe
  • Cite your sources, and use proper references. See Help:Editing#References.
  • Avoid statements that will date quickly
  • Check your facts
  • Avoid blanket statements
  • Avoid self-references

Style guidelines

  • Wikibooks:Manual of Style (currently a proposal, but still useful).
  • Be careful in the use of colour to maintain accessibility.
  • Avoid creating deeply nested sections.
  • Aim for brilliant prose, accessible structure, wide-ranging and in-depth coverage, and verifiable contents so that your book may one day join the ranks of featured books.