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Wikipedia:How to write Simple English articles

From Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia written in simple English for easy reading.

This page is a guideline on Wikipedia. Many editors agree with acting this way. It is a good idea to follow it, but it is not policy. Feel free to change the page as needed, but please use the talk page to suggest any major changes.
Shortcut:
WP:HOW


This page describes how to write Simple English articles.

Contents

Think about your readers

First, think about your readers. Most readers of Simple English are people whose mother language is not English. Other readers may be young (they may be children) or have learning difficulties. The language is simple, but the ideas don't have to be. Good luck!

Basic English and Voice Of America Special English

The Simple English Wikipedia follows some of the rules of Basic English, but is not so strict about using only a certain number of words. Simple English is still changing, and does not have only one word list. But the best starting point to writing in Simple English is to learn to write within Basic English and E Prime. This helps you know how to write with a limited vocabulary. Good Luck.

Start with Basic English (BE) 850. Let us say that your readers know the BE 850 words. If your writing sounds strange, or is not clear, use a less common word. The less common word may be in BE 1500 or Voice Of America (VOA) Special English.

Example

Full English "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat" in Basic English is "blood, hard work, drops from eyes, and body water"

  • "Blood" is a BE 850 word.
  • "Hard work" is good for a person who hears with an English mother language. But a learner could understand the word "hard" as "solid" or "difficult to understand". Perhaps "much work" is better.
  • "Drops from eyes" sounds strange to a person who hears with an English mother language. "Tears" is a BE 1500 word and you can use it.
  • "Body water" sounds strange to a person who hears with an English mother language. "Sweat" and "perspiration" both sound good. "Sweat" is a more common word and you can use it after linking to Sweat and creating at least a short description there.

Another way is to write "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" then write a sentence to tell learners what it means: (Tears fall from our eyes when we are sad; sweat is water which comes from our body when we are hot or doing much work.)

Or, in place of word-for-word, write a good sentence to say the same idea as Winston Churchill would have said in Basic : "All I can give is my body, my work, my love, and my life."

Method

  1. Write your words normally, as you would speak to another person.
  2. Look for your words in the word lists. Try to use the simplest word list:
    1. In Basic English BE 850 (pictures)
    2. In Basic English BE 1500.
    3. In VOA Special English Word Book.
    4. If a word is a name, idiomatic (the meaning of the words is not clear from the roots), or jargon (special words which experts use), then it should be described in more detail. Linking to an article about the word can also help.
      Stephen Hawking is a cosmologist--someone who studies the structure of the universe (stars and space).
    5. Not all words are encyclopedic. To link to the dictionary definition of a word rather than an encyclopedic article, link to the Simple English Wiktionary using [[:wikt:this]] (put your word in place of "this") to link to this. For a more complex definition, you may also link to the English Wiktionary like this: [[:en:wikt:this]].
  3. Change to active voice. Example: change from "The bird was eaten by the cat." to "The cat ate the bird."
  4. Look for a Basic English verb in past, present or future only.
  5. For writing special to science or trade, do as asked by the process of AECMA Simplified English (see external link below for International Aerospace Maintenance Language).
  6. After finishing the article, check to have at least one link (to another article in Simple Wikipedia) and one Interwiki link (to another language version of Wikipedia). The first is so the article is not a dead-end article, and the second is so that robots can fill in all the missing links to other language versions.

What not to do

Do not...

  • Use bad grammar and bad spelling.
  • Use bad English: This is Simple English, not Bad English.
  • Use idioms (words or phrases that mean something other than what they say)
  • Use words you're not sure about without looking them up.
  • Write articles so short that they offer no usable information.
  • Write in the second person. Good encyclopedia articles are never addressed to "you", and do not make statements about "you".

See also

External links