When editing an article, there is a small field labeled "Summary" under the main edit-box. It looks like this:
It is highly recommended that you fill in the edit summary field, as it makes it easier for you and your fellow contributors to understand what has changed, and is helpful when going through the history of the page.
Places where the edit summary appears
The edit summary appears in black italics in the following places:
- Page history - list of changes to the page you edited
- User contributions - list of all your edits
- Watchlist* - list of recent changes to watched pages (logged-in users only)
- diff page - shows the difference between two edits
- Recent changes* - list of all recent edits
- Related Changes* - list of recent changes to pages linked to the page you edited(Such as this pages related changes).
* These show the edit summary of the last edit. Since one is typically interested in all recent changes in these articles, with all edit summaries, these features are used in conjunction with the page histories of the articles shown.
The search function can not search edit summaries, and they are not indexed by external search engines.
File upload summary
When uploading an image one can supply an upload summary. This serves multiple purposes:
- as second part of the automatically created edit summary of the upload log (the first part giving the file name)
- as text in the entry of the image history
- in the case that the file name of the image is new:
- as edit summary for the creation of the image page
- as wikitext for the editable part of the image page, which includes the following possibilities:
- briefly describe the image
- provide internal or external links
- call templates
- specify one or more categories the image is in
The capacity of the upload summary is one line of 250 characters; in the upload log the last part may fall off, because this can contain 255 characters, including "uploaded "filename"".
Note that there is no preview function to check the code for the links, template calls and category tags, but of course, if needed one can edit the image page after uploading, to correct errors and also to extend the text.
See also Help:Image page.
Section title as automatic edit summary
When applying the section editing feature the section title is automatically inserted as initial version or first part of the edit summary. Put more details after this text. In the case that you provide a long summary yourself you can delete the section title in order to stay within the limit of 200 characters.
"Post a comment" feature
When starting a new thread on a Talk page, optionally the "Post a comment" feature can be used (the "+" tab next to the edit tab. Then the edit summary is automatically the same as the new section header.
Rendering of wikitext; URLs
Text in edit summaries renders internal links, including piped links, even when enclosed within <nowiki> and </nowiki>. Therefore, copying wikitext in the edit summary box may be preferable to copying text from the preview, except when one wants to save space.
Other wikitext coding is not interpreted.
When copying an external link from the preview into the edit summary box then, depending on the operating system, the "printable version" is copied, i.e. how it is normally rendered, and in addition, between parentheses, the URL; hence the same information as in the wikitext, but in a different format, and in addition the possible sequential number.